CONRAD Murray is too modest to describe himself as a pioneer but in the theatre world, that’s exactly what he is.

To see how he’s changing our views of what constitutes a musical, a trip to The Lowry next week will give you an insight into his vision.

Unexpected Twist is a radical interpretation of Charles Dicken’s classic Oliver Twist and Conrad has co-written the music and acted as musical director on the project.

It’s a musical but not as you will know if. Beatboxing, rap and hip hop have replaced the traditional orchestra and songs in the show based on award-winning author Michael Rosen’s novel.

Messenger Newspapers: Alex Hardie, Liyah Summers, Alexander Lobo Moreno, Nadine Rose Johnson,Kate Donnachie in Unexpected Twist                                (Picture: Manuel Harlan)

The story centres around Shona, the new girl in class, who is isolated, uncertain and becoming embroiled with gangs while at the same time studying Oliver Twist.

“What I bring to the production is quite new and experimental in a way,” said Conrad who has led the BAC Beatbox Academy for the last decade. “It’s a musical but it’s all done through vocals and beat box. That’s something that’s not really been done too often.

“Audiences don’t know what they are about to experience. Many people who go to the theatre all the time don’t even know how to talk about it. What is this is? Is it a musical? Is it a play? They may not be familiar to listening to rap.

“But these new forms and fresh ideas bring in a different and more diverse audience. And, to me, what’s particularly cool about it is usually that stuff starts and stays in London but we’re actually touring the whole of the UK first with this show.”

Conrad admits that Unexpected Twist will challenge many people’s preconceived ideas of what a musical is all about.

“When younger people come and see the show they are amazed,” he aid. “I have heard them say ‘this is better than Hamilton’. Now that is a magnificent piece of theatre but for them, this has more relevance. It has reference points they can relate to.

“In theatre, especially in musical theatre, it is often as though the current world is blocked out. In the past musicals reflected the songs that people were singing and what was on the radio. Now the musical has almost become locked into a style which I find a bit absurd.

“There are loads of people who want to see new stuff and with Unexpected Twist they come out saying ‘this show is so refreshing. It’s like the music I listen to but in a show’.

“Don’t get me wrong. I love musicals; I love the art form but I also love hip hop and rap. Why are those things not in there? There is no reason they shouldn’t be.”

For Unexpected Twist Conrad led a bootcamp for all the actors teaching them the art of beat boxing.

“The age of the cast range from 17 to I wouldn’t like to say,” he laughed. “For some it’s their first production, others are very experienced actors but they had never beat boxed before.

“I think people get scared by beatboxing because they see it as being part of a culture that they are not part of.

“But everyone can do it, you just have to learn how to master it. It’s just as skilful as ballet or learning a classical instrument.”

Conrad hopes that as well as introducing audiences to new sounds, Unexpected Twist will hep stimulate conversation in families.

“I like to think it’s a conversation starter,” he said. “It does cover some serious issues such as peer pressure, loneliness and even gang culture but hopefully it creates a safe space in which families can discuss what they have seen and maybe even bring up issues which affect their lives.

“I don’t think many shows are doing this.,” he said. “I think we have created something unlike anything people have seen before.

“It’s interesting to see what people pick up on. Some talk about the grittiness of the story, others focus on the music as it’s something they’ve never really heard before. That’s great because you want it to be multi-layered production that reaches people in different ways.”

Unexpected Twist, The Lowry, Salford Quays, Tuesday, May 2 to Saturday, May 7. Details from