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Based on Peter Mullan's 1998 film, Orphans is due to come to the King’s Theatre from April 12 to 16. A darkly comic musical about family, grief and forgiveness, the National Theatre of Scotland’s production revisits the four Flynn siblings one stormy night in 1998, shortly after the death of their mother; Thomas won’t leave the church, Michael is bleeding and roaming the streets, John has a gun and is set on revenge while Sheila wants to live life on her own terms.
But will they all survive the night to get to their mother’s funeral?
Bringing the story to life on the Leven Street stage will be an ensemble of some of Scotland's top up and coming talent, led by Burnistoun and The Scotts star, Robert Florence, who makes his musical theatre debut as eldest brother Thomas, Amy Conachan, best known for playing Courtney Campbell in Channel 4’s Hollyoaks, as Sheila, Reuben Joseph as Michael and Dylan Wood as John.
Director Cora Bissett, says, “Orphans is for me, and a secret legion of devotees, the quintessential cult Scottish film and bringing it to the stage now, in this new musical version, couldn’t be more timely.
“Over the last 18 months we have lost family, jobs, relationships, health and…. hope, and in some ways we are just finding it again. This musical is about raw grief, and the madness that lies within that. The emotions are epic and messy and the songs raucous, and heart aching.
“It’s for people who think they hate musicals but love a great story, and for musical lovers who would like to see a musical rooted firmly in a world that feels like theirs.”
Although film producers Channel 4 refused to distribute the original movie, it quickly garnered awards at Film Festivals internationally, leading them to do a u-turn, although as Mullan told The Guardian some years later, ‘...they didn't have a clue how to do Orphans, and when it picked up all these awards, they got embarrassed and wanted it back. They sent me this apologetic letter and asked to distribute it, and I wrote back saying I'd rather burn in hell.’
Speaking about the planned musical, Mullan said, “It’s a brave and ballsy thing to do, to adapt any film and then put it on stage. The story lends itself well to being a musical because, however misplaced, however funny, it’s all about emotion.
“The thing that draws you in is the characters, how they interact and what implications there are for the world that’s around them which combine into a cauldron of craziness and hurt and grief. The idea of putting that to music made sense to me. Oh, and if you f**k it up, you’re on your own, my disclaimer is going in the programme but if it’s good, I’m taking all the credit.”
The cast is completed by Amber Sylvia Edwards, Chloe Hodgson, Louise McCarthy, John McLarnon, Patricia Panther, Paul McCole, Martin Quinn, Betty Valencia and Harry Ward.
Described as ‘a big, bold Scottish musical,’ the film has been adapted by Douglas Maxwell.