PACIFIC OVERTURES, CLOSE UP - THE TWIGGY MUSICAL, and More Set For Menier Chocolate Factory 2023 Season

Learn more about the lineup here!

By: Apr. 21, 2023
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PACIFIC OVERTURES, CLOSE UP - THE TWIGGY MUSICAL, and More Set For Menier Chocolate Factory 2023 Season

With Marjorie Prime currently running at the company's home base in South London and Funny Girl on Broadway, the Menier Chocolate Factory announced forthcoming programming for 2023. The venue, which has long been synonymous with musical theatre, returns to its roots with a season comprised of three musicals - two world premières of The Third Man and Close Up - The Twiggy Musical; and continuing its long association with the work of Stephen Sondheim, the season ends with Pacific Overtures.

Trevor Nunn returns to the Menier Chocolate Factory to direct The Third Man, with music by George Fenton, book by Christopher Hampton and lyrics by Don Black. The production, which opens the season was originally developed by Vereinigte Bühnen Wien Gmbh (VBW) in Vienna - Franz Patay, CEO and Christian Struppeck, Artistic Director Musical - and is staged with the kind permission of STUDIOCANAL and Graham Greene PRODUCTIONS LTD. Priority booking for Chocolate Factory members opens 24 April, with public booking opening on 2 May.

This is followed by Close Up - The Twiggy Musical - which tells the story a skinny kid from Neasden who became an international sensation. Written and directed by Ben Elton, this brand-new musical opens in September.

Completing the season is the Menier and Umeda Arts Theater's co-production of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's Pacific Overtures - directed by Matthew White - which opened earlier this year at the Nissay Theatre in Tokyo. The musical, which was significantly revised by both Sondheim and Weidman in 2017, will be seen here in the UK for the time in this version. This continues the venue's history of Sondheim collaborations, which also sees the company's production of Merrily We Roll Along open on Broadway later this year.

Booking information for Close Up - The Twiggy Musical and Pacific Overtures will be announced in due course.

Artistic Director of the Menier Chocolate Factory, David Babani, said today, "Musical theatre is at the heart of what we do at the Menier, and not having been able to stage a musical for the last 3 years, we're thrilled to announce a season of 3 back-to-back musicals - comprising two world premières; and a reinvention of Sondheim's Pacific Overtures. We've had the immense privilege to stage many Sondheim works on our stage, so it's wonderful to collaborate with Umeda Arts Theater and bring his unique voice back to our theatre. We look forward to welcoming Trevor Nunn back to helm The Third Man - a brand new musical by George Fenton, Christopher Hampton and Don Black - for the first time since the Olivier Award-winning Fiddler on the Roof; and also, to collaborate with Twiggy and Ben Elton for the first time with Close Up - The Twiggy Musical."


MUSIC BY George Fenton

BOOK BY Christopher Hampton


10 June - 9 September

Press night: 19 June

Direction: Trevor Nunn; Set and Costume Design: Paul Farnsworth;

Lighting Design: Emma Chapman; Sound Design: Gregory Clarke; Orchestrations: Jason Carr;

Musical Supervision and Direction: Tamara Saringer; Movement and Choreography: Rebecca Howell

Originally developed by Vereinigte Bühnen Wien Gmbh (VBW) in Vienna

Franz Patay, CEO and Christian Struppeck, Artistic Director Musical

The production is staged with the kind permission of


Graham Greene's brilliant story - which was made into a landmark film and published as a novella - now comes to the stage in new musical written by Christopher Hampton with music by George Fenton, lyrics by Don Black and directed by Trevor Nunn. Post-war Vienna is the setting as Holly Martins arrives at the invitation of his friend and hero, Harry Lime, only to discover that Harry has been killed in a car accident. But nothing that he is told about what happened makes any sense. The tension mounts as Holly enters the world of black marketeers and military bureaucracy, culminating in a chase through the Viennese sewers, as Holly tries to discover what happened to Harry...and who is the third man? This world premiere will keep audiences on the edge of their seats as they are immersed into the world of The Third Man.

The Third Man sees Trevor Nunn renew his collaboration with the Menier - he previously directed Fiddler on the Roof (also West End), Lettice and Lovage, Love in Idleness (also West End), A Little Night Music (also West End and Broadway) and Aspects of Love for the company.

Graham Greene was born in 1904. He was educated at Berkhamsted School and Balliol College, Oxford. In 1926 Greene's first novel, The Man Within, was published in 1929 and its favourable reception led him to resign from the Times where he was working as a sub editor to take up full-time writing. Success, however, eluded him until the publication of Stamboul Train, his fourth novel, in 1932. In 1935 he trekked across northern Liberia, (described in Journey Without Maps) and his 1938 travels in Mexico, sponsored by Longmans, inspired The Lawless Roads and The Power and the Glory. During the war, he worked for the Foreign Office and spent 1942-1943 in Sierra Leone (the setting for The Heart of the Matter). Brighton Rock was published in 1938. He became Literary Editor of the Spectator in 1940. After the war he returned to journalism and began a series of wide-ranging travels which gave rise to The Quiet American, Our Man in Havana, A Burnt Out Case, The Comedians, Travels With My Aunt, The Honorary Consul, The Human Factor, Monsignor Quixote and The Captain and the Enemy. Beside the novels, which have been translated into many languages, most of which are currently in print in English, Greene wrote collections of short stories, two works of autobiography (A Sort of a Life and Ways Of Escape), two biographies, eight plays - among them The Living Room (1953), The Potting Shed (1957) and The Complaisant Lover (1959) - a book on English dramatists, four illustrated children's books as well as hundreds of essays and film and book reviews. Many of his novels and short stories have been made into films. He wrote the screenplay for The Third Man which was released in 1949 and later published as a novella using his preparatory narrative for the screenplay. Graham Greene was named a Companion of Honour in 1966 and received the British Order of Merit in 1986. He died in April 1991 at the age of 86.

George Fenton works in film, theatre and television and has frequently adapted music for scores, notably Handel for The Madness of King George, and Vivaldi and JS Bach for Dangerous Liaisons. His theatre work includes Straight Line Crazy, Visit from an Unknown Woman, The Smoking Diaries, Collaborators, Untold Stories, Mrs Henderson Presents and, at the Bridge Theatre, Allelujah!, Talking Heads and Beat The Devil. For television, his work includes The Jewel in the Crown, The Monocled Mutineer, Talking Heads, Life and many themes including Shoestring, Bergerac, BBC News, Newsnight and On the Record, as well as The Blue Planet, Planet Earth and The Frozen Planet. He conducts the Planet scores in concert with orchestras worldwide. His recent film work includes The United Way, The Duke and The Secret: Dare to Dream. Other films include Cry Freedom, Shadowlands, The Fisher King, Groundhog Day, You've Got Mail, Hitch, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, I Daniel Blake and The Lady in the Van.

Don Black made his West End debut as a theatre lyricist with composer John Barry on the musical Billy, starring Michael Crawford at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Black is the recipient of two Tony Awards for Best Book and Lyrics of a musical for his work (with Christopher Hampton) on Sunset Boulevard, which marked his third collaboration with Andrew Lloyd Webber. They first joined forces to write the song cycle Tell Me on a Sunday which was developed to form the basis of the stage show Song and Dance, and they later were reunited for Aspects of Love. He also wrote lyrics for the Andrew Lloyd Webber-produced Bombay Dreams. His other many musical credits include Bonnie and Clyde (currently at the Garrick Theatre), Feather Boy, Whistle Down the Wind, Dracula, The Goodbye Girl, Radio Times and Budgie. His other awards include an Oscar for his song "Born Free", five Academy Award nominations, and a further three Tony Award nominations, six Ivor Novello Awards, a Golden Globe and many platinum and gold discs. He has written a quintet of theme songs for the James Bond films Thunderball, Diamonds Are Forever, The Man with the Golden Gun, "Surrender" from Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough. Among his many popular songs are two U.S. number ones - "Ben" for Michael Jackson and "To Sir with Love" for Lulu. He was inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2008 and recently honoured in London with a BMI Icon award. He also received the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's Honours list; and last year he was awarded an Olivier Award for his outstanding services to theatre. Most recently he wrote his critically acclaimed memoir The Sanest Guy in The Room which featured in The Sunday Times best sellers list.

Christopher Hampton has translated plays by Ibsen, Molière, Chekhov, Yasmina Reza (including Art and Life x 3) and Florian Zeller's The Father, The Mother, The Truth, The Lie and In the Height of the Storm. His other plays include The Talking Cure, White Chameleon, Tales from Hollywood, Treats, Savages, The Philanthropist, Total Eclipse and When Did you Last See My Mother?. He has written the books for the musicals Sunset Boulevard, Dracula - the Musical and Stephen Ward. He won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the adaptations of The Father and of his own play, Les Liaisons Dangereuses (released as Dangerous Liaisons). He was nominated again in 2007 for adapting Ian McEwan's novel Atonement. His television work includes adaptations of The History Man and Hotel du Lac.

From 1968 to 1986, Trevor Nunn was the youngest ever Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, directing over thirty productions, including most of the Shakespeare canon, as well as Nicholas Nickleby and Les Misérables. From 1997 to 2003, he was Artistic Director of The National Theatre, where his productions included Troilus and Cressida, Oklahoma!, The Merchant of Venice, Summerfolk, My Fair Lady, A Streetcar Named Desire, Anything Goes and Love's Labour's Lost. He has directed the world premières of Tom Stoppard's plays Arcadia, The Coast of Utopia and Rock n Roll; and Cats, Sunset Boulevard, Starlight Express and Aspects of Love by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Other theatre includes Fiddler on the Roof (Menier Chocolate Factory and Playhouse Theatre), Timon of Athens, Skellig (Young Vic); The Lady From The Sea (Almeida Theatre); Hamlet, Richard II, Inherit the Wind (The Old Vic), A Little Night Music (Menier Chocolate Factory, West End and Broadway), Cyrano de Bergerac, Kiss Me Kate (Chichester Festival Theatre and Old Vic); Heartbreak House, Flare Path, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Tempest (Theatre Royal, Haymarket); Scenes from a Marriage (Coventry & St James), All That Fall (Jermyn Street & New York); A Chorus of Disapproval and Relative Values (West End). Work for television includes Antony and Cleopatra, The Comedy of Errors, Macbeth, Three Sisters, Othello, The Merchant of Venice and King Lear, and on film, Red Joan, Hedda, Lady Jane and Twelfth Night.



18 September - 18 November

Press night: 27 September

Set and Video Design: Tim Bird; Costume Design: Jonathan Lipman; Sound Design: Gregory Clarke

Musical Supervision and Orchestrations: Stuart Morley; Choreography: Jacob Fearey

The story of a skinny kid from Neasden who became the most famous teenager on the planet and the 'face of the 1960's may seem like the stuff of fairy tales, but there is tragedy as well as triumph in this intimate portrayal of a true 20th century icon. It's the story of a young working class woman who faced snobbery and sexism in a pre-Me Too world and yet achieved her dreams without ever compromising who she was. Author and director Ben Elton charts Twiggy's journey through laughter and tears from the suburbs of London to the world's fashion capitals to Hollywood and Broadway and ultimately to becoming a national treasure and Dame of the Realm. All accompanied by a fabulous score featuring the hits that have been the soundtrack to Twiggy's life. Grab your miniskirt and re-live the swinging '60s and soulful '70s in this joyful, uplifting and empowering world première musical!

In the mid-1960s at 16 years of age, Twiggy became internationally known as the world's first supermodel. Her photographic modelling success epitomise the age. She appeared, and continues to appear, on the cover of Vogue, Tatler, Elle and countless other major magazines worldwide. She is now an actress, singer, writer, designer, presenter, producer and activist, and continues to model. Twiggy became a successful actress on stage, film and television, and won two Golden Globe Awards for her first film, The Boyfriend, directed by Ken Russell. In the mid-1980s, she was nominated for a Tony Award for her role in the hit, Gershwin musical, My One and Only, on Broadway. She has appeared in several theatre productions in the UK and the USA. She starred in Sir Peter Hall's production of Mrs Warren's Profession, and played Gertrude Lawrence in If Love Were All, Off-Broadway. She has appeared in many TV productions, including playing Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion. She has recorded several albums, ranging from country pop to standards. Also a fashion designer, she has designed successful ranges in the UK, the US and Japan. Twiggy was a guest judge for several seasons on the phenomenally successful America's Next Top Model. She is an ardent supporter of many charities, including Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, breast cancer, many animal welfare charities, and she is an anti-fur campaigner. In 2020 Twiggy was invited to launch a podcast, Tea with Twiggy, in which she chats to friends and people she admires. Due to its ongoing success, the fourth series was launched in 2023. In 2019, she received a Damehood in the Queens New Year's Honours list, for her contribution to fashion, the arts and charity.

Ben Elton is a multi-award-winning novelist, playwright, television writer, screenwriter and lyricist. He is also a theatre, screen and television director, a stand-up comedian and occasional actor. His work for the stage includes The New Review (1985) - with Richard Curtis, Gasping (1990), Silly Cow (1991), Popcorn (1997), Blast from the Past (1998), The Beautiful Game (2000) - book and lyrics, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, We Will Rock You (2002) - book, music by Queen, Tonight's The Night (2004) - book, music by Rod Stewart and others, Love Never Dies (2010) co-writer of the book, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. His many television credits include The Young Ones (1982/4) - writer with Rik Mayall and Lisa Meyer; Alfresco (1982/4) - performer and co-writer with Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson; Happy Families (1985) - writer; Blackadder 2 (1983) - co-writer with Richard Curtis; Filthy Rich & Catflap (1986) - writer; Saturday Live (1986/7) - comedian/host; Blackadder The Third (1987) - co-writer with Richard Curtis; Friday Night Live (1988) - comedian / host; Blackadder Goes Forth (1989) - co-writer with Richard Curtis; Ben Elton The Man From Auntie (1990 and 1994) - writer/performer; The Thin Blue Line (1995/6) - writer/co-director; The Ben Elton Show (1998) - writer/performer; Blessed (2005) - writer/director; The Wright Way (2013) - writer/co-director; and Upstart Crow (2016/17) - writer. Elton also wrote Mr Bean's "exam" episode. In 2007 he was awarded the Special Golden Rose D'Or at The International Television festival in Lucerne Switzerland for his life-time contribution to the Television Arts. As a novelist, his work includes Stark (1989), Gridlock (1991), This Other Eden (1993), Popcorn (1996), Blast From The Past (1998), Inconceivable (1999), Dead Famous (2001), UK No 1. High Society (2002), Past Mortem (2004), The First Casualty (2005), Chart Throb (2006), Blind Faith (2007), Meltdown (2009), Two Brothers (2012), Time. And Time Again (2014); and for film, he has written and directed Maybe Baby (2000) and Three Summers (2017).


MUSIC AND LYRICS Stephen Sondheim, BOOK BY John Weidman

A co-production with Umeda Arts Theater

25 November 2023 - 24 February 2024

Press night: 4 December

Direction: Matthew White; Set Design: Paul Farnsworth; Costume Design: Ayako Maeda; Sound Design: Gregory Clarke; Choreography: Ashley Nottingham; Musical Supervision: Catherine Jayes; Orchestrations: Jonathan Tunick

Nippon. The Floating Kingdom. One of Stephen Sondheim's most ambitious creations comes to the Chocolate Factory in a co-production with Umeda Arts Theater in Japan, where it has already been a huge success in Tokyo and Osaka. The story of the arrival of the West in 1853 in isolated Japan is seen from a western perspective but played in an eastern style. The score is filled with some of Sondheim's most ravishing music, including "Someone in a Tree", "Pretty Lady" and "A Bowler Hat".

Pacific Overtures completes the Menier's trilogy of Weidman/Sondheim musicals following their productions of Assassins and Road Show.

Stephen Sondheim (1930 - 2021) was one of the world's greatest composer and lyricists. His works include Saturday Night, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Anyone Can Whistle, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday in the Park With George (Pulitzer Prize), Passion, Assassins and Road Show. Sondheim also wrote the lyrics for West Side Story, Gypsy and Do I Hear a Waltz?. He was the recipient of multiple awards, including 8 Tony Awards - one of which was a Lifetime Achievement Award, 7 Grammys and an Academy Award for Best Song for Dick Tracy, and was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Letters (1983). His final musical Here We Are will be staged in New York this autumn.

John Weidman has written the books for many musicals, including Pacific Overtures (Tony Award nomination, Best Book), Assassins (Tony Award, Best Musical Revival) and Road Show (Lucille Lortel nomination, Best Musical), all with scores by Stephen Sondheim; Contact (Tony Award nomination, Best Book; Tony Award, Best Musical), co-created with director/choreographer Susan Stroman; Happiness, score by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie, directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman; Take Flight and Big (Tony nomination, Best Book), scores by Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire; and the new book, co-authored with Timothy Crouse, for the Lincoln Center Theater/Roundabout Theatre revivals of Cole Porter's Anything Goes (Tony Award, Best Musical Revival; Olivier Award, Best Musical Production). From 1999 to 2009 he served as President of the Dramatists Guild of America.

Matthew White returns to the Menier having previously directed The Boyfriend, She Loves Me, Candide, Sweet Charity (also Theatre Royal, Haymarket), Little Shop of Horrors (also Duke of York's Theatre and UK tour) and The Last Five Years. His other theatre work includes The Addams Family (Festival Theatre, Edinburgh and UK tour), Kiss Me Kate, West Side Story (Kilworth House), The Producers (UK tour), Top Hat (also adapted for the stage, UK tour and Aldwych Theatre - Olivier Award for Best New Musical), Maria Friedman - By Special Arrangement (Donmar Warehouse), Closer than Ever (Jermyn Street Theatre) and Mr Stink (also adapted, Curve and UK tour).