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Wilfred Owen musical is a West End sell-out
THE London West End premiere of a Wirral musical about First World War poet Wilfred Owen has sold out.
Bullets And Daffodils tells the story of his short time in the borough and even contains a song called Welcome To Birkenhead.
Created by Oxton musician Dean Johnson, it will be staged at the Jermyn Street Theatre near Covent Garden this Sunday, July 29.
Owen's iconic poems are set to music in the production, which features actor Christopher Timothy, who played vet James Herriot in BBC drama All Creatures Great And Small, and Graeme Clark from 80s band Wet Wet Wet.
Also in the cast is Chloe Torpey, a rising star of Wirral's acting scene who has been described as the next Glenda Jackson.
Dean, a lifelong fan of Wilfred's work, said: “The first performance of Bullets And Daffodils was at the Birkenhead Central Library just under two years ago.
"To have a sell-out show in the West End during the Olympics is very exciting.”
The play explores Wilfred's relationship with his mother through his letters, poetry and his life's events.
It has two characters, Wilfred and his mother Susan, and is set in a Victorian sitting room.
The dialogue is interspersed with songs written and performed by Dean. The play has the full support of the Wilfred Owen Association.
Looking forward to taking the show to the West End, Dean said recently: "It's development has been really fast and I'm delighted that we’ve made it to London.
"Jermyn Street is quite an intimate theatre, which is very well known for staging premieres, so to have the chance to appear there is a huge honour."
The original production premiered in Birkenhead Central Library in 2010 and has since been staged at a number of Wirral venues.
A host of well known actors including ex-Brookside actor Dean Sullivan and Hoylake-based writer/producer John Gorman have appeared in the show.
But, as Dean Johnson explained, the West End show promises some changes. He said: "The production is almost unrecognisable from how it was in the early days."
Born in Oswestry in 1893, Wilfred was brought up in Birkenhead and is recognised as one of the greatest voices of the First World War.
He also has a road named after him, on the former site of Birkenhead Institute, which is now a housing estate.
In 1915, he enlisted in the British Army and was killed, aged 25, on November 4, 1918, during the battle to cross the Sambre-Oise canal at Ors in Northern France.
At the time of his death he was virtually unknown. Only four of his poems were published during his lifetime.
But he had always been determined to be a poet and had experimented with verse from an early age.
Among his 62 poems are 1914, Dulce et decorum est and Anthem For Doomed Youth.
The next local performance of the musical is at The Heswall Festival in October.