Feather Boy 29th & 30th March 7.30


Ellesmere College is playing a leading role in Shell Connections, one of the world's largest celebrations of youth theatre. Produced by the National Theatre and made possible through sponsorship from Shell UK, the programme gives 11-19 year-olds the chance to work on challenging new plays both on stage and behind the scenes. Shell Connections commissions new, hour-long plays for and about young people, written by some of the best contemporary playwrights, and enables schools and youth theatres from all over the UK and Ireland to produce them.

Mr Richard Boswell, director of the school's new Arena Arts Programme, and Mr Roger Paul, the new Director of Music, took part in the training weekend which launched Shell Connections 2006 at Theatre Royal, Bath. They met and took part in workshops with Nicky Singer, Peter Tabern, Don Black and Debbie Wiseman, the authors of Feather Boy - The Musical, which they have chosen from the ten new plays on offer this year.

Feather Boy - The Musical will be performed at Ellesmere College Arts Centre on Tuesday 28th March, Wednesday 29th March and Thursday 30th March. Last year's entry for the Shell Connections festival went on to be performed at The Lowry Theatre, Manchester and Feather Boy could well do the same. In addition, Ellesmere College are taking their production of Feather Boy on tour to the USA in April with performances around Boston and in New York.

Shell's sponsorship of Connections helps hundreds of young people, every year, from all backgrounds to develop their skills and abilities through theatre.

James Smith, Shell UK Chairman, said: "Shell Connections is a truly inspiring experience for the thousands of young people involved, and we are delighted to be sponsoring for the fourth year."

Nicholas Hytner, Director of the National Theatre added: "Shell Connections has become an indispensable annual programme, blending the extraordinary talent and commitment of thousands of young people and their directors all over the country with the work of some of our leading writers. The results never fail to excite and inspire everyone who takes part."

Shell Connections culminates in July 2006 with a celebratory festival at the National Theatre where 12 companies will be invited to perform. Ellesmere College could be one of those 12 companies

Feather Boy: book by Nicky Singer and Peter Tabern, lyrics by Don Black, music by Debbie Wiseman

No one's more surprised than Robert, the class nerd, when a strange old lady sends him on a quest to the derelict Chance House. Legend has it that a boy once fell to his death from an upper window. To get to the truth, Robert must learn what it really means to fly. A musical with big show routines, tender lyrical numbers and a firebird undercurrent of myth and magic.

Feather Boy, Nicky Singer's first novel for children, won the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award and the subsequent TV adaptation, by Peter Tabern, won a BAFTA for Best Children's Drama. Her second book Doll was nominated for the Booktrust Teenage Prize and she recently published The Innocent's Story. She has written four adult novels and two books of non-fiction, and has also worked in television, notably as the presenter of the BBC2 series Labours of Eve.

Peter Tabern is a three times winner of the British Academy Award (BAFTA). In addition to his BBC adaptation of Feather Boy, his work includes Children of the New Forest (co-writer) for the BBC; Life Force, an original 13-part science fiction drama for ITV; an adaptation of Stig of the Dump for the BBC, which earned him his second BAFTA, for script writing, and won the 2002 International EMMY Award for Children's Drama; and a forthcoming adaptation of Terry Pratchett's novel Johnny & the Bomb for the BBC.

In a career that has won Don Black many prizes (an Oscar for his song Born Free, five Academy Award nominations, three Tony nominations, five Ivor Novello Awards, a Golden Globe and many platinum, gold and silver discs), he has worked with some of world's leading composers and written over a hundred songs for films including a quintet of James Bond theme songs. He received two Broadway Tony Awards for best book and best lyrics of a musical for Sunset Boulevard, and also collaborated with Andrew Lloyd Webber on Tell Me on a Sunday, Aspects of Love and Bombay Dreams.

Debbie Wiseman has composed and conducted over 150 scores for film and television productions, including Wilde, Tom & Viv, Othello, Judge John Deed, My Uncle Silas, Tom's Midnight Garden, Warriors and Stig of the Dump, as well as the television series of Feather Boy. Her album of music to accompany the fairy stories of Oscar Wilde was nominated for a Grammy Award and made into a trilogy of animated films - Wilde Stories - for Channel 4.

For further information, contact Mr Richard Boswell at

Ellesmere College 01691 622321


29th March 2006  Back to News