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, 30 March 2010

USA from Paris

Tomorrow I am meeting up with RADA graduate, Paris Arrowsmith, to work on the American dialogue in our new show. Paris read one of the lead parts in the first reading of the musical and later went on to work with Steve in INHERIT THE WIND at the Old Vic. Paris is part Bostonian, which is perfect for the US dialogue in the show.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Royal Academy of Music Showcase

Last week Steve and I were invited to the Post Graduate Musical Theatre Students show case at the Royal Academy. It was a spectacular show directed by Mary Hammond and Karen Rabinowitz. All the students were given the chance to show off their best both as soloists and ensemble, dancing and singing to an audience of agents, producers and guests. Steve and I were particularly excited to see the students who had worked on the development of our new show with us in January: Paul Allison, Ross Barnes, Phillipa Cookman, Matthew Crowe, Suzanna Kempner, Tom Little, Steven MacGillvray, Becky Moult, Terri O'Ryan and Alex Young. It was a chance to see the students in action and also to catch up with them during drinks afterwards.

They will also be performing in two shows from 22nd to 27th June: Assassins and A Little Night Music.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

BBC premier The Earthly Paradise at the Barbican

On 10th April the BBC Symphony Orchestra is presenting the world premiere of The Earthly Paradise, at the Barbican. It is a setting of prose, poetry and sayings by William Morris composed by Ian McQueen, with Sir Andrew Davis, conducting.

The search for the land where "none grow old" guides the twists and turns of William Morris's The Earthly Paradise. Ian McQueen's new work for chorus and large orchestra evokes the extraordinary world of the poet, surges with erotic charge and conjures up Morris's magical vision of Iceland's landscape and sagas.

While researching Morris's life for Possessed I read some of his Earthly Paradise. He was writing it while Jane and Rossetti were having their affair and poured his fears and longings into it.

An earlier draft of this post said that the performance had taken place on 10th March, which was information I received from the William Morris Society Website, so I will let them know that they have the date wrong. The concert also includes Elgar's 'In the South' and Jennifer Pike will be will be applying her special artistry to Mendelssohn's 'violin concerto in e minor'. I am very pleased that the concert hasn't passed after all and will definitely be going!

William Morris the Marxist

I went to see Love & Madness's devised play about William Morris last night, and although I do think there does need to be a very interesting play written about Morris's political life - this play was not the one.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Demi Monde

On Wednesday I am going to see Demi-Monde at Riverside Studios. This is a play devised by the theatre company Love&madness in collaboration with playwright Jack Shepherd. It is about William Morris. If you click on the title above it will take you to a link for the Riverside Studios site. It will be interesting to see how a team of creatives have dealt with the story we explore in our musical POSSESSED. I have a feeling this play focuses more on Morris's ideals and beliefs than his emotional life but will report further after I have seen it.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

London Assurance

Last night I went to see a preview of London Assurance at the National Theatre, with Steve. I haven't laughed so much at the theatre since the Hackney panto! The play is by Dion Boucicault and was first performed in 1841. It stars Simon Russell Beale, Fiona Shaw and Richard Briars. There is a lovely interview with Richard Briars, in the Times by Valerie Grove. There was much hilarity in the Green Room Bar discussing the problems of the mechanical rat, but at least it won't bite anyone - like the "real" monkey in Inherit the Wind!

Friday, 5 March 2010

John Caird and Gareth Valentine Masterclass

This evening Mercury Musical Developments hosted the Lionel Bart Memorial Masterclass with guest speakers John Caird and Gareth Valentine. Some MMD writers also presented some of their songs for them to discuss and offer suggestions for improvement.

I was surprised to discover that a lot of musical theatre composers don't really write dots and that it is often left up to the MD to do this. Steve's ability to compose, arrange and write dots means that he has a lot more control over the music than a lot of other musical composers. Trusting his experience and brilliance I am rather glad about this.

There was quite a lot of discussion about what the difference is between a musical and an opera. John Caird said that "operas are written by composers", and I suppose it is true that we all remember the composers of operas but hardly anyone takes any notice of who wrote the vocal score. Everyone knows that Wagner wrote Tristan and Isolda but who really knows Richard Kleinmichel. Whereas the creators of musicals usually come in pairs eg Kander (composer) and Ebb (lyricist). One main difference seems to be that in musical theatre songs can be changed to different keys to suit the actors but that this doesn't happen in opera, probably because the music is treated in a more reverent way. Use of dialogue does not seem to be a difference because there is dialogue in quite a lot of operas. I was still none the wiser so John told me to read his book, which I will. But he told us not to take any notice of the labels and just write what we want to write.

John said that he could usually tell if a musical was any good if the titles of the songs were cliched. Although thinking back to well known musicals I know there are still some great cliches among them. Gareth said that music "should underline the intent" of the characters and should also be the "servant of the text" - this second statement would certainly be different for opera.

An interesting thought came through from John Caird about lying. He said that it was possible for a character to lie in song as long as it was to the other characters. But if they are addressing the song to the audience it should be the inner truth of the character. He also said that "direct address" was something that musical theatre does very well and cannot be done well in films. He also spoke about rhyming, and how the more a song rhymes the more likely it is to be comic. Thinking about Possessed this happened to some extent without me realising. Bessy and Mr Carters songs had the tight rhyme schemes, whereas Janey who carried the tragic weight of the show used far less rhyme. In fact in Hold Still, the final song, there are only a few lines which rhyme. But this was not a conscious decision for me.

One thing John Caird said was why I really started to write a musical in the first place - "music is the underlying feeling and thought that is too deep for words."