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, 30 August 2010

Love Story

"What can you say about a twenty-five year old girl who died?  That she was beautiful and brilliant.  That she loved Mozart and Bach.  The Beatles.  And Me."

I am so delighted that Love Story is going to be transferring from Chichester to the West End, I really loved this innovative, poignant, English musical.  I dashed down to see it in Chichester just before the run ended, and to see my old friend Peter Polycarpou - who was playing Phil, Jenny's father.  His performance was heart-breakingly realistic and I was swept away by that mellifluous Polycarpou singing voice as always.  An enduring image from that evening was in the bar afterwards, when Michael Ball (who had been in the audience) clasped Peter to him in a massive brotherly bear hug.  They had both made their names in Les Miserable and have had a long history in musical theatre since then.   I have now discovered that this had been a very auspicious night for Michael Ball, because he has decided to make Love Story his debut show as a West End producer.

Love Story, the musical, is inspired by Erich Segal's iconic novel and one of the all time most romantic films of the 70's, directed by Arthur Hiller, starring Ali McGraw and Ryan O'Neal.  The musical is composed by Howard Goodall, with book and lyrics by Stephen Clark and additional lyrics by Howard Goodall.  It ran at the Minerva in Chichester from 29th May to 26th June 2010 and was directed by Birmingham Rep.'s artistic director Rachel Kavanaugh.

The libretto has been beautifully written by Stephen Clark and is not in the least bit sentimental, although I defy you not to shed a tear.  Look out for the brilliant Pasta Song - my favourite in the show!

It opens at the Duchess Theatre on 27th November.  If you click on the link on the title of this blog it will take you through to the website to buy tickets.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Rogers and Hammerstein at the Proms

The Proms are certainly paying homage to the American Musical this year.  Last night was the turn of Rogers and Hammerstein's wonderful shows, including Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I and the Sound of Music.  The vocalists were Kim Criswell, Anna-Jane Casey, Julian Ovenden, Sierra Bogges and Rod Gilfry with the Maida Vale Singers and the John Wilson orchestra, conducted by John Wilson.  These classic songs and rousing music have stood the test of time, speak to us all of our dreams and heart break.  My favourite song of all is from Carousel, that strange dark musical - "If I loved You".

Below is a Utube clip from the 1956 film of Carousel with Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones.

Friday, 27 August 2010


Trevor Nunn's production of BIRDSONG opens on 18th September in the West End at the Comedy Theatre.  It is based on the novel by Sebastian Faulks and is adapted for the stage by Rachel Wagstaff.
Directed by Trevor Nunn
Music by Steven Edis
Design by John Napier

The cast includes Ben Barnes as Stephen Wraysford,  Nicholas Farrell as Rene Azaire,  Genevieve O'Reilly as Isabelle Azaire and Zoe Waites as Jeanne Fourmentier.
Ben Barnes

The play tells the story of one man's journey through an all consuming love affair and into the horror of the First World War.

While staying as the guest of a factory owner in pre-First World War France, Stephen Wraysford embarks on a passionate affair with Isabelle, the wife of his host. The affair changes them both for ever. A few years later Stephen finds himself back in the same part of France, but this time as a soldier at the Battle of the Somme, the bloodiest encounter in British military history. As his men die around him, Stephen turns to his enduring love for Isabelle for the strength to continue and to save something for future generations.

It promises to be a very exciting production, with a great cast and creative team

Monday, 16 August 2010

A Day at Dodie Smith's home

Steve and I went to visit Dodie Smith's Literary Executor, who lives in her home in Finchingfield.   Steve had not been able to come to the plaque unveiling and so we were kindly invited down to watch a film about Dodie's life and have lunch, talk about our hopes for the show and listen to stories about her life.  It was a really fascinating and exciting day!  The film about her life was excellent and it was wonderful to actually see her on film at last.  Her home, The Barretts, is a large and extremely pretty thatched cottage, sitting outside the exquisite village of Finchingfield.

It was clear how much Dodie must have missed this beautiful part of Essex, while she lived in America and wrote I Capture the Castle.   While she was in America, the West End theatre manager and producer Binkie Beaumont, went to live at the Barretts.  He was the most famous theatre empresario of the time and produced many of her plays.

Walking up the lane to the house from Finchingfield brought home to me the sense of unworldliness that she must have experienced in that part of England, after the hurly burly of life in London - which she translates into the early parts of Cassandra's diary.  Finchingfield is the perfect English village - with its windmill, duck pond and little cottages bursting with lupins and monks hood, nestled round the village green.

We were shown a painting of Wingfield Castle, with the old house built into the remains of the castellated Medieval castle walls, the tower and the moat.  This had been her inspiration for Cassandra's castle.  I had always wondered what the significance of setting the book in 1934 had been - when it was written in the 1940's.  We were told that 1934 had been the year she had moved into her home at The Barretts, and so can only presume that this special date was connected to her life there.

At the end of the day we were presented with copies of Dodie's books - The Town in Bloom for me and The Girl in the Candlelit Bath for Steve.  We returned to London on the train, leaving Dodie's retreat far behind, but feeling sure we would be back there one day.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Sondheim at the Proms

Last night I watched the spectacular Prom celebration of Stephen Sondheim's work - a salute to him on his 80th birthday.    David Charles Abell conducted the BBC Symphony orchestra.  The lead singers were Dame Judi Dench, Maria Friedman, Simon Russell Beale, Bryn Terfel, Daniel Evans, Julian Ovenden, Caroline O'Connor and Jenna Russell.  They sang Sondheim's songs written between 1962 and 1987 - from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, A Little Night Music, Company, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods and many more.  Dame Judi Dench completely stole the show with her impeccable performance of Send in the Clowns.

Anna Francolini, who played Jane Morris in Possessed was there, looking and sounding so beautiful.  Three of the Royal Academy of Music Post graduates who appeared in the Concert Reading of I Capture the Castle, were also there: Terri O'Ryan, Ross Barnes and Tom Little.

The whole of the Albert Hall Audience stood to applaud Sondheim after the last number.  I have been to many proms, but I have never seen anything like this - it really gripped the heart.