• Photography © Catherine Ashmore: The Realness @ The Big House

  • Photography © Catherine Ashmore: The Realness @ The Big House

  • Photography © Catherine Ashmore: The Realness @ The Big House

Project Description

The Realness is a new urban musical about a bad boy’s roller-coaster journey from zero to hero, with an upbeat score ranging from rap to reggae and gospel to grime.

The Realness was first co-produced by Big Broad Productions and The Big House at Hackney Downs Studios, 13th Nov – 20th Dec 2014, and featured a cast of careleavers, ex-offenders and professional actors. With book by Maureen Chadwick & David Watson and music & lyrics by Kath Gotts, the show was directed by Big House Artistic Director Maggie Norris, with video design by Tony Award-winning Mic Pool and choreography by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille (Some Like It Hip-Hop).

The Realness was nominated in the 2015 Offies for Best New Musical.

You can find out lots more about the original production at The Big House here: www.therealness.london


When some people won’t believe you’ve changed, and others don’t want to let you change, it isn’t easy to make a new start. Jay Johnson is fresh out of prison and determined never to go back inside, but for all his efforts to stay on track, he finds himself making a detour in the wrong direction. Finally he’s faced with the hardest choice of his life and only then does he understand what he has to do to change things for real.

Set in and around The Mayhurst Estate in East London – or in a city near you.



“The writing has an amazing freedom and candour. It shrinks from nothing. Everything here is dramatic, fresh and brutally gripping. The songs are exceptionally good.”
Lloyd Evans, The Spectator

“Maureen Chadwick and David Watson’s book is fast-talking, insolently witty and slang-studded, while Kath Gotts’s songs, ranging from hip-hop to R&B, reggae and gospel, have real punch. The production blazes up its grimy streets powered by pure passion.”
Sam Marlowe, The Times

“Unmissable. I guarantee that you’ll be talking about this musical all the way home, and probably wake up next day still thinking about it. It is edgy, poignant, comical, complex, and full of hope. In short, it’s real.”
Anna Malzy, Everything Theatre

“catchy songs, defined characters, humour, and, most importantly of all, honesty”
Rebecca Gordon, Musical Theatre Review

Kath Gotts’ music and lyrics can blend rap, humour and street life with great affection.”
Freddie Machin, Hackney Citizen Review



Project Details

  • DateNov-Dec 2014, The Big House