Ahoy buoys and gills! Fisherman’s Friends The Musical is sailing around the UK on tour and will drop anchor at Milton Keynes Theatre from Tuesday 4 October.
Based on the true story of the chart-topping Cornish singing sensations, Fisherman’s Friends, and the hit 2019 film of the same name, this world premiere touring production follows a highly successful sold-out season in Cornwall.
When a group of fishermen (and friends) in Port Isaac unite to perform the traditional work songs handed down to them by their forefathers, nobody, least of all the fishermen themselves, expects the story to end on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. Their folk music talent and salt-of-the-earth realism excites fish-out-of-water London music executive Danny, who becomes convinced he can turn them into pop stars. But Danny must learn that there is more to life than selling your sole for fifteen minutes of fame.
The show is billed as a feel-good voyage about friendship, community and music. It is sure to be packed full of west country camaraderie and enough uplifting sea shanties to persuade any landlubber to find their sea legs.
Fisherman’s Friends The Musical is directed by James Grieve and written by Amanda Whittington, whose book is based on the screenplay by Nick Moorcroft, Meg Leonard and Piers Ashworth. The choreography is by Matt Cole and musical direction is by James Findlay. Set and costume design is by Lucy Osborne, sound design is by Dan Samson and lighting design is by Johanna Town. Musical supervision and arrangement is by David White and casting is by Jim Arnold.
The cast includes James Gaddas (Coronation Street, Billy Elliot The Musical) as Jim, the leader of the singing fishermen, and Parisa Shahmir (Mamma Mia!), as Alwyn, Jim’s daughter. They are joined by Robert Duncan (Drop The Dead Donkey), Anton Stephans (The X Factor, Starlight Express) and Dan Buckley (The Book Of Mormon) as fishermen Jago, Leadville and Rowan, alongside Susan Penhaligon (Bouquet Of Barbed Wire) as Maggie, Jago’s wife. Jason Langley (War Horse) plays music executive Danny.
The soundtrack features sea shanties made famous by the unlikely buoy band (such as ‘Keep Hauling’, ‘Nelson’s Blood’ and ‘No Hopers, Jokers and Rogues’) as well as original songs influenced by Cornwall’s coastal music. With romance and laugh-out-loud moments also promised as part of the action, it sounds as if we can expect to be easily reeled into the lives of a ragtag group of seafaring working men. In fact, we should probably be prepared to fall for this new musical hook, line and sinker.
Anchors aweigh – sea you there!
Running time: Approximately 2 hours 30 minutes, including one interval.
*Production photography by Pamela Raith.
Fisherman’s Friends The Musical is at Milton Keynes Theatre from Tuesday 4 to Saturday 8 October 2022. The UK tour continues until 13 May 2023.
This preview is also featured on Total MK.
Update 5 October 2022: Read my review of Fisherman’s Friends The Musical at Milton Keynes Theatre.
Georgina Butler is an editor, a dance writer and a ballet teacher.