The wedding might be off, but the honeymoon is still on! Head from the aisle to the Isles as the official Stock Aitken Waterman musical “I Should Be So Lucky” makes its way to Oxford’s New Theatre from Monday, 05 February to Saturday, 10 February, following its successful World Premiere at the Manchester Opera House in 2023.
Showcasing the iconic soundtrack of a generation with music from pop royalty, the Stock Aitken Waterman musical follows the story of Ella and Nathan, a young couple hopelessly in love and on the brink of taking the biggest step of their lives – marriage. However, things don’t go exactly as planned. Will they remain together forever, or will it end in tears and goodbyes?
“I Should Be So Lucky” boasts an impressive lineup of over 25 songs, including no less than 10 Number 1 singles, from the Hit Factory. The musical features chart-toppers from music legends like Kylie Minogue’s “I Should Be So Lucky”, Rick Astley’ “Never Gonna Give You Up”, Jason Donovan’s “Too Many Broken Hearts”, and Bananarama’s “Love In The First Degree”.
The show’s casting brings together the West End’s finest talent, including Kayla Carter (The Color Purple, Bedknobs and Broomsticks) as Bonnie, Jamie Chapman (Nativity! The Musical, The Mousetrap) as Spencer, Jemma Churchill (Guys and Dolls, Nativity! The Musical) as Ivy, Matthew Croke (Wicked, Aladdin) as Nadeem, Jessica Daley (Mamma Mia!, Les Miserables) as Britney, and Gary Davis (Annie, Oklahoma!) as Big Mike.
The cast also includes Melissa Jacques (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Mamma Mia!) as Shelley, Scott Paige (The Great British Bake Off Musical, Made in Dagenham) as Michael, Billy Roberts (Rock of Ages, Titanic The Musical) as Nathan, Giovanni Spanò (Jesus Christ Superstar, Bat Out of Hell) as Ash, Lucie-Mae Sumner (Mary Poppins, Guys and Dolls) as Ella and Anna Unwin (Aspects of Love) as Olivia.
The cast is completed by Tegan Bannister, Ralph Bogard, Elliot Broadfoot, Emma Crossley, Kade Ferraiolo, Sydney Isitt-Ager, Joe Kelly, Aidan Nightingale, James Willoughby Moore, Lauren Woolf and Louie Wood.
Kylie Minogue will appear digitally throughout the show as a specially created character unique to the musical.
Stock Aitken Waterman said: “Stock Aitken Waterman is thrilled to be part of this wonderful new adventure. To see our songs take on a new life in the world of musical theatre and working on a collaboration with Debbie Isitt and her talented team is so exciting and very special.”
Kylie Minogue said: “I’m thrilled to announce that I will be joining Stock Aitken Waterman in presenting the new musical, “I Should Be So Lucky”! It is the music that inspired a generation (plus my first five albums!) so to have all the SAW hits in this original story will make for a compelling, funny and heartfelt show. Let’s enjoy the magic all over again!”
“I Should Be So Lucky: The Stock Aitken Waterman Musical” is written and directed by Debbie Isitt (the hit “Nativity!” franchise), choreographed by Jason Gilkison (Creative Director of Strictly Come Dancing and Eurovision 2023), with orchestrations and musical direction by George Dyer, set and costume design by Tom Rogers, lighting design by Howard Hudson, sound design by Ben Harrison, casting by Anne Vosser and production management by Simon Marlow. It is produced by Ambassador Theatre Group Productions and Gavin Kalin Productions.
No stranger to crafting hits for the stage and screen, Debbie Isitt is a BAFTA and EMMY award-winning writer and director of film, television and theatre. Starting her career in theatre, she toured globally, writing and directing with her theatre company Snarling Beasties, winning numerous awards for her plays, including a West End run of “The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband” starring Alison Steadman.
Her first cinema film, “Nasty Neighbours”, starring Ricky Tomlinson, was a major hit at the Venice Film Festival in 2000. Debbie then adapted Jacqueline Wilson’s novel, “The Illustrated Mum”, for Channel 4, winning a Bafta and two International Emmys for best adaptation. Debbie went on to make the hit wedding comedy film “Confetti”, starring a host of British comedy talent that was distributed worldwide by Fox Searchlight and nominated for a British Comedy Award in 2006.
Debbie is best known for creating a hugely successful film franchise, writing and directing a series of blockbuster Christmas films; “Nativity!” starring Martin Freeman, “Nativity 2 – Danger in the Manger” starring David Tennant, “Nativity 3 – Dude Where’s My Donkey?” starring Martin Clunes and Catherine Tate, and most recently “Nativity Rocks!” starring Celia Imrie and Craig Revel Horwood, which have all been box office hits.
Debbie wrote all of the original songs in the Nativity movies and stage show alongside Nicky Ager, and her five-star smash-hit stage musical adaptation “Nativity! The Musical” has had four sensational years of sell-out shows and is set to return in Christmas 2024. Debbie’s latest film, “Christmas On Mistletoe Farm”, enjoyed a global release last Christmas on Netflix. Debbie’s next cinema film is a high school musical movie that will be shot in 2024.
Ahead of the tour, Debbie shared her thoughts about the brand-new production, including her inspiration for the musical and what she hopes audiences will take away from it.
What was the inspiration behind the musical?
The songs! Stock Aitken Waterman songs were the soundtrack to my youth, and being asked to create a musical featuring all the hits was a very exciting proposition. The songs are about love, and that was my starting point for the story and the show! The songs spoke to me – the lyrics and the melodies – I wanted to create a show about love in all its forms – romantic love, thwarted love, love of family, love of self – to create an experience that is emotional and fun and feel good, just like their music makes me feel.
Without major spoilers, can you tell us the story of I Should Be So Lucky?
The story starts with a wedding that goes wrong – I guess that is a spoiler (sorry!). But the bride’s (Ella’s) family and her two best friends are not prepared to let her disappear in a puddle of grief and insecurity, so they accompany her on her honeymoon to Turkey to try and help her heal her broken heart.
However, on the honeymoon, they each have a transformative experience that changes their loves and lives forever. Meanwhile, Ella wrestles with a new love (the local tour guide) just as her old love turns up to try and win her back. With the help of her inner confidence (Kylie!), she begins to piece her life and broken heart back together and embarks on a journey of self-discovery.
The production features endless hits from the Stock Aitken Waterman catalogue, such as Never Gonna Give You Up, Especially For You, and the titular I Should Be So Lucky. Why do you think these tracks make the perfect soundtrack for a musical?
Because they are absolute bangers! As soon as they start up, you can’t help but feel engaged with the brilliant hooks and catchy choruses. But they also take (some of) us back to times when we were young and having fun – and the songs are stories too – stories that we can all relate to – about unrequited love, yearning, and heartfelt human emotions. Lots of people know and love the songs, but younger audiences are discovering some of them for the first time, and it is so fantastic to watch that – everyone – young or old – is up and dancing at the end.
Do you have a favourite song used within the show?
I love so many of the songs used in the show, but a lesser-known song, “If You Were With Me Now”, is a standout moment as the song is so beautiful and has such a lush arrangement by George Dyer, our music supervisor, matched only by Jason Gilkison’s dream-like choreography, that it really transports me to another world.
I also love the massive Sonia hit, “Never Stop Me From Loving You”, as our amazing Kayla Carter gives a dazzling performance of this beautiful song. And I adore the Kylie mega-hit, “Better The Devil You Know”, for the sheer euphoria it creates on stage and in the audience! But I genuinely love them all! In fact, I can’t not mention “Respectable” – it’s a brilliant moment in the show – and the audience absolutely loves this song! And, of course, the iconic “Never Gonna Give You Up”, which has the audience on its feet every single show!
Iconic hitmaker Kylie Minogue scored her first UK number one with ‘I Should Be So Lucky’, and she’s also got a starring role in the musical of the same name. What has it been like to work with her?
Kylie was a real pleasure to work with on the musical. Our first meeting was via Zoom – Kylie was in Melbourne, and I was in London, still casting the show. Kylie was so enthusiastic about the musical, having watched the workshop where all the ideas were developed. Of course, she already had a great relationship with Stock Aitken and Waterman, but now it was time to create a story, especially for her within the show.
So, a few weeks later, she was in London, and I presented her with her character, storyline and script, and we worked together to hone down the scenes. The concept was Kylie being bride Ella’s reflection in the mirror – playing her inner diva – her inner confidence if you like. I wanted Kylie to play a version of herself – but also to be properly integrated into the story. Kylie later came into rehearsal and worked with the cast (which we were all very excited about), and then we were ready to film her sequences.
Each sequence had to be filmed in single takes with no edits and had to be timed to perfection to allow interaction and dialogue with the brilliant Lucie-Mae Sumner, who plays Ella. It was a fabulous experience as Kylie and Lucie worked so well together, and Kylie was so emotionally connected to both the story and the songs. Kylie is a genuine triple threat – a brilliant singer, actor and dancer. More than that, she is an inspirational icon, so we felt very “lucky lucky lucky” to have her play such a big on-screen role in the musical production.
What do you hope audiences will take away from the production?
I have been so inspired by the audience’s reaction to this show. Sitting amongst them – hearing huge belly laughs and gasps of recognition, sensing their engagement with the story, hearing them sing along to the songs, and watching them dance on their feet, has been truly exhilarating.
I want audiences to keep enjoying – keep escaping – and keep feeling the utter joy that this musical has to offer. I want them to enjoy feeling the love and warmth that is created with every performance. I want audiences to leave the show feeling happier and stronger for having seen it with the songs in their hearts.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to anyone thinking of stepping into the industry?
Whatever it is you have to offer the industry, do it to the best of your ability with passion and integrity and keep pushing to serve audiences – keep them in your hearts and mind. Theatre is about coming together to experience emotions and share truths. Always be honest, always be emotional, always be true.