Get a first listen to new musical Starter for Ten

A first listen to new musical Starter for Ten has been revealed today!

Based on the novel by bestselling author David Nicholls, the new musical will receive its world premiere at Bristol Old Vic from 29 February – 30 March 2024.

Starter for Ten has an 80s-inspired original score and lyrics composed by queer, pop-punk composers Tom Rasmussen and Hatty Carman who have unveiled first track Touched by an Angel.

The song features the core company, with lead vocals by Adam Bregman (as Brian) and Emily Lane (as Alice). An accompanying music video has been put together by JAM+POST with music production by Jon Rasmussen.

Speaking today about their inspiration, composers Tom Rasmussen and Hatty Carman said of the music: “When we began thinking about the music that would soundtrack our adaptation of David Nicholls’s Starter For Ten, we started in the pages of the book. It’s a text totally rich with music from when the book is set—1985—and each character has their own specific musical tastes, which, as music does, illuminates their internal worlds so brilliantly. It made sense that Brian, our lead and a could-be working class hero, is into The Cure, The Smiths, Kate Bush.

“Yes, it’s ‘80s — and it’s British. So often when we think of ‘80s music we think of gloss, of late ‘80s glamour. But Starter for Ten is a total love letter to the subcultures of the early eighties, from post-punk to the New Romantics. It’s about experimental synths, drum machines, and of course—the musician’s greatest weapon—the guitar.

“The first track we’re releasing from the show — Touched by an Angel — is when Brian sees the supposed girl of his dreams for the first time. It’s the punk ballad of a lovesick Essex Boy, one who loves to quote Brontë.”

Starter for Ten has book and lyrics co-written by Emma Hall and Charlie Parham. The production will be directed by Charlie Parham, choreographed by Shelley Maxwell, with set and costume design by Olivier Award nominee Frankie Bradshaw, sound design by Gregory Clarke and casting by Will Burton for GBC.

What is eighteen-year-old Brian Jackson’s proudest achievement to date? His A-level results. His idol? Kate Bush. His lifelong dream? To compete on legendary TV quiz show University Challenge. It’s 1985 and, leaving Southend to start his first year at Bristol University, Brian soon discovers that falling in love and growing up take a lot more than general knowledge…

For more information and tickets, visit

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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