How Operation Mincemeat fans discovered a missing piece of British history

Fans of hit musical Operation Mincemeat have unearthed a missing piece of British history.

Currently running in the West End, Operation Mincemeat tells the unbelievably true story of a British World War II operation to fool enemy forces.

The musical’s portrayal of deception initially spotlighted the likes of Ewen Montagu and Charles Cholmondeley. However, Hester Leggatt, played by Jak Malone, Christian Andrews, and Seán Carey, remained an enigmatic background figure until now.

Operation Mincemeat Jak Malone as Hester Leggett.
Jak Malone as Hester Leggett. Credit Matt Crockett

But the once overlooked MI5 secretary has gained posthumous recognition due to the extraordinary efforts of Operation Mincemeat fans, aptly dubbed ‘Mincefluencers’.

Their #FindingHester project embarked on a journey through history, piecing together her life from a mosaic of archival treasures.

As a result, a plaque in her honour is set to be unveiled at the Fortune Theatre on 11 December, six months after the show’s West End premiere.

SpitLip, the musical’s writers and composers, said: “We were captivated by the mystery of Hester Leggatt from the moment we came across her. Try as we might though, we couldn’t unearth the details of her life. The real identity of Hester Leggatt fell, once again, into the background. That might have been the end of the story, were it not for our show’s community. Where we let the facts fall back into the shadows, they rolled up their sleeves and said ‘let’s go.’ They found her.”

barrister Greg Callus, one of the key contributors to the project added: “Operation Mincemeat succeeded because they managed to create an entirely fake person who was wholly believable from just a few fragments of pocket litter and documents. We all had great fun doing the exact reverse: finding and fleshing-out a very real woman from just the fragments of documentary evidence that her life had left behind. It was a joy to be a part of such a wonderful group of people, whose shared passion and care and diligence got so much done so quickly.”

Operation Mincemeat West End cast group photo
Operation Mincemeat left to right is Claire-Marie Hall, Natasha Hodgson, David Cumming, Zoe Roberts, Jak Malone. Credit Matt Crockett

Jak Malone, who plays Leggatt on stage, enthused: “The commitment, energy and enthusiasm of our fans has left me awed, inspired and immensely proud. Due to their efforts, the real Hester finally has the recognition she so rightly deserves and I’m simply elated. I first built my portrayal of Hester based on scraps of information and thanks to our fans now I’ve been presented with this fully fleshed out person with such a rich, full life and It’s been a blessing.”

Those involved the project included Annabel Rose, Ben Caligari, Bram de Buyser, Claudia Caplan, Caitlin DeAngelis, Dave Baxter, Elinor Quick, Erin Edwards, Gail Bishop, Greg Callus, Hûw Steer, Jack Lawrence, Jan Schneider, Jenny Murray, Jessie Honnor, Kathy Bolt, Maayan Shir, Misha Anker, Philippa Peall, Rachel Pantrey, Rose Crossgrove, Sarah Haynes, Sharon O’Connor, Silvia Lemos, Sophie Message & Valeria Oliveira.

About the author: Rachel Wise

UK based freelancer journalist Rachel contributes regularly to Stageberry with features and interviews from the hottest new shows and stage stars.


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