The first production from Leicester’s newly re-opened Haymarket Theatre will be the world premiere of Treasure Island, penned by national treasure and established author Sandi Toksvig (The Great British Bake Off, QI).
Co-written with her sister Jenifer Toksvig, this new version of the quintessential adventure story by Robert Louis Stevenson will be a co-production between Haymarket Productions, Director Matthew Forbes (War Horse) and Producer Debbie Hicks (West End and international tours).
With Toksvig’s trademark razor (or should we say cutlass?) sharp wit, Jim Hawkins’ adventure across the High Seas in search of treasure will appeal to all ages. Along the way Jim encounters deadly storms and even deadlier pirates, led by the infamous one-legged Long John Silver. The show is a treasure chest of delights; featuring rousing sea shanties and daring sword fights, piratical parrots and acrobatic puppets, making this new adaptation a wonderfully theatrical tale of adventure.
Since it reopened in March 2018, the city has been eagerly awaiting the Haymarket Theatre’s first home-grown show. Launching with a swashbuckling swagger meant assembling a team of pirates with world renowned credits. Jenifer Toksvig’s lyrics will be accompanied by music written by Composer David Perkins. The Haymarket Consortium’s Ellyn Phillips (Studio 79) will choreograph.
“We couldn’t be happier that the Haymarket will present the world premiere of our adaptation of this classic novel. It’s exciting to be writing the first Christmas show since the building was refurbished, and we can’t wait to invade Leicester with our piratical shenanigans!” laughs Sandi Toksvig, who will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of Leicester this July.
The producers for Haymarket Productions said: “Having been presented with the opportunity to work with Sandi, Jenifer, David and Matthew, we grabbed it with both hands. We wanted to launch with a bang and, as bangs go, this new version of Treasure Island couldn’t be louder! “
Director Matthew Forbes approached the theatre as soon as its doors reopened, having fond memories of it as both a performer and audience member. “Having grown up in Leicester, the Haymarket Theatre holds a special place in my heart,” he smiles.“It was here that I first experienced theatre; as both an audience member and performer. I feel a strong connection to the building and being able to create a brand-new show, specifically for it, that reignites the magic and brings the theatre back to life is a wonderful honour. My hope is to engage and excite our audiences and share this thrilling story in a wonderfully imaginative and playful way. In a world where we’re all searching for treasure, this production will show that you don’t need to look very far; it’s right here, at the Leicester Haymarket Theatre”
Last year Leicester City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby announced his intention to support the Haymarket Consortium’s proposal to re-open the city centre venue, investing £3.6 million in the dilapidated building. The Haymarket Consortium – Chris Knight, Jed Spittle, John Jenkins, Ellyn Phillips and Natalie Cheary – were brought together specifically to tackle the challenge of bringing the much-loved theatre back to life.
The Haymarket is already hosting theatre productions, esports tournaments, live music and award ceremonies. The main auditorium has been refurbished with 901 new seats, sound desks and lighting systems, as well as the installation of two café bars and a TV gallery. The foyer and studio theatre have been modernised, while retaining the original feel of the old theatre.
Sandi Toksvig will also receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of Leicester on Tuesday 17 July. She will join a number of other distinguished figures for a week of celebrations of University of Leicester graduates and their achievements at their graduation ceremonies from 17 – 20 July at De Montfort Hall.
President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester Professor Paul Boyle said: “Graduation is when we celebrate the culmination of the years of hard work and determination of our students, as well as individuals who have distinguished themselves through their careers. As our students look to their futures and launch their own careers we are fortunate to also be honouring Sandi Toksvig and hearing her inspiring story.”
Commenting on her honorary degree, Sandi Toksvig said: “I am thrilled to be receiving this unexpected honour.”