Young Pip and Estella



A new British musical in the grand style, based on the classic Charles Dickens novel, and brimming with extraordinary characters. See Pip's story unfold as the musical journey touches every emotion. 

If you would like to find out more, please use the 'Contact Us' page, or alternatively contact Laurie directly on Thank you for visiting!





Songs Synopsis


(for recordings, please select 'The Music' page from the menu)


During the early 1800’s the Hulks were prison ships moored on the Thames estuary. Aboard these ships convicts were kept shackled before being transported down to Australia and banished from England forever. 


With other convicts Abel Magwitch, along with his arch enemy Compeyson, is aboard such a ship. Although shackled he manages to escape by jumping overboard. But unbeknown to Magwitch, Compeyson also makes his escape shortly afterwards.



By way of a flashback scene the young Compeyson and his fiancée, Miss Havisham, are strolling in the park one Sunday afternoon. Miss Havisham is looking forward to her marriage to Compeyson, which is to take place the following Sunday.



It is Christmas Eve and young Pip enters the churchyard to lay holly on his mother’s grave. Magwitch, having made it to dry land, seizes upon Pip, forcing him to swear that he will steal food, brandy and a file from the family kitchen cum forge in order to feed Magwitch and free him of his shackles.


The following day, Christmas Day, Uncle Pumblechook and family friend Mrs Hubble stroll through the village en route to the Gargery household. Here they will be provided with a festive feast prepared by Mrs Joe, Pip’s bullying elder sister, who is the wife of the village blacksmith Joe Gargery.


A crusty pork pie, baked especially by Mrs Joe, is meant to be a surprise addition to the feast for her guests. Unfortunately this is the pie that Pip has stolen to feed the hungry convict.



Magwitch is re arrested by the sergeant from the Hulks but vows that one day his hard work in the New World will result in Pip becoming a fine gentleman.



Uncle Pumblechook, through his social connections, has arranged for Pip to play games at the prestigious but dilapidated Satis House, home to the highly respected Miss Havisham and her step daughter Estella.



When Pip describes the interior of Satis House as gloomy and dusty Pumblechook, Mrs Hubble and Mrs Joe are very near mortified.



On completion of his apprenticeship as a blacksmith, Biddy, Joe’s new lady following the passing of Mrs Joe, congratulates Pip on his elevation to tradesman. However Pip retorts that with grubby, swollen and burned hands his will never win the love of Estella.  



Pip is now of the age where he is able to sup stagger juice at the Blue Boar ale house with Joe. A lawyer, Jaggers, arrives unexpectedly at the inn with news that Pip is to be financed by an unknown benefactor to become a young man of great expectations. He is to journey to London where he will reside as a gentleman.   



Pip, resplendent in gentleman’s attire, is enthusiastically waved off by family and fellow villagers as he embarks on his journey to be part of London high society.



Pip arrives in London to be greeted by the mayhem of its street traders, general public and lowlife. He makes his way through the busy streets to meet with Jaggers, who then introduces Pip to Herbert Pocket with whom he will share lodgings.



Having acquired the ways of a gentleman Pip re visits Satis House to woo Estella with confidence. Sadly Estella informs him that she is incapable of falling in love with him.



As Pip tends to his emotional wounds so a stranger arrives unexpectedly at his door. He introduces himself as Abel Magwitch, the former convict. Magwitch then confesses to Pip that it is he who is the secret benefactor and responsible for Pip’s great expectations.



Told by Estella that she has given her heart to another man, Pip, although deeply hurt, accepts her decision with dignity and begins to leave. As he does so a spitting cinder from the fire lands on Miss Havisham’s dress, setting it ablaze, causing her to burn to death.



Jaggers informs Pip that because Magwitch has been arrested for the murder of Compeyson, any estate that Magwitch held will be seized by the Crown. Therefore Pip’s allowance has ceased with immediate effect, which renders Pip penniless.



Magwitch now finds himself in a courtroom. As the judge dons his black cap to hand down the death sentence so Magwitch is overcome by seizure. He collapses in the dock and dies in Pip’s arms. Pip, overcome with the stress of it all, also collapses. He returns extremely ill to the Gargery household where Joe and Biddy nurse him back to reasonable good health. It is Christmas Eve and Pip reminisces of all the happenings however sad, that have taken place. He revisits Satis House to discover a dejected and widowed Estella once again residing in darkness, dust and gloom, just as Miss Havisham had done for many years. Yet Pip is positive and convinces Estella to embrace his love and share with him whatever the future may hold. In other words, tear down the curtains… and live!





The Writer - Laurie Hornsby


Born and raised in Birmingham, Britain’s second city, Laurie Hornsby, from day one, was always aware of exactly what entertained the general public. This awareness was demonstrated perfectly when, as an author, Laurie wrote the two highly acclaimed books that chronicled the rock music that exploded from out of his hometown, ‘Brum Rocked’ and its sequel ‘Brum Rocked On’. He was well qualified to do so because during those halcyon days of the mid to late 60’s, as a musician, he’d played the same gigs, shared the same stages with the likes of Jeff Lynne’s Idle Race and Ozzy Osbourne’s Black Sabbath.


As the end of the 20th century approached it became apparent that Laurie, as a songwriter, had acquired the knack of composing catchy melodies that when layered with his poignant lyrics and performed in theatrical context, would prove an ideal ticket for both director and choreographer. He had devised two community musicals ‘Wallop Mrs Cox’, set in the Bull Ring, Birmingham’s bustling market, and ‘Ridin’ the Number 8’, a musical bus ride around the city’s historical inner circle route. By commissioning both of these shows the Birmingham Rep were rewarded with two absolute box office sell outs. ‘Wallop Mrs. Cox’ played another season at the Rep before a further season at the Birmingham Hippodrome.


But the summer of 1970 had seen Laurie working as a musician at the south east coast holiday resort of Ramsgate. One Sunday afternoon he took a ride on an open top bus from Ramsgate to the neighbouring resort of Broadstairs. Disembarking he couldn’t help but notice an old rambling Georgian house high upon the cliff top. On its outside wall was a plaque that displayed the name of the said building. It read ‘Bleak House’. Five minutes later and 2 shillings lighter Laurie was standing alongside an old desk that was roped off from the public. The desk was positioned in front of a large bay window and enjoyed spectacular views out over the English Channel to where it would more or less meet with the mighty Thames estuary. According to the Bleak House curator, in this very room and indeed at this very desk, Charles Dickens had written ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ and ‘David Copperfield’. The curator then provided Laurie with a snippet of information that would be stored in his mind to surface forty odd years later. Seated at this very desk Dickens had conceived the wacky characters and sketched the initial plot for his most intriguing story ‘Great Expectations’. In 2012 Laurie Hornsby began to write his musical adaptation of this classic tale, only this time with the title ‘Tear Down The Curtains’.


But back to that Sunday afternoon at Bleak House, and hoping the curator wouldn’t notice, Laurie’s hand ventured over the rope to land gently on the sacred desk before stroking its surface a few times. ‘I was just hoping some of the magic might rub off’ was Laurie’s rather lame excuse to the rather irritated curator.






Story Synopsis


‘Great Expectations’ is Philip Pirrip (Pip)’s story - a rise from being a young orphan to comparative wealth, and his obsession with a beautiful heartless girl, Estella, from which he never really recovers. An encounter with an escaped convict has far-reaching repercussions, as Pip lives with his sister’s family, learns a trade as a blacksmith, also geting a taste of the high life with Miss Haversham, and her adopted daughter Estella. Through her he learns the cruelty of unrequited love, although he seeks to better himself to be worthy of her. Catapulted into prosperity by a mysterious inheritance, Pip gets an education and sadly rejects some of his former friends, before encountering Magwitch the convict once more, thus discovering his benefactor. He helps Magwitch to escape, although unsuccessfully. He is heartbroken to learn of Estella’s marriage, and visits Miss Haversham before her death, where they reconcile. At a final meeting with the widowed Estella, Pip discovers her late husband’s cruelty and tentatively resolves to remain with her at last.