"The Thorn Birds" - The Musical








Previews from April 3rd 2009

PRESS NIGHTS 23 & 24 April 7.30pm Grand Theatre, Swansea

The legend is that there is a bird which sings just once in its life. From the moment it leaves the nest, it ceaselessly searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it finds one. When it does, it tragically impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. But even as it dies it gives voice to one last and final song, more beautiful than any other ever heard upon earth. The best, says the legend, is only bought at the cost of great pain.

This mythical creature is the thorn bird, and its name provided the title for one of the greatest romantic novels of modern times. So far THE THORN BIRDS has sold over 30 million copies worldwide, and when in the eighties it was turned into a mini-series, it was one of the most widely watched TV dramas ever. Now, 31 years after the publication of the novel, author COLLEEN MCCULLOUGH has turned THE THORN BIRDS into a stage musical.

It promises to be an impressive theatrical event, presented by a truly impressive theatrical team. THE THORN BIRDS will be staged by THE WALES THEATRE COMPANY, directed by its internationally-acclaimed, multi-award-winning Artistic Director MICHAEL BOGDANOV.

The Composer is German opera star GLORIA BRUNI, who – appropriately enough given the religious component in THE THORN BIRDS’ plot – has composed, and had performed, her Requiem for Pope John Paul II at the Vatican.

The sheer class continues right through to the Costume Design, which comes from the designer of Princess Diana’s wedding dress, DAVID EMMANUEL. What could be more fitting, for a show which recounts one of the most epic romances of the 20th century?

For THE THORN BIRDS is an immense, heroic tale of hardship, violence, dark and conflicting passions, naked ambition, secrets, lies, money, manipulation and a scandalous legacy of forbidden love, spanning the lives of three generations of the Cleary family as they struggle to survive in the harsh and rugged vastness of the Australian outback. It is a magnificent, sweeping story, the real stuff of which great musicals are made.

It comes from the pen of a woman whose own story is arguably as remarkable as that of one of her characters. Born into the nomadic life of stockmen and sheep-shearers in Western Australia 71 years ago, through sheer grit, determination and application, COLLEEN MCCULLOUGH achieved academic excellence and eventually became a teacher and director of the Department of Neurophysiology at Yale, where she worked for a decade. This work – even at such an elevated level – was so poorly remunerated that Colleen turned to writing to eke out a living. THE THORN BIRDS was the result, and changed her life for ever.

She is married to Ric Robinson, a direct descendant of Bounty mutineer Fletcher Christian (and two English Marquesses), she’s written seventeen novels in multiple different genres, she’s restlessly interested in practising everything from astronomy to mediaeval illumination and anatomical illustration, she holds the Order of Australia, and she’s been awarded the title of Living National Treasure of the Australian nation.

THE THORN BIRDS musical has been some 15 years in gestation. It was in the early nineties that GLORIA BRUNI speculatively sent COLLEEN MCCULLOUGH three songs on the Thorn Birds theme. She was deeply impressed, the two decided to work together on creating a full-scale musical, and this work is the final outcome.

Arguably, a long journey for the desired outcome, just like that which the mythical bird of the title undertakes for its thorn tree. Will the song that emerges at the end be as beautiful as the song of legend? With such legendary talents involved in this great project, the odds are far more than even.

West End Star HELEN ANKER (CATS, FAME, CRAZY FOR YOU and most recently in CANDIDE with the ENO)will play Meggie Cleary, the role of Ralph will be played by winner of Channel 4's Musicality, MATTHEW GOODGAME. Welsh star PETER KARRIE will play The Cardinal di Contini-Verchese. Peter's incredible career has included performing Phantom in many productions of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA earning him the title of "The World's Most Popular Phantom", as well as definitive roles in EVITA, LES MISERABLES and most recently as Peter Price in WTC's sell-out production of The Mal Pope Musical, AMAZING GRACE. The role of Mary Carson will be played by ANDREA MILLER.

The Thorn Birds, A Musical


(See www.thethornbirdsmusical.co.uk for full listings)

Dates Venue Booking/Box Office


3 – 4 April The Grand Theatre, Swansea www.swanseagrand.co.uk 01792 475 715


14 – 18 April The Lighthouse, Poole www.lighthousepoole.co.uk 0844 406 8666

21 – 25 April The Grand Theatre, Swansea www.swanseagrand.co.uk 01792 475 715

PRESS NIGHTS 23 & 24 April 7.30pm

28 April – 2 May The Arts Centre, Aberystwyth www.aberystwythartscentre.co.uk 01970 623 232

5 May – 9 May The Venue Cymru, Llandudno www.venuecymru.co.uk 01492 872 000

12 – 16 May The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton www.grandtheatre.co.uk 01902 429 212

19 - 23 May The Theatre Royal, Windsor www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk 01753 853 888

26 - 30 May The Alhambra, Bradford www.bradford-theatres.co.uk 01274 432 000

2 - 6 June The New Theatre, Hull www.hullcc.gov.uk 01482 226 655

16 – 20 June The Theatre Royal, Plymouth www.theatreroyal.com 01752 267 222

30 June – 4 July The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham www.seatplan.com/birmingham/alexandra-theatre/ 0870 607 7533

7 – 11 July Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff www.wmc.org.uk 0870 040 2000