Nigel Lilley

Nigel Lilley Portrait


Current and future projects include: FOLLIES (Revival, National Theatre) 

Musical Director credits include: CAROLINE OR CHANGE (West End, Hampstead Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre); FUN HOME (Young Vic); FOLLIES (National Theatre); THE GO-BETWEEN (West End); CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (Theatre Royal Drury Lane); MY FAIR LADY, COMPANY (Sheffield Crucible); RAGTIME (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); SPRING AWAKENING (European premiere, Lyric & Novello); LA CAGE AUX FOLLES (Chocolate Factory & Playhouse); PIAF (Donmar Warehouse & Vaudeville); LAUREN KENNEDY IN CONCERT (Chocolate Factory); LES MISÉRABLES (conducting the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra); THE BACCHAE (National Theatre of Scotland & Edinburgh International Festival); ACORN ANTIQUES (UK Tour); THE LAST SESSION (UK premiere – Hackney Empire Studio); PUTTING IT TOGETHER (Harrogate Theatre).

Music Supervisor credits include: ROMANTICS ANONYMOUS (Shakespeare’s Globe); GUYS AND DOLLS and SWEET CHARITY (Royal Exchange); CHAPLIN THE MUSICAL (European Tour); BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM (Phoenix Theatre); A WOLF IN SNAKESKIN SHOES (Tricycle Theatre); ANYTHING GOES (Sheffield Crucible & UK tour); THAT DAY WE SANG (Manchester Royal Exchange & Manchester International Festival); PAPER DOLLS (Tricycle Theatre); THE UMBRELLAS OFCHERBOURG (Curve Leicester & West End); SWEET CHARITY (Chocolate Factory/Theatre Royal Haymarket); TALENT (Chocolate Factory).

Other credits include: SINATRA AT THE LONDON PALLADIUM; LES MISÉRABLES (Denmark); MAURY YESTON’S DECEMBER SONGS (UK premiere - Greenwich Theatre); PHILIP QUAST AT THE DONMAR (Divas season); PACIFIC OVERTURES (Donmar Warehouse).

Television credits include: VICTORIA (Mammoth/ITV); OUR FRIEND VICTORIA (Phil McIntyre Entertainment/BBC); THAT DAY WE SANG (Endor/BBC); VICTORIA WOOD'S CHRISTMAS SPECIAL (BBC) UP THE WOMEN (BBC); 2008 ROYAL VARIETY PERFORMANCE (conducting La Cage aux Folles) MUSICALITY (C4)

Nigel co-authored a guide to Musical Theatre auditions with Mary Hammond called “Thank you – That’s all we need for today” published by Edition Peters.

Nigel trained at King’s College London and the Royal Academy of Music, where he was the recipient of the DipRam award.  Nigel was elected as an associate of RAM in 2013.

25 February 2019

‘A perfect show.’ ★★★★★ FOLLIES returns to the National Theatre

‘A perfect show.’ ★★★★★ FOLLIES returns to the National Theatre

Stephen Sondheim’s FOLLIES returns to the National Theatre to rave reviews across the board, highlighting the outstanding work of MLR Creatives, Nigel Lilley (Music Director and Conductor), Nick Skilbeck (Music Supervisor) and Paule Constable (Lighting Designer.)

The Stage ★★★★★ 

‘Cooke’s staging remains one of the most impressive things to have graced the Olivier for some time, making full use of the depth and height of the space; the production as a whole is a majestic undertaking, haunting, emotionally textured and impeccably designed by Vicky Mortimer, and lit, by Paule Constable; bleak, but brilliant.’ 

What’s on Stage ★★★★★

‘When Dominic Cooke's production of Stephen Sondheim's Follies first landed on the Olivier stage it scooped up virtually every award going. Now it's back, substantially recast, slightly reworked, and – amazingly – it glistens more brightly than ever.’  

‘On Vicki Mortimer's glimmering set, which covers the ruins of a battered old theatre with a glint of remembered magic, filling the dusty chairs and bare walls with the silver and gold of the elaborate Follies costumes, and the tugging loveliness of Paule Constable's shadowy lighting, past and present come together in soul-baring encounters that fracture and then, tentatively, heal broken lives.’

The Telegraph ★★★★★

‘This Sondheim revival is a perfect show.’

Broadway World UK  ★★★★★

‘Sondheim's score is nostalgic, familiar; it is as if your own memories are singing for you, and how beautiful they sound. Nigel Lilley's orchestra is in fine form, dishing out hot tunes just as fast as the dancers can catch them.’

The Express  ★★★★★

'Do not miss this show. It is perfection.' 

London Theatre ★★★★★

‘That constant pull between the past and present defines both James Goldman's wonderful impressionistic book and Dominic Cooke's haunting production, with its sets by Vicki Mortimer, lighting by Paule Constable and above all pitch-perfect period choreography by Bill Deamer.’ 


03 July 2018

Rave Reviews for FUN HOME

Rave Reviews for FUN HOME

Opening for the first time in the UK, Fun Home has received rave reviews from audiences and critics alike, with Music Direction by Nigel Lilley.

★★★★★ The Independent

'Robust when it needs to be, it's a sensitive - often transportingly beautiful – tissue of linked leitmotivs and achingly suspended harmonies, exquisitely performed here by Nigel Lilley and his six-piece band.'

★★★★★ The Stage

‘There’s an incredible generosity to Tesori’s straining music, full of uncompleted lines and suspended notes. It’s all about how it can best express story and character rather than show off a show tune. That’s not to say it doesn’t have those too – all three Alisons get a stunning song, and the final half-hour doesn’t let chills leave the body for an instant.’

★★★★★ Whats On Stage 

‘But the truly remarkable thing about this show, adapted from the graphic autobiography by Alison Bechdel is just how funny, true and touching it is. It reaches a level of emotional honesty that other musicals just don't begin to touch.’ 

★★★★★ The Guardian

‘Anguished, gleeful, candid and peculiar, Fun Home pushes musical theatre in new directions, and startles at pretty much every turn. It sings more about sex than about falling in love. The sex is mostly between women – though there are also the encounters that Dad turns out to have had with young men throughout his marriage. Oh and the “fun” in the title is short for “funeral”.’

★★★★★ Time Out 

‘It is a remarkable story, with remarkable performers, that’s even more remarkable for its structure – spinning and swirling and ducking and diving in kaleidoscopic fragments, with the ‘songs’ often just beautifully elevated snatches of dialogue. It bustles with all the energy and joy of nostalgia and discovery of life, almost ebulliently whirling to its final point of tragedy.’

★★★★ Sunday Times

 ‘Fun Home feels like more of a milestone in musical theatre (and mainstream, main-stage theatre generally), in that it provides a gloriously specific lesbian heroine with actual, as opposed to cursory, nuance — a relief.’

13 March 2018



GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY has been nominated for an Outstanding Achievement in Music award for the original orchestrations and arrangements by Simon Hale, along with nominations for Best New Musical, Best Actress in a Musical, Best Actor in a Musical and Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical. Currently playing in the West End after transferring from the Old Vic. 

FOLLIES has also been nominated for an Outstanding Achievement in Music award for The Orchestra, under the music supervision of Nicholas Skilbeck and music director Nigel Lilley, as well as Best Lighting Design for Paule Constable. It also received a further seven nominations including Best Director and Best Musical Revival, and played at the Olivier, National Theatre until January 2018.

ANGELS IN AMERICA received a nomination for Best Lighting Design for Paule Constable, her second nomination in this category, and also received nominations for Best Revival, Best Actor and Best Director amongst others for its run at the Lyttleton, National Theatre.

ON THE TOWN received a nomination for Best Musical Revival after running at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre with Lighting Design by Howard Hudson.

30 October 2017

ROMANTICS ANONYMOUS opens at Shakespeare's Globe

ROMANTICS ANONYMOUS opens at Shakespeare's Globe

ROMANTICS ANONYMOUS, with Music by Michael Kooman, Lyrics by Christopher Dimond and Book/Direction by Emma Rice, is on at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse until January. 

It has Musical Supervision by Nigel Lilley, Orchestrations by Simon Hale and Sound Design by Simon Baker.

Broadway World ★★★★★

“polished perfection”

“you really will leave the theatre "dancing on air" and beaming from ear to ear” 

The Telegraph ★★★★

“a lush, piping delight to the ear”

“champions mould-breaking fearlessness”

The Times ★★★★

“the Gallic songs played on acoustic instruments cast too strong a spell”

“an electric au revoir”

TimeOut ★★★★

“The musical proves the ideal medium for the unspeakably shy: whimsical piano and woodwind-led songs give voice to the characters’ churning inner turmoil”

“something truly delicious”

WhatsOnStage ★★★★

“A sweet treat of a new musical, wrapped in fun and fancy, and bound up with a ribbon of magic.”

“The acoustics are nigh-on perfect”

“the warmth and intimate nature of the songs are perfect for the romantic Sam Wanamaker Playhouse”

The Stage ★★★★

“utterly gorgeous”

“It melts your heart and tickles your fancy, leaving you giddy with laughter, tearful and elated.”

The Independent ★★★★

"an attractive Gallic whimsy to...the undulating score (played by a spot-on four-piece band)"

"a gracious, big-hearted swansong – an intimate, delectably joyous mix of the silly and the stirring"

The Guardian ★★★★

"a multifaceted gem, chock-full of love, generosity and joy, and it fits the space like a glove"

"funny and heartbreakingly sad"

The Financial Times ★★★★

"a delicate treat: tender and mischievous with darker undertones"

"rippling, witty Gallic-inflected score"


07 September 2017

FOLLIES opens at the National Theatre

FOLLIES opens at the National Theatre

FOLLIES, by Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman, is directed by Dominic Cooke in the Olivier at the National Theatre. Nick Skilbeck is the Music Supervisor, Nigel Lilley is the Music Director & Conductor and Paule Constable is the Lighting Designer. 

The Artsdesk ★★★★★

“Music supervisor Nicholas Skilbeck and conductor Nigel Lilley have elicited the best possible work; there are stunning contributions from some of the best wind and brass in the business”

“evocatively lit by Paule Constable”

“You leave giddy with the richness and complexity of it all. one of the great classics of the musical theatre is magnificently vindicated.”

The Independent ★★★★★

"The hairs on the back of my neck were begging for mercy for they got barely a moment’s peace, what with the thrilling sound of the orchestra (under Nigel Lilley’s fantastic musical direction)"

"jaw-droppingly great"

The Guardian ★★★★★

“It is quite simply breathtaking.”

“a production that perfectly captures the sustained emotional arc of Sondheim and Goldman’s musical”

“Sondheim's showbiz stunner returns in breathtaking style”

Time Out ★★★★★

“’Follies' is no folly but a perfect, devastating evocation of the pain of looking back”

“There's nothing like a Stephen Sondheim musical to make you wonder what the hell everybody else is playing at. Revived with considerable expense, a lot of style…frankly extraordinary”

The Telegraph ★★★★★

“Unmissable, really.”

“the opulent spectacle of the night”

The Stage ★★★★★

“This isn’t just triumphant, it’s transcendent”

“Every 10 minutes or so there's another stunner of a set piece, sung impeccably”

The Financial Times ★★★★★

"an outstanding revival — spectacular, sassy, sorrowful and ultimately deeply sad. It’s as robust as an old trouper and as delicate as a cobweb, a brilliantly sustained reverie, superbly performed."

"the 21-piece orchestra bring the spectacle, while revealing in it the hollowness of fame and the damaging veneration of youth."

Broadway World ★★★★★

“it's thrilling, heartrending and utterly vital.”

“Nigel Lilley's magnificent brassy orchestra”

“Sondheim super-fans will certainly consider it worth the wait, but for the dedicated and uninitiated alike, it's simply spectacular theatre”

WhatsOnStage ★★★★

“establishes the greatness of Follies once and for all”

“Its strength lies less in its spectacle than in the calibrated detail”

The Evening Standard ★★★★

“lending clever pastiche with passages of uncomfortable introspection, it’s a genuinely fascinating study of the dangers of nostalgia.”

“real emotional weight — eloquent about desire, fantasy, illusion and regret”

The New York Times  

"musical director Nigel Lilley’s 21-strong orchestra delivers the score with unusual luster: the brass section, by way of example, sends Buddy’s revelatory “The Right Girl” soaring"

"I’m not sure I’ve ever come across a “Follies” that carries the punch of the current staging"


"Guess that’s why they call him God"

If the foursome all realize how much they’ve been faking, they also come to see that the whole world’s a ruse. Divine"


12 May 2017

Nigel Lilley is Musical Director and Paul Arditti is Sound Designer on CAROLINE OR CHANGE

Nigel Lilley is Musical Director and Paul Arditti is Sound Designer on CAROLINE OR CHANGE

Written by Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori and directed by Michael Longhurst, CAROLINE OF CHANGE runs at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester until 3rd June. 


The Telegraph ★★★★★ 

“Beautifully staged and impeccably performed, this is an exceptional show”

“lavish execution of Tesori’s score that really captures the soul”


The Stage ★★★★★

“Complex yet big-hearted, joyfully exuberant but sharply political”

“devastatingly understated”


The Guardian ★★★★

“produced the most full-throated ovation I’ve ever heard”

“this is a radically pioneering musical: one that expands the form”


WhatsOnStage ★★★★

“The scenario might be small. The show is anything but.”

“A remarkable, unblinking chamber musical”

10 June 2016

Nigel Lilley is Musical Director on THE GO-BETWEEN at the Apollo Theatre

Nigel Lilley is Musical Director on THE GO-BETWEEN at the Apollo Theatre

This new musical adaptation of L.P. Hartley’s novel plays in the West End until 15th October, starring Michael Crawford.

The Stage ★★★★

“Daringly it’s played by a solitary virtuoso pianist – the brilliant Nigel Lilley, an entire symphony orchestra seemingly in his finger-tips.”

“gently evocative”


The Independent ★★★★

“enthralling, beautifully textured”

“Nigel Lilley coaxes rich orchestral colours”

“a striking imaginative integrity”

London Theatre ★★★★

“it's a joy to welcome a tender, truthful original British musical to London”

“wistful, quietly wonderful show”

“a delicately textured score”

What’s On Stage

“It's delicate, and unusual, refreshing even; full credit to musical director Nigel Lilley, who plays every note.”