Metta Theatre – one of the UK’s leading production companies devoted to British musical theatre – is pleased to announce the release of a film of a brand-new musical, CELLS, written, developed and recorded entirely during lockdown by the award-winning writer/director P Burton-Morgan and composer Ben Glasstone and starring Metta’s recently announced Patron, the Olivier award winning Clive Rowe alongside rising star Lem Knights.

A university science lab. A kebab shop at 2am. An online gaming forum. Two strangers’ lives become intertwined. Alan Bennett meets The Streets in this tender and uplifting new work, giving voice to the lives of two everyday blokes.

Metta are partnering with three major regional venues – Royal & Derngate Northampton, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough – with each partner venue hosting episodes on their websites. The first episode will be launched on Monday 19 April, with subsequent episodes released daily, and the full film will be available on Monday 26 April, along with the album to be released on Spotify and other digital platforms. The film, in episode form and then in its entirety will be free to all to access via YouTube with a suggested donation (£3 per episode, £10 for the whole film) – all of which will go to the three regional theatres to help support their recovery.


CELLS is written and directed by P Burton-Morgan (Madam Butterfly UK tour, In the Willows, UK tour, Jungle Book UK & International Tour)with music by Ben Glasstone, mixed and mastered by Simon Small and the Musical Director is Phil Cornwell. The Director of Photography is Jon Dickinson, the films are edited by Will Reynolds. Phil Cornwell plays keys and double bass and Curtis Volp is on guitar.

P Burton-Morgan, who in 2020 won the Writers Guild of Great Britain Award for musical theatre book writing for In the Willows explains, “I’ve been talking to Clive about writing something specifically for him ever since we met 4 years ago, so I’m thrilled to have this opportunity. It’s been a wild adventure creating a music video musical for this brave new world of ‘digital theatre’ in which we find ourselves. Hopefully we’ve succeeded in taking the best of both theatre and film to create something intimate and unique.”

James Dacre, Artistic Director at Royal & Derngate said, “In a year in which new musicals lie at the heart of our work, we’re delighted to be supporting Poppy and Ben to launch this touching story of a powerful new relationship formed between two strangers.”


Paul Robinson, Artistic Director at the Stephen Joseph Theatre said, ““Cells is an innovative and uplifting new musical that demonstrates the brilliant creativity of artists reacting to their circumstances – the SJT is delighted to be partnering with Metta Theatre, as well as Royal & Derngate in Northampton and the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch to present it. Any money raised from the two episodes that we’re hosting will be equally split between our talented Associate Companies – Voxed, The Faction, Box of Tricks, and Arcade – so watch this space for more exciting work with them.”

Douglas Rintoul, Artistic Director at Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch said, “Musicals are at the heart of our programme here at QTH, and so we’re thrilled to be supporting this innovative digital project from our exceptionally talented colleagues at Metta”.

P Burton-Morgan and Ben Glasstone met on the musical theatre writing training programme Book, Music and Lyrics in 2017. They have also written The Rhythmics together – a mid-life crisis of masculinity musical about Manchester’s premier all male Rhythmics Gymnastics performance ensemble. One of the songs ‘Waiting To Begin’ won second prize in the Stiles & Drewe Song Prize 2019 and later that year they workshopped the show at The Other Palace and Birmingham Rep. They released a cast album of The Rhythmics in 2020 and hope to premiere the piece as soon as such things are legal again.

Established in 2005 by P Burton-Morgan and Motley trained Designer William Reynolds, Metta Theatre has been at the forefront of new work – with a strong focus on the development of new British musical theatre, and a commitment to highlighting climate justice and sustainability; disability and deaf integration and inclusion (both from a political perspective and in order to artistically enrich the work); queering mainstream and family theatre – writing characters that represent and normalise (rather than problematise) the diverse range of queer experiences and identities; re-gendering protagonists in order to give girls strong female role models.

During the 2020 pandemic, the company focussed on the launch of two other studio albums and music videos for THE RHYTHMICS and HOUSEFIRE, as well as the launch of environmental consultancy Metta Green.

About Author /

Kath is an actor, singer and writer with a passion for theatre. She has been reviewing for At The Theatre since 2014. Kath has a Masters in Performance at Liverpool Hope University and is Creative Engagement Worker for B arts, a participatory arts organisation.

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