New concert musical in Birmingham Festival

Published: 3 March 2022
Reporter: Steve Orme

“Pivotal moment in the UK’s civil rights history”: To the Streets!

Birmingham Hippodrome and China Plate have disclosed that a new concert musical, To The Streets!, will be performed at parks across the West Midlands in August as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival.

To The Streets! by Roy Williams and Tim Sutton is inspired by the 1963 Bristol bus boycott, a pivotal moment in the UK’s civil rights history. The musical follows the story of Paul Stephenson, an idealistic youth worker who takes to the streets to stand up for equality in Bristol where tensions are running high as the Omnibus Company refuses to employ black or Asian drivers or conductors.

Lorraine, a teenager newly arrived from Jamaica, joins the fight and in so doing finds her voice, becoming part of a movement that changes history.

The concert performances will give audiences an opportunity to hear all the songs from the show ahead of a proposed national tour of the full stage musical which will première at Birmingham Hippodrome in 2024.

Chris Sudworth, director of artistic programme at Birmingham Hippodrome, said, “we’re incredibly excited about the year ahead for Birmingham Hippodrome and for our region.

“We can’t wait for people to get a first taste of To The Streets!—developed by the wonderful team of Roy Williams, Tim Sutton, Christopher Haydon and Dannielle ‘Rhimes’ Lecointe.

To The Streets! tells the story of such a pivotal moment in the fight for civil rights in the UK and is the next step in our commitment to producing high-quality, bold and relevant large-scale work here in the Midlands.”

Paul Warwick, director at China Plate said, “To The Streets! gives us and our collaborators an incredible opportunity to shine a spotlight on the amazing creative talent in our city and region while bringing people together to look again at the history and legacy of the Commonwealth.

“Alongside the production, our team of associate producers have been working with communities in north Birmingham for the past 18 months to co-design a programme of events inspired by the show.

“We’ll be announcing this programme over the course of the spring and can’t wait to share all of this work with audiences across what looks set to be a tremendous summer for our city.”

Featured productions from the Hippodrome within the Birmingham 2022 Festival programme include choreographer Akram Khan’s new dance-theatre production Jungle Book: Reimagined in April, which sees the journey of Mowgli through the eyes of a climate refugee.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s director Carlos Acosta is bringing together three works for a triple bill at the Hippodrome in June. On Your Marks “celebrates the expressive energy and gravity-defying athleticism of the company’s world-class dancers”.

Sudworth added, “as the Birmingham 2022 Festival launches, we’re thrilled to announce so many sensational performances and events on and off our stages, produced and presented with brilliant partners.”

The summer will mark the return of two of the Hippodrome’s free festivals. The annual B-SIDE Hip-Hop Festival in June will bring together “extraordinary artists and breath-taking acts from across all elements of hip-hop” and Birmingham Weekender, a mix of dance, music, film, performances and installations, will take place throughout the August bank holiday.

Closing the Birmingham 2022 Festival will be the previously announced world première by Rambert and Birmingham Hippodrome of Peaky Blinders: The Redemption of Thomas Shelby, written by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight.