Julie Atherton stars in musical version of Thérèse Raquin at the Finborough Theatre

Ben Lewis and Julie Atherton - Thérèse Raquin - Photo Credit Darren Bell

Ben Lewis and Julie Atherton in Thérèse Raquin at the Finborough Theatre, London. Picture: Darren Bell

The world premiere of a new musical adaptation of Émile Zola’s classic French novel Thérèse Raquin opens at the award-winning Finborough Theatre for a four-week run, opening Tuesday 25 March (press night is 27 March), starring Julie Atherton and Olivier Award nominee Tara Hugo.

The piece, with music by Craig Adams and book and lyrics by Nona Shepphard (who also directs), enjoyed a sell-out success at workshop level as part of Vibrant 2012 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights and as part of the Finborough Theatre’s acclaimed Celebrating British Music Theatre series,

In the cast are Julie Atherton. Lila Clements. Claire Greenway, Tara Hugo, Ellie Kirk. Jeremy Legat, Ben Lewis, Gary Tushaw, Verity Quade and Matt Wilman.

19th century Paris. Behind the counter of a small dusty haberdasher’s shop near the Seine in the dank, narrow Passage du Pont Neuf, sit Madame Raquin and her beautiful niece Thérèse whom she has married off to her sickly son Camille in a loveless match. While he is out working, Thérèse serves in the shop and the monotony is only broken on Thursday nights, when Madame plays dominoes with a strange assortment of old friends.

On one such Thursday, Camille brings a childhood friend to the party – the bluff and attractive Laurent. He inspires such an incredibly powerful passion in Thérèse that she abandons all her inhibitions and her loyalties. This brutal and overwhelming passion overturns all their lives and has results nobody could have foreseen.

Nona Shepphard began her theatrical career in her hometown as an actor at the Liverpool Playhouse, where she played in repertory for two years; she directed her first play at the Nuffield Theatre Southampton and wrote her first play when she was associate director at the Chester Gateway Theatre. Since then she has worked freelance as a writer, director and deviser with more than 150 productions and 40 commissioned plays to her credit. Her plays have been performed in the USA, Canada, Hong Kong, Europe and Russia.

Craig Adams is a composer, lyricist, and arranger. He was Cameron Mackintosh Resident Composer at the Finborough Theatre, facilitated by Mercury Musical Developments and Musical Theatre Network UK.Adams’ first musical Lift, developed in association with Perfect Pitch, received its world premiere at Soho Theatre in February 2013 and is now being licensed around the world, with an Off-Broadway run in November 2013. He is currently working on an adaptation of the Terry Pratchett novel Soul Music for YMT:UK, and a dance piece based on acclaimed children’s book Bob Robber and Dancing Jane entitled Shadowthief which will premiere in summer 2014.

Émile Zola (1840–1902) was a novelist, playwright and journalist, the most important exemplar of the literary school of naturalism and an important contributor to the development of theatrical naturalism. Thérèse Raquin was Zola’s first major work, originally published in serial format in 1867 in the journal L’Artiste and – due to its huge and immediate popularity – in book format in 1868, gaining additional publicity when critic Louis Ulbach called the book “putrid”. In 1873, Zola adapted the novel into a play, although it did not receive its London premiere until 1891, due to the Lord Chamberlain’s censorship. Both the novel and the play have been seen in many stage, screen, television and radio adaptations including a 2013 Hollywood film.

Thérèse Raquin is presented by Theatre Bench in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.

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