Set up in 2012 by Jessica Walker, Jess Walker Music Theatre's mission is to create and promote new, small-scale, touring music theatre projects in English, with an equal stress on the musical and theatrical elements of the work. It specializes in the representation of marginalized voices, including forgotten women's and LGBTQI histories. The company creates performance that is low on resources and high on impact; in its short existence, two of its shows have already been named critic's pick of the week in the New York Times. The Girl I Left Behind Me was also recorded as a CD by Original Cast Records, for which it won 2014 British musical of the year on Broadway.com. The company is passionate in its aim of reaching out to new audiences with its work, encouraging a wider engagement in the art-form of music theatre through partnerships with a diverse spectrum of arts organizations, including theatre companies, opera companies, music, multi-arts, and gay festivals. Its work combines excellence with accessibility in its delivery, and finds imaginative ways to bring under-represented voices back into the public consciousness.
The company's projects to date include:
A three week run of The Girl I Left Behind Me, written by Neil Bartlett and Jessica Walker, at the Brits off Broadway festival New York. Originally commissioned by Opera North, this solo show with songs explores the phenomenon of the male impersonators in Victorian music hall and American variety. Reviews:
'Strange as it may seem in these days of increasingly blurred gender norms, watching a woman dressed as a man singing songs of love for women may actually be a more exotic entertainment today than it was a century ago. In "The Girl I Left Behind Me," a lovely show that opened on Sunday night at the 59E59 Theaters, the gorgeously gifted singer Jessica Walker and the writer Neil Bartlett conjure a vanished novelty of the theater, the cross-dressing female performers who once fascinated large audiences in England and America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries'. New York Times (critic's pick)
'Jessica Walker pays tribute to male impersonators in her winning show 'The Girl I Left Behind Me'. New York Post
'The 59E59 Theater does a great job of bringing unique performers to its occasional Cabaret venue, and they have hit another solid winner with The Girl I Left Behind Me'. Reviews off Broadway
Pat Kirkwood is Angry, a solo show with songs written by Jessica Walker, about the forgotten British actress and singer Pat Kirkwood. In co-production with Opera North and in association with Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester. This show began life at the Royal Exchange Theatre, and has toured extensively, including a three week run at the Brits off Broadway Festival, and residencies at the St James Theatre Studio, Grassington Festival, Opera North's Howard Assembly Room, and the Richard Burton Theatre Cardiff. Reviews:
'A spellbinding cabaret show at the 59E59 Theaters written by and starring the gifted singer Jessica Walker...should Kirkwood be looking down from the showbiz heavens, she would be anything but riled by Ms. Walker's warm, evocative consideration of her career: a loving tribute from one singular talent to another'. New York Times (critic's pick)
'Walker, a powerful soprano with a commanding stage presence and a piercing intelligence, rivets one's attention… If Pat Kirkwood is angry, she is never dull, not even for a minute, and Walker's show casts a fascinating light on an under-appreciated talent' Lighting&Sound America
An Eye for an Eye, a cabaret opera written by composer David Knotts, with libretto by Jessica Walker, about the true crime of the Papin sisters, two 1930s French maids who murdered their employers in a fit of paranoia. A co-production with Bath International Festival and St Magnus International Festival. World premiere at the Bath Festival, and subsequent performances at the St Magnus Festival. Reviews:
'A brilliant little cabaret opera…mirthfully macabre music theatre…it was a joy.' Michael White Daily Telegraph
All I Want is One Night, a play with songs written by Jessica Walker, about forgotten bisexual cabaret sensation Suzy Solidor, who was the toast of 1930s Paris with her renditions of erotic lesbian songs. Originally produced by the Royal Exchange Theatre, the revival is being produced in a re-imagined staging by Jess Walker Music Theatre at Wilton's Music Hall, London, in June 2017. Generously supported by Arts Council England. Review:
'A moving, bittersweet new play, atmospherically staged'
'Walker's luminous, androgynous appeal'. The Stage 2016
Witches Three, a new sung theatre piece. Residency Aldeburgh Music November 2017. Composer Kerry Andrew.
If you are interested in collaborating with Jess Walker Music Theatre, do get in touch via the request form on this website.