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

Thursday, 20 November 2008

The Public Theatre

Yesterday was one of the most exciting days in New York. I had somehow managed to get a meeting arranged at the Public Theatre to talk about Possessed! Above is a rather bad photo of the theatre which is covered in scaffolding at the moment but is housed in a rather magnificant building on Lafayette Street. The Public was started by Joe Papp, but it's new Artistic Director is an amazing charismatic man called Oskar Eustis. This theatre has always had a special place in my heart. Way back when I first came to New York, a play called The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer was on there. it was one of the first plays to deal with the issue of AIDS and HIV. I was so moved by the show that I called a producer friend in London and told him that he had to get this show on in the UK, whatever happened.... well, he did!

The Public puts on shows of great integrity, runs a free Shakespeare festival in Central Park in the summer, there are special 'rush' tickets for only $20 if you come by the theatre at about 6.30pm before the shows start. It has grown from a new idealistic space for theatre to become part of the establishment because of the fine work they put on there. So you can imagine how exciting it felt to be going up in the lift to talk about our show to the guys working in musical development. No one here knows anything about the Pre-Raphaelites, but they don't seem to mind about that, they also don't seem to mind about period drama. What matters to them is the story and the passionate relationships of the characters, the music and yes, that this is a show about inspiration. I think I rather like the Americans!

In the evening I managed to get a $20 'rush' ticket for Stephen Sondheim's new musical Road Show which had opened at the Public the day before. The book is by John Weidman and British director John Doyle directed the show. There were some wonderful performances by Michael Cerveris and Alexander Germignani as the Mizner brothers and Alma Cuervo as their mother. I will go into more detail about this show in another post, because it really deserves its own page - it was a brilliant show and another 'awesome' day in New York!!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Clear Space Productions New Works Festival!

Above is a picture of Doug Yetter (on the right), the Artistic Director of Clear Space Productions and Ken Skrzesz another member of Clear Space, who sang the part of Gabriel in the New Works Festival. Donna de Kuyper sang the part of Jane. Donna had appeared in Chorus Line on Broadway (one of my all time favourite musicals). Ken and Donna sang the love song from Possessed, More Than Life Itself, with passion and sensitivity. It was strange to hear it with American voices but they really gave their all to the song which was such a compliment. I had to introduce the song in the context of the musical and also say a bit about what I was up to in New York. Somehow I managed to make everyone laugh but this wasn't too difficult because they all seemed so excited to have this random Brit at the show and were so enthusiastic, it was a joy and well worth going all that way for.

The first half of the evening was an introduction to a new artist - Alysia Lee. She had just graduated from the Peabody Conservatory of Music, John's Hopkins University. She presented an amazingly broad selection of songs from Mahler to Richard Rogers. My favourite musical song was Taylor The Latte Boy by Marcy Heistler and Zina Goldrich. Alysia had brilliant comic timing in this song and is a really fabulous singer.

The second half of the evening, which included our song was a mixture of new musical songs. There was also a song from another MMD Member called No Answer with music by Tim Saward and lyrics by Tim Saward and Darren Deeks. This was brilliantly sung by David Button. David was the first person I met as I walked into the theatre and was full of fun and an extremely good performer. He also drives a very nice little sports car, which he kindly took me back to my hotel in!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Peter Polycarpou Back In the West End!

I went to see the second preview of Imagine This at the New London Theatre, Drury Lane, with Steve last night. My old friend Peter Polycarpou was playing the leading role of Daniel. Peter had played the part of Topsy (William Morris) in the first showcase of Possessed at Greenwich Theatre in 2006. He was a complete joy to watch in this new musical! His energy drives the show and his gloriously rich singing voice envelopes you. The singing on the website for the show is not Peter.... you have to go to the show to hear him for yourself. Playing the father of a Jewish Theatrical family in Warsaw, Peter was in his element. Yes, he's Greek but ... Jewish, Greek, Italian - what does it matter, Peter, as Daniel, gave a masterly performance as a the father of a big family struggling to survive. A man who everyone looked to for the answers, even when he wasn't certain what they were, a man who was trying to do the right thing not only for his family but for his people, a man driven by the love of humanity. Peter's charismatic performance that night is something I will never forget.

Simon Gleeson as Adam and Leila Benn Harris as Rebecca, the young leads, were electric to watch and listen to as well and I particularly loved their soaring harmonies. Little ten year old Nathan Attard was a fabulous Leon, totally focused and believable for a boy so young. Sevan Stephan, who played Gimli, one of my favourite characters from Lord of The Rings film, gave a sensitive performance as Max. The music and lyrics were very good and it was wonderful to have a 14 piece orchestra.

It was so lovely to sit drinking scotch with Steve and Peter in his dressing room, talking about the show and life, Obama and the world and everything!

Imagine This is not open to the press until 19th November, but you must go and see it right now!!

Monday, 3 November 2008

Unexpected Inspiration

Only nine days to go until I leave for New York!
There is still a lot to do, meetings to firm up and stuff to send out, but today I have been working on the new musical. Inspiration arrived unexpectedly and so I began working on the first song. It is strange to begin writing for a new show when Possessed has lived with me for so long. In a way, getting over the hurdle of the first song will make it all much more real and possible, so I am really pleased it began today. Steve and I are still working on the structure of the new musical, but this was one song we both agreed had to be there, and so I feel safe working on it. The structure is a bit all over the place at the moment but the essence is there, which is always an exciting and frustrating moment.