Falstaff is an ambitious larger-scale musical, based on Shakespeare’s most famous and colourful male relationship – that between Falstaff and the future Henry V, Prince Hal. The story of the wild young prince’s escapades in the inns and brothels of medieval London, abetted by the endearing rogue Sir John Falstaff and his band of disreputable followers; the emotional conflict between the prince and his despairing father, King Henry IV; the fierce clashes between the tempestuous rebel, Hotspur, and his fellow revolutionaries; and the final facing of reality for Prince Hal, Hotspur, and Falstaff at the cataclysmic Battle of Shrewsbury, has been one that has fascinated creators from Verdi to Orson Welles and Kenneth Branagh. It is far more substantial than the frivolous ‘Merry Wives of Windsor’, and has all the elements for a spectacular, hilarious and moving musical.
In order to create a simplified two hours of narrative from Shakespeare’s complex three play saga – scenes, characters and dialogue from parts One and Two of ‘Henry IV’, and fragments from ‘Henry V’, have been combined and condensed, but using only Shakespeare’s own words (except for some of the lyrics).
The cast numbers around thirty (with various smaller parts doubled), the setting is multiple, the score requires to be written by a contemporary composer with a knowledge of classical influences. The next Andrew Lloyd Webber, where are you?