RUBY IN THE DUST formed in 2006 when their first production opened at the Union Theatre on 21st February that year: an adaptation of a Chekhov short story (The Grasshopper) entitiled The Little Dressmaker. This set the pattern, of incorporating live music into each production, for the ensuing decade, during which they have brought over a dozen productions to the stage that run the gamut from the fringe to the West End. They’ve proven their skill at integrating original and interpolated music into the text. Of Bonnie and Clyde, ‘The Times’ critic wrote that it conjured a “powerful visual and musical atmosphere.”
They’ve won raves for their musical shows and because the stamp of authenticity that they place on every production is simultaneously true to its roots and boldly original, they’ve been able to use music that already claims a steadfast audience and introduce it to new ones. They received the blessing of the Cole Porter Estate to use several Porter compositions for their production of Hutch in 2013, that charts the life of the 1930s cabaret artist Leslie Hutchinson. The renowned jazz pianist Dr John gave his approval for the inclusion of his music in their interpretation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, set in the run down jazz clubs of New Orleans and the surrounding Louisiana bayous. In addition to the music of Dr. John, the musical includes the songs of Louis Armstrong and Professor Longhair, as well as Randy Newman’s Oscar-nominated song from Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, "Down in New Orleans".
But their strength lies in creating original music tailored to the piece, whether it be eighteenth century Russian folk music (Song of the Seagull), Victorian music hall, with a hint of Steam Punk (Dorian Gray) or 1920s Jazz (Gatsby). Although they shy away from describing their productions as ‘musical’, their adaptation of The Great Gatsby received an OffWestEnd nomination for best new musical. The Telegraph said of the production of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic that it “grips throughout.”
As well as staging their shows both on the Fringe and in the West End, they have opted too for other site-specific venues, such as London’s famous Café Royal where they presented a dramatic staging of Dorian Gray, in the very room where Oscar Wilde held his own readings. Just before it closed its doors for its major refurbishment they transformed the venue back to its heyday by taking the story back to its birthplace: staging the show, on Oscar Wilde’s birthday, in the beautiful Domino Room - which was where Wilde would hold initial readings of his works, and dine with his lovers. One audience member described the evening “... as though they had wandered into one of Oscar Wilde’s soirees ...” Their production of South African playwright Reza De Wet’s Miracle, was performed in the Crypt of St Andrews Church, Holborn, before transferring to the Leicester Square Theatre, while Song of the Seagull, the story of the friendship between Chekhov and Russian artist Isaac Levitan, played in the Menier Gallery. Their Dorian Gray was recently translated into Dutch and was presented at ‘Theatre 1892’ in Zoetemeer, Holland, as part of the Thriler Festival.
Past productions include Romeo and Juliet at the Leicester Square Theatre with Olivia Vinall making her stage debut as Juliet, Miracle with Susannah York and Tim Woodward, Dorian Gray firstly with Matthew James Thomas in the eponymous role, and later with Jack Fox making his theatre debut in the role – opposite Daisy Bevan. Gatsby has had three outings to date with an ensemble cast that has included Sebastian Blunt, Kim Medcalf, Cressida Bonas, Ellie Nunn, Matilda Sturridge, David Ricardo-Pearce along with a pool of dedicated and loyal actors. They have also collaborated with the celebrated ‘Benoit Viellefon Orchestra’, as well as orchestrator Chris Walker and RSC director Adrain Noble. But most of all they specialize in working with actor/musicians to bring their unique style of theatre to as broad an audience as possible.