National Theatre

Inside a large rehearsal room with white brick walls and a wooden floor, a group of four actors stand on 3 different step ladders, smiling and singing with another actor who is stood at the top of one of the step ladders, with their arms spread out wide, laughing with a big open smile.

(c) Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

Since 2017, the Genesis Foundation has supported artists at the National Theatre as they develop bold, accessible new forms of British music theatre, tackling compelling stories and setting out to engage diverse audiences. The programme was conceived by the National Theatre’s Artistic Director, Rufus Norris (the inaugural Genesis Director at the Young Vic), who leads it with Marc Tritschler, the NT’s Creative Director of Music, and Nina Steiger, the NT’s Head of Play Development. 

A photo of Rufus Norris. He is a middle aged man with short grey hair. He is wearing a dark blue shirt and cardigan, and is holding his hands out either side of him, as if directing someone off camera.

“The National Theatre’s partnership with the Genesis Foundation is transforming how we support artists as they develop music theatre. It allows us to offer flexible, bespoke and comprehensive support, and ensures the time, space and resources that the development of this intensive art form requires. We are incredibly excited to begin to see some of the first fruits of the Genesis Music Theatre Programme on our stages, and are indebted to John and the Foundation for their friendship, enthusiasm and vision.”

Rufus Norris
Artistic Director, National Theatre

Genesis Music Theatre Programme

The Genesis Music Theatre Programme is designed to interact closely with the National Theatre’s performance planning as it develops new shows. 

There are three strands of activity to provide bespoke support to artists at different stages of development:  

• Genesis Music Theatre Attachments: where writers and composers attend workshops at the NT Studio to develop initial ideas.  

• Genesis Music Theatre Workshops: artists whose work is at a later stage of development are given the opportunity to workshop their projects.  

• Genesis Music Theatre Commissions: writing teams are supported in developing work that the NT hopes to stage.  

The Witches

The latest musical to be developed through the Genesis Music Theatre Programme is The Witches, a rip-roaring musical version of Roald Dahl’s timeless tale, which opened in the Olivier Theatre in November 2023.

The Witches ran until January 2024, with book and lyrics by Olivier Award-winner Lucy Kirkwood, music and lyrics by Tony Award-nominee Dave Malloy, and directed by Lyndsey Turner.

★★★★★ ‘A dazzling show’ The Times
★★★★★ ‘A hysterically funny triumph’ Time Out
★★★★★ ‘Warms your heat and chills your bones’ The Independent

★★★★ Evening Standard
★★★★ WhatsOnStage
★★★★ The Stage
★★★★ The i


The first musical to reach the stage from the programme was Hex based on Sleeping BeautyHex premiered in the Olivier Theatre in November 2021 and returned the National Theatre towards the end of 2022.

The show was directed by Rufus Norris, with music by Jim Fortune and book by Tanya RonderFind out more about Hex.

There are three further musicals in development that the National Theatre hopes to stage over the coming seasons. 

Genesis Music Theatre Group

The Genesis Music Theatre Group ran for two years as a pilot programme. It brought together a group of two-person composer-playwright teams for a day each month. The participants studied techniques and scenes from musicals and presented their own scenes and songs with the help of musical directors and professional performers. They also had the opportunity to meet guest speakers, including lyricist-composers of the stature of Stephen Schwartz and Stephen Sondheim. The GMTG was then reframed in what is now the Genesis Music Theatre Programme.   

A photo of Rufus Norris & composer Stephen Sondheim sat on stage, talking to each other.

Stephen Sondheim & Rufus Norris (c) National Theatre

Find out more about our partnership with the National Theatre