Angela's Ashes musical premiered at Derby Theatre

A musical version of classic Irish book Angela's Ashes has had its premiere after being adapted by a University of Derby graduate.

Adam Howell has written songs and music for the adaptation of Frank McCourt's gritty memoir of his tough childhood in the slums of Limerick.

First published in 1996, the book was made into a film in 1999.

The musical's premiere, at Derby Theatre, was attended by the author's widow and younger brother.

A mixture of professional and community actors from two companies based at the university-owned theatre appear in the production.

'Wry humour'

Mr Howell, a theatre arts graduate, said setting the book to music had been an ambition of his for a long time.

He said: "The most frequent response I've had over the years has been 'Angela's Ashes... a musical? Seriously?'

"Perhaps it was my own Irish heritage or my 15-year-old naivety when I first read the book but I never found McCourt's tale to be one of misery and sadness but of wry humour and hope."

The author's widow Ellen McCourt and his younger brother Alphie McCourt travelled from the US for the premiere.

Mr Howell said the family had been very supportive of the project.

The book earned McCourt a Pulitzer Prize and sold millions of copies worldwide prior to his death from cancer in 2009.

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