PREVIEW: Unexpected Joy, Southwark Playhouse

It has been announced that award-winning producer, Katy Lipson of Aria Entertainment will partner with New York City based Tony winning theatre and film producer, Jim Kierstead to produce new and groundbreaking productions on both sides of the Atlantic in Off-Broadway/Off-West End-sized venues.

Unexpected Joy

The pair’s first co-production will be working on the new  Bill Russell (book and lyrics) and Janet Hood (Music) musical, Unexpected Joy  that will receive its Off-Broadway premiere at The York Theatre Company from 24 April – 2 May, before a run at Southwark Playhouse from 6 – 29 September 2018.

Unexpected Joy is the story of three generations of female singers, long-held family tensions and a week together where change is in the air – Joy, a baby boomer pop star, is visited by her daughter, Rachel and granddaughter Tamara. Rachel is married to a prominent televangelist, so Joy is reluctant to divulge that she’s planning to marry Lou, another singer who happens to be a woman. A week with all four together is bound to lead to tension, laughter, discoveries and happiness that really is unexpected. Let the sparks and music fly!

The production is set to be directed by Amy Anders Corcoran, with further creative team and casting yet to be announced.

Talking about the new collaboration Katy Lipson said: “This is a very exciting time in Aria’s journey; Not only are we delighted to be co-presenting this incredible new musical which celebrates female empowerment with 4 great roles for women both in New York Off-Broadway and London’s Southwark Playhouse, but also to be collaborating with American producer Jim Kierstead on a new relationship which will see us working on similar co-productions of new chamber musicals both in the UK and across the pond.”

Jim Kierstead continued: “We can discuss ten different ideas in the span of ten minutes without getting confused. It’s a rare trait. I’m looking forward to the first of many collaborations together using this new model, as Unexpected Joy is a show that’s near and dear to my heart as I’ve spent the past 6 years developing it with the authors.  Stay tuned for our next collaboration!” 

Bill Russell’s previous credits include the Tony nominated Side Show for which he wrote the book and lyrics for. His other credits include Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens, music by Janet Hood, and has directed it in New York and the fringe and West End of London.

Janet Hood has performed as pianist and singer and has played on many albums, including her own, Jade and Sarsaparilla. Her credits also include composing the music for Elegies for Angels, Punks, and Raging Queens. 

Unexpected Joy will play at the Southwark Playhouse from the 6th to the 29th September. For more information visit:


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