Stepping Out Theatre in Association with Partisan and Fallen Angel Theatre Company

Tess of the d'Urbervilles
by Thomas Hardy

A new musical adaptation by Alex Loveless

Directed by Chris Loveless

New Wimbledon Studio

Tue 2 – Sat 27 Sep

Tue – Sat 7.30pm, Thu & Sat 2.30pm

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Set against the beautiful background of nineteenth century Wessex, Thomas Hardy’s masterpiece is brought thrillingly to the stage in a new full length musical adaptation by Alex Loveless, full of drama, colour and passion.


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New Wimbledon Studio

Tue 2 – Sat 27 Sep

Tue – Sat 7.30pm, Thu & Sat 2.30pm

Tickets £15.40 (concessions available)

Prices include booking fees

Box Office 0844 871 7646

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This new British musical… features a strong trio of leading performances…The Loveless brothers Alex (who has written the book, music and lyrics) and Chris (who directs) have brought great sincerity to their storytelling… Alex Loveless’ surging power ballads… [are] very well delivered by the company of actor-musicians… The three leads provide a compelling centre to the show…



Based on the Thomas Hardy novel of the same name, Tess of the D’Urbervilles tells of the story of a girl who becomes tainted for life due to the actions of one unrepentant man. Full of moral arguments, the book is a weighty read with an overall melancholic tone.

The story, however, is captivating and many of the issues it raises regarding attitudes to sex, gender and religion are still pertinent today. This is perhaps why it makes for such an emotive musical.

With a talented ensemble of actor musicians and a potent mixture of folk, opera and traditional musical theatre techniques, the music rises and falls, perfectly blending Tess and Angel’s love story with the much darker set pieces.

Jessica Daley creates a stubborn, troubled, proud and extremely likeable Tess. Her rendition of "I saw your face" is heartfelt and moving, contrasting well with the waltz of distrust that is "Forbidden Fruit" with Martin Neely as the cold Alec D’Urberville.

The pastoral scenes are represented through ensemble songs, such as "Children of the Earth", that cleverly change tone as the piece develops. The wide-eyed innocence of the opening song is soon replaced by "The Belly of the Beast", although the comical "Will You Marry Me" is light relief, performed with good comic timing.

There is great depth to this production with lyrics that are poetic and yet not overly melodramatic. The small cast interact brilliantly and, although the stage is full, excellent direction from Chris Loveless ensures that it is never crowded. Movement is interwoven and, although there are few dance routines as such, the cast are constantly on the move reflecting Tess’s swirling emotions.

…this is a musically stunning production with haunting songs and strong direction. …I do hope that there is a great future life for this musical which deserves a bigger stage and to be seen by a wider audience.

Congratulations to Alex Loveless (book, music and lyrics) for encapsulating such a classic book in a beautiful musical.




I was concerned that a classic literary masterpiece by Hardy would have its dramatic meaning with the introduction of music diluted along with the potency and empathy of this piece. However I need not have been concerned, this in itself is a dramatic triumph. The whole cast support and complement each other bringing their individual talents to create the perfect ensemble.

The beautiful voices and instrument playing by the cast, which did remind me of the musical “Once”, along with the simple but extremely clever staging and lighting, gave you the depth of the piece I was looking for.

Tess (Jessica Daley) and Alec’s (Martin Neely) wonderful duet “Forbidden Fruit” with its dramatic red lighting and matador-like theme was an absolute delight showing the darkness of what was to come. Angel (Nick Hayes) perfectly cast, as was everyone, was both enchanting and captivating. His duet with Tess “I Deal in Deals” was vocally stunning by both.

The song “Will You Marry Me” performed by Izz (Sarah Kate Howarth), Marian (Jessica Millward) and Retty (Emma Harold) was perfect in its simplicity and showed their clear vocal talents in all their glory. During the confessions song (The Folly of my Youth) which gave me goose-bumps, was so well sung and acted you felt their pain and disappointment.

The second act brought more delights in the form of pulsating rhythmic drums, rustic charms and English folk music themes. You witness Tess developing into adulthood and by doing the right thing by her parents to “claim her kin” actually orchestrate her ultimate devastating demise. When she makes the decision to punish Alec to avenge her loss of innocence, the use of such creative yet simple lighting along with her outstanding acting is a wonder to watch.

This show was an absolute joy to watch and more than worthy of a place on a larger stage or at the very least playing to larger audiences and dare I say it should be seen on a West End stage. There is nothing I could fault with this production and I therefore feel its only right to give it the five stars it deserves. If you are looking for depth, fantastic acting, great movement, sublime singing and music then this is the show for you.




Created by Alex Loveless (also known for Bel-Ami and Remains of the Day), the show is a strong creation led by a strong cast – and both contribute to a wonderful evening of storytelling.

The original story is such a fraught, dramatic one that I was worried that Hardy’s story might be diluted, but I needn’t have. The score is a mixture of styles, with many songs enhancing the dramatic narrative and relationships perfectly. Accompanied by a chorus of very talented actor-musicians, the songs range in styles from slight folk numbers, mixed with elements of tango, slightly rocky chords and the essential torch numbers.

Highlights of the evening included Alec (Martin Neely) and Tess’ (Jessica Daley) duet ‘Forbidden Fruit’ which sees the two negotiate their relationship, as well as ‘Will You Marry Me’ – a comedic plea from the young farm hands to Angel (Nick Hayes). Whilst all of the evening was beautifully sung, the strongest relationships vocally were those of Daley and Hayes – their acting too, performing the wonderful lyrics perfectly.

The supporting cast, including many Royal Academy alumni, all pitched their performances at the right level, whilst the melodramatic Durbeyfield parents (Marc Geoffrey and Catherine Digges) injected much needed humour into the  heartbreaking storyline.

A clever set design by David Shields, and the foreshadowing lighting design by Phil Spencer Hunter combine to pull the evening along nicely, as well as Chris Loveless’ direction of a small but incredibly talented company. This beautiful new musical deserves a home on a bigger stage: it has a perfect blend of a new score, great book, talented cast and winning direction.




Wisely, the production is almost entirely sung-through - the rural idyll of Children of the Earth; the selfishness of Alec's Forbidden Fruit, tempting Tess with strawberries and the promise of a better life; and the milkmaids' clever and funny plea to Angel, Will You Marry Me - are superbly conceived and realised.

Jessica Daley… sings beautifully and captures the hideous dilemmas the mores of the time forces upon her. Nick Hayes looked angelic as Angel and carried off his remorse on his return from Brazil perfectly. …they received excellent support from colleagues required to sing, dance, act and play instruments. Special mention should go to Emma Harold, Sarah Kate Howarth and Jessica Millward, whose talents will ensure that they will not be in ensembles for long.

…there is so much to admire in this production… the fusion of the Victorian Novel and Musical Theatre is remarkable. It may not quite be Les Mis, but it's not so very far away, and that's thrilling enough for me!



it is great to have original musicals by talented young writers such as Alex Loveless and independent companies like Stepping Out Theatre Company (in association with Partisan and Fallen Angel Theatre)…

The stylised yet minimalistic designs are by David Shields, the handsome period costumes are by Penn O’Gara, while Chris Loveless – who has previously staged musicals by Alex Bel Ami at the Charing Cross Theatre and Remains of the Day at the Union – provides the clever direction (this is the fourth large scale musical that the brothers Loveless have worked on together). The cast here is no less than superb, especially the two leads.

Lovely Jessica Daley, fresh from her West End debut in Mamma Mia!, makes a strong impression as Tess, while Nick Hayes is a handsome leading man with a richly coloured voice and a commanding yet vulnerable stage presence.

Martin Neely makes a believable villain as Alec D’Urberville, while the rest of the cast – sometimes playing several parts and doubling as musicians (a device which is at times over-used but which works wonders here) – stresses the intimacy and sense of community among the villagers.

Boasting a charming score… a welcome addition to the roster of new British book musicals.




Having studied Tess of the D’Urbevilles some years ago, I was intrigued by the idea of the adaptation of the Hardy novel to a musical version. Delightedly, I am pleased to say that it worked on every level.

…an exciting and accessible production which can be enjoyed by those who know the novel and those who are new to it. The pace of the scenes does not lose momentum, ensuring the audience are involved throughout.

David Shield’s set, minimalistic in design, with black and white scenery, evokes not only the openness of the countryside but also the bleakness of Stonehenge. The clever use of lighting (Phil Spencer Hunter) transports us to the fields of Wessex at one moment and the interior of the ale house at another.

The play opens with a lively prologue sung superbly by drunk John Durbeyfield, played by Marc Geoffrey, who captures the essence of this poor peddler. At once the scene switches to the May dance on the village green. This is a delightful interlude where the ensemble plays the roles of the villagers and sings with gusto. Performing to Children of the Earth, the small studio is transformed and the mood set for an enjoyable matinee.

The energy and enthusiasm of the ensemble is infectious. Between them they play 20 instruments and their musical talent is undeniable. Having been captivated by them in their opening number, I could not wait for their further scenes. Each was delightful, performed with energy and relish. All are to be congratulated but I cannot leave this without a special mention to Emma Harrold who shone in her performance. In her role of Retty, we see her and farm girls Izz and Marian lusting for Angel, and their performance of Will You Marry Me is a delight.

I would also celebrate Daley for her depiction of the young, innocent Tess who is unaware of the cruelty of the world and is unprepared for its treatment of her, who accepts the inevitable and deals with all that fate has thrown at her; Neely in his portrayal of the cruel and lascivious Alec, and Hayes who is convincing as a good man but whose flawed character harms our heroine as much as the cruelty of Alec.

The haunting strains of the duet between Tess and Alec, The Folly of My Youth, take us through the interval and prepare us to journey with her to her destiny. Catherine Digges and Marc Geoffrey are to be congratulated for their convincing performances in their many roles, not least of which are Parson Clare and Mrs Angel, and their cold indifference to those whom they consider socially unworthy through the song A Truly Christian Woman.

There is no denying the musicality of the performers. Duets are emotional, solos are exquisite and ensemble pieces are enthusiastic and lively. The musical score with its notable numbers will leave you humming in the interval and at the close when you leave the Wessex countryside of the New Wimbledon Studio with memories of a glorious afternoon.



Alex Loveless' Tess of the D’Urbervilles is a wonderfully fresh and dynamic re-telling of a classic English story that brims with rustic reminiscence, charm and ominous drama. In this exciting piece of writing, musicianship shines as instrumental and vocal talents are seamlessly woven into 18th century Wessex village life, giving a folk inspired substance to the tale.

Tess is a young woman used and abused by Alec and over-idealised by Angel, all leading to tragic consequences. Where Hardy's novels frequently have a backdrop of foreboding barren moors, the introduction of musical theatre gives the author's whirlpool of emotions an excitement that only enhances the story.

Jessica Daley draws us in as Tess. Down to earth, honest and truly likeable, we wish for her life to work out, even though we know she is doomed. Alec is deliciously villainously played by Martin Neely. Cold, calculating and remorseless, as he duets with Tess in Forbidden Fruit the audience shivers with disgust. In complete contrast, Nick Hayes' Angel is the handsome and charismatic Angel. The love between his character and Tess is completely believable with their ravishing duet I Deal In Ideals, proving a premonition of the devastation to come. Daley’s voice is full of colour and dynamic as she changes from youthfully wide-eyed innocent, to a desperately wounded and bereft young woman. The show's tragic ending is a masterpiece, not only of musical intensity but also of outstanding stagecraft from both the company and Chris Loveless' top-notch team of creatives.

Alex Loveless has excelled at lush harmonies that are thrillingly and passionately sung by the whole company, a particular highlight being the opening number Children of the Earth. David Shield's simple yet effective set design is well complemented by lighting from Phil Spencer Hunter, both men working to create a clever evocation of time and place.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles is a beautiful new musical that re-tells a substantial novel with an energising score. It deserves a longer run, a bigger budget and a wider audience. Go see this show




…the prospect of musical theatre and Thomas Hardy seemed an odd one to me. A Victorian novel and show tunes? However surprisingly, though, Alex Loveless’s adaptation worked. …the dramatic, theatrical tone of Hardy’s story was captured by the equally dramatic musical numbers, with the cleverly pared down staging beautifully capturing the rural society Hardy depicted.

The first thing I noticed about this production was the level of thought and precision that had gone into every detail of the piece. It began with the musical ensemble standing on stage playing a short prologue on the flute, violin and oboe. It was split into three parts: the first minor, the second major, the third minor once more. Again, without revealing too much, the arrangement largely mirrored the arc of the plot itself: a wonderfully constructed introduction. The stage itself was beautifully presented, white shards of backdrop (almost like splinters of glass) filled the stage, painted with a bleak, black landscape of bare trees and rocks. Once more, the staging seemed symbolic, reflecting the tone of the story itself whilst also being visually striking.

Musically, too, the play was astonishingly good. …the overall impression was stunning, the voices of the ensemble and the leads filling the tiny studio theatre. It dominated the space, and was as melodramatic as the plot, the violins lilting sadly at the climax, and the ukeleles accompanying the more carefree, joyful moments. …the finale was genuinely moving, and the raw emotions of the characters involved were portrayed with some skill.

The ensemble, (who narrated the piece, like the chorus of a Greek tragedy), were undoubtedly sublime, versatile and quirky, their light-hearted presence complementing the rural feel of the piece as a whole: it could almost have been performed in a village barn! Nick Hayes was the perfect Angel, patronisingly well meaning and yet impossible to truly dislike…

… it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Chris and Alex Loveless have brought a perceptive, sensitive version of “Tess” back to Wimbledon. See it while you can.



…this new musical by Alex Loveless – book, lyrics and music is sheer enchantment from start to finish…

Loveless is particularly good at reproducing the kind of country music that would be around at that time and Lucy Cullingford’s accompanying rural style choreography fits the music extremely well. The music is really good, some of the songs and harmonies are excellent and there are some songs that could easily become standards – especially those sung by Jessica Daley in the eponymous role.

Loveless is so lucky to have a leading lady with such excellent acting skills and a truly thrilling voice. Her looks are unusual and eminently watchable, in fact when she is on it is a bit of an effort to watch anything else. In spite of this the entire cast is excellent. Angel Clare (Nick Hayes) looks like – well, like an Angel with the lighting by Phil Spencer bringing out the gold in his hair. Alec (Martin Neely) looks suitably Satanic by contrast…

This is a production where most of the company not only sing, dance and act but also play instruments violins, guitars, flutes and even a piano accordion right there on stage. Some of them swap instruments from time to time but they make a fine orchestra – with Christopher Ash the musical director on a piano behind a screen at the side of the stalls…

Altogether a highly successful debut for the show and director Chris Loveless should congratulate himself on a successful job.



Thomas Hardy’s melodramatic tale of ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ is brought life by Stepping Out in Association with Partisan and Fallen Angel Theatre. Written by Alex Loveless, this is the best new musical to hit the Off-West End stage in years…

Awarding ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ five stars seems stingy… Alex Loveless (Book, Music and Lyrics) has successfully captured the essence of Hardy’s melodramatic nineteenth-century novel and coloured it with a musical score that saturates the soul with emotion.

The melodies and powerful lyrics are blended with operatic folk music – a completely unexpected, unusual mix but the result hits you right from the start. The measure of this production’s success is that you do remember and hum the songs in your head long after you’ve seen the show. I haven’t been this bewitched by any musical since I first watched Boublil and Schönberg’s ‘Les Misérables’ (based on Victor Hugo’s novel). Set in rural Wessex at the time of the Depression, ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ is a thrilling, passionate adventure of love, sorrow and misadventure. Audiences are left speechless, particularly in the final denouement. This is a musical that tugs the heartstrings and won’t let go. It’s divine work.

Thanks to the flawless direction from Chris Loveless, the entire cast nailed it right on the first night. Casting Director Benjamin Newsome has chosen the most talented troupe of fresh faces for this intoxicating new musical. Jessica Daley stars as Tess Durbeyfield and gives an award-winning performance as the emotionally scarred, tragic heroine who finds herself in the position of being torn between two men – a situation that ultimately destroys her. Jessica’s voice has the ability to reduce those possessed with the steeliest of dispositions to tears, in particular in songs such as “I Saw Your Face”, which for me is the equivalent of the ‘Les Misérables’ tearjerker “On My Own”, but her duet “I Hear Your Voice” with Martin Neely (Alec D’Urberville) is the most heavenly, spiritually uplifting song of the evening. I need the CD now!

Martin Neely is perfectly cast in the role of wealthy, silver-tongued Alec D’Urberville. Neely’s interpretation of the snake-like, silver-tongued opportunist presents him flitting from high romance to evil demon in the first Act. Neely possesses the ability to make you believe in his charm, but his character quickly changes to curdle your blood in the first Act. Nick Hayes in the role of Angel Clare, the rival lover, will have you on the edge of your seat as he plays out his desire for Tess only to reject her once he discovers her past. Hayes perfectly captures Angel’s inner torment and pain at his own rejection of Tess, bringing out his obstinacy and deeply entrenched psychological flaws which he can’t shake off in order to accept her.

The musical direction and sound design is also terrific… Christopher Ash (Musical Director & Sound Designer) hasn’t just made use of the entire stage but has the ensemble in the background throughout. They play instruments including the accordion, and the overall arrangements helps to create a sensational folk sound.

David Shields has created a very clever set with higgledy-piggledy farmhouse buildings on which are painted rustic settings. This looks particularly creepy in the final scene at Stonehenge as the lights take on a ghostly appearance and the jagged line of the buildings appears in the shadows. Lighting Designer Phil Spencer Hunter has created exactly the right temperature to harmonise the set and on-stage actions. The creative team has pulled out all the stops in order to give the illusion of a West End set.

Everything about this work has its own unique magic and I am certain that with more development… it could go the same way as ‘Les Misérables’. It also has the potential to be staged as a concert based on enough powerful melodies and strong lyrical narrative. Whatever happens to this gorgeous musical we will certainly see it again – hopefully in the West End where it belongs. It’s about time we introduced another great love story to the West End stage and this would provide a refreshing tonic to long-running musicals. ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ is worthy of several awards.



Daley, Neely and Nick Hayes are the stars of Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and along with the eight other brilliantly talented actors and musicians, make this show a success. Overall, a magnificent performance.




Anyone seeking a reason to visit Wimbledon now there is no tennis on offer need seek no further than this fine musical Alex Loveless has created… Loveless has come up with some enchanting ballads and several rousing chorus numbers for the Wessex peasantry…

It has a first rate cast led by Jessica Daley as the luckless Tess whose misfortune it is to get raped by her very distant relation, Alec D’Urberville, and then to fall in love with the local lust object, Angel Clare, a prig to end all prigs. Daley sings splendidly and creates a deeply sympathetic Tess, Martin Neely as Alec is the cad of all cads and Nick Hayes a gilded youth as the appalling Angel

Chris Loveless has directed it in fine style, the cast play a multitude of musical instruments and roles to great effect – Catherine Digges and Marc Geoffrey play all the parents splendidly.

…this is a first rate affair worth seeking out without delay.



Doeful-eyed Daley, as a young girl trapped in the moral and social conventions of the era, plays her part beautifully with just the right balance of servility and fortitude.

Flaxen-haired Nick Hayes makes a dashing romantic hero as the priggish Angel…

Catherine Digges and Marc Geoffrey play six characters between them – including three sets of parents – and all are a treat.

The music…is atmospheric and melodic… The Loveless brothers have come up with a bold and well told story that should please Hardy fans.




This musical adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s classic English novel, breathes life into Tess of the d’Urbervilles, a text that (before reading it) many dump in the, “that’s an old book, it’s probably really boring and full of tricky lingo,” pile. This production proves that on stage, it’s nothing of the sort. Brothers Alex (Composer) and Chris Loveless (Director) do a phenomenal job of telling us Tess’ story, moving between events (so many events) at a fiesty trot, fast enough to be thoroughly engaging without losing us somewhere along the way.

Tess, played excellently by Jessica Daley, hesitates at the proposal because she knows she’s not what Angel, or any man, expects in a bride. As Hardy, author of Tess of the d’Urbervilles, said, Tess is a pure woman who’s a victim of her circumstances. And that comes through in every single syllable from Daley. As Tess, Daley is earthy and wholesome, earnest and ultimately, believable. She becomes a heroine that the audience can truly, unequivocally empathise with, and unusually for a musical, I felt that if I were her, I would have made very similar decisions.

For every heroine we need a villain, and in Tess of the d’Urbervilles we get two for the price of one. The cruel Alec is the epitome of, a “villain,” with zero redeeming features. Played by the outstanding Martin Neely, he’s imperious and patronising, fully conscious of his behaviour as he declares Tess the “Forbidden Fruit” in a brilliantly sinister duet. As Angel, Hayes pitches his performance perfectly, confident and strong, with a thrilling on-stage chemistry with Daley exposed in their series of duets.

The show reaches it’s climax with a phenomenal ensemble performance. Clearly practiced to perfection, it’s a special moment that triggers a whole cascade of emotions, tumbling over one another like rocks in an avalanche, gaining momentum. The multi-talented ensemble join the avalanche, adding to it’s potency not just with their singing, but through their musicianship, playing a veritable orchestra of instruments live on stage. This relatively unusual element is such a treat, giving the whole show a thoroughly rustic feel, with the folk-infused score and foot-stomping country dance.

…I feel like this is something incredibly special. A heavyweight novel married to a heavyweight score, producing a show that’s potently powerful.



Martin Neely as the condescendingly predatory Alec D’Urberville is particularly good, seducing Tess with a strawberry and his creepy baritone in Forbidden Fruits. Nick Hayes as Angel, true to his name, lights up the stage with energy oozing from every fibre and is the perfect handsome foil to the sinister Alec. Three excellent milkmaids make up the infectiously fun west country ensemble, always on stage as a sort of acting orchestra. Swapping their flutes for banter, dancing and spirited songs, they pick up the pace in between doleful duets.

When it comes to Tess…the former finalist in BBC1’s search for a Dorothy is certainly the strongest in an already fantastic cast.

This Tess is a wonderful musical evening.



A rich, dramatic, and inventive score…Alex Loveless is not afraid to experiment a little, giving Tess of the d’Urbervilles a unique and inventive sound that marks it out from other new musicals. Here, Alex Loveless really embraces not just a modern musical style, but also the sounds, harmonies, and rhythms of English folk and pastoral music. Behind these he also puts behind a lot of thought and emotion, resulting in such stirring numbers like ‘Children of the Earth’ and ‘Joyfully, We Praise’, to soaring and rich numbers like ‘I Hear Your Voice’.

Lyrically… he does bring his own sense of wit and creativity to the libretto that really complements and augments the emotions he’s encapsulating in his music. There are more than a few unique and attention grabbing songs that demonstrate that Alex Loveless’ reputation is by no means one garnered from false praise.

The production behind the show is also of a high standard and is as impressive as the new musical writing on offer here. David Shields stage design does a good job of portraying several of the abstract themes. His dilapidated arches, with peeling wood panelling and painted with drab pastoral scenes, very handsomely represents the ideas of a waning aristocracy and nature being unforgiving and harsh, not to mention easily conjuring up Stonehenge: where the novel’s climax takes place.

Director Chris Loveless also makes great use of the space, particularly in capitalising on the nooks and crannies among Shield’s flats, meaning that actors end up being framed dramatically, appear, disappear, or be hidden with ease. Working closely with Movement Director, Lucy Cullingford, there are also bits of choreography and physical theatre that really add energy and slick showmanship to parts of the show. Cast

Kudos to Casting Director Benjamin Newsome for finding a cast that can also play a plethora of instruments on stage without sacrificing acting ability. It’s really great to find such multi-talented performers, and make full use of their many skills. Particularly, Emma Harrold, Sarah Kate Howarth, and Jessica Millward are a trio of ladies who not only interact and bounce high-spirits and impish energy off each other, they work just as close-knit and refined an ensemble on violin, flute, and viola respectively.

However, Jess Daley in the titular role really steals the show. She’s astonishing at being the heartbroken heroine, balancing out devastating misery with a wonderful sense of romantic hope and feminine tenacity. You really feel the inner pain and turmoil that is written clear across her face… it’s easy to get lost in her beautifully tragic portrayal of Tess.

…some really great new British musical writing …the score is rich, vibrant, and original…


Please congratulate everyone involved in tonight's performance, it was superb. Brilliant performances all round, super talented musicians, I loved every minute of it. Typically my mind can wander after about 40mins or so of watching a production / film but I can hand on heart say that I was tuned in to every minute of tonight's performance. A compelling production with stand out performances from Tess and Angel, plus an extremely strong cast. Congratulations to all!

I thought the show was excellent.  The music was multi-layered and haunting ...

I loved the performances, especially Angel Clare who I felt was very sympathetic. And all of the ensemble were fantastic musicians ...

I also thought the staging, although simple, captured the mood, and when married to the lighting effects became in some scenes harsh and in others almost eerie in its atmosphere.

I would definitely see this again.  Well done.

Thank you for a very enjoyable evening – an excellent show performed by a talented cast.

Everything was very slickly choreographed and executed (both in terms of dance & movement around the stage, and in terms of the retrieval of instruments and their use within the show).  The music was melodic and enjoyable with a good mix of “rustic” numbers, love songs, atmospheric numbers and a bit of humour thrown in as well! Highly recommended! *****

...  my congratulations to everyone involved.   I reckon I was at a World Premiere of what deserves to be a very successful show.

Completely engrossing, so true to the original story. Wonderfully executed. Wonderful singers and musicians.

Wonderful production. Very well acted and the music superb. Great adaptation of the book. Excellent. So much talent.

An excellent production of a very good show.   It was performed well on all counts: singing, acting, dancing, musically and production values.  The story was told clearly and faithful to Hardy's original.   The three leads were excellent and Tess was particularly sympathetically portrayed.   The ensemble acting, singing and instrument playing cast, were also very talented and added greatly to the atmosphere of the piece.  *****

This is a charming production. A talented young cast tell the moving story of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Lovely voices and very good musical ability. I'm usually not a big fan of musicals but I loved this one. The theatre is small and intimate and I felt very involved. This play deserves to be seen and I do hope people book this one. You won't be disappointed. *****

Stunning performance. We both really enjoyed it. *****

Wonderful show. Fantastic musical telling of this classic tale .Beautiful music accompanied by very talented musicians. The acting and singing was first class. I  really hope that this show does really well - it certainly deserves it and I feel privileged to have seen its premiere. A wonderful and memorable night of musical theatre. *****

The cast were all very talented as actors/actresses and also as musicians. More than half of the cast were musicians as well covering a range of instruments, and were also supported by a small group of off stage musicians. Difficult to single out any specific performances but Jessica Daley was excellent with an exceptionally strong voice. A very enjoyable evening and a faithful reproduction of the story. ****

An enjoyable production, acted, sung and choreographed well… An enjoyable evening out. ****

Very touching production.  The music was beautiful and the actor-muso ensemble was a very pleasant surprise. Clearly a very musical cast - the voices and harmonies were flawless. The small space was used very well. ****

Original piece of work demonstrating wonderful music and good choreography.  The production was so professionally executed, it captures your full attention and I was sorry when it ended. The quality of the cast and their musicality impressed so much, a really memorable night. ****

Walking into the studio you are immediately struck by the impressive set, and intrigued by the props and instruments dotted around the stage... Of note are the actors playing the main roles of Tess, Alec and Angel, who have a great stage presence, and portray their characters with intense emotion and wonderful vocals. The rest of the ensemble work well establishing a range of supporting characters along the way (my favourite scenes were with the Clare family!)... I applaud the cast and all the creative team, and enjoyed the show very much.

It is always a pleasure to watch and listen to a new piece. I thought the music helped along by some fabulous vocal performances from the cast stirred emotions. It conjured images of the time and  was perfectly written to tell the story. The staging was clever with the use of instruments beautifully played by the ensemble... Well done to all involved and keep up the good work.

This was fantastic. Great use of staging, really good casting. Quality of production and delivery was excellent. … I hope many more people go to see it. I would certainly recommend it.





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Luka Bjelis – Felix Clare, Jonathan, & Ensemble.

Luka recently graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, where he was awarded the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation Scholarship.

Theatre whilst in training:  Theodore "Laurie" Lawrence III in Little Women, Russell Paxton in Lady in the Dark, and Justin Lazenby in Role Play. Luka is delighted to be making his professional acting debut in Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Not only does it allow him to finally put his many musical talents to good use as an actor-musician, but he gets to do it alongside some of his closest friends from the RAM family.

In his spare time, Luka enjoys song writing, learning new musical instruments, drinking Piña Coladas, and getting caught in the rain.



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Jessica Daley – Tess Durbeyfield

Jess trained at the Arts Educational Schools, London. Credits whilst training include: Billie Edwards in Babes in Arms, Ensemble/Dance Captain in Kiss of the Spiderwoman (ArtsEd); General Cartwright/Ensemble in Guys and Dolls in Concert (Cadogan Hall); Soloist on Friday Night is Music Night – From Broadway to Hollywood Special (BBC Radio 2); Olivier Awards 2011 (Theatre Royal Drury Lane). Theatre: Tigerlily in Peter Pan (Sunderland Empire); Smokey Joe's Cafe (Landor); Snow White in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Middlesbrough Little Theatre).

She most recently made her West End debut playing the role of Ali in the London production of Mamma Mia! (Novello). Prior to training at ArtsEd, Jessica appeared on BBC1's Over the Rainbow, Andrew Lloyd Webber's search for a Dorothy, where she eventually placed fifth.



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Catherine Digges  
Joan Durbeyfield, Mrs Clare, Mrs D’Urberville, & Ensemble

Catherine has recently completed a season at The Royal Opera House Covent Garden in Jonathan Kent’s new production of Manon Lescaut.

Theatre credits include Mamma Mia!, playing Tanya on numerous occasions; understudied and played Kate in Kiss Me Kate (Victoria Palace); Les Misérables, covering the role of Madame  Thenardier (national tour); Whistle Down The Wind (Aldwych); Daphne in Darling of the Day (Union); Nancy in Oliver! (Theatre Clwyd); Ado Annie in Oklahoma! (Aberystwyth Arts Centre); Kate in The Pirates of Penzance (national tour); Jesus Christ Superstar in Concert (Palace, West End); Pop Choir in Chess (national tour); Hot Flush the musical (national tour), playing Myra at certain performances; Star to Be and Ensemble in Annie (national tour).

Catherine is currently working on her own one woman show, and performs in various concerts and cabarets.



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Marc Geoffrey
John Durbeyfield, Parson Clare, Dairyman Crick, & Ensemble

Marc trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. This is Marc's professional musical theatre debut.

Theatre includes: Richard III, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Julius Caesar, Antony & Cleopatra (Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory); Orion, 100 Miles North of Timbuktu, Items of Value (Theatre West); Glengarry Glen Ross, King John (Theatre Royal Bath); Edward Bond's Lear, The Romans in Britain (Crucible); Scoop (Lyric Hammersmith/Pins and Needles); Delivered (Tobacco Factory); Spiders (Soho Theatre); The Precariat (Finborough); Pay As You Go (Cock Tavern); Election Drama (Supporting Wall); The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Theatre Royal Basingstoke); Twelfth Night, Hamlet, The Threepenny Opera, The American Clock, The Fastest Clock in the Universe, Project Night (Bristol Old Vic). TV and film: Eastenders, Frankie (BBC); Callum (Van der Put); Mariah Mundi and The Midas Box (Entertainment Motion Pictures); The Quiet American (Miramax).

Marc will also be appearing in the upcoming ITV/Carnival Films drama series The Lost Honour. Directing Credits: Fixing It, My Big Fat TV Bitch, Banksy: The Room in the Elephant, Wound, Okay, A Bed Among the Lentils, Harriet (Stepping Out); Orion (Theatre West); The Wing (Theatre Uncut/Bristol Old Vic).

Marc is an associate director and trustee of Stepping Out.



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Emma Harrold – Retty, Lisa Lu, & Ensemble

Emma trained at the Marguerita Hoare School of Dance and the Royal Academy of Music. Credits include: Joanie Cunningham in Happy Days (UK Tour); Luisa in The Fantasticks (Jermyn Street); Muriel in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (Union); Dancer in Snow White (Qdos).

Credits whilst training: Belle in Little Me, Donna/Angel in City of Angels, Elaine in The Graduate (RAM). Emma has also appeared on This Morning (ITV).


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Nick Hayes – Angel Clare

Theatre credits include: Legally Blonde (Savoy); Saturday Night Fever (Apollo Victoria); Ren McCormack in Footloose (Playhouse, West End); Mamma Mia! (International Tour); Nick Piazza in Fame (UK Tour); George in The Wedding Singer (Original UK cast); originated the role of Angel in LIFT (Trafalgar studios); Billy in Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens (Soho Theatre); Angel in a gala performance of RENT (Garrick); Mitchell in the Irish premiere of The Little Dog Laughed (Project Arts Centre Dublin); Tulsa in Gypsy (Cardiff international musical theatre festival).

Workshops include: Pete Tork in Monkee Business! (Dominion); James in Beyond Desire (New Wimbledon); LIFT by Craig Adams. TV and film credits include: series regular Orson Buxton in Hollyoaks: In the City (Channel 4/E4/BBC America); guest lead Thomas Portman in Doctors (BBC); Roy in Pilot Episode of Boyfriend Material, written by BAFTA winner Daran Little; various other TV appearances, commercials, and short films.

Most recently Nick completed his second contract as Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever aboard the Liberty of the Seas (Royal Caribbean International).



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Sarah Kate Howarth – Izz & Ensemble

Sarah Kate has just graduated from the Royal Academy of Music. Credits whilst in training include: Adele in A Man of No Importance, Liza Elliott in Lady in the Dark, and Jane in Twilight of the Gods. 

Previously, she read French and English Literature at the University of Edinburgh, and spent a year studying at the Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris. Sarah Kate is a keen flautist, and is delighted to be making her professional debut alongside so many of her former classmates!

As a hardened fan of period drama, Sarah Kate is thrilled to have been cast in Tess of the D'Urbervilles, and hopes to play many more high-spirited young girls before she is old and decrepit. Sarah Kate would like to thank both the cast and the production team for making this such an enjoyable and rewarding experience. 



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Guy Hughes – Parson Tringham, Bailiff, Landlord, & Ensemble

Guy recently graduated from the Royal Academy of Music’s Musical Theatre course. Whilst studying there, he secured a number of leading roles, including Alfie Byrne in the final show A Man of No Importance, and Randy Curtis in Lady in the Dark. He also scooped the Tony V. Fell prize for Speech into Song, and received a commendation in the HL Hammond prize for poetry reading.

Since graduating, he has recorded with BBC Radio 4 as a solo folk singer for their upcoming series Voices of the Old Bailey, and has recently finished a run of San Domino at the Arcola as part of Grimeborn festival. Guy also works as a composer and arranger, writing for both theatre and screen



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Jessica Millward – Marian, Landlady, & Ensemble

Jessica is a recent graduate of the Royal Academy of Music’s Musical Theatre course, and is thrilled to be making her professional debut in Tess of the D’Urbervilles, especially alongside so many of her friends from RAM.

Prior to this, Jessica studied at Royal Holloway, University of London for her first-class honours degree in Drama and Music. There, she was a regular performer with the Musical Theatre Society and also directed Sweet Charity in her final year. She is grateful for the opportunity to whack out her viola for this production and prove to her parents that all those years of lessons weren’t a complete waste.



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Martin Neely – Alec D’Urberville

Theatre Credits include: John & Jen (Guildford Fringe); Merrily We Roll Along (Theatre Clwyd); Annie (West Yorkshire Playhouse); The Hired Man (Landor); Les Misérables (Queen’s Theatre London); Les Misérables 25th Celebration Concert (O2 Arena); Mary Poppins (UK tour); Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (UK tour); The Merry Widow (South Africa tour); Scrooge (Palladium); Living Together, Sweet Revenge, Dangerous Corner, Gaslight, Of?ce Party (UK Repertory Season); Starlight Express (Apollo Victoria); Taboo (The Venue); Whistle Down The Wind (UK Tour); Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (Gaiety Theatre, I.O.M.).

Film and TV credits: Stardust (MARV Films Ltd); Shakespeare in Love (Miramax Film Corp); Touch and Go (BBC2).



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Alex Wingfield
Cuthbert Clare, Kingsbere Messenger, Policeman, & Ensemble

Along with several others in this cast, Alex has recently graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, Musical Theatre course.

He is delighted to return to the New Wimbledon Studio stage for his second performance here, having played Lucifer in Arthur Miller’s only musical Up From Paradise just weeks ago. He has loved rehearsing for Tess of the D’Urbervilles (particularly getting to play his oboe) and hopes you enjoy this beautiful story!


Production Team


Christopher Ash – Musical Director & Sound Design

Christopher Ash is a composer, musical director, sound designer, and workshop leader. He is a founder member and assistant musical director of The Showstoppers' Improvised Musical (BBC Radio 4, West End, Ed. Fringe).

MD: Butcher (Birmingham REP); Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel (Full House Theatre); George M. Cohan (Charing Cross Theatre); Newley: The Singer and His Songs (Pleasance); Newsrevue (Canal Café Theatre).

Composer: Three Witch3s, The Night Queen (Belgrade Theatre & Hoopla); The Roast Post Ghost Coast Song (HMDT & Spitalfields Festival); The Mandrake Root (European Drama Network); The Borrowers, The Little Mermaid (MAC).

Chris' electronic soundscape compositions are released with Ravensbury Recordings. Sound Design: Kissing Sid James (New Red Lion, Jermyn Street, 59e59); Terror Season (Southwark Playhouse); Mother Courage, Joseph K, A Dybbuk, Nana (Crescent Theatre Birmingham).

Workshop Leader: ISTA, Future Band (Barbican); Unfinished Dream (LIFT); An Invite from the Queen (HMDT); Drama Studio London; Anglia Ruskin University; Colchester Institute.

Chris was on the young composer's scheme with Hackney Music Development Trust and was the recipient of the Claude & Margaret Pike Bursary to study film music composition at Dartington Festival.

Michael Brydon – Production Photography

Maria Clarke – Associate Movement Director

Maria is a movement director, etiquette advisor, and choreographer in theatre and film. A former professional dancer and actress, Maria has a decade of experience as a movement director.

In 2014 she has worked on productions of: Dr Faustus (Cambridge Arts Theatre); The Nine 0’ Clock Slot, Choreographer (Red Gallery); Thrill Me, Period Movement Advisor (Edinburgh Cvenues 34); The Circus, Choreographer (Assembly Edinburgh); Macbeth (Bridge House Theatre); The Great Fire, Etiquette Advisor and Assistant Choreographer (ITV); Introduction to Regency Etiquette, Director (Educational Online Video); Far From the Madding Crowd, Etiquette Advisor (DNA Films/Fox Searchlight).

Other movement direction credits include: Pride & Prejudice (UK Tour); A Christmas Carol (Bridge House Theatre); Renaissance Body, Assistant Movement Director (Royal Shakespeare Company and Patrons, Swan Theatre); The Last Supper, Fulmar Television (BBC); and for the Gielgud, Riverside Studios, Finborough, and Southwark Playhouse.

She is also a specialist period etiquette advisor, running projects and workshops in museums, notably the Geffrye Museum, as well as various heritage institutions.

Lucy Cullingford – Movement Director

Recent productions include: Matilda the Musical, Dance Repetiteur (RSC/Cambridge Theatre); Intimate Apparel (Ustinov/Park Theatre); The Spanish Golden Age (Ustinov/Arcola); The Scottsboro Boys, A Season in the Congo (Parallel, Young Vic); Rusalka (revival) (The Royal Danish Opera); Nothing is the End of the World, Bed and Sofa, Beating Heart Cadaver (Finborough); 20 Tiny Plays about Sheffield, Lives in Art (SPT, Crucible Studio); Constellations (Duke of York/Royal Court); The Double, The Phoenix of Madrid (Ustinov); The Revenger’s Tragedy (Hoxton Hall); Yerma (Hull Truck/Gate); The Hairy Ape (Southwark Playhouse); Othello (Rose); Quartet (Old Vic Tunnels); Happy Days (Crucible Studio); The Winter’s Tale (Camley National Park); Gotcha (Riverside Studios); Movement Assistant The Grain Store and The Drunks (RSC Courtyard Theatre); A Tender Thing (RSC/Northern Stage); The Winter’s Tale, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, RSC Youth Ensemble (Courtyard Theatre); The Great British Country Fete (Bush); Not For All The Tea In China (Chol Theatre, Glastonbury Festival); A Doll’s House, A Christmas Carol (Bridge House Theatre Warwick); Stoopud Fucken Animals (Traverse); A Small Family Business (West Yorkshire Playhouse); Bouncers, A Christmas Cracker, Big Trouble in the Little Bedroom, Pigs, Thick as a Brick (Hull Truck).

Katie Crooks – Voice Coach

Katie studied Music at Exeter University, concentrating on classical singing and jazz, and after some years teaching singing in London, trained in musical theatre at Guildford School of Acting, before working professionally as an actor-musician. 

Having returned to GSA to study on the unique PoVaS course (Practice of Voice and Singing), she now teaches both voice and singing for a number of drama schools, individuals, and professional theatre companies. Katie also coaches voice and presentation in the corporate world and continues working as a performer and musical director.

Phil Spencer Hunter – Lighting Design

Alex Loveless – Book, Music, & Lyrics

Alex trained in musical composition at the London College of Music and is the composer/lyricist/librettist of Bel-Ami (Watermans Theatre/Charing Cross Theatre 2014), The Remains of the Day (Evening Standard’s Critics’ Choice/Time Out’s Best Theatre This Month September 2010) (Union), Dracula (White Bear 2008), plus a number of works for youth theatre.

Alex’s work has been performed at the Park Theatre, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, the Duchess Theatre, the Royal Academy of Music, and on BBC Radio 4. Alex is the recipient of a Vivian Ellis Prize for most promising newcomer, the Howard Goodall Award for composition, and is a professional writer associate of and reader for Mercury Musicals Development. Alex is published by Palgrave Macmillan and the London College of Music where he works as a lecturer in musical theatre.

His work has been generously supported by Arts Council England and the Big Lottery Fund.

Chris Loveless – Director

Chris trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Recent work includes Bel-Ami (Charing Cross Theatre); Diary of a Madman (national tour); Peregrine (tour); Dominic (tour); Five Kinds of Silence (Stepping Out); Dust to Dust (Theatre West).

Other work includes Lullabies of Broadmoor - A Broadmoor Quartet (Edinburgh, Finborough, & tour); The Remains of the Day (Evening Standard Critics’ Choice) (Union); Normal, Othello (Tobacco Factory); Dracula, Moonshadow (Time Out Critics’ Choice), The Custom of the Country (Time Out Critics’ Choice) (White Bear); The 24 Hour Plays (Ustinov).

Chris is Artistic Director of Fallen Angel, and an associate director of Stepping Out and The Ashton Group. He was Associate Director of the White Bear from 2009 - 2013. He has on three occasions been awarded Arts Council individual funding for his work, and in 2010 was nominated for the Off West End Theatre Award for Best Director for Stairway to Heaven. Later this/early next year, he will direct Diary of a Madman in New York and Toulouse.

Benjamin Newsome – Casting Director

Penn O’Gara – Costume

David Shields – Stage Design

David’s work includes: Song & Dance and Carmen Jones (European tours, directed by Anthony Van Laast); Oh! What a Night (Blackpool Opera House, directed by Kim Gavin); A Christmas Carol (Nottingham Theatre Royal); Dick Whittington (Bristol Hippodrome); Lonely Hearts (Old Fire Station); Chess 10th and 20th anniversary productions (UK tour and Oslo Spektrum); Dido and Aeneas (Guildford); The Sunny Side Of The Street (Jermyn Street); Money to Burn, Cigarettes and Chocolates, Bash, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Rent, Bare, Steel Pier, The Lamp Lighters, Sleeping Arrangements (London). Scandinavian Arena productions of: Jesus Christ Superstar, Hair, Fame, Grease (Oslo). Also: Saturday Night Fever (Scandinavian Arena production, directed by Arlene Phillips); Mannen fra La Mancha (Det Norske Teatret Oslo); Mapp and Lucia (London); Naked Flame – Fire Down Under (UK tours); The Hobbit (Queen’s Theatre London and UK tours); Saturday Night Fever (UK national tours, London, Madrid and Spanish tour); The Busy Body (Southwark Playhouse); Little Shop of Horrors (Aberystwyth); The Cat in the Hat (London and UK tour). Strictly Come Dancing - The Professionals Tour (UK tour); Ice Age Live! A Mammoth Adventure (Arena world tour). Eleven productions at the Royal Palace Kirrwiller (France), plus fifteen world-touring arena productions for Holiday on Ice.

More recently Miracle on 34th St (UK premiere tour); The Snow Gorilla (Rose); The Beautiful Game (London); the UK touring production of Robin Cousins’ Ice; Sister Act (Aberystwyth); Ant and Dec’s Takeaway On Tour.

Stepping Out Theatre – Production Company

Ann Stiddard – Graphic Design

Kevin Wilson – Publicity

With thanks to Clean Break, David Henson and London College of Music, Brian Loveless & New Wimbledon Theatre.
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Superb music and lyrics…those who love their musicals will delight in such an inventive adaptation
What’s On Stage

An edgy night of new music that, in my notes, I judged as lying somewhere between Chess, American Psycho and Evita… a thrilling, bold and wickedly amoral night out
Musical Theatre Review


The Remains of the Day

Alex Loveless has crafted a sophisticated piece of musical theatre… captures the milieu perfectly... A canny West End producer could do far worse than to tweak this fine show for a transfer
Evening Standard
**** (Critics’ Choice)

…a well-acted and sensitive reworking of Kazuo Ishiguro’s elegant Booker-winner
Time Out (Best Theatre This Month, September 2010)


A night of bloody good fun
What’s On Stage

At last someone writes a tune you can remember the following morning...
Alex Loveless’s Dracula is an intelligent and memorable interpretation of the Stoker novel, a feat that has eluded many of those who have tried before him
Musical Stages