IT began life as a York student show by Joseph McNeice and Matthew Spalding, premiered at the Barn Theatre, Oxted, Surrey, in September 2018.

Now, their musical comedy of three pensioners, two criminals and one diamond heist, Twilight Robbery, will be staged in York for the first time by York Stage Musicals from Wednesday at the John Cooper Studio @41 Monkgate.

The setting is the Twilight Towers Residential Home for the Elderly – one of the worst homes in West Sussex – where Joyce, Patty and Frank endure the same humdrum routine day in, day out, but they don’t mind, because they only want some peace and quiet, after all.

Everything changes, however, when news emerges that the home is to be sold off to property developers and closed for good. Not content with sitting by, the aged residents hatch a daring plan to carry out a diamond heist and raise the cash to buy the home themselves.

Meanwhile, the home’s manager, who has acted suspiciously ever since she arrived from seemingly nowhere a few months ago, is hatching a plan of her own.

“Twilight Robbery is a new musical comedy from two young University of York theatre graduates determined to tackle the UK’s age crisis head on through their scrutinising, but ultimately uplifting, piece of theatre,” says York Stage Musicals artistic director Nik Briggs.

“The show confronts a number of social issues faced by modern Britain, such as the loneliness epidemic faced by many of the UK’s elderly. This all-singing, all-dancing production, all about growing old and refusing to let age or self-doubt stop you from achieving incredible feats, is hilarious and heartwarming in equal measure.”

McNeice (book and lyrics) and Spalding (music) first met at the University of York and have been working on their debut musical for more than two years.

“Written by these rising stars, youthful energy floods out of every line, harmony and step of Twilight Robbery,” says Nik, who has directed and choreographed this week’s production with musical direction by Jessica Douglas. “Packed with laughs, touching drama and plenty of catchy tunes, it’s a a classic musical farce for modern times.”

Nik continues: “I’ve always loved the excitement that working on a new musical brings. It’s not as straightforward as directing classics or recreating big Broadway and West End smashes that have already been through years of development.

“New shows are rough diamonds; they allow you to play around more and explore in the rehearsal room with actors to create the show and really find these characters.”

From the moment Nik read McNeice’s original script he “knew there was something special about this piece”. “I’ve read and worked on lots of new musicals during my time in London as an actor and have wanted to do something like that again in York with my company York Stage for a while, and I was confident Twilight Robbery would be a great first show to do that with,” he says.

Briggs’s cast will feature Maggie Smales as Joyce, Andrew Caley as Frank and Loretta Lynch as Patty, supported by Matthew Ainsworth, co-director Josh Benson, Emily Chattle, Finn East, Alana Gibb, Louise Henry, Clare Jeffrey, Bill Laverick, Elly Mawson, Anne McCready, Gill Oakes, Martina O’Dwer, Lydia Potter, Tracey Rea, Juliet Waters, while also introducing Charlie Piper as Alfie and Nick Purdie as Harry.

“The writers have worked so hard on this new draft, writing a revised script and a handful of new songs, and we’re honoured to be presenting it to the city through York Stage Musicals," says Nik.

York Stage Musicals in Twilight Robbery, John Cooper Studio @41 Monkgate, York, May 22 to 25, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: