Burlesque musical of 40s London

Miss Nightingale Presents, featuring Amber Topaz
Miss Nightingale Presents, featuring Amber Topaz

Sheffield composer Matthew Bugg brings his new musical to his home city next week fresh from a week’s run in the London West End.

Miss Nightingale - the burlesque musical is at the Lyceum Theatre next Thursday and Friday, the penultimate dates of a three-month UK tour.

Matthew Bugg, writer of Miss Nightingale Presents

Matthew Bugg, writer of Miss Nightingale Presents

But on the strength of three five-star reviews in London Miss Nightingale looks to have a lot more life in it.

“We plan to go on another tour before taking it into the West End for a longer run,” says Bugg. “We’ve also had interest from the States so it is all very exciting.”

In a show which celebrates the vintage glamour, wit and sound of Forties London, two men struggle in the shadows of a war-torn city to thrust a new cabaret star into the spotlight. But backstage lurk secrets more devastating than the Blitz. The cast is headed by Rotherham-born international burlesque artist Amber Topaz, Ilan Goodman and Tomm Coles.

Last year the show premiered at the Lowry in Manchester and went on a short tour and this is an expanded version with seven characters instead of three, extra songs and extended storyline.

“It was very much studio-based and now it’s a full-scale musical playing in 1,000-seater houses,” explains Bugg who has written the music, lyrics and book.

“It’s a co-production with the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich, the Lowry and ourselves. We have had no Arts Council funding or anything, it’s a private enterprise.”

This time Bugg also performs. “I am in the on-stage band and I have a very small part as a seedy night-club owner,” he says..

“I am in a good position to look out at the audience and to see their response and as a consequence we have had one or two re-writes on the road. Three new songs were added when we went into the West End.

It has been a good 10 years in the making and latterly has required 14-hour shifts, seven days a week, says Bugg. So when the tour ends in Windsor the week after next, he can look forward to a long holiday?

“No, I can’t afford to stop, we have to make the most of the opportunity while it’s out there. So I will need to start planning to get the next tour out in the next 12 months.”

Miss Nightingale - the burlesque musical is at the Lyceum Theatre on Thursday, July 18, and Friday.