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

Monday, 24 May 2010

Sam Buntrock and Chris Walker

Last week Mercury held another of their wonderful Lionel Bart Memorial masterclasses, this time it was with Sam Buntrock and Chris Walker.

Sam is an energetic and exciting director, who I first heard about when he directed Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George at the Meniere Chocolate Factory in 2006. Among his many credits he has also directed Take Flight and Assassins and has a particular fascination for using animation in theatre.

Chris Walker, talked about his experiences as a West End and Broadway Musical Theatre composer, MD and orchestrator - working on shows like My Fair Lady for Cameron Mackintosh, Cabaret, My Girl, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Old Vic Aladdin.

They gave their opinion on three MMD songs, which was very interesting, especially to hear both a directorial and musical slant on the work.

I really liked a lot of what Sam Buntrock said, especially "I don't like musicals!" He is more interested in musical theatre that flouts the conventions - so am I! But as Chris Walker wisely said - you have to know the conventions before you defy them!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

The Songwriters Rhyming Dictionary

I have discovered a wonderful new rhyming dictionary - Sammy Cahn's The Songwriters Rhyming Dictionary. It has some of the attributes of the invaluable Poet's Manual and Rhyming Dictionary but is much simpler and totally wonderful! I also use the Penguin Rhyming Dictionary but this is not as useful for lyric writing. Apparently the Collins is also very good so I will have to have a look out for that next time I am in a bookshop and see whether it is any more helpful. I prefer to find rhymes myself but when I'm really stuck it is fantastic to have a really good source to turn to. Often, before I really get going with a song I make lists of rhymes which I think will be useful. But I think that the real art of using rhyme in songs is to make them unobstrusive, so that you hardly even notice that the song has rhymes at all.

Impossible Stories with Jack Bradley

I have signed up to Jack Bradley's workshop in June at the Nightingale Theatre in Brighton. It is entitled 'Impossible Stories - adventures in narrative, story and structure', and is a practical workshop exploring love stories and how to tell them. With love stories as the central focus of everything I have ever written I knew it was something I had to do.

Jack Bradley is the Literary Associate to Sonia Friedman Productions, and I met him when he came to see the open dress of our musical Possessed at the Arts Theatre, just before it went to Oxford Playhouse. He is a very clever, approachable man and I am sure I will learn a great deal from him - I can't wait!

Election Night at the BML Librettists Workshop

On May 6th, while the votes were piling in, I was at the Actors Centre in Covent Garden presenting my three page scene for the BML Librettists Workshop. The scene was the latest assignment, and one which I had broached with some trepidation. It was going to be my first piece of dialogue to be shown to the group and I really wanted it to be good. I did not feel I wanted to present something from the new show and so I spent a lot of time trying to decide what I was going to do.

The new show is an adaptation and so I thought I could use another book to adapt into a musical scene. I chose Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters. It seemed to be absolutely perfect material for a musical adaptation with the music hall scenes, the powerful relationships, longing and big fabulous characters.

I chose the scene in the book where Nancy first sees Kitty performing her act on stage as a "Masher" (male impersonator). This was a scene of transformation, so sensitive and beautiful that it was made for the stage. I visualised it musically as a mixture of music hall singing from Kitty and a song from the heart from Nancy. I didn't write Nancy's song, but wrote her internal monologue but allowed the listeners to know that this could be translated into a song.

Once I had written it I knew I had to find out whether the rights in the book were available. I am waiting to hear about that. For although I am totally caught up with the new show, this would be a wonderful project for the future. I am waiting and hoping.

The reading seemed to go pretty well and the response was so interesting, and sparked off a lot of fascinating conversation. Everyone thought that it was definitely a good subject for a musical. Over drinks later at the Phoenix Club I felt such a sense of relief that I had got through the trial by fire, and managed somehow to pull it off. I arrived home and switched on the TV to discover that the country was in turmoil over the election results. None of the parties had got what they wanted but maybe something new and interesting will come out of it all.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Two New Songs

Things are moving on with the new show. Steve and I have now got the music and lyrics for two new songs! We had a really good session last week and Steve recorded what we had done so far. I am sorting out a few additional lyrics to complete them at the moment.

I am trying to get as much done as possible, before our Royal Academy workshop in July.