A powerful tribute to one of the unsung heroes of the First World War, written by two musicians from Battle, is set to make its London stage debut next month.
The Dreamers tells the true story of Captain David ‘Reggie’ Salomons who led his regiment Third Field Company to Gallipoli in 1915.
It was written by James Beeny and Gina Georgio when the Hastings-born pair were looking for a hero as subject matter for a song they were composing for their band the Virgin Soldiers.
They stumbled across the story of Captain Salomons and soon his tale of heroism was brought to the stage, with the six-piece band providing a moving musical commentary.
The century-old tale of courage brought audiences of all ages to their feet and moved many to tears when it premiered at The Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, in October.
And on June 30 the show is set to make its London debut at the St James Theatre after catching the eye of theatre director Lady Lucy French.
Speaking about the move to London, James said: “This time round there’s been a lot more to think about, such as understudies.
“Going to London is a big step up, so we have got to make sure we are ready.”
It was decided to keep the original cast for the London shows as they represent how ordinary people of all shapes and sizes were drawn into the conflict. The 20-strong cast includes students from Rye Studio School, Bexhill College, Claverham Community College in Battle and Sussex Coast College in Hastings.
But having a cast of nonprofessional actors with day jobs and studies meansrehearsals are confined to weekends.
Alongside the amateur cast, a host of star names appear as on-screen narrators, including Sir Tim Rice and Amanda Redman.
After writing for the Virgin Soldiers, former Claverham pupil Gina found it a challenge to write for other singers.
“It’s quite hard writing for other people because it means you cannot play it yourself,” she said. “You have to rehearse it in one key before passing it on to the singer.
“But it’s so rewarding when you hear a singer singing something you wrote.”
Although The Dreamers is set to music, don’t expect the standard musical fare.
Gina said: “What’s misleading about the term musical is you expect it to have dancing or everything to be quite flamboyant, but it’s quite serious.”
James and Gina hope The Dreamers will capture the imagination of the London audience and a transfer to a larger theatre could follow.
James said: “We have fallen into this – and I’m really glad we have.”