Kes! - The Musical

Adapted from Barry Hines “A Kestrel for a Knave”

Book and Additional Lyrics by Lawrence Till

Poster for Kes - The Musical 

Music and Lyrics by Terry Davies

A Musical adaptation of one of Yorkshire's most celebrated novels, capturing the hearts of generations and filmed as “Kes” in 1969. The classic of the sixties proves a bittersweet tale for the new millennium.

15-year old Billy Casper is two weeks away from leaving school - a school that offers him nothing but playground fights and contempt from teachers. Home is no better, as mum hardly notices him and he's bullied by his brother, Jud. Two weeks to go - then what?

But Billy's life centres on a kestrel hawk he has reared and trained. He finds one living thing that can inspire his affection and admiration.

You'll not catch me. You'll never catch me.

General Information

The minimum cast is 8 men, 3 women and about 25 teenage schoolchildren. Versions for 2 or 5 musicians are available.

The musical runs for about 2 hours and includes songs that are distinctly comic, whilst some are grim realities and others absolute fantasy.

Production History

“Kes! The Musical” was premiered at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton in 1995. It received a workshop at the Royal National Theatre Studio in 1996 and had its second production at the Theatre Royal, York in 1997.

Review followed the York opening:

Kes Takes On A New Dimension

Powerful emotions take flight and soar to the heights in the latest production at the York Theatre Royal.

“Kes! - The Musical” is bursting with catchy tunes to put a new dimension on the famous Barry Hines novel “A Kestrel for a Knave”.

Darren Southworth excels as Billy Casper the bullied boy who turns to a friendship with Kes, the bird of prey. Southworth's energy and strength of voice was inspiring and was backed by solid performances from the comany's cast and children. The actor knows the part well as he played Billy in the premiere of “Kes! - The Musical” at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton.

A great scene was the one in which Billy learns to fly Kes for the first time.

But comedy is on hand to provide light relief with such scenes as the school assembly and a rockin' Saturday night out on the town for Billy's mum (Di Sherlock) and his brother Jud (Simon Nock).

West End musical star Nova Skipp is the soaring and haunting voice of the invisible Kes.

“Kes! - The Musical” is at The Theatre Royal, York to 13th September.

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