The Light Princess (musical)

Last updated

The Light Princess
The National Theatre's poster for The Light Princess musical featuring Rosalie Craig as the weightless princess Althea
Music Tori Amos
LyricsTori Amos
Samuel Adamson
Book Samuel Adamson
Basis The Light Princess fairy tale by George MacDonald
Premiere9 October 2013: Lyttleton Theatre, Royal National Theatre, London
Productions2013 London
2018 London Concert

The Light Princess is a musical with music and lyrics by Tori Amos and a book by Samuel Adamson based on the Scottish fairy tale of the same name by George MacDonald.


The musical tells the story of a princess afflicted by a constant weightlessness, unable to get her feet on the ground, both literally and metaphorically, until she finds a love that brings her down to earth.

The musical premiered at the Royal National Theatre in London in 2013. The stage production featured actress Rosalie Craig as the titular character. The musical was generally well-received, enjoyed an extended run in the theatre, and released its cast recording in 2015.

Production history

National Theatre world premiere (2013-14)

In 2013, the National Theatre produced a musical staging of the story. The production was directed by Marianne Elliott, designed by Rae Smith, lighting designed by Paule Constable and choreographed by Stephen Hoggett. [1] It was initially expected to premiere in London in April 2012, it was announced in October 2011 that the production would be delayed until later in the year. [2]

The musical began previewing in the Lyttleton Theatre from 25 September 2013, with an official opening on 9 October starring Rosalie Craig in the titular role who was subsequently singled out as a stand-out performance. Craig was nominated for many awards, and ultimately won the Evening Standard's award for best actress in a musical. The choreography, lighting, set design, music (Amos) and other cast performances were also lauded and nominated for a range of awards.

The production completed its run on 2 February 2014. Amos stated that the production team had ambitions of bringing The Light Princess to American Broadway, but expressed worry that the original National Theatre production might not be commercial enough for the American audience. [3]

On creating the musical, Amos stated:

American singer/songwriter and classically trained pianist Tori Amos wrote music and lyrics for the musical stage production. Tori-amos-berlin-0c-cropped-418x452.jpg
American singer/songwriter and classically trained pianist Tori Amos wrote music and lyrics for the musical stage production.

"It wasn't commercial theater, so from the top down they (the National Theatre) said to us, do not dumb this down. You be brave, you be bold, you be confrontational. Sam and I said, well, this is a feminist fairy tale, and not everyone will be comfortable with it. It's not always going to make everyone feel warm and fuzzy. It brings up confrontations between teenagers and their parents, that would resonate in the 21st century [...] The Light Princess has to be something that kids can come see, because it is a story of a teenage girl. It might be a little dark for some. But we found that there were kids that were completely entranced. And even though sometimes it got scary, they stayed with the story." [4]

Selected tracks from the musical is available for streaming from the National Theatre, including "My Fairy Story", "Althea", "Amphibiava" and "Better Than Good". [5]

Another stage adaption was done to the fairy tale by a Massachusetts director, Emily C. A. Snyder.

Cadogan Hall Concert (2018)

On 1 July 2018 Alex Parker and Club 11 staged a concert performance of the musical at Cadogan Hall in London. It starred Rosalie Craig returning to the role of Althea, Craig's husband Hadley Fraser as Prince Digby, Trevor Dion Nicholas as King Darius, Gabrielle Brooks as Piper, Louis Maskell as Llewelyn, Norman Bowman as King Ignacio, Anna-Jane Casey as Sergeant at Arms, Laura Pitt-Pulford as Falconer and David Langham as Mr Flowers. Both Tori Amos and Samuel Anderson attended the concert who both joined in the rapturous standing ovation at the end of the performance.


In the middle of a desert lies the kingdom of Lagobel, which owes its wealth to gold buried in its native sands. The kind king and queen have two children, eldest son Alexander and daughter Althea. When the queen dies, the kingdom is plunged into a tearful sorrow, all except the princess Althea, who instead chooses to reject sadness, instead floating into the air, above emotion and responsibility, seemingly without any influence from gravitational forces. Her father descends into cold-heartedness, locking her in a tower with the orphan Piper.

East of Lagobel, across a vast wooded wilderness, lies Sealand, a kingdom rich in natural resources, most notably a healthy network of rivers. The queen dies mysteriously shortly after questioning the greedy king. The land dares not weep, fearing the king's wrath. The prince Digby, however, did not smile after the incident, adopting the moniker 'Solemn Prince of Sealand'. He grows up to be a proud and dutiful warrior.

The day of Digby's coming of age, Prince Alexander of Lagobel was killed by a Sealand assassin, and Sealand declares war on Lagobel, with sights aimed upon the vast riches of their Western neighbor. Upon the realization of Althea's impending ascent to the throne, the king of Lagobel urges her to take up her familial duty of leading Lagobel's army against the incoming siege from Sealand. Althea laughs off her father's requests, instead fleeing to the wilderness to find her own sanctuary. She comes across a secret lake, the source of Lagobel's limited water supply. She hears about the slaughter of the Lagobel army at the hands of the Sealand force.

At the lake she comes across Prince Digby, who teases her about her lack of gravity, and realizes the value of the lake upon which Lagobel depends for life. His conversation with Althea fills Digby with mirth, prompting his first smile since his childhood. He falls in love with Althea, and she for him, engaging in a joyous dance in the forest.

Back in Lagobel, rumors of the princess's actions in the forests fill the people with distrust with the throne. The king redoubles his efforts to return Althea to a normal state. He accepts the theory that making the princess cry will cure her. He tries arranging a marriage for her, in the hope that destroying her subsequent marriage or child will cause her to cry.

Althea escapes again to the lake, where she and Digby declare themselves queen and king of the lake, and consummate their love, conceiving a child. Digby asks Althea to return to the normal world with him, offering to build a house. Althea, preferring her watery home, asks Digby to stay. Digby heads toward Sealand, encountering his brother on the way. Digby tells Llewelyn he has killed the princess and they return to Sealand.

The king of Sealand learns of the life-giving lake and vows to dam it to choke the life out of Lagobel. Digby returns to the lake to destroy the dam, and is nearly killed. Althea witnesses this and cries for fear of his death. This returns her gravity. The two get married and live happily ever after, striking a peace between the kingdoms. Althea goes to university and becomes a marine biologist and appoints Piper Prime Minister.


The music was composed by Tori Amos.

The original cast recording features 30 original recordings by the cast plus three bonus tracks, including two performed by Amos. [6]

Musical numbers

The musical numbers are as follows:

Critical reception

The musical received mixed but generally positive reviews, with the majority of critics praising Craig's spectacular lead performance, the strong ensemble cast, the vivid and rich set design by Rae Smith, and the elaborate, imaginative choreography used to create the illusion of Althea floating in air. The script by Adamson and music by Amos, however, divided critics. Professional critic ratings of the musical ranged the full spectrum from 1 to 5 stars, though more often complimentary than not.

Many reviewers found the musical to be a fantastic and unusual fairytale with unafraid scope and smarts. The Independent gave it a 4-star review, calling it a "bewitchingly unusual evening walking on air". [7] Time Out likewise gave it 4 stars, saying it was "a visual and technical tour de force with a title performance from Rosalie Craig that’ll blow your mind and melt your heart." [8] Another 4 star review came from What's On Stage, calling it an "unusual and delightful surprise" with an excellent ensemble led by a Craig in "one of the most extraordinary, vocally resourceful and physically triumphant performances ever seen in musical theatre.". [9] The Evening Standard gave 4 stars, finding the musical "worth the wait" and a showcase for Amos as an artist and songwriter, with a stunningly good performance by Craig and gorgeous set design by Smith. [10] Metro likewise gave 4 stars, with splendid music by Amos and fantastic production, but ultimately being blown away by Craig as Althea, concluding with "a star is born." [11] Simon Edge of The Daily Express gave the musical its best review, a perfect score of 5 stars, calling it a "feast for the eyes", with a "staggeringly good" lead performance by Craig, stirring and sweet music by Amos, and ultimately finding that "this bonkers but beautiful fantasy defies categorisation". Edge stated:

"Every so often you see something in the theatre so arresting, so unlike anything you’ve seen before, that you want to grab strangers in the street and tell them to book tickets [...] Bonkers, dazzling, lyrical, fun and sweet - Tori Amos's musical is a wonderful, unforgettable feast for the senses [...] All I know is I'd go again tomorrow, and again the day after that." [12]

Other reviewers were mixed in their critiques, most often founding the musical too unfocused, its script overtly preachy for adults, and the music not memorable enough. The Telegraph gave a 3-star review, praising Craig's performance, but finding the narrative "preachy" and Amos' music lacking in standout numbers. [13] London Theatre gave another 3 stars, calling the musical "visually ravishing" with a brilliant cast and occasionally haunting music by Amos, but overall deeming it an "honourable, interesting misfire". [14] The Guardian's review gave the musical 2 stars, citing a lack of emotional punch, finding Amos' score sometimes bland, and Adamson's narrative too meandering. [15] The Stage enjoyed the set production, the superb ensemble and Amos' rich music, but felt the story might fail to capture any specific audience group, being perhaps too complex for children and too earnest for adults. [16] The Huffington Post concluded that its flaws "cannot dim the magic of The Light Princess." [17] Financial Times gave a 3-star review, stating that cluttered content was weighing an otherwise "daring, beautiful and original" musical down. [18] The Arts Desk gave 3 stars, citing more great choreography than real chemistry, not enjoying Amos' music and lyrics. [19] Variety found fault with the music as well, stating a tendency to ramble, but called Craig's performance "career-making" and intense. [20]

Cast recording

A cast album of the 2013 London production was released in October 2015 by Universal/Mercury Classics. [21] The album will be produced by songwriter and composer Tori Amos, recorded during 2014 at different stops during her Unrepentant Geraldines Tour in support of her own album. Amos' tour team, including Mark Hawley and Marcel van Limbeek, engineered the cast album throughout the tour, having recorded the orchestra in April and met up with the different cast members "as they were available". It will contain all 33 tracks from the show and will also feature exclusive bonus tracks sung by Amos. Amos expressed she was happy to be able to give The Light Princess a cast recording under these terms, because so many theatre musicals no longer get an album release because of the expense and logistics involved. [22]

Notes and references

  1. "Tori Amos discusses her new musical "The Light Princess"". @LOFT965. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  2. "BBC News - Tori Amos musical The Light Princess put on hold". 23 October 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  3. Lloyd Webber, Imogen (5 May 2014). "Odds & Ends: Anna Kendrick Finds Mr. Right, Tori Amos' Broadway Hopes for The Light Princess & More!".
  4. "Tori Amos Recording Soundtrack to 'The Light Princess' Musical, Eyes Broadway Production". 5 May 2014.
  5. Amos, Tori; Adamson, Samuel (25 November 2013). "Music from The Light Princess". SoundCloud. Sword and Stone Publishing.
  6. "The Light Princess (Original Cast Recording) at iTunes".
  7. Taylor, Paul (10 October 2013). "Theatre review: Tori Amos' The Light Princess - 'magical and ravishingly distinctive'". The Independent.
  8. Lukowski, Andrzej (10 October 2013). "The Light Princess". Time Out London.
  9. Editorial Staff (10 October 2013). "Critics divided over The Light Princess". What's On Stage.
  10. Hitchings, Henry (10 October 2013). "The Light Princess, National Theatre - theatre review". London Evening Standard.
  11. Shore, Robert (10 October 2013). "Rosalie Craig is spunkily charismatic in Tori Amos's The Light Princess". Metro News.
  12. Edge, Simon (10 October 2013). "The Light Princess at the Lyttelton Theatre - review". Daily Express.
  13. Spencer, Charles (10 October 2013). "The Light Princess at the National Theatre, review". Telegraph.
  14. Shenton, Mark (10 October 2013). "Review of The Light Princess at Lyttelton Theatre". London Theatre Guide.
  15. Gardner, Lyn (9 October 2013). "The Light Princess – review".
  21. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 May 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

Related Research Articles

Tori Amos American musician

Myra Ellen "Tori" Amos is an American singer-songwriter and pianist. She is a classically trained musician with a mezzo-soprano vocal range. Having already begun composing instrumental pieces on piano, Amos won a full scholarship to the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University at the age of five, the youngest person ever to have been admitted. She had to leave at the age of 11 when her scholarship was discontinued for what Rolling Stone described as "musical insubordination". Amos was the lead singer of the short-lived 1980s pop group Y Kant Tori Read before achieving her breakthrough as a solo artist in the early 1990s. Her songs focus on a broad range of topics, including sexuality, feminism, politics, and religion.

<i>Chicago</i> (musical) Musical set in jazz-age Chicago

Chicago is an American musical with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Ebb and Bob Fosse. Set in Chicago in the jazz age, the musical is based on a 1926 play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins, about actual criminals and the crimes on which she reported. The story is a satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice and the concept of the "celebrity criminal".

Judy Kuhn American actress and singer

Judy Kuhn is an American actress and singer, known for her work in musical theatre. A four-time Tony Award nominee, she has released four studio albums and sang the title role in the 1995 film Pocahontas, including her rendition of the song "Colors of the Wind", which won its composers the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

<i>Aida</i> (musical) Musical by Elton John and Tim Rice

Aida is a musical based on the opera of the same name written by Antonio Ghislanzoni with music by Giuseppe Verdi. It has music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice, and book by Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls, and David Henry Hwang, and was originally produced by Walt Disney Theatrical.

<i>Carnival!</i> 1961 Broadway musical

Carnival is a musical, originally produced by David Merrick on Broadway in 1961, with the book by Michael Stewart and music and lyrics by Bob Merrill. The musical is based on the 1953 film Lili, which again was based on the short story and treatment titled "The Seven Souls of Clement O'Reilly" by Paul Gallico. The show's title originally used an exclamation point ; it was eventually dropped during the show's run, as director Gower Champion felt it gave the wrong impression, saying, "It's not a blockbuster. It's a gentle show."

Rosalie is a musical with music by George Gershwin and Sigmund Romberg, lyrics by Ira Gershwin and P.G. Wodehouse, and book by William Anthony McGuire and Guy Bolton. The story tells of a princess from a faraway land who comes to America and falls in love with a West Point Lieutenant.

<i>The Light Princess</i>

The Light Princess is a Scottish fairy tale by George MacDonald. It was published in 1864 as a story within the larger story Adela Cathcart. Drawing on inspiration from "Sleeping Beauty", it tells the story of a princess afflicted by a constant weightlessness, unable to get her feet on the ground, both literally and metaphorically, until she finds a love that brings her down to earth. An animated version was released in 1978. In 2013, a musical version by Tori Amos and Samuel Adamson inspired by the original story was premiered for the Royal National Theatre in London. The stage production featured actress Rosalie Craig as the title character. The musical was generally well-received, enjoyed an extended run in the theatre, and had its cast recording released in 2015. Another musical also titled The Light Princess was written by Tony Lawton with music by Alex Bechtel, and debuted in April 2017 at the Arden Theatre Company.

<i>American Doll Posse</i> 2007 studio album by Tori Amos

American Doll Posse is the ninth studio album by American singer-songwriter Tori Amos, released in 2007 by Epic records. A concept album, American Doll Posse sees Amos assuming the identity of five different female personalities inspired by Greek mythology in order to narrate stories of life in modern America. Themes include opposition to the Iraq War, recording industry misogyny, disillusion, sexuality, personal loss and female empowerment in general. Musically, the album is more rock-oriented than other studio albums by Amos, notably featuring more guitar and drums than previous albums The Beekeeper (2005) and Scarlet's Walk (2002).

Clive Mark Rowe, is a British actor, best known for his role as Norman "Duke" Ellington in BBC Children's drama The Story of Tracy Beaker. He also starred as Mayor Doyle in the hit Disney show The Evermoor Chronicles.

<i>Here Lies Love</i> 2010 soundtrack album by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim

Here Lies Love is a concept album and rock musical made in collaboration between David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, about the life of the former First Lady of the Philippines Imelda Marcos along with the woman who raised her—Estrella Cumpas—and follows Marcos until she and her family were forced to leave the Philippines. The album features 22 guest vocalists and was released on 5 April 2010, under Nonesuch Records and Todomundo in several formats, including a deluxe double-Compact Disc set with a DVD of music videos from the album and a 120-page book.

Samuel Adamson is an Australian playwright and screenwriter who has lived and worked in the UK since 1991. He was born in Adelaide and lives in London.

<i>Midwinter Graces</i> 2009 studio album by Tori Amos

Midwinter Graces is the eleventh solo studio album by singer-songwriter Tori Amos released on November 10, 2009, through Universal Republic Records. It is the first seasonal album by Amos, and is also notable for marking her return to a more classical, stripped-down, baroque sound with various synths, string-instruments, the harpsichord and Amos's own signature Bösendorfer piano at center stage, once more. The album, like previous releases from Amos, is available in a single form CD or a Deluxe edition which includes 3 bonus tracks, a 20-page photo book, and a DVD containing an interview with Amos. The standard edition was not released in the US or Canada. Midwinter Graces became Amos's lowest-charting album on the Billboard 200, peaking at number 66.

<i>Matilda the Musical</i>

Matilda the Musical is a stage musical based on the 1988 children's novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. It was adapted by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin and directed for the stage by Matthew Warchus. The musical's narrative centres on Matilda, a precocious 5-year-old girl with the gift of telekinesis, who loves reading, overcomes obstacles caused by her family and school, and helps her teacher to reclaim her life. After a twelve-week trial run staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) at Stratford-upon-Avon from November 2010 to January 2011, it received its West End premiere on 24 November 2011 at the Cambridge Theatre and its Broadway premiere on 11 April 2013 at the Shubert Theatre.

Marianne Phoebe Elliott is a British theatre director. She is the recipient of three Laurence Olivier Awards and three Tony Awards.

<i>Night of Hunters</i> 2011 studio album by Tori Amos

Night of Hunters is the twelfth solo studio album by American singer-songwriter Tori Amos, released on September 20, 2011, in the United States through Deutsche Grammophon. It is a concept album that Amos has described as "a 21st century song cycle inspired by classical music themes spanning over 400 years." She pays tribute to classical composers such as Alkan, Bach, Chopin, Debussy, Granados, Satie and Schubert, taking inspiration from their original compositions to create new, independent songs. Regarding the album's concept, she has described it as the exploration of "the hunter and the hunted and how both exist within us" through the story of "a woman who finds herself in the dying embers of a relationship."

<i>Unrepentant Geraldines</i> 2014 studio album by Tori Amos

Unrepentant Geraldines is the fourteenth studio album by American singer-songwriter and pianist Tori Amos. The album, available on standard CD/digital download, a limited edition CD+DVD, and two disc vinyl LP, was released in Germany on May 9, 2014 by Mercury Classics and May 13, 2014 in the United States by Mercury Classics/Universal Mercury Classics. Unrepentant Geraldines is Amos' eighth studio album to debut in the top 10 of the Billboard 200.

Rosalie Craig

Rosalie Mae Craig is an English actress, noted for her performances in musical theatre. In 2013 she received her first major award, a London Evening Standard Award for Best Performance in a Musical. A profile in The Guardian in November 2014 commented that "actor Rosalie Craig is living proof that stars are not born but made – through a combination of talent, hard work, sheer grit and an ability to connect with audiences. She’s got all in abundance."

<i>School of Rock</i> (musical)

School of Rock is a rock musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Glenn Slater and a book by Julian Fellowes. Based on the 2003 film of the same name, written by Mike White, the musical follows Dewey Finn, an out-of-work rock singer and guitarist who pretends to be a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school. After identifying the musical talent in his students, Dewey forms a band of fifth-graders, in an attempt to win the upcoming Battle of the Bands contest.

<i>The Light Princess (Original Cast Recording)</i> 2015 soundtrack album by Various artists

The Light Princess is the commercial music release from the stage adaptation of the Scottish fairy tale by George MacDonald.

Elise McCann

Elise McCann is an Australian actress and musical theatre performer most well known for originating the role of Miss Honey in the Australian production of Matilda the Musical and as Lucille Ball in Everybody Loves Lucy.