Music by Denis King - Book and lyrics by Alan Ayckbourn

Licensing agent:Samuel French Ltd.
Music publisher:Eaton Music

“For Christmas 2000, Alan Ayckbourn teamed up with the accomplished composer Denis King to work on their first musical together. This would be Alan’s first true musical play for children and is possibly one of his finest and most well-rounded family plays.

Whenever is a time-travelling play which draws its inspiration from the likes of H G Wells, Frank L Baum, Isaac Asimov and arguably the future-changing and alternative history stories of Ray Bradbury and Philip K Dick. It is a narrative packed with ideas that challenges its intended audience. The narrative has a definite feel of The Wizard of Oz to it as Emily (Dorothy) goes on an adventure in order to return home and right a wrong, with her companions of Oscar Fieldman (Scarecrow), the android Ziggi (Tin-Man) and the furry beast Hoombean (Lion). The appearance of the less-than-epic Timekeeper at the end of time is also reminiscent of the unveiling of The Wizard in Oz.

The first production also made design nods to films and television with references to Doctor Who, Star Wars, The Time Machine and many others. As with all Alan’s plays with music, the songs are an integral part of the narrative and not only push the story forward but deal with some of the play’s most pertinent and complex themes: Hail-Greet deals with the familiar theme of our inability to communicate and how technology is not helping this process, while The End Of Time is practically a science lesson on the Big Bang theory delivered in three minutes. The pairing of Alan and Denis would be very successful and lead to several more projects in the future, including the similarly ambitious musical Orvin – Champion Of Champions.

If Alan’s mantra with his plays for children in recent years had been not to patronise or underestimate them as an audience, here he brought all his experiences to bear with a play that is scary, fast-paced, demanding, funny, ominous, intelligent and witty. It is a play that can be enjoyed on many different levels and by all ages.”  Simon Murgatroydwww.alanayckbourn.net

Kings Comment


Premiere: 5 December 2000, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

Director: Alan Ayckbourn
Music: Denis King
Design: Roger Glossop
Lighting: Mick Hughes
Costumes: Christine Wall
Musical Director: Simon Cryer
Choreography: Gavin Lee

CAST (5 M 4 W)

Alison Pargeter, Saskia Butler, Sarah Redmond, Nicola Sloane, Nigel Williams, Stefan Bednarczyk, Giles Taylor, Gavin Lee, Richard Banham


Click on any track name in blue to listen to the track, use the controls on the right hand side to play, pause and stop the audio.


Radio play for BBC RADIO 4 broadcast August 2006; directed by Bruce Hyman for Above The Title Productions.

Original live cast album, not available for public sale.


Since Alan and I rarely see each other when we’re writing together, I look forward to the rehearsal period up in Scarborough, as it gives me a chance to observe at close quarters his extraordinary creative energy. I always tell actors if they ever have the opportunity of working with him they should grab it with both hands, even if it’s a small part or a cut in salary. The experience will be invaluable. Alan is a true man of the theatre. I’m fascinated watching him at work and the WHENEVER experience was no exception, we had the usual pleasurable and fruitfull four week rehearsal period, only spoiled slightly by the news at breakfast one morning that George W. Bush had been elected the new US President, which put us both off our corn flakes.   Denis King

Fact of the Day
A dedicated year round outdoor swimmer, Denis enthusiastically submerged himself in Highgate Ponds despite the fact that--as his wife, incredulous, informed him--it was so cold London Zoo had had to bring its penguins indoors.
Listening Post
A Joyous Time Of The Year