The Hunting of the Snark (musical)

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The Hunting of the Snark is a musical based on Lewis Carroll's 1876 poem The Hunting of the Snark, written by composer Mike Batt.


The musical began life in 1984 as a costumed concert with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican, conducted by Mike Batt and starring Paul Jones as the Baker and Christopher Cazenove as the narrator.

It was created as a concept album in 1986 but withheld from sale after a dispute with the record label, CBS (Sony).[1] The recording featured Roger Daltrey, Art Garfunkel, John Gielgud, Stéphane Grappelli, George Harrison, John Hurt, Julian Lennon, Cliff Richard, Captain Sensible, Deniece Williams, and the London Symphony Orchestra. Later that year it was performed as a concert at the Barbican. "Midnight Smoke" was released as a single on 17 November 1986.

A further (costumed) production took place at the Royal Albert Hall on April Fool's Day 1987, with Justin Hayward taking Art Garfunkel's role of the Butcher from the original recording, Billy Connolly replacing Cliff Richard as the Bellman and Midge Ure performing George Harrison's guitar parts. Other performers recreated their roles from the concept recording. This concert was filmed and screened as a television special in some countries.

In October 1990 The Hunting Of The Snark was successfully presented, again by Batt and by Jackson-Mayo Productions, as a dramatised concert in Australia, at Sydney's State Theatre and The Hills Centre with the Elizabethan Sinfonietta, with Philip Quast starring as The Bellman, Cameron Daddo as The Butcher, Jackie Love as The Beaver, Doug Parkinson as The Barrister, Daryl Somers as The Billiard Marker, John Waters as Lewis Carroll and David Whitney as The Baker. This production also included additional songs that did not appear on the original 1986 recording.[2]

On 24 October 1991 a £2 million budget production of the show opened in London at the Prince Edward Theatre, with striking scenery and designs. 12,000 animated slides were projected from 152 computer-linked projectors arranged around the theatre. Although reviews praised Batt's visual concepts and Quast as the Bellman, the show closed seven weeks later.

The show was later presented as an amateur production in July 1995 at The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, with slightly different songs and libretto created by Batt for the occasion. The Sheffield amateur production was produced by Ian Gude for Jolly Good Musical Productions, directed by Steve Morrell, with musical direction by Ian Gude.

Album and DVD[edit]

In November 2010, Mike Batt's company Dramatico Entertainment released the original record album from 1986, together with a DVD of the Royal Albert Hall concert from 1987. A sheet music folio of the original album was released to coincide with the 2010 DVD/CD release.



The Hunting of the Snark tells the tale of several characters who go on a sea journey, searching for a mythical creature called "The Snark", whatever it may be, for the Snark is different things to each of the characters. The Baker's uncle once told him, "If your Snark be a Boojum! ... You will softly and suddenly vanish away, And never be met with again!". Through this journey relationships develop, tensions rise and the Baker's worst nightmare comes true.

Creative team[edit]

Original London cast[edit]


  1. ^ Mike Batt
  2. ^ Sydney Season October 1990 program
  3. ^ Chorus 1 used as the theme song for Big Break, BBC

External links[edit]

  • Mike Batt's Official Website
  • The Hunting of The Snark at IMDb