The Hired Man

The Hired Man was Howard’s first professional musical, completed when he was 26. It is a passionate and earthy work, inspired by the stage works of Kurt Weill, English choral and folk music and – specifically – by the emotional impact of seeing Brian Friel’s play set in rural Ireland, ‘Translations’.

In 1984, during its West End run, The Hired Man was awarded the Ivor Novello Award for Best Musical, earned four Olivier Award nominations, and was voted Best Musical of the Year by the critics of Time Out, The Guardian, Punch & The Stage. In 2004 its Salisbury Playhouse revival won the TMA Award for Best Musical. In 2007-8 the New Perspectives Theatre Company took The Hired Man on a 6-month UK tour, concluding at Greenwich Theatre, then for a summer season Off-Broadway. It was then revived at the Octagon Theatre Bolton in June 2010.

Andrew Keates’ revival at the Landor Theatre in 2011/12 won the Off-West End Award for Best Musical Production 2012. Here’s a selection of reviews: Mark Shenton The Stage : West End Geek : There ought to be clowns : Sandra Giorgetti British Theatre Guide

The Old Laundry Theatre in Bowness-on Windermere and Mountview Academy in London both staged performances in September 2012.  A production by Daniel Buckroyd was at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester and then at the Curve Theatre in Leicester from March to April 2013.

In 2019  a co-production between Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and Hull Truck Theatre in association with Oldham Coliseum Theatre of the The Hired Man received three nominations in the Off West End Theatre Awards and during the Covid-19 pandemic this production was livestreamed (15-21 June) to raise vital funds for those theatres.

Reviews from recent and past performances can be found here:  The Hired Man reviews

Key information:

Text: Book by Melvyn Bragg. Music & lyrics by Howard Goodall

Instrumentation: tpt – harp – pno – harpsichord – db – (optional string quartet)

Première: 1984, Nuffield Theatre, Southampton:

Availability: Performance materials available on hire from Faber Music (; rights licensed by Faber Music Copyright Dept ( (USA & Canada only). For all other territories, please contact the Really Useful Group