Chichester students stage new musical ahead of New York run later this year

Lifeline (contributed pic)Lifeline (contributed pic)
Lifeline (contributed pic)
Musical theatre students at the University of Chichester have been enjoying a week-long workshop to develop a new musical which is heading to New York later this year.

The new Scottish folk musical, Lifeline, tells the story of Alexander Fleming and the discovery of penicillin. 36 students on the BA (Hons) Musical Theatre Performance programme will perform the new musical at the end of the workshop.

The University of Chichester Conservatoire has established a reputation as a key development facility for new musical theatre writing in the UK since Andrew Wright, programme leader for musical theatre performance, launched initiatives to support emerging, new work.

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In partnership with Mercury Musical Development and Musical Theatre Network, the students gain first-hand experience of working directly with the writers, creating original roles, having input in the process and understanding the challenges that face those creating new musicals.

For Lifeline, students are working in collaboration with producer Jessica Conway and the creative team at Charades Theatre Company on developing the show ahead of a confirmed run in New York in the autumn.

Andrew said: “When the opportunity arose for us to work on this show, I knew I had to find a way to make it happen. This is a really exciting opportunity for our students to be involved in the progression of a show that is heading to New York later this year.”

Lifeline, with music and lyrics by Robin Hiley and a book by Becky Hope-Palmer, tells the story of Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming’s world-changing discovery of penicillin in 1928, charting the “rise and fall of antibiotics.” Fleming’s story weaves with Aaron’s, who is receiving cancer treatment today, almost 100 years after antibiotics were discovered. But his life hangs in the balance, as he waits to see if this miracle cure still works well enough to save him.

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Jessica said: “We are so delighted to be working with the Musical Theatre Performance students at Chichester Conservatoire on Lifeline. We have been on a long journey with this musical, starting under the name of The Mould that Changed the World with two sell-out runs at the Edinburgh Fringe and a sold-out tour to the East coast of the US. We have been working hard over the past year to develop the show ahead of our off-Broadway run this autumn and as a vital part of this development, we are working with University of Chichester students to get the new version on its feet. They are the first ones to shape this new script and it has been a total joy to see them bring it to life this week. The students’ and Andrew’s commitment to supporting and championing new musicals is fantastic to see and we are really looking forward to performing with them on Friday.”

Second and third-year students will perform the new musical on Friday, May 10, in The Chapel of The Ascension on Bishop Otter Campus. For tickets, visit:

The performance is directed by Alex Howarth, with musical direction from Neil Metcalfe. The workshop performance is facilitated and produced by Andrew Wright at the University of Chichester, working in collaboration with Jessica Conway at Charades Theatre.

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