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A playwright’s success: From Romford to Wembley

PUBLISHED: 18:00 23 August 2014

Simon Shorten starred in the West End production of Les Miserables.

Simon Shorten starred in the West End production of Les Miserables.


A musical that tells the story of the Christian Bible will be performed at Wembley Arena.

J Marie Cooper auditioned for BBC One's The Voice but is now starring in Love Beyond.J Marie Cooper auditioned for BBC One's The Voice but is now starring in Love Beyond.

Richard Haley, writer and producer of Love Beyond, is excited to see his musical brought to life at the venue, in front of more than 12,000 people.

Richard, 50, of Romford, said: “It is a great feeling to know that the show is going to be performed on such an iconic stage and will be put on by some amazing singers and actors.”

Richard grew up in Rise Park and wanted to become a writer, but once he left Bower Park Academy – which in the 1970s was called Chase Cross Secondary School – in Havering Road, Romford, he entered the world of car designing in Romford.

He said: “I have always loved cars and the fact that I was able to be around them all day and talk about them and how to improve them was a great thing for me.”

Love Beyond will be performed at Wembley Arena on October 1 and 2.Love Beyond will be performed at Wembley Arena on October 1 and 2.

While he was busy working on vehicles he met Stephen Kitchen, now executive producer of the show, at Romford Community Church in the Rise Park Centre, Pettits Lane North.

Richard said: “We both share our faith and this is one of the most important reasons why we wanted to do a musical based on the Biblical lessons.

“I didn’t really know what the stories were until I read the Bible myself so I wanted to make a show that showed what the Bible really said.”

When he was still working as a car designer, Richard began writing the basics of Love Beyond when eventually he made the life- changing decision to leave his job to pursue his dream.

Richard said: “I did enjoy working on cars but I knew that musicals and writing was where my true passion was, so knew that it was about time for me to leave.”

People he knew put him in touch with Tabitha Webb, who played Christina in Phantom of the Opera in the West End, and together they started to bring the musical to life.

He said: “It was really great to get someone who was already in the business to be part of the show as it meant that we would be more involved with that circle of people from the West End, and her experience also meant she knew exactly what she was doing.”

When the show was put together with a full-blown orchestra and a musically gifted cast, it was performed in Brighton in front of 2,000 people which led them to believe that it could be possible to fill larger arenas.

Richard said: “We thought if we could get 2,000 people to want to see the show, then why couldn’t we get more?

“It is better to be ambitious than just to settle.”

It was this attitude that secured a place at Wembley Arena when a spot opened up for performers to take the stage for two nights on October 1 and 2.

Richard said: “If you like Les Miserables and love listening to big orchestras and singers with outstanding vocal ranges, then this is the show for you.

“The show is a big epic of the love story threaded throughout the whole Bible from beginning to end.”

-To buy tickets for the show email

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