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The highwayman came riding … right into the Norwich Theatre Playhouse

We had a chat to the Director of the new musical, The Highwayman, about his favourite moments in the show, what inspired him and his favourite kindness tips!


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We sat down with Adam Nichols, Director of the brand new musical The Highwayman, which is heading to Norwich Theatre Playhouse between 14 – 18 Aug. He talks to us about the show, his favourite moments, and how pizza is a form of self-care.  

What can audiences expect?  

An epic musical, uniquely British, but with the sweep and musical grandeur of Les Mis and the sass and humour of Hamilton. 

Explain the show in three words  

Funny, moving, gut-punching. 

Where do you get your ideas from? 

I almost always get my ideas from music, so working on a musical is a dream for me! It’s been very interesting having some dramaturgical input into this show because there’s been a constantly evolving process of Kitty writing, us trying stuff out in the room with actors in development workshops and that then feeding back into the writing again.  

Can you give us a sneak peek at your favourite moment in the show? 

It’s changed over time, and I’m sure I’ll have a different answer once we’ve rehearsed the show and gotten it open. Right now, I’d probably say that the opening number still raises the hairs on the back of my neck – it’s the first bit of the show I ever heard, and I think it will blow the audience away. 

Are you excited to come to Norwich Theatre Playhouse?  

I can’t wait. The history of the building has so many resonances with the story of The Highwayman, and it feels right that this show should open in East Anglia given its setting and provenance. 

What is the importance of providing platforms for new musicals?  

I’ve always loved musical theatre, and I have for many years created new musicals, but it has often felt like musicals are looked down on by the rest of the theatre industry. It has also felt that where musicals were programmed, it was the tried and tested classics that were chosen. Now, however, it feels that new musicals are having a moment – with shows like Operation Mincemeat and Standing at the Sky’s Edge having successful runs in London, producing theatres and commercial producers are realising that audiences are interested in and excited by fresh shows. I hope that we can play our part in continuing this trend. 

This season, we are exploring kindness through creativity. How do you use your craft to exercise kindness to yourself and others?  

I think everyone finds self-kindness difficult, don’t they?! As far as kindness to others is concerned, we work very hard when we’re casting shows and appointing creatives to find people who share our values, which include kindness and openness in the rehearsal room. We spend half an hour at the start of each day warming up together, which is a great opportunity to ensure we’re all connected to each other and for me, as the person leading the group, to get a sense of who might need extra support that day. I also try to ensure we check in at the end of each week to review where we’re at, both personally and professionally. Oh, and pizza. 

The Highwayman is inspired by the infamous Alfred Noyes poem, and tells the story of a dashing rogue in a full-throttle musical gallop through the grimy underbelly of 1600s England, where love is as dangerous as a back-alley brawl.  

Book now!