First play of Stephen Joseph Theatre season set to open - first production picture

Zara Jayne as Brenda-Marie and emma Churchill as Josie in Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis which opens at the Stephen Joseph Theatre tomorrow
Zara Jayne as Brenda-Marie and emma Churchill as Josie in Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis which opens at the Stephen Joseph Theatre tomorrow

A ‘joyous comedy of transformation’– full of Elvis songs –  opens at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre tomorrow.

Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis is a co-production with the New Vic, Newcastle-under-Lyme.

It takes place on the birthday of Josie Botting, a work-from-home dominatrix who has lost the will to dominate, and is not really in the mood to party.

But her most loyal client, Lionel, is keen to mark the occasion, and arranges for a special appearance from the ‘King’, in the shape of novice Elvis impersonator Timothy Wong.

The cast is Shelley Atkinson, Jemma Churchill, Rachael Henley, Jun Hwang, Zara Jayne and Eamonn Riley.

Directed by Gemma Fairlie, Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis is designed by Carla Goodman, with lighting design by Paul Stear and sound design by James Reid.

Martha Josie and the Chinese Elvis won the Pearson Television Best Play Award for 1998 and the Manchester Evening News Best New Play for 1999.

It also contributed to writer Charlotte Jones winning the Critics’ Circle Most Promising Playwright Award in 1999.

Her play Humble Boy premiered at the National Theatre in 2001 and won the Critics’ Circle Best New Play Award, the People’s Choice Best New Play Award and an Olivier nomination.

It transferred to the West End before opening at New York’s Manhattan Theatre Club and being nominated for a Drama Desk Award.

In 2015, Charlotte was made an Honorary Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, for services to the arts. She also writes extensively for TV, radio and film.

Director Gemma Fairlie said: “Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis is joyful and very funny. I hope our audience will fall in love with these characters, who are brilliantly written and a lot of fun to spend some time with.”

Writer Charlotte Jones said: “It’s a fun-filled evening and it’s an evening full of Elvis songs, but it’s also an evening of revelation: by the end, everything has been transformed.

“That was what I wanted to write: a joyous comedy of transformation.”

Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elvis can be seen in the Round from Thursday March 28 to Saturday April 20.

Tickets are priced from £10, and can be booked at the box office on 01723 370541 or via the website: www.sjt.uk.com