'The Dreamers' - new musical remembering soldiers lost at sea off Gallipoli

Date of Event: 29 June 2015
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A musical telling the story of a British officer and his soldiers who drowned at sea on their way to Gallipoli is being brought to the London stage in summer 2015.

The Dreamers is about Captain David 'Reggie' Salomons and the troops of the 1/3 Field Company who were lost when the ferry carrying them to Helles collided with a larger troop ship in Mudros Bay on October 28th 1915.

Salomons stayed on board HMS Hythe, a converted cross-channel steamer, to help with the rescue and was last seen giving away his life jacket to another soldier.

More than 150 soldiers died in the disaster; most of them were from the counties of Kent and Sussex.

The Dreamers features original words and music by James Beeny and Gina Georgio, of the acoustic rock and string band Virgin Soldiers, who also come from southeast England.

Having written a song about 'Reggie' Salomons in the autumn of 2013, Beeny and Georgio felt it wasn't enough to do justice to this little known story and they started work on their first musical.

They've won enthusiastic support from Lady Lucy French, great-granddaughter of the British First World War commander, Field Marshal Sir John French.  

The Dreamers takes its title from a work by the war poet and soldier, Siegfried Sassoon: 'Soldiers are dreamers: when the guns begin they think of firelit homes, clean beds and wives."

A scene from The Dreamers (Photo: Linda Blacker)

Set during 1914-15, the musical follows the Great War from its outbreak through the eyes of the soldiers and the families they left behind.

Twenty young actors are joined on stage by the Virgin Soldiers, with an on-screen narration of events by actors and broadcasters, including Amanda Redman, Philip Glenister, Sylvia Syms, Christopher Beeny, Martin Bell, Michael Buerk and the lyricist Sir Tim Rice.

After its premiere in Tunbridge Wells,The Dreamers makes its London debut at the St James Theatre on June 30th 2015.

The theatre's development director is Lady Lucy French, whose great-grandfather, Sir John French, led the British Expeditionary Force to France in August 1914.

Lady French, also co-founder of the commemorative charity Never Such Innocence, welcomed The Dreamers: “This is exactly what the Centenary should be about; young people engaging, getting involved and playing their part. This music captures the essence of commemoration across the generations."

The Dreamers runs at the St James Theatre, a new arts venue opened in the Victoria district of London three years ago, from June 30th-July 11th 2015. More details and booking information can be found here.

Source: James Beeny/Runner Bean Productions

Images courtesy of Runner Bean Productions; Linda Blacker (cast photo)

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News

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