Book and Lyrics by Lauryn Axelrod
Music by Eric Stern
Cast size: 11-12 with 3 leads and an ensemble of 8-9 (6 male, 2-3 female)
PRINCE OF FENCES is based on the true story of the notorious London receiver, Isaac (Ikey) Solomon(s), upon whom Charles Dickens based OLIVER TWIST’s villainous fence, Moses Fagin. Ikey Solomon was neither as impoverished nor as loathsome as Fagin, but rather quite dapper, very clever, very good at his trade, and very successful. So much so that he was reported to be worth 30,000 Pounds (millions today) at the time of his dramatic escape from Newgate Gaol in 1827. He was known throughout England as ‘The Great Ikey Solomon,’ the most respected member of a disreputable, but long-standing profession. His grand adventures and misadventures sold many a lurid pamphlet and fired as many imaginations, including that of Charles Dickens, who attended his last trial in London. In fact, Ikey’s life was so well documented in the papers of the times that original transcripts and articles are available online today.
Unlike Fagin, whose story lives and dies in the dark hovels and foggy streets of Dickens’ London, Ikey’s tale takes us from Petticoat Lane in London’s East End to the farthest reaches of the Fatal Shore, the penal colony of Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania), with an unlikely stop in New York City! Also unlike Fagin, whose undoing was greed and an evil Bill Sykes, Ikey’s story is one of perseverance, boldness, conviction, and surprisingly, love. It would be love for his wife, Hannah, and his six children that would bring him down, and, at the same time, earn him a place as one of the more heroic — and sympathetic — criminals in the annals of crime history.