SEASONS is the second musical collaboration between two Americans, Katie Hammond (concept/book/lyrics) and her vocal teacher Elaine Pechacek (lyrics/music), who both lost a grandmother to cancer.

Their contemporary operetta spans the seasons of life through the four seasons of a year that takes in birth, marriage and death – hatches, matches and despatches as newspapers call them – in a story of love and lost love.

That universal story is very dear to the writers’ hearts, all the more so after Elaine’s father died from cancer in March.

Since 2010, Seasons has been through several lives already in the United States as a concert performance, composer showcase, abridged festival version, cabaret and full-scale production at the Times Square International Theatre Festival in January 2012.

Now, Elaine has come over from the States for its three-night British premiere at the inaugural York New Musical Festival, where Bubwith producer/director/designer Robert Readman accepted an invitation for his Pick Me Up Theatre company to stage it.

“I listened to the score and there were at least six or seven songs that made me think ‘I should do this’,” says Robert.

His production is a simple staging – costumed and performed in character rather more than a mere concert version – with musical director Barbara Chan’s band placed in front of a giant photographic image of an English field.

Readman’s cast performs with the minimum of stage adornment, four tall stools and black boxes, English accents and a supporting ensemble.

Two stories gradually overlap involving newly weds Helen (Stephanie Bolsher) and Peter (Jonny Holbek) and cancer-struck Mrs Jones (Tina Grant, mother of NUEMusic Theatre’s Robyn Grant) and daughter Hope (Vicki Lightfoot-Smith).

All four performners do the story-telling songs proud, especially Bolsher, who grows ever more impressive the more Readman works with her, and Chan’s arrangements are superb, especially Thomas Marlow’s violin and flute and Chan’s keyboards.

Pechacek and Hammond bring pathos, drama, humour and heightened emotion to melodious love songs, confessional ballads and a lullaby that all go for the heart, especially Tina Grant’s rendition of Mrs Jones’s show-stopper Don’t Take Me For Granted.

Seasons will have its day again, elsewhere, for sure.

Seasons, Pick Me Up Theatre, York New Musical Festival, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, tonight at 7.30pm. Box office: 01904 623568, or at the door.