Book & lyrics by David Wood.
Music by Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent.
Commissioned by Cameron Mackintosh and Veronica Flint-Shipman, ROCK NATIVITY was first performed by the Tyneside Theatre Company at the University Theatre, Newcastle-upon-Tyne for the 1974/5 Christmas season.
In 1975/6, the musical toured the UK. Repertory productions include the Northcott Theatre, Exeter, the Hexagon, Reading and the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh.
There have been many amateur and school productions. ROCK NATIVITY has been televised twice – by STV and RTE A combination of contemporary music, carols, recitatives, dialogue and direct speech to the audience, this family musical is a modern equivalent of the medieval mystery play – simple yet not naïve, humorous yet not disrespectful, devotional yet not overtly pious.
RTE television production of the songs.
The action of the first half takes us from the Annunciation to the Nativity. The second half includes the Blessing in the temple, the killing of the Firstborn and the Flight into Egypt. The set can be simple and basic: levels can be used to advantage, particularly in the staging of Herod’s scenes and Gabriel’s ‘appearances’.
The size of the cast is variable. It is suggested that they all remain on stage throughout, acting as the ‘chorus’. Individual members can assume roles by adding a cloak or a hat to their colourful basic costumes, a bridge between traditional and contemporary. In this manner, doubling is perfectly acceptable. A children’s choir joining in the choruses and backing the songs is a valuable, though optional, addition.
The original professional production employed twenty-one actors.
“… inspired moments of rejoicing.” Newcastle Journal “… great fun, and the sheer happiness of the evening is hard to resist.”
“ROCK NATIVITY is no ordinary musical. It not only makes you want to dance and sing long after it’s over … it is also a very moving and genuine expression of the birth of Christ … generates the kind of warmth and inspiration reminiscent of a religious revival meeting and a modern version of a medieval mystery play all rolled into one … dazzling.”
Eastern Daily Press
“I am delighted to discover that according to the composers of this musical, Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent, ‘Rock’ does not necessarily mean primarily loud. It can mean infectious, hummable tunes with light and shade; and rock lyrics, according to this writer, David Wood, can have directness, poetry and wit … I surrendered entirely to its exuberance and sense of theatre.”
Eastern Evening News
“Welcome to a Christmas show which actually celebrates Christmas. ROCK NATIVITY at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, generates more goodwill than a pyramid of pantomimes.”
“A production full of sunlight, high spirits and love. It is brimming with dance, characters and humour – and above all some very good music. It’s a show that leaves you happy.”
The play and piano/vocal score/band parts are published by Weinberger. First Class Professional & Foreign Rights : Enquiries to Casarotto Ramsay Ltd. UK Repertory Rights : Weinberger. UK Amateur Rights : Weinberger.