New musical tells the story of war hero Alan Turing | Edinburgh Festival 2022

From social pariah to object of national pity and finally to war hero status, Alan Turing’s reputation has taken an extraordinary trajectory since his death. But now its mere name is enough to wow audiences with a new musical alongside the Edinburgh Festival.

In The Vault, a small room under a bridge in the Old Town, the cast of Alan Turing: a musical biographywere putting the finishing touches to their moving show on Friday afternoon.

An attempt to tell his life story in his own words and in song, the musical, which was written and directed by music teachers Jan Osborne and Joel Goodman, has already nearly sold out its entire month.

“We’re stunned by the response,” Osborne said. “There is such intense interest now in this story.

And Turing’s show isn’t the only fringe musical to chronicle the secret codebreaking work that helped win World War II. In a room at the Drill Hall, an army reserve center in Scotland’s capital, an all-female cast prepares for the previews of a show titled Dots and Dashes: A Bletchley Park Musicalwhich describes the sacrifices made by cryptographers to save millions of lives by quietly waging their war behind closed doors.

In recent years, the fringe has proven to be a profitable location for the debut of historical musicals. Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow had extraordinary success after their hit show Six, about the wives of Henry VIII, transferred straight to London’s West End after two summers of impressive reviews at the festival. Now it has also been acclaimed on Broadway.

The musical is told through the device of the creation of a fictional biographer, Andrea. Photography: Andrew H Williams

Osborne and Goodman’s musical Turing is told through the device of the creation of a fictional biographer, Andrea, who tells the story told in the brilliant mathematician’s personal correspondence. Ashamed of his homosexuality, illegal in Britain at the time, the importance of Turing’s crucial work on German numerals, as well as the development of early computer technology, went unrecognized for many years after his puzzling death. , a suspected suicide, in 1954.

The new show chronicles key moments in his career and personal life, such as the loss of his closest friend. Much of the dialogue, Osborne said, comes directly from letters written to his friends and colleagues and to his mother.

“The Turing name has enormous power now,” said Osborne, who runs a music school in Epping, Essex, with Goodman.

“The music we wrote for this show comes largely from the tradition of classical musical theater and we focus a lot on the injustice in his life. A lot of the feedback we’ve gotten from people so far is that the show has inspired them to learn more about its story. We leave Turing’s cause of death an open question, although we do mention that his family members believe it could have been accidental.

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