Renowned author Dan Brown looked on proudly at the stage, which resembled a kind of raised platform made of wood. The blackened silhouettes of the actors dazzled him with their bright blue eyes and ghostly white faces. But as he stared with the eyes located under his side-parted hair, a terrible fear gripped him gently. Was this performance about to become a critical hit? Or would the stage adaption of his novel The Da Vinci Code merely cement his reputation as a terrible writer?

Theatregoers in the UK are about to find out as Brown’s 2003 bestseller hits the stage for the first time next year. The book defied its critics, selling 100m copies despite being described by Salman Rushdie as “a novel so bad that it gives bad novels a bad name”.

Its plot, which involves the murder of the Louvre’s curator and the race to solve a series of baffling codes left beside his body, has been adapted by Rachel Wagstaff (Birdsong, The Girl on the Train) and Duncan Abel (The Girl on the Train). Luke Sheppard, whose previous work includes the musical version of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ and the new West End jukebox musical & Juliet, will direct.

“I am thrilled that The Da Vinci Code is being adapted for the stage, and excited to see the unique potential of live theatre enhance this story,” said Brown. “The team making the production has been faithful to the book, but will also bring something new for the audience, in what is certain to be a gripping, fast-paced stage thriller and a thoroughly entertaining show.”

The news caps a big week for fans of Brown, after Eddie Izzard was cast in a US TV pilot of his 2009 blockbuster, The Lost Symbol.

The stage show will premiere on 3 April 2021 at the Churchill theatre in Bromley, London. Only then will audiences get to experience lines such as: “Almost inconceivably, the gun into which she was now staring was clutched in the pale hand of an enormous albino with long white hair.”

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