Winter 2013-14 | December 2013 - February 2014


A Musical Romance

Music by Ivor Novello. 

Lyrics by Christopher Hassall. Book by Phil Park. 

Music Adapted and Arranged and Additional Material Composed by Ronald Hanmer.

Sunday, 12 January - Saturday 25 January 2014

The professional world premiere

Part of the Finborough Theatre's
Celebrating British Music Theatre and THEGREATWAR100 series'

The Finborough Theatre's acclaimed Celebrating British Music Theatre series returns with Ivor Novello’s very last musical, Valley of Song, playing a week of Sunday and Monday evening and Tuesday matinee performances from Sunday, 5 January 2014, followed by a two week run from Sunday, 12 January 2014.

Left unfinished at the time of his sudden death, and completed by his longtime collaborator Christopher Hassall, Valley of Song is a unique – and final – opportunity to see a world premiere of Novello’s work upon the stage.

Set in a world of optimism on the eve of the Great War, Valley of Song is a homage to Wales – Novello’s homeland – and a touching farewell to the music of his youth.

The Welsh Valleys, 1913. Nan Brewster is the largest landowner in the valley and supports the local valley choir, run by choirmaster David. David’s love for Lily, his leading soprano, creates beautiful music for the choir. But when Lily is given an opportunity to sing in Venice, she jumps at the chance, and into the arms of Ricardo, a wealthy count set on making her an international star. But, by opening night, it becomes clear that Ricardo’s intentions are not entirely honourable... As Europe is plunged into the First World War, how much is David willing to sacrifice for the woman he loves?


Welsh-born composer, author and actor Ivor Novello (1893-1951) was one of the most eminent British entertainers of the 20th century. The Finborough Theatre recently enjoyed huge success with sell-out productions of two of his musicals – Perchance to Dream (2011) and Gay's The Word (2012) which subsequently transferred to the Jermyn Street Theatre. As a composer, he trained in Cardiff, Gloucester (alongside eminent British composers Ivor Gurney and Herbert Howells) and at Magdalen College School, Oxford. His musicals include Glamorous Night, The Dancing Years and King’s Rhapsody; his more than 250 songs include Keep the Home Fires Burning, I Can Give You the Starlight and Waltz of My Heart. As an actor, he was one of Britain's first major film stars, appearing in over twenty films including playing the title role in the original silent version of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger; while his long stage career included many of his own plays and musicals. Novello’s musical legacy is commemorated in the Ivor Novello Awards, established in 1955 to honour excellence in British music writing.


Director Benji Sperring recently directed Maurice Maeterlinck’s The Blind and The Intruder at the Old Red Lion Theatre which received an OffWestEnd Award nomination for best design and a transfer to the Tabard Theatre. Directing includes Assassins (Palace Theatre, Manchester), Sweet Charity (Kings Theatre, Southsea), The Monk (Barons Court Theatre), Fun Like Stalingrad (Hen and Chickens Theatre), Six Characters In Search Of An Author (Caccia Studio) and Under Milk Wood (Caccia Studio).


Laura Allen | Ensemble

Trained at Guildford School of Acting.
Theatre includes Tommy (Shaftesbury Theatre), Twelfth Night (Gaiety Theatre, Douglas), Spring Awakening: The Musical (Bull Theatre, Barnet) and Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down (White Bear Theatre).

Katie Arundell | Ensemble

Trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama.
Theatre includes The Wish, Cabaret, Spring Awakening, Into The Woods and Richard II (Embassy Theatre).

Amelia Clay | Ensemble

Trained at ALRA.
Theatre includes The Rubber Room (The Old Vic), The Scandalous Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Twelfth Night (Tabard Theatre), Present:Tense (Watford Palace Theatre) and Butterflies Are Free (English Theatre, Vienna). Film includes The Philosopher King, Elder Jackson, Splitting, Scratch, and Sold.

Lee Van Geleen | Ensemble

Trained at the London School of Musical Theatre.
Theatre includes H.M.S. Pinafore (Union Theatre), Applause and My Favourite Year (Bridewell Theatre) and ‘Tis The Season (Jermyn Street Theatre).

Linford Hydes | David

Trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Theatre includes The Importance of Being Earnest (Etcetera Theatre), Closer Than Ever, Time and the Conways and The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Bute Theatre, Cardiff).
Recordings include Palamino Party.
Concerts include Accidental Festival (Roundhouse Theatre).

Richard Mark | Ricardo

Trained at Drama Studio London and Bristol University.
Theatre includes The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Chichester Festival Theatre and Duchess Theatre), The Incredible Book Eating Boy (MAC, Belfast), Edward II (Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester), The Wind In The Willows (York Theatre Royal) and Spike Milligan’s 'Adolf Hitler: My Part In His Downfall' (Bristol Old Vic and National Tour). Television includes Dancing on the Edge, Sofia’s Diary and Sweet Swan of Avon.

Amira Matthews | Maria

Trained at the Arts Educational Schools.
Theatre includes Miss Saigon (National Tour) Annie (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Merrily We Roll Along (Theatr Clwyd Cymru), Evita (National Tour), Jekyll and Hyde (National Tour), Fiddler on the Roof (National Tour), Victor/Victoria (Southwark Playhouse), The Merry Widow and La Traviata (Holland Park Opera).
Television includes Tipping The Velvet.

Jill Nalder | Olwen

Trained at Mountview Theatre School.
Theatre includes Les Miserables (Palace Theatre), Oliver! (London Palladium), Cabaret, Gypsy, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Harlequinade, and Black Comedy (Grand Theatre, Swansea), Annie (Grand Theatre, Swansea, and National Tour) Godspell, Gypsy (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield), Sugar [Some Like It Hot] (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Oliver!, The Hobbit (Nottingham Playhouse and National Tour), Nunsense (National Tour), Stepping Out (Arts Depot London) and WestEnders (Three National and International Tours).
Concerts include Hello Dolly and My One And Only (London Palladium).

Ross McNeill | Ensemble

Trained at the MTA.
Theatre includes Ushers (Hope Theatre), Billy and On A Clear Day You Can See Forever (Union Theatre), Tommy – The Musical (Prince Edward Theatre), Christmas in New York (Prince of Wales Theatre) and Back To The Musicals (The Pheasantry).
Film includes Territory.

Harrison Rose | Ensemble

Trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Theatre includes Assassins (Bute Theatre, Cardiff) and Jesu, Meine Freude (St Mary’s Church, Swansea). Film includes Submarine, Princess Lillifee.
Television includes Eisteddfod Yr Urdd.

Philippa Tozer | Ensemble

Trained at Guildford School of Acting.
Theatre Includes Vocalarity (St James Theatre and Tour), Life In The Middle (Class) Lane (Canal Café Theatre), Jason and the Argonauts (New Players Theatre), Spin The Wheel and Judge Me (Henley Festival), Goldilocks and Aladdin (National Tour).
Film includes Any Minute Now.

Katy Treharne | Lily

Productions at the Finborough Theatre include Ivor Novello's Perchance To Dream (2011).
Trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Theatre includes The Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre), Only Men Aloud at Christmas (National Tour), Dear World (Charing Cross Theatre), Love Beyond (Brighton Centre) and Calling of Maisy Day (Wales Millennium Centre).
Concerts include Songs from the Shows (St David’s Hall, Cardiff) and Wales in the West End (National Eisteddfod).

Carla Turner | Ensemble

Trained at Italia Conti and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Theatre includes RIP (King's Head Theatre), Tick, Tick…Boom! (Dylan Thomas Theatre, Swansea), Monologueslam - Winner (Theatre Royal Stratford East), Under Milk Wood (The Space, Edinburgh) and Early Doors (National Tour). Film includes Fog of Sex.
Television includes The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies.

Sandy Walsh | Nan

Productions at the Finborough Theatre include Patience (2005).
Sandy studied in Birmingham.
Theatre includes Blood Brothers (Phoenix Theatre and National Tour), The Birthday Party, Peer Gynt, Oh, What a Lovely War, The Shoemaker’s Holiday and A Man for All Seasons (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield), The White Devil, Shadow of a Gunman, Fight for Shelton Bar, Richard III, Relatively Speaking and A Doll’s House (The New Vic Theatre, Stoke) Barney and The Puzzlemaster (Birmingham Rep), On Golden Pond (Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham,) Bed Among the Lentils (English Speaking Theatre Frankfurt) and This Wide Night (Gothenburg English Studio Theatre) and seven one-woman shows including Ecocide (Edinburgh Festival Fringe First), Soldiering On and Dancing in Shadows (Bridewell Theatre) and Correspondent (Bridewell Theatre and The Assembly Rooms Edinburgh)
Television includes Frances Marsden in Emmerdale, Peep Show, Holby City and Doctors.
Radio includes Vanity Fair, White Out, Falling Through Italy, Tales The Countess Told and For Richer, For Poorer.
Radio presenting work includes the Sony award-winning Talking Point and anchoring World Briefing, Reporting Religion, The Proms, Meridian Live and Good Books.


In 2006, the Finborough Theatre began the Celebrating British Music Theatre series with a sell-out production of Leslie Stuart’s Florodora. Productions since then have included sell-out rediscoveries of Lionel Monckton’s Our Miss Gibbs, Harold Fraser-Simson’s operetta The Maid of the Mountains, A "Gilbert and Sullivan" Double Bill featuring Gilbert’s play Sweethearts and Sullivan’s opera The Zoo, Dame Ethel Smyth’s opera The Boatswain’s Mate, Sandy Wilson’s The Buccaneer, Oscar Asche’s Chu Chin Chow, Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley's The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd, Ivor Novello's Perchance to Dream and Gay's The Word, Gilbert and Sullivan's The Grand Duke, Edward German's Merrie England and Paul Scott Goodman's Rooms: A Rock Romance.


THEGREATWAR100 series is a new occasional series of works to be presented by the Finborough Theatre from 2014 to 2018 to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. Other productions include a new musical by Phil Willmott – Lost Boys: Neverland Grows Up – playing concurrently with Valley of Song in January 2014.


“Enchanting” Giles Cole, WhatsOnStage

“The Finborough have unearthed quite the little gem here: hugely witty, extremely tuneful and full of heart.” The Public Reviews

“Somewhat eclipsed in terms of popularity by his contemporary Noël Coward, Ivor Novello’s works get far less exposure than his name would suggest. A revival at the Finborough Theatre...proves this to be a rather gross injustice.” A Younger Theatre

“A gem of a venue, with a healthy history of putting on, not just new plays, but also reviving forgotten musicals from the 19th and 20th centuries, under the directorship of the inspirational Neil McPherson.” Kensington and Chelsea Today

“Fizzes and sparkles with absolute confidence in its retro content.” The Public Reviews


“It is the images I shall remember from Benji Sperring's production… a fascinating collector’s item.” Michael Billington, The Guardian on The Blind and The Intruder 

“Benji Sperring’s orchestration of both the stage space and the evocative soundscape is jam packed with expressionistic meaning.” Honour Bayes, The Stage on The Blind and The Intruder


Sunday, 12 January - Saturday, 25 January 2014

Tuesday to Sunday evenings at 7:30pm. Sunday Matinees at 3:00pm.

Tickets £18, £16 concessions

Tuesday Evenings £16 all seats and Friday and Saturday evenings £18 all seats.

Full booking information

For details of our Returns Policy for sold out performances, please click here


Directed by Benji Sperring.

Designed by Jacob Hughes.

Choreography by Sally Brooks.

Lighting by Nic Farman.

Musical Direction by Adam Morris.

Assistant Direction by Rachel Illingworth.

Presented by arrangement with Josef Weinberger

Presented by Tarquin Productions in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.

The performance runs approximately two and a half hours