Brendan Charleson (Casy) and André Squire (Tom Joad) star in The Grapes Of Wrath.
Brendan Charleson (Casy) and André Squire (Tom Joad) star in The Grapes Of Wrath.

A modern production of a literary classic is promised at Nottingham Playhouse from Tuesday. The Grapes Of Wrath, written by John Steinbeck and published in 1939, will feature 40 local people playing a community ensemble and live music.

The contemporary twist to Frank Galati’s adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel highlights an epic story of unity, community and survival against the odds.

It is set at the height of the Great Depression in the 1930s and follows the desperate Joad family.

Along with thousands of others, they leave the dust bowl of Oklahoma and travel west to California in search of work and a new life.

They invest everything in the journey, driven as much by fear as by hope, but will California be their promised land?

Director Abbey Wright said: “The Grapes Of Wrath is uncannily relevant to the world we find ourselves in today — increasing mechanisation, displacement of people, economic and environmental crisis.

“Across the world we have seen fear and hatred entering political discourse on immigration and identity.

“At the heart of the story is the need for community and love. Steinbeck invites us to ask ourselves ‘Who is our family?’, ‘Who are our children?’”. 

The Grapes Of Wrath, which runs until Saturday, April 8, is described as a testimony to the integrity, strength and perseverance of the human spirit.

The cast includes André Squire (Tom Joad) Brendan Charleson (Casy) Ben Bland (Connie) Daniel Booroff (Noah) Charlie Folorunsho (Pa) Shiv Jalota (Al) Jim Kitson (Uncle John) Pamela Merrick (granma/Elizabeth Sandry) Amy Molloy (Rose of Sharon) Alexander Newland (Muley, narrator, vocalist) Heronimo Sehmi (grampa) André Squire (Tom Joad) and Julia Swift (Ma). 

Running in tandem with the show at each venue on the tour are a series of initiatives in support of refugees, asylum seekers and migrant communities, including free ticket schemes and workshops to overcome language barriers.  

Music legend Roy Wood, who has had multiple chart hits since the 1960s, is appearing in a one-off concert at the Playhouse on Saturday.

Performing with his Rock ‘n’ Roll Band, Wood will recreate the sounds of hits from bands he co-founded like the Move, Electric Light Orchestra and Wizzard.

Songs will include I Can Hear The Grass Grow, Flowers In The Rain, Blackberry Way, California Man, See My Baby Jive, I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday and more.