Claybody Theatre to present premiere of Deborah McAndrew’s stage adaptation of The Card

Claybody Theatre is to present the premiere of Deborah McAndrew’s stage adaptation of Arnold Bennett’s joyful 1911 novel The Card.

Directed by Conrad Nelson (Pride and Prejudice, Grosvenor Open Air Theatre), Deborah McAndrew’s (A Christmas Carol, Leeds Playhouse and Pride and Prejudice, Grosvenor Open Air Theatre) adaptation will be performed at Fenton Town Hall from 29 June to 9 July 2022.

Written in 1911, The Card was adapted into a successful film in 1952 featuring Alec Guinness as Denry Machin and Petula Clark as Nellie. In 1973 it was made into a West End musical featuring Joan Hickson, Jim Dale and Millicent Martin and featuring the choreography by Gillian Lynne. The musical was revived in 1994 at Regent Park’s Open Air Theatre.

The Card follows the adventures of the loveable rogue Denry Machin, as he makes his way up from humble beginnings to become the most celebrated ‘card’ in The Five Towns!

The Five Towns make up Bennett’s fictional Stoke-on Trent – each identifiable with one of the real towns. However, he was missing one – Fenton. Bennett had nothing against Fenton – he just felt that from a literary point of view, Five Towns just sounded better than six. Fenton has never quite forgiven him. Ironically, performances of The Card will take place in the newly refurbished Ballroom at Fenton Town Hall.

In the comical novel, the character of Denry Machin is identified with ‘the great cause of cheering us all up’ – and this is the inspiration for the new production. The joyful production will feature a professional cast of 7 actors/musicians and will be supported by the Claybody Community Company and championship brass band Acceler8.

Director, Conrad Nelson said: “After almost three years without creating a full production, it’s wonderful to be back with a show that will lift all our spirits and celebrate a local literary hero – Denry Machin.

“For a number of years local people have been asking us if we would do an adaptation of The Card, and it feels that this show has arrived just when we need it the most. It’s a story that demands music and celebration, and I’m particularly excited to be collaborating with actors/musicians, and the Acceler8 brass band to create a show full of life and fun.”

Writer Deborah McAndrew added: “I’m a huge Arnold Bennett fan and The Card is one of my favourites. Denry is a fantastic character and I know audiences are going to love him.”

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About the author: Josh Darvill

Josh is Stageberry's editor with over five years of experience writing about theatre in the West End and across the UK. Prior to following his passion for musicals, he worked for more than a decade as a TV journalist.


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