3.5 (2) · Musicals

An extraordinary new musical by three-time Tony Award-nominee Dave Malloy

“Southwark Playhouse is one of London's best theatres for finding musicals with a difference. This one, by Tony award-winning composer & lyricist Dave Malloy, delves into the mind of Sergei Rachmaninoff.”
Lyn Gardner avatar
5 September 2019  ·  Follow on Stagedoor
“Composer & lyricist Dave Molloy was firmly established as a major musical talent when his ‘Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812’ (based on War and Peace) was nominated for 12 Tony Awards. An incident of anxiety, writer’s block and paranoia in the life of Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff provides the basis of a show that combines the Russian’s compositions with Molloy’s score to take us deep inside Rachmaninoff’s mind. The New York Times called it “sad and stirring and gloriously fun,” as “Dave Malloy makes beautiful music out of a composer’s three years of creative silence.””


Sergei Rachmaninoff has it all; world-wide fame from a single composition by the age of 19, commissioned to write his first symphony at 20 and engaged to the love of his life, Natalya.

But at 21 he is crippled with a depressive paranoia and anxiety. His world has imploded, his work has stopped, he cannot even lift a pencil to compose a simple melody. Such is the power of the men who sought to destroy him, who haunt his waking nightmares and poison his dreams. And when those men happen to be the greatest artists of their day, how do you come back, how do you escape the darkness and come into the light?

Based on a true story of Rachmaninoff’s sessions of hypnotherapy, Preludes is an extraordinary new musical by three-time Tony Award-nominee Dave Malloy. It examines the crippling debilitation and harm the world can do to people, and how the dramatic and musical process can be used as therapy to restore them back into the fullest of creative lives.

Using live piano and electronics, Malloy uses a hybrid of his own and Rachmaninoff’s compositions to create a dream-like world that takes us to the darkest recesses of Rachmaninoff’s mind.

Critic reviews

Dave Malloy’s hypnotic piece set in the mind of Rachmaninov dazzlingly pushes the form of musical theatre

The Stage

A compassionate, heart-wrenching and ultimately uplifting story about mental illness and the redemptive power of art

Musical Theatre Review

Hypnotic and darkly beautiful

The Upcoming

Cult composer Dave Malloy’s hypnotically strange musical about Rachmaninoff’s time in hypnotherapy

Time Out

An assured UK premiere that lands with an ethereal grace


Dave Malloy's innovative musical immerses us in a creative crisis

The Arts Desk

A strange beast: it is both sublime and ridiculous. It can thrill and exhilarate in one moment and alienate and frustrate in the next

Lyn Gardner for Stagedoor

Preludes is frustrating but I still love it, so much so that I want to send people to it, especially people who don’t sit in the often-too-admiring circle of hardened musical theatre fans


Date & time

Show ended
Fri 6 Sep - Sat 12 Oct, 3pm & 7.30pm


77-85 Newington Causeway SE1 6BD London, UK · Get Directions
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