Music by Stephen Keeling
Book and lyrics by Shaun McKenna
Commissioned by Havu/Hitz
In 2003 Stephen and Shaun McKenna were commissioned to write a musical based upon the popular children's novel Heidi.
They started working on HEIDI after a trip to Switzerland to research the background to the story. The idea was to take the first part of the famous story of the little girl whose honesty transforms the lives of those around her (Heidi: Her Years of Wandering and Learning German: Heidi's Lehr und Wanderjahre) and set it alongside the story of how the work came to be written by Johanna Spyri (an idea by Stef Mens). HEIDI opened to rave reviews in Switzerland in 2005. The show's combination of Johanna Spyri’s iconic story about the adventures of the forthright girl from the mountains with elements of Spyri’s own family life which caused her to write it was critically acclaimed. The musical is a family show full of colour and comedy, which appeals to children, yet which has more thoughtful elements for a grown up audience. The premiere was directed by Stefan Huber in a spectacular setting on the shores of Lake Walenstadt in the Alps, not far from the village of Maienfeld where the story is set. The multi-million pound production was produced by TSW Event AG with Sue Mathys as Johanna Spyri, Sabine Schadler-Heidi, Florian Schneider- the Grandfather, Patric Scott-Peter, Kerstin Makelburg-Rottenmeier and Alen Hodzovic as Bernhard. The show returned to Switzerland in 2006 and in Autumn of the same year a new production of HEIDI opened at the Anhaltisches Theater, Dessau, Germany which was also critically acclaimed (see below).
In Zurich, Johanna Spyri's son Bernhard lies ill. He asks her to tell him a story. She remembers seeing a little girl in an Alpine village - and so the story of Heidi begins. Living with her grumpy grandfather in the Alps, high-spirited Heidi is whisked off to Frankfurt by her aunt, to be a companion to a disabled rich girl, Klara . In a household ruled by fierce Fraulein Rottenmeier, Heidi is homesick.
Johanna's story parallels the events in her own life. As Bernhard and his fiancee leave Zurich, Heidi leaves her grandfather. When Bernhard falls ill again and dies, Heidi's story descends into nightmare. Heidi needs Johanna's help to find her happy ending.
Creative development by John Havu
From an idea by Stef Mens Orchestrations by Stef Mens
“A great musical” (Sarganserlander, Sargans)
“A very intelligent piece of entertainment”
“It doesn’t get more emotional than this” (Blick, Zurich)
“Global and timeless” (Sonntags Blick, Zurich)
“The intertwining of the world famous story with the little known life
of Johanna Spyri has proven to be a coup” (SonntagsZeitung, Zurich)
“The show entranced the audience” (Neue Luzerner Zeitung, Lucerne)
“An uplifting and emotional musical” (Basler Zeitung Kulturmagazin)
Sonntags Blick, Zurich
"Global and Timeless"
'The One True Thing' An original prequel to Heidi