Epic new musical Longitude to have world premiere this summer

Longitude lead image

New musical Longitude is to make its world premiere at Upstairs at the Gatehouse in London this summer.

Crafted by writer and producer Kaz Moloney, the piece runs from 13 June – 7 July 2024.

Longitude unfolds the remarkable life and legacy of John Harrison, an 18th-century carpenter and clockmaker whose genius revolutionised the way the world navigates. Buried in St John’s Parish Church, Hampstead, not far from the venue, Harrison’s story is particularly resonant.

The musical chronicles his groundbreaking invention of the marine chronometer, a device crucial for calculating longitude at sea. This invention not only saved countless lives by preventing shipwrecks but also opened up new trade routes and made sea passages safer.

Harrison’s journey was fraught with obstacles. Despite the revolutionary nature of his work, the committee overseeing the Longitude Prize, worth £20,000, initially refused to recognise his achievements due to disbelief in the chronometer’s efficacy. Facing scepticism, theft of his work, and bureaucratic hurdles, Harrison’s dedication to his invention and its potential to save lives was unyielding.

With an original book by Robert Trippini and a new book, lyrics, and music by Kaz Moloney, alongside contributions from William Godfree and David Moloney, Longitude promises a compelling musical narrative. A portion of the proceeds from the production will benefit the RNLI.


Starring in the role of John Harrison will be David Phipps-Davis (Oliver!, Sheffield Crucible; The Phantom of the Opera, UK Tour), alongside Claire Russell (Aspects of Love, Prince of Wales Theatre, Les Misérables, Palace Theatre) performing as Mother, John Harrison’s wife.

Joining them will be Imogen Opie (Doc Martin, ITV; Mother Goose, Hackney Empire) as Lizzie Harrison, Alex Lyne (The Untitled, Seven Dials Playhouse; Legacy: A Tory Tale, The Canal Café Theatre) as The Reverend and Abigail Brodie (The Addams Family, UK Tour; The Wind In the Willows, London Palladium) as First Sea Lord, Chair of the Board and King George III.

Chris Agha (The Marriage of Figaro, Royal Opera House) will also perform in various roles, including Sir Edmund Halley, a member of the Board of Longitude and Astronomer Royal. Troy Yim (You’re a Good Man, Upstairs at the Gatehouse; Rent, Chinese National Tour) will be returning to Upstairs at the Gatehouse as he too performs in various roles these including Sir Isaac Newton and Grog Thug.

Sam Chesnall will perform as William Harrison and Liam Bradbury will play Adam Cox, both making their professional London debuts.

Writer and Producer of Longitude Kaz Moloney said: “My close collaborator on this project is my brother. Our father was a pilot, navigator and sailor, so conversations at family dinners frequently featured going somewhere adventurous and coming home safely. I guess that’s where my fascination with John Harrison began. Most of us know the feeling of being excluded, rejected, misunderstood.

“When John Harrison went to London to persuade the Board of Longitude that he had an answer to their problem, they laughed at him. But this man was so driven, so dogged and so diligent that he proved them wrong. He will inspire and uplift you. Put your life jackets on, you are about to enter a storm, and have tissues at the ready. This is a story of obsession, danger, injustice and love. ”

Upstairs at the Gatehouse added: “Our venue is quickly establishing itself as a vital part of the musical theatre landscape. In Longitude, we’re thrilled to present yet another exciting new work and continue our leading role in platforming and supporting new writers.”

For more information, visit longitudethemusical.com

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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