I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle
I Capture the Castle based on the novel by Dodie Smith Book and lyrics Teresa Howard music Steven Edis

Tuesday, 29 April 2008


After that first day at the Arts, doing the read through, I was swept along with the whirlwind of rehearsals and script cutting. We had decided to cut the script down to 75 minutes without an interval. We had been advised that a workshop should be either 45 or 75 minutes long. It was better for the audience to leave wanting more. We never quite managed to get it down to that time but were close.

I spent long nights and early mornings churning out paper and words from the depths of my study. During the days I watched the show unfold, sitting close to Helen, watching and waiting for her eyes to turn to mine, checking that what she had done with the actors was ok. When the actors needed to know what I wanted from a scene or a piece of dialogue I leapt in to offer advice. Helen worked through scenes with tremendous energy and skill and always made me feel a part of it, which means a lot to a writer of a new work. It was very intense and exciting. There was very little time for the kind of re-writes there had been in the Greenwich workshop. We had the same amount of rehearsal time to block and rehearse twice the length of material. By Thursday Helen had taken the actors through to the end of the script and we had our first full run through. A young director called James Quaive assisted Helen on the book and anything else that was needed- he turned out to be a real gem. Jules Tipton, who I met on the E15 POSSESSED workshop came along to a lot of the rehearsals and lent a hand anyway she could. She was a rock of support.

Everyone gave their all, contributing to scenes, discussing their characters and really working incredibly hard to make POSSESSED live. The actors were amazing - we were so lucky to have gathered such a wonderful cast. Steve was there every day to accompany everyone on the piano, working away on new orchestrations quietly in the corner and offering up ideas when he was needed. There was a lot of laughter even though everyone was working so hard.

Wednesday was a tough day with decisions to be made about the projections and whether we were to use the main stage at the Arts or not. We decided not to use it because it had very little flat stage set up for the show in the evening and this turned out to be the right choice.

Thursday was the first run through of the cut script. My friend Charles Girdham, who had done all the beautiful publicity and web design, came in to take rehearsal photos. He was amazingly inconspicuous for a photographer and the picture above of Anna Francolini and Joseph Millson is one that he took that day. There are more up on the possessed website. The actors and I cobbled together some basic costumes to give a feel of the time and the characters. The run through went well - we all knew we had a show!

On Friday 25th, producers and a few friends, who couldn't make Sunday at Oxford, had been invited to a private rehearsal in the Arts Pigeon 1 at 3pm. In the morning the three piece orchestra ran though all the numbers before the actors arrived. Steve had found two wonderful musicians: Juliet Leighton-Jones on violin and viola and Etta Morgan on French horn. They all shared some percussion instruments, which the National Theatre had kindly lent us. It was the first time I had heard Steve's orchestration and I was in raptures (sorry no other way to describe it!). While Steve and Helen took the actors through a run through of the songs I paced around waiting for radio Oxford to call and interview me about the show.

We had an audience of about 50, including most of the producers I had invited. It was intensely exciting waiting for the show to begin. It went very smoothly. There were a lot of tears and laughter and when Anna sat on stage singing HOLD STILL at the end a wave of intense relief swept over me. The audience reaction seemed very good and everyone joined us for drinks and talked animatedly about the show afterwards. Tish Francis from the Oxford Playhouse was there to support us which was really wonderful. My dear friend the journalist and writer Stephanie Calman admitted to having cried through nearly the whole show, which I took as a great compliment! The actors and musicians pulled out all the stops, and for a show in a little rehearsal room it felt electric.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008


I was so nervous before the first day of rehearsals, but now that it is over the sense of relief is amazing. It was a great feeling to come home on the train with my daughter, who is playing Jenny Morris, knowing we had shared that incredible day together. We have a fabulous cast and Helen is a wonderfully dynamic director. We did a read & sing through of the whole musical in the morning. Those new songs sprang to life in a way I never thought possible. The cast were not only brilliant but also great fun and full of enthusiasm which was really lovely. In the afternoon we worked on character, blocked one of the largest company scenes and did some work on the songs.

It is four in the morning and I am printing out the cut scripts to save time in the morning. I have had to do the cuts for the showcase, to get it down to 75 mins...it kept me busy for quite a while!

Saturday, 19 April 2008


The first day of rehearsals at the Arts will begin with a read through and sing through of the whole show. This will be really helpful for everyone to see the bigger picture before we start making a shortened version for the showcase. It will eventually be cut down to 75 minutes, which will be run without an interval. I imagine that the whole show will last about 2 hours with one interval but it will be interesting to see whether this is right. The script has changed a great deal since the read through for the Greenwich Showcase in 2006 which Clive Paget directed.

Friday, 18 April 2008


Steve has now rehearsed the songs with all the actors in the show. He is very pleased with everyone. Hopefully I will hear them all on Monday at the first day of rehearsals. I am particularly excited about hearing the new songs we have written. It was not an easy time to be working on them, with the pressure of producing the showcase coming up, but sometimes that added pressure helps the juices to flow.

Thursday, 17 April 2008


The last few weeks have been very hectic, sending out snail mail and email flyers about the showcase in Oxford and then following this up with calls. The response has been wonderful! I never imagined so many producers and influential people would be coming. I have only a few more days to work on this and then I will be handing the reins over to Sophie my PA while I am in rehearsals. A lot of the producers who are coming have known about the show for sometime, which I do think has helped. Having the beautiful website at www.possessedamusical.com is also fantastic!!

Thursday, 10 April 2008


As a member of Mercury Musical Developments I was lucky enough to be invited to a very special evening with Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg in an interview with George Stiles. Boublil and Schönberg wrote Les Miserábles, Martin Guerre and Miss Saigon. They also wrote the book of Marguerite, with music by Michel Legrand, which is about to open at the Haymarket Theatre (if you click on the title of this blog it will take you to the Haymarket Theatre site where you can learn more about the show). Listening to them talk about the way they met and the years they have worked together I was astonished to find that they lacked the cynicism of so many successful writers. They spoke with a passion about their work, which was almost palpable. At the end of the talk Georgina Bexon, who runs MMD, introduced me to them and told them about POSSESSED. They both really liked the subject of our musical and Claude-Michel asked to hear our songs. I left The Actors Centre that night feeling as if I had touched greatness!

Wednesday, 9 April 2008


The Oxford Times has announced that the new Pre-Raphaelite Gallery at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (just opposite Oxford Playhouse) will open on 21st April - just a week before the showcase (6pm on Sunday 27th April). If you click on this blog title you can read the article in the Times. I have spoken to the editor of the paper and he hopes to run an article about POSSESSED and the opening.

The Ashmolean is open from noon until 5pm on Sundays, so a visit to the museum before coming to the showcase at 6pm is a must if you love Pre-Raphaelite Art!

Tuesday, 8 April 2008


Elaine Paige gave POSSESSED a plug on her radio 2, musical theatre programme last Sunday. The programme is on between 1pm until 2.30 on Sunday afternoons. You can hear the programme again on the Radio 2 website if you click on this blog title it will take you there.

Thursday, 3 April 2008


Joseph Millson's fan site at www.josephmillson.com is counting down the days until the POSSESSED showcase! If you click on this blog title it will take you to his site.

I have to admit that I cannot wait to hear the new songs being sung by the actors at last. The last three songs were the most difficult but could not have been written until the rest of the show was ready. The love song we have written for Jane and Gabriel called MORE THAN LIFE was easier than I had thought it would be, but hearing it sung by Joseph and Anna Francolini will be the moment of truth.