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

Saturday, 30 August 2008


I have just spent a week in Istria working on the structure of our new musical. Sitting under the trees at Mofardin I found the tranquility I needed to create a skeleton structure with songs. I have put each scene and song idea on cards, just the way we did for POSSESSED. Although this is the way I have worked on TV screenplays it works very well with the technically complicated structure of a musical and allows Steve and I to work together to move things around getting the right placings for songs before I start work on the dialogue. I have yet to decide exactly where the interval will come but hope that this will become clear soon.

Morfardin was five minutes walk from the crystal clear Croatian Adriatic... so different from the coast in Italy. When I needed to mull over ideas I walked down the white dirt track road to the beach, swam and lay in the sun and suddenly I knew what the next scene should be. In the evenings the farm came to life with other guests and locals. We ate meat and fish cooked on the open woodfire grill and drank homemade wine and grappa. It was a blissful time!

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The Independent

Paul Taylor's review of Gigi at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park it the Independent had a wonderful comment about Steve's orchestration today:

"One of the great joys of the production is the lovely, sly wit of Steven Edis's orchestration, which gets up to all kinds of clever cheek as it gives a fresh boost to such well-worn numbers as "The Night They Invented Champagne" and "I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore". "

It is thrilling when the critics notice how brilliant he is!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

PUTTING IT TOGETHER: The Earthly Paradise

The Earthly Paradise

The Earthly Paradise

The Earthly Paradise www.theearthlyparadise.com/ blogger has written a review of Possessed and put up one of the great rehearsal photographs of Anna Francolini and Joseph Millson as Jane and Gabriel (taken by Charles Girdham).  The photograph is taken from the scene at Kelmscott Manor, where Jane and Gabriel spend the summer together, while Topsy (William Morris) is in Iceland writing his Norse Saga.  It represents the heightened moment when Gabriel wants Jane to do more than sit for him - played out in the duet "More Than Life, itself".  He has never been able to tell Jane that he loves her, he can only do it in song.

Sunday, 17 August 2008


I now have two weeks with my children all away in different parts of the world to really get down to some serious work on the new musical I am writing with Steve.  This is an adaptation from a novel.  There has already been a film but I have decided to work from the novel and also use the biographical information on the author to help inform the work.  The novel is very biographical and so the stories about her life in both the biography on her and her autobiography will be very useful.

I have made copious notes on the novel,  chapter by chapter and background to the characters etc.  I have also made some decisions about who and what to eliminate.  My next job is to decide which are the most important scenarios from the book that need to be in the musical.  I have been mulling this over and making notes and think I have already got a good idea.  I am already getting ideas for songs but need to put them on paper now.  Unlike Possessed, I am thinking of opening it with a song which tells us about all the characters, where and who they are and what is happening in their lives.  Although 'In My House" is an opening number in Possessed there is an introductory scene between Jane and Bessy at the opening which helps tell the back story of the musical and set up the relationship between the two women, but I think I can get away without this in the new show.  

One important aspect of the new musical is the two very distinctly different places it is set in, I am going to use this to open up the show and also inform about the period it is set in.  One place is dark and mysterious and the other bright and frivolous....  I am going to try not to worry about how to stage them at the moment but the obvious way would be a revolve.

The characters are very real already.  It feels as if they are sitting in the Green Room, waiting to go on stage!  But experience tells me that the more I plan their entrance the better it will be and the easier it will be put words and songs into their mouths.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Alex Pettyfer and Frances Knox

The opening night of Gigi was great fun!  Steve's orchestration was sublime as usual.   Nymphlike  Lisa O'Hare was a glorious Gigi, practically perfect in every way, and her leading man the beautiful Thomas Borchert gave a seamless performance as Gaston.  Linda Thorson and Millicent Martin as Aunt Alicia and Mamita were both stunningly hilarious as the good and bad influences in Gigi's life.   Topol, in his lilac suite, charmed the audience  with that famously deep and tremulous voice.

But the highlight of the evening for Steve's and my daughters - Madeleine and Frances (who played May and Jenny Morris in the Possessed workshop performances) was meeting Alex Pettyfer at the after show party.  Alex came to watch his father Richard Pettyfer, who was playing Manuel in the show.  Richard has been a West End musical performer all his life and clearly passed on the thespian gene to his charismatic son.  Alex became the heart throb of every teenage girl after appearing  in Tom Brown's Schooldays and then the film Stormbreaker.   Alex will hit the headlines yet again today in the premier of the film Wildchild, as Freddie, playing opposite Emma Roberts (Julia Roberts neice).  Above is a photo of Alex and Frances, with Linda Thorson and Richard Pettyfer in the background at the after show party.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

GIGI at Regents Park Open Air Theatre

I am off to the Press Night of Gigi at Regents Park Open air Theatre tomorrow.  Steve is the orchestrator for the summer musicals at Regents Park, as he has been for the last 12 years.  I have an ominous feeling about the weather and think that maybe this is one year we may not end up eating our picnic on the lawn!  

Tuesday, 12 August 2008


I have astonishingly managed to upload some photographs from the rehearsals of the recent Possessed performance.  They were taken by Charles Girdham on 24th April 2008 at the Arts Theatre.  The actors include:  Anna Fancolini (Jane), Matthew White (Topsy - Morris), Joseph Millson (Gabriel), Elizabeth Renihan (Lizzie), Natalie Wright (Bessy), Martin Lamb (Mr Carter), Frances Knox (Jenny) and Madeleine Edis (May). 

Charles has his own photographic website at www.imageschangetheworld.com

Monday, 11 August 2008


This morning I heard from my brilliant source at http://www.theearthlyparadise.com/ that the DVD of the BBC's Ken Russell film DANTE'S INFERNO is going to be available at last as part of a box set entitled 'Ken Russell at the BBC'.  This film is not to be confused with Dante Alighieri's Inferno, but the comparison was drawn by Russell because Rossetti was obsessed by his namesake and even translated his own version of Alighieri's masterpiece. 

The website quotes a price and date for the US, but I will find out what Amazon has to say and try and add it to my Amazon recommended list - at the moment you can only sign up for when it becomes available and no date or price is quoted.  This film is about Dante Gabriel Rossetti's life and his own personal hell.  The brooding and vulnerable Oliver Reed plays Rossetti in the film which was made before Russell became infamous and is reputed to be the perfect combination of the talents of Russell and Reed.

This painting of Rossetti was by Holman Hunt and certainly does bare some resemblance to the young Oliver Reed.

Saturday, 9 August 2008


I spent some time yesterday telling producers about the Pre-Raphaelite TV series and luckily this seems to be in our favour.  If public awareness is raised about the creation of the PRB movement through the TV series, then the story that our musical POSSESSED tells, of the second wave of the movement, will be far more interesting.  I am busy printing out new copies of the script and DVD to send out and on Monday and will be dropping some more copies of scripts into the National Theatre.

The curious thing is that there has already been a 6 part BBC TV series about the Pre-Raphaelites called The Love School.  It came out in 1975 and starred Ben Kingsley as Rossetti!  I imagine some BBC 2 viewers will remember this but the new series is to be very different!

Friday, 8 August 2008


Pre-Raphaelite Drama for BBC 2.
This morning I discovered that there is to be a six part TV series on BBC 2 about the creation of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.  It will tell the story of Millais, Hunt and Rossetti prior to the story of the musical.  There is a link to the article about it if you click on the heading of this blog.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008


I received a lovely email from John Bugge thanking me for the talk at University College Oxford last week.  He said that his students were bowled over by the talk and the music and lyrics they heard and that some of them will be writing papers on the work!  He said that "it's all too seldom that a visitor manages to raise the temperature of classroom discussion the way you did!"  

It is a strange and rather wonderful feeling to know that students are using Possessed for their studies - combining the worlds of theatre, art and history.  

Tuesday, 5 August 2008


Not surprisingly, I live in a Victorian cottage.  It is in London, but as you can see it looks as if it is sitting in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside.  I am fighting against a planning application to do extensive building work to the Victorian Villa next door, which would include demolition of part of the back and side walls of the Villa.  

Life reflects art and art reflects life.  It seems as if I am destined to carrying on William Morris' work, protecting the English heritage.  Morris formed The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings which was dubbed the Anti-Scrape society.  At the core of Morris' philosophy which was heavily influenced by his friend and mentor, John Ruskin, is the belief that old buildings should look old, and that historic fabrics should be respected and preserved.  The Morris' protection society was intended to preserve buildings from over development and also from destructive restoration.  This society was the seed of what was to become The National Trust.

Above is a picture of my house.  If the planning application goes ahead a flat roofed box like structure will be erected one meter from the right hand side wall, reaching as high as the eaves.  I have a petition online relating to my own particular planning application objection which you can read and sign if you so wish: