Bonny & Read
Bonny & Read is a new musical play by Claire Novello, with music composed by Frederick Appleby, and directed by award-winning director Kenneth Michaels. It depicts the circumstances that led these two women to disguise themselves as men, go out to sea, and join the notoriously male-dominated world of piracy. There are four singers and three musicians involved.
Bonny & Read
Vera Ugarova - Production Manager
Based on Daniel Defoe’s account of the trials of Captain Packham and his pirate crew in Jamaica in 1720, ‘Bonny & Read’ is the real-life story of the two remarkable cross-dressing women pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read and their fateful encounter with Jack Rackham, also known as Calico Jack. It’s about the circumstances that led these two women to disguise themselves as men , go out to sea, and join the notoriously male-dominated world of piracy.
Told as a musical play it’s a fast-moving tragicomedy, part love story, part adventure story with many comic twists and tragic turns, which takes you on an epic voyage from Europe to the Caribbean.
The gorgeous music and songs add depth and poignancy and bring the 18th century historical characters and events to life.
And we’re sure you’ll agree that Bonny and Read’s story of exceptional female bravery and survival against all odds still has relevance today.
As the writer/producer of ‘Bonny & Read’ I began writing the story in 2019 and then decided that it would work well as a musical play so I asked the composer, Frederick Appleby, to set my lyrics to music which he did very successfully.
In the same year, it was given a rehearsed reading at Actors Writers London (AWL), an organisation of professional actors, writers and directors which supports new writing. The performance there was extremely well received.
Encouraged by the audience’s feedback, and with the director, Kenneth Michael’s support, ‘Bonny & Read’ was developed further with the intention of staging it in London fringe theatre venues.
Needless to say, Covid then intervened and nothing happened for nearly two years until November 2021.
We were then lucky enough to find two great London venues, the OSO Arts Centre, Barnes and the Brockley Jack Studio, Lewisham, both of which gave us huge encouragement and support, and where we were able to obtain dates for a couple of runs from November to December 2021.
Along with Kenneth Michaels, our Director and Musical Director, the super-talented and well-travelled Sarah Dyer, we found a lovely cast of actors: Christopher McDougall, Hannah Louise Saxton, Jessie Waterfield and Lawrence Harp. We also have a great production team: our technical expert, Edmund Sutton, who can manage everything from lighting and sound effects to 18th Century flintlocks, and Orsolya Nagy, Vera Ugarova, Paddy Gormley and Paul Vine whose help with marketing, social media, photography and artwork has proved indispensable.
Despite relatively modest box-office numbers due to a new outbreak of Covid, we managed to get excellent audience feedback and good reviews, and we were told by everyone who came to see the show that it deserved to be seen more widely and brought to new audiences.
So as we said, our main aim is to bring ‘Bonny & Read’ to wider audiences and to new types of audiences which differ from the more privileged London theatre goers we have performed to so far.
Because we know that the show has universal appeal and can attract a wide spectrum of people of all ages, social and ethnic backgrounds, we want to take the show on tour to coastal and regional towns in the South and south west, and bring it to culturally underserved communities like Portsmouth, or to more remote areas or seaside towns that receive little government or local council support.
But in order to fulfil this goal we need further support and funding to get us to the next stage on that journey.
We’ve just taken the show to the Brighton Open Air Theatre as part of the Brighton Fringe. We are thrilled to say we got a 4-star review so we think this will be an excellent springboard for our autumn tour.
To achieve what we’ve done so far, we’ve already invested in rehearsals and rehearsal space, our great cast of actors and musicians, our director and musical director, and creative team.
But, of course, we can’t guarantee audience numbers and fulfill the show’s ambition without considerable investment in marketing and publicity. This is also what will ensure the success of future touring.
In order to be able to afford the costs of the marketing and promotion required, we need your support and donations initially to help us pay for the costs of:
- making a professionally produced video of the show which can be used for publicity purposes
- live streaming the show in the case of cancellation or postponement, and to raise much needed revenue
- hiring a technical team, piano and equipment
- hiring a Marketing Manager and Marketing Assistant
- producing publicity, both print and social media
Our main aim here is to attract the biggest audiences we can. After all, we want as many people as possible to see and enjoy the show! That’s what makes our whole endeavour worthwhile.
But that’s where your donations come in - we can’t meet these costs without your support.
So we need your help to raise an initial target of £6,000
This will also help us to cover the costs we’ve already incurred for actors’, musicians’, directors’ and creatives’ fees, rehearsals and rehearsal space hire.
Any money over and above this figure will go towards financing our autumn tour, which is already at the planning stage, especially:
- venue hire
- rehearsal space hire
- fees to creatives and tech crew
- transport and accommodation costs
Director Kenneth Michaels about Bonny & Read
We hope you can join us on our eventful journey to Portsmouth and other coastal venues in the South and Southwest.
I started this trip on my own but found some amazing, enthusiastic supporters along the way, people who believed in the show and who thought it was worth investing their time and effort in.
Now I’m asking you to become part of the next exciting stage of this voyage, in the company of the extraordinary, larger than life characters Anne Bonny, Mary Read and their pirate crew.
If you’re keen to join us on this journey, jump aboard ship and please donate however much or however little you can afford - every contribution, even a small amount will help.
We thank you in advance for all your donations! Thank you, thank you, and thank you…!
Claire Novello, Writer/Producer