New musical adaptation of Great Expectations to debut in Broadstairs

Gordon directs Laurie in rehearsal

A new musical adaptation of Charles Dickens classic Great Expectations will have its premiere in Thanet next month (May).

Writer and composer Laurie Hornsby has written a 17 song score and the adaptation for the show. He was inspired in the 1970s when he was working as a professional musician in Ramsgate and, on a day off, visited Broadstairs.

When he got back home to Birmingham at the end of the season an idea to write a musical began to take shape.

He was back in Broadstairs for the Dickens Festival 2017 and, after seeing Gordon Clarkson’s Vintage Music Hall, asked Gordon to produce his musical. Gordon refused, but then heard the score and was immediately sold!

Nearly a year later and the show is due to have its premiere on Sunday, May 20, at the Pavilion in Broadstairs as part of the BroadstairsLit events.

Gordon said: “Laurie’s songs are amazing, and this is an absolute joy to work on.”

Gordon will lead a versatile company who portray  a troupe of Victorian actors about to stage a version of Great Expectations. Gordon narrates in the style of a music hall chairman and is also Jaggers the solicitor. The troupe all play a variety of characters.

Stephanie Williamson plays various cameo roles; including that of the young boy Pip, until he grows up and is played by Joseph Wyatt – who also takes roles as a prison sergeant and a judge.

Frank Tucker plays the diverse roles of Magwitch and Pumplechook, while Jane Pulford tackles Miss Havisham and Mrs Joe. Daisy Relf is the beautiful but heartless Estella, and by extreme contrast, Mrs Hubble, and Jake Warner is Joe, Compeyson and Herbert. Live musical support comes from Paul Stewart and Stuart Knight.

Laurie has written two books about the music scene in his home city of Birmingham, and his other musicals have done seasons at Worcester and Birmingham Rep’s and notably at Birmingham Hippodrome for a season.

He has collaborated with musicians such as Bev Bevan and Dave Morgan of ‘The Move’ and The Electric Light Orchestra. He has also written for albums and shows featuring performers such as Stephen Lewis from ‘On the Buses’, Isla St Clair, and Jasper Carrott.

Great Expectations opens at Broadstairs Pavilion for two performances only at 3pm and 7.30pm on May 20.

Gordon said: “The great thing about this show is that we are not restricted to theatres. The style in which Laurie has written it means that we can take it to castles, warehouses, even perform it in a tent, so we have far more scope in terms of venues and are talking to English Heritage and the National Trust’ among others, so it’s an exciting time.”

To see the first performances at Broadstairs, tickets are  £11 in advance plusbooking fee from  or £13 on the door.

Call 01843 448040 for enquiries or Freephone 0800 7813452 for group booking and discounts.