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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 October 2006, 06:32 GMT 07:32 UK
Musical tells poet's classic tale
Dylan Thomas
Thomas wrote several versions of his Christmas childhood work
A new musical version of Dylan Thomas's classic, A Child's Christmas in Wales, is to open in his home city.

The production is the first new version to be authorised by the late Welsh poet's estate for 25 years.

Produced and directed by Michael Bogdanov, the Wales Theatre Company show opens in Swansea and goes onto venues around Wales.

Aeronwy Thomas, the poet's daughter, said: "People like to remember Christmas as it was, pre-technology."

Neath-born Bogdanov marked the 50th anniversary of Thomas' death with a stage version of Thomas' "play for voices", Under Milkwood.

Even some of Thomas' adult poems were about his childhood - some people may say he was obsessed with his childhood
Dave Woolley, Dylan Thomas Centre

He has collaborated with American musician and composer Jack Herrick for his new production, which has a dozen original numbers for the musical's cast of 10.

Bogdanov told BBC News that he had always planned to add A Child's Christmas in Wales, the poet's lyrical evocation of festive season memories, to his list of credits.

He said: "It's a beautiful Christmas story. There are so few genuine lyrical Christmas stories and this just lends itself.

"I have always been more than a Thomas fan in as much my mother loved his poetry used to read it to me as child and always talked about him as a Bohemian.

Aeronwy Thomas
Aeronwy Thomas said people "like to remember Christmas as it was"

"I hope the people of Swansea will recognise the man through the piece and the lyrical qualities will come through and also the scurrility of the humour."

Aeronwy Thomas, a beneficiary of the Thomas estate but with no control over its decisions, said she was confident Bogdanov's "avant garde" approach would be right for the piece.

She said: "His Under Milkwood was superb. He is a very gifted director. He had taken a few chances. He took it a stage further because it was slightly surreal."

She recently read A Child's Christmas in Wales to an audience at St Paul's Church, Knightsbridge.

She added: "I read it slowly and found the audience started laughing. I think they liked the dialogue between the boys.

"People like to remember Christmas as it was, pre- technology, when children were not stuck in front of a computer or television, and were out snowballing cats."

'Obsesses with childhood'

The show opens on Wednesday night at the city's Grand Theatre, the company's base.

Swansea's ninth annual tribute to its best known son, the Dylan Thomas Festival, runs from 27 October, the date of his birth, to 5 November, the date of his death.

Festival organiser Dave Woolley, said: "As a Christmas tale, A Child's Christmas in Wales is very nostalgic. It's a sort of timeless story as far as children are concerned."

"A lot of his poetry is about looking backwards. Even some of Thomas's adult poems were about his childhood. Some people may say he was obsessed with his childhood."



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