Nica Burns has announced that the opening production of @sohoplace will be the New Vic’s much-acclaimed production Marvellous, directed by Theresa Heskins. The New Vic theatre is the oldest purpose built, in-the-round theatre in the UK and @sohoplace is the first new West End theatre in 50 years, with a flexible, 602-seat auditorium, purpose built and opening in-the-round.
• Marvellous is the joyful, inspiring true story of Neil ‘Nello’ Baldwin who, defying all expectations, has led and continues to lead, the most amazing life.
• The show is performed by a talented company including neuro-divergent actors.
• Coming next @sohoplace: two new productions - the first directed by Josie Rourke, the second by Dominic Cooke.
Growing up in the 1950’s in less enlightened times, Neil Baldwin was not expected to be a success. But Neil decided he was destined to do wonderful things and that his life was going to be marvellous. And it is.
He hitchhiked across the country, became a famous clown, got an honorary degree from Keele University, was appointed Stoke City’s legendary kit man, appeared on the Queen’s New Year Honours list and accepted a BAFTA award for the film made about his life. A friend to anyone he meets, he became a local hero and an inspiration to the world. A reminder to us all not to let anything stand in the way of your dreams, just go out and make them happen.
Nica Burns, Producer and Theatre Owner said: “Marvellous is precisely that, marvellous. A wonderful production of a heartwarming and uplifting tale about an extraordinary man who decided he would lead an exceptional life. And against all the odds, he has and does. The New Vic in North Staffordshire, led by its brilliant director Theresa Heskins, is an absolute jewel of a regional theatre, the cultural beacon of the area and the beating heart of its community. As we open our new theatre in-the-round, we are honoured to be collaborating with and learning from the expertise of the New Vic’s amazing team.”
Theresa Heskins, New Vic Artistic Director said: What a thrill it is, to see a new theatre in the round opening in London! And what a very special honour to be collaborating with Nica Burns so that the first show produced in it will come from the New Vic. Nica's decision to make a West End venue which deliberately nurtures an inclusive relationship between stage and audience is a radical one, and it's matched by creative programming. When she first proposed we open her new theatre with Marvellous, I was speechless: I could never imagine we would receive an extraordinary invitation like this. Nello’s special magic rubs off on everyone he encounters, and bringing that magic from audiences in Staffordshire to audiences in London will be such a privilege
When Stephen Joseph proposed this new format of theatre-in-the-round in 1962, in a pamphlet called 'Planning for new forms of theatre', he described it as “the simplest and most vital form of theatre”. That’s certainly the case with Marvellous. Neil’s simple and vital story has inspired so many. He has a talent for happiness that’s infectious. His is a story of joy and sadness; of realising dreams; of belonging and othering; of how labels both limit us and protect us; of what constitutes a hero - and why we need them. It’s a play that is as straightforward, direct, and sunny as Neil is: it will fill audiences with optimism, bring people together and spread happiness.'
Neil Baldwin said: Theresa said ‘I would like to make a play about you’ and I thought ‘why make a play about me?’ which is the same thing I said about the film! The cast are lovely, we’re friends. It was great. The theatre was full and I made friends with the audience. I am excited about going to London. There’s more people so hurry up and get your ticket!’