Leicestershire's fictional favourite Adrian Mole to be musical star at Curve
Leicestershire's favourite fictional son Adrian Mole is to become the star of a musical that will premier at Curve.
Best-selling author Sue Townsend is collaborating with producers at Leicester's flagship theatre to bring her first book – The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 3/4 – to the stage.
Curve chief executive Fiona Allan revealed work was well under way on the project, while giving a presentation on the venue's end-of-year results to Leicester city councillors this week.
She told the Mercury: "If ever there was a story that is truly about Leicester, it is Adrian Mole the musical, with its premier at Curve.
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"We have been working with a couple of very talented young writers who have been working with Sue.
"We are very excited about it and she has given us her blessing.
"She has been down to the theatre a few times to hear a sing-through.
"We started work on it about a year ago and I am really excited.
"With our funding situation, we are starting small on this, but Adrian is such a well-loved character and so many people have read Sue's books that it could become something huge.
"We think the world is ready for Adrian Mole the Musical. So many people have read and loved the books it will be great to put it on stage.
"They are just such funny books.
"I don't like to put timings on things but we hope it will be ready to premier – at Curve – some time in the next 12 to 18 months."
Ms Townsend, 65, from Leicester, who wrote her first Adrian Mole book while living in Saffron Lane more than 30 years ago, said: "I am genuinely delighted with it.
"It should all be coming together.
"The writers they have are very clever and have done a very good job."
Ms Townsend's Mole books, which have sold more than nine million copies worldwide, chart Adrian's life – from his awkward teenage years in Ashby-de-la-Zouch and his studies at Oxford to him becoming a lovelorn failed writer and television chef, and then his return to Leicestershire as he contemplates middle age.
Curve, in the city's Cultural Quarter, hopes the Mole musical will draw big crowds when it hits the stage.
Yesterday, the venue revealed its end of year results.
They showed 180,000 people bought tickets for the shows and events it staged in its last financial year – from September last year to August this year – an eight per cent rise on the previous 12 months and the highest figure since it opened in 2008.
The theatre said ticket sales also generated £2.88 million – though it still reported an overall loss of £181,000 for the year.
Ms Allan said: "We are delighted with the figures and the growth, especially given that we are in the middle of a recession.
"One of the reasons our ticket sales have been so good is the great success of 42nd Street last Christmas.
"It has never been in the business plan that we break even without subsidy.
"We budgeted for a deficit of £398,000 and we have come in well below that.
"It does require subsidy, as did the Haymarket before us."
The theatre gets an £818,000 subsidy from Leicester City Council. However, Ms Allan said she was anticipating cuts when the authority decides it budget in February.
In its last financial year, the theatre saw a £650,000 reduction in its public funding.
The main losses came from Leicestershire County Council, which scrapped its entire £88,000 grant, and the Arts Council, which reduced its funding from £2.4 million to £1.9 million.
Ms Allan said: "When budgets are tight people will ask if money should be spent on the theatre, but we know it brings people into the Cultural Quarter and other businesses complain to us when we have no show on.
"And, in broad terms, there is a social benefit.
"We have a big, amazing theatre, which is doing a lot to develop young people's talents."