Set in the Wessex so beloved by Thomas Hardy, TESS tells the devastating story of Tess Durbeyfield, daughter of a poor villager who fatefully discovers that they may be related to the ancient aristocratic d'Urberville family.
As Tess is sent to seek respectability with her new-found relatives, she embarks on an emotional and dramatic journey that will lead her to love, loss and ultimate tragedy. Struggling with the social mores of the rural Victorian world she inhabits, and the hypocrisy that plagues her sex, she forges a desperate path to pursue her own destiny against the backdrop of a society that seems determined to doom her.
TESS couples Hardy's iconic tale with a majestic score and evocative libretto. Fully sung-through, in the manner of Les Miserables or Phantom of the Opera, it offers a bold and highly expressive retelling of this ever-popular, much-loved story.
Music & orchestrations
Michael studied music at the University of Nottingham.
As a composer, his works include the musical comedy Trekkin’ (Questors Theatre, London) and the cabaret Showbiz (Southwark Playhouse) as well as incidental music for various productions including The Comedy of Errors (UK tour) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (London production).
He has musically directed a number of shows, such as Fiddler On The Roof, Bugsy Malone, Me And My Girl, Dracula Spectacula, Snoopy! The Musical and Of Thee I Sing, and for some years he was the Director of Music at several high schools in London.
Michael also trained as an actor at the Birmingham School of Acting and went on to perform in London, and on tour, in a variety of shows and plays such as Glorious! (Duchess Theatre, West End), Jekyll And Hyde – the musical (Union Theatre, London), Much Ado About Nothing (Garrick Theatre, Lichfield), Up4aMeet? (UK tour) and One Language, Many Voices (European tour).
Book & lyrics
Michael began his career as a newspaper journalist, going on to edit numerous publications. Since moving into fiction, his writing has appeared on stage, screen, radio, the printed page and online.
His debut play, Rasputin's Mother, won the national playwriting competition and subsequent work includes scripts, novels, radio plays and short stories. He wrote the book and lyrics for Tess - The Musical, an adaptation of Thomas Hardy's classic novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and completed for publication the posthumous release of Desmond Bagley's 'lost' thriller Domino Island.
His play MacHamLear toured the UK and Ireland in 2023 while his debut solo novel, a sequel to Domino Island, was published by HarperCollins the same year. A trilogy will be completed with the release of Thin Ice in 2024.
"Bristling with theatrical ideas"
Sir Alan Ayckbourn
BBC Radio Northampton
An evening with Tess