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, 31 March 2009

A Little Night Music

I went to see Trevor Nunn's production of A Little Night Music this evening, at the Garrick. It was a stunning show with brilliant performances. I didn't manage to see it at the Menier Chocolate Factory, but can see why it transferred to the West End. The house was packed and you could feel that the audience loved every moment of it. An absolute triumph for Trevor Nunn! It's well worth seeing if you manage to get a ticket.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Red House

Last week I went to visit Red House, in Bexley Heath. William Morris built Red House as a home for his new wife Jane and hoped that it would become a community of artists, living and working together. This never happened, and in fact they only spent five years there, from 1860 to 1865. The architect was Morris's friend Philip Webb, one of the most important figures of the Arts and Crafts movement. The interior design company that Morris set up began as a need to furnish this curious and remarkable house.

I had somehow never got round visiting it, partly because it was not open to the public when I was originally researching the story. I had always longed to go and so a week ago I went off to see it with my artist friend Ilinca Cantacuzino. You have to email or call the house and reserve a place on a tour of the building. The tour leader was completely charming and full of interesting little stories about the secret places in the house, its history and the people who lived there both in Morris's time and afterwards.

We were lucky that it was one of those delicious early spring mornings, with all the blossom out. The structure of the garden has changed since Jane and Morris lived there and the curators hope that one day they will have the funds to reinstate the garden along its original lines. But it was still very beautiful, and still feels very much a part of the house.

I tried to imagine what it was like for jane to have lived there. It seemed so huge next to the tiny little apartment in the alleyway in Oxford. There was one particular little window seat which Jane was supposed to sit on doing her embroidery. She would have been able to look out of the mullioned windows while she worked, like a medieval princess. It must have seemed like living out a fairy tale dream for those few years they remained there.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Matthew White

On Thursday Steve and I had a meeting with Matthew White to discuss the future of Possessed.

Matt played Topsy in the Oxford Playhouse performance of Possessed. As well as being a fabulous actor and singer Matt is also a director. His production of Little Shop of Horrors which opened at the Chocolate Factory in 2006, transferred to the West End and is now touring regional theatres. He has recently finished a run of Awaking Beauty at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, a musical written and directed by Alan Ayckbourn. Anna Francolini who played Jane in Possessed was also starring in this as well. Above is a photo from the production with Anna as Carabosse and Matt as the Sorceress.

Friday, 6 March 2009

John Sparks

The latest MMD Salon was a wonderful evening devoted to the craft of Musical Book writing, with speaker John Sparks from Chicago. John held us captive with his stories and wonderful advice. He stressed generous collaboration was essential and guarded against being too precious with work, but at the same time knowing when to say no. I had a long chat with him afterwards about Possessed, which he has read and listened to. I also told him that Steve and I were writing a new show and asked his advice about rights and methods of working. It is very different collaborating from the outset of a new show. When I started Possessed I was working alone on the book and lyric ideas before it ever got in front of a composer. This time we have been collaborating from the beginning. He seemed to think this was a much better way to go about things

Monday, 2 March 2009

Sondheim Competition

Steve and I have submitted our four songs from Possessed to the Stephen Sondheim Competition.

Every year students from all the top drama schools compete for the Performer of the Year Award. They perform two songs, one a Sondheim and one from a new musical. MMD submit the best musical songs to the competition, so we have to get chosen by MMD first. The competition is held in a West End Theatre and last year it was at the Trafalgar Studios in Whitehall. For the writers this is a chance to have your work heard and also to compete for the Stiles and Drewe Best New Song Award. They are featured above in a press photograph by Alastair Muir from last year's competition.

Now we wait until April to find out whether we are through the first round.