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

Friday, 30 December 2011

I Capture the Castle for World Book Night 2012!!

I was very excited to discover that I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith is one of the twenty five books chosen for World Book Night in 2012.

On 23rd April 20,000 passionate book readers will give away 24 copies of one of the chosen twenty five books to people who live in their area and are unlikely to be regular readers.

Other chosen books this year are: Rebecca by Daphen Du Maurier, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  I think Dodie Smith would have been very pleased to see that her book was sitting alongside Pride and Prejudice!

To find out more about this wonderful project and even to sign up yourself there is a link to the site here

Arts Council Grant!!

Steve and I got the best Christmas present this year - from the Arts Council!

After being turned down for our first grant application for a workshop of our new show we took more advice from the Arts Council and Stephanie Hay at Watford Palace Theatre and submitted a new application.  I really never thought we would actually get it, but amazingly... we did!!

So our company Kelmscott Productions is being supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England to workshop our new show in partnership with Watford Palace Theatre.

It has been a very hard road but I think I have learned a lot along the way.

Now the real work begins...

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Peter Polycarpou at the Garrick on Sunday 11th December

Peter Polycarpou will be singing songs from the shows he has starred in and others that have inspired him, on Sunday 11th December at 7.30 at the Garrick Theatre.

Peter has had an incredible career: a member of the original company in Les Miserables, creating the role of John in Miss Saigon, Ali Hakim in Oklahoma! with Hugh Jackman, Daniel in Imagine This, Phil in Love Story, Phantom in Phantom of the Opera and, of course, Chris Theodopolopodous in TV's Birds of a Feather. Most recently he has been appearing as the Beadle in the Chichester Festival Theatre Production of Sweeny Todd alongside Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton, due to transfer to the West End in 2012.

Guests appearing in the show are:  Hannah Waddingham, Emma Williams, Claire Moore, Simon Bowman, Michelle Collins, Stuart matthew Price, Tyrone Huntley, Rebecca Trehearn Eve Polycarpou, Stephen D Fletcher and Jos Slovick.  Peter will also be accompanied by a choir and principal ensemble.

The MD is Robert Emery and Choreographer Cressida Carre

To book tickets for this very special evening go to Nimax Theatres HERE

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Jack and the Beanstalk at the Palace, Watford



A very lovingly created Jack and the Beanstalk opened at Watford Palace Theatre last night.  It was written by Andrew Pollard - actor and writer, directed by Kate Saxon, MD Paul Herbert, arranged by Dominic Haslam, Choreographed by Karen Edwards and designed by Cleo Pettitt.

The usual farm story of the Beanstalk tale had been transferred to a fun fair, making it more contemporary and also giving the chance for Cleo Pettitt's designs to entrance us all in a riot of colour and imaginative brilliance.

I loved the show, especially the Queen Bohemian Rhapsody scene, which had excellent alternative lyrics!

Fantastic singing and dancing from the cast!  Poor Jack (Josh Capper) had broken his leg and had to do the whole show on crutches; although it meant that a lot of the business had to change, it also added to the hilarity and he carried it off magnificantly.  Terence Frisch was an absolutely brilliant dame - off stage in the green room bar it was almost impossible to recognise him without the lashings of lippy and high heeled red boots.  Nadine Higgin was a lovely feisty Jill and we all spent a lot of time booing and hissing Ben Watson who played the Giants dastardly side kick Nightshade.  It's all there, the slapstick scene, the audience sing off, the hissing and booing and he's behind you - the audience rode the roller coaster and laughed and screamed and loved it all!

The show runs until 31st December.  To book tickets there is a link to the Watford Box Office HERE 

Writers Guild Encouragement Award Lunch at the Royal Court

The encouraged and encouragers standing on the steps of the Royal Court
Last Friday I went to the Writers Guild Encouragement Award lunch at the Royal Court.  These awards are the brainchild of Mark Ravenhill, and were set up by the Guild to give members the opportunity to publicly thank people who have encouraged their work over the year.

I had nominated David James and the BML (Book Music and Lyrics) Workshop, for nurturing new musical theatre writers and he had won the award.  Tim Sutton - composer/lyricist and facilitator at BML also came along to the lunch, David Thacker- Artistic Director of the Octagon Theatre, Bolton (standing in for Elizabeth Newman), theatre critic Mark Shenton, Amanda Whittington- the Chair of the Theatre Committee and other members of the Guild.  As well as David James, the other people who won the award were Cathy Magee from Dyslexia Scotland- nominated by Lowri Potts; Elizabeth Newman from the Ocatagon Theatre Bolton- nominated by Aelish Michael; Natalie Wilson and the Theatre Centre- nominated by Susan Hodgetts; Paul Milton from the Everyman Writers' Lab, Cheltenham- nominated by Miranda Walker.

David James was also awarded a prestigious Writers' Guild gold pin for his long and dedicated service to the Guild as the Chairman of the Theatre Committee.

There was much quaffing of wine, animated talk and consumption of excellent food in the Royal Court dining room during the afternoon.  The speeches about how people came to be nominated were fascinating stories of writer support, that sometimes popped up in the most surprising places - like the Scottish Dyslexia Society.  I met some really wonderful people and felt so pleased that David James was receiving some acknowledgement for nurturing new musical theatre writers through his inspired idea of the Book, Music and Lyrics Workshop.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Grants For the Arts

I have just completed another Grants for the Arts Application.  The last one was turned down but we were given good advice on how to improve it from the Arts Council, and also masses of help from Watford Palace Theatre, who have been so brilliant.  I am just keeping my fingers crossed now.  I think we will probably hear just before Christmas.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

A Chorus Line bound for Tel Aviv

I was one of the very lucky people to get invited to an open rehearsal of Baayork Lee's revival production of A CHORUS LINE, before it went off to Tel-Aviv to appear at The Israeli Opera - Tel Aviv Performing Arts Centre from 19th to 26th October.

David James knows Baayork, and so was able to invite members of BML along to this.

The rehearsal was held at 3 Mills Studios - a wonderful film studios in Bromley-By-Bow.

3 mills studios
It was very exciting to watch this show again and I really hope it does well and eventually comes to London.  This new cast is mainly English and Australian.

A Chorus Line was originally conceived, directed and choreographed by Michael Bennet, with book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban and Co-Choreographed by Bob Avian.  In this production the original direction and choreography is re-staged by Baayork Lee with associate director/choreographer Michael Gorman.

Baayork Lee participated in the original workshops from which A Chorus Line was developed in 1975 and the role of Connie Wong, was created by her.  She performed in the original award winning musical production which was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, winning nine, plus a Pullizer Prize for Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play of the Season.  The UK Production, which I saw in 1976, won a Laurence Olivier Award as the best musical of the year, and I am sure it had a huge influence on me.

Baayork Lee has directed and choreographed more than thirty five international productions of the show since it was first performed.

I spoke to Sean Mulligan (who plays Zach), after the rehearsal and he told me that the whole cast feels such a thrill to be performing in a show that so many of them have dreamed of performing in since they began their dance training.

The question is - why isn't this show on in London?  I just pray that producers go and see the Tel Aviv production and it gets the chance to come to London, where, I am certain, it would have a fantastic reception.

Writers Guild Encouragement Award

I am a member of the Writers Guild of GB and nominated David James and the BML (Book, Music & Lyrics) Workshop for a Writers Guild Encouragement Award - and he got it!

David and I have been invited to the Royal Court for a lunch to celebrate the award.

David has worked unstintingly on the BML for some years now, trying to create a hotbed of new musical theatre talent, supported and inspired by wonderful practitioners.

I am so glad he is beginning to get recognition for his work.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

On the Board at Mercury Musical Developments

I am very excited to have been asked to sit on the board of Mercury Musical Developments!!

A Stage Kindly's Musical Theatre GALA at Greenwich Theatre

Today at 7.30 pm A Stage Kindly will be presenting a Gala celebration of the highlights of all their shows at Greenwich Theatre.  There will be a fantastic range of songs from new musicals all performed by a company of outstanding musical theatre performers.

The talented Caroline Hardman will be singing HUNGRY SEA a song from our Pre-Raphaelite musical Possessed.

Tickets can be booked through this link HERE

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Dougal Irvine's new album ACOUSTIC OVERTURES

I was very excited to discover today that the award winning songwriter and performer Dougal Irvine has a new album coming out in November.  To obtain a copy of it, direct from him, click on this link here  

It's great to be able to support an artist direct!

Thursday, 22 September 2011


A "webisode" from the BRITAIN'S GOT BHANGRA rehearsals at Watford Palace Theatre.

A sparkling new production of  Britain's Got Bhangra the musical, has opened at Watford Palace Theatre - it is a gem of a show!!  

It was conceived, written and directed by Pravesh Kumar, music by Sumeet Chopra, English lyrics by Dougal Irvine, Punjabi Lyrics by Bittu Denowalia and choreography by Andy Kumar.

Brigid Larmour, Artistic Director of The Palace was Creative Producer for this wonderful all new Bhangra musical.  

I haven't enjoyed a night at the theatre so much in ages - my ribs still hurt from laughing and I think it is mostly Rifco Arts favourite Rina Fatania who is responsible for that -she plays Bibiji and Auntie in the show and is well known for her performances in Bombay Dreams and Deranged Marriage.  The rest of the talented cast include: Shin, the lead singer and driving force behind bhangra band and double platinum disk award winner DCS; Natasha Jayetileke (The Lion King, Joseph, Mahabharata), Sohm Kapila (Coronation Street, Doctors, Silver Street) Rakesh Boury (We will Rock You); Michael Taibi (Jekyll and Hyde, Annie Get Your Gun, Grease, National Theatre and the Globe).

Do try to see this at Watford.  You can book tickets Here 

Or on the tour:

Orchard Theatre, Dartford: 27th September – 1st October
Curve Theatre, Leicester: 4th – 8th October
Hackney Empire, London: 12th – 16th October
Theatre Royal Windsor: 18th – 22nd October
West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds: 25th – 29th October
Oldham Coliseum: 8th – 12 November
Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry : 15th – 27th November

Friday, 9 September 2011

Some Songs Fast Some Slow - Josie Lawrence and Steven Edis Trio

Josie Lawrence

Steve Edis and Josie Lawrence will be presenting "Some Songs Fast Some Slow" on Thursday 15th September at 7pm at the COMEDY CAFE - 68 Rivington Street, Shoreditch (nearest tube Old Street or Liverpool Street).

Josie will be singing one of our songs RAFT OF DELIGHT, from Possessed, in the show.

To book tickets for what promises to be another madly funny and poignant evening with Steve and the wonderful Josie Lawrence go to the link HERE

Hungry Sea at the White Bear

From Tuesday 20th September to Sunday 25th September Aria Entertainment will yet again be presenting their  SONG BY SONG showcase - at the White Bear Theatre, Kennington.   It will be MD'd by the wonderful Katy Lipson and directed by Matthew Gould.

On Sunday 24th September at 7.15pm Caroline Hardman will be singing HUNGRY SEA (music by Steven Edis and Lyrics by Teresa Howard), from our musical Possessed, as part of this wonderful evening of songs old and new, sung by musical theatre rising stars.

To book tickets go to the White Bear Theatre Website HERE

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Hungry Sea at Canal Cafe Theatre

Aria Entertainments are Presenting a showcase of the talents of 16 singers over 5 nights with 50 great songs called 'Song by Song' from 13th to 17th September.  One of these songs is Hungry Sea, one of the songs Steven Edis and I wrote for our musical POSSESSED.  It will be sung by the talented Caroline Hardman on Saturday 17th September at 7.30 at Canal Cafe Theatre.  Matthew Gould will be directing and Katy Lipson is MD.

Aria has been established by MD and Theatre Producer Katy Lipson.  One of Aria's visions is to support artists and provide a platform for them to develop their talents.

You can book tickets for this online at Aria's website here.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Kate Weston

I have got a wonderful new agent - Kate Weston! 

Kate works at Janet Fillingham Associates, specialising in musical theatre writers.  There are just a handful of agents specialising in musical theatre and I had set my sights on trying to get representation from one of these.  Strangely everything seemed to fall into place with Kate.  We first met at the MMD talk, where I interviewed her and Nick Quinn and I just seemed to bump into her everywhere after that - which I thought was a very good sign.

I now have a webpage on their site, which you can view here.

Janet Fillingham Associates is described as a boutique agency, their client list is small, but they are devoted to their clients, as I have already discovered.  JFA was set up in 1992 and mainly focused on broadcasting and film for writers and directors.  They work primarily in the UK, but their clients are also involved in a whole spectrum of projects overseas whether tv co-productions or feature films, both in the studio and independent sectors. Janet Fillingham is principal agent in these areas.

They recently expanded to include theatre and live performance as well as representing librettists, lyricists and composers in musical theatre.  Kate Weston joined JFA as an agent in 2010 and is working in these areas. 

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

TRYING IT ON with Josie Lawrence and Steve Edis at the Menier

Last night I went to a cabaret evening at the Menier Chocolate Factory.  Josie Lawrence was singing her heart out and making the audience roar with laughter about LOVE!!!  Steve accompanied her on piano and George English, a young Guildhall student, was on drums.

It was a fabulous evening - made especially wonderful because Josie sang one of the songs Steve and I wrote for Possessed called RAFT OF DELIGHT.  But one of my favourite bits of the evening was when she came on for the encore with lashings of make up on, to sing a song about the end of an affair, and smeared the make up all over her face, much to the audience's hysteria.  She looked like Brigid Jones gone mad!  It was a really fabulous evening and I am sure we will see many more to come!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Rifco Arts' Move to the Palace Theatre Watford!

Last week I went to a Celebration of Rifco Arts' work, at Watford Palace Theatre - to mark the companies residence there.  They have been Creative Associates of the Theatre for many years and are now resident at the Palace offices.

Rifco Arts' Artistic Director Pravesh Kuma says that "Rifco and Watford Place Theatre already have ambitious plans together.  The Palace are a major partner with us in our Autumn 2011 national tour of Britain's Got Bhangra, which will be rehearsed and open in Watford."

The Gala night was a roller coaster visit to all the brilliant shows the company has been producing over the years, and ended with some scenes from Britain's Got Bhangra.  The multi talented Dougal Irvine, a friend from MMD, wrote the lyrics for BGB.  It was conceived and directed by Pravesh Kumar with music by Sumeet Chopra.  I can't wait to see the opening of the re-worked show at Watford later in the year!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Lionel Bart Memorial Masterclass

The MMD Lionel Bart Memorial Masterclass was a fascinating evening of song and fabulous feedback from Richard Stilgoe and Bill Rosenfield, hosted by the Drama Critic from the Stage - Mark Shenton.  Along with our song ONLY MEN, were also new songs from Dougal Irvine and Richard Voyce.  

Becky Moult gave a rousing rendition of our song accompanied by Katy Lipson on piano.  Both Richard Stilgoe and Bill Rosenfield said our song was "terrific" and also gave some useful criticism on how they felt we could improve it.  Bill particularly liked the melody and style of Tango that Steve had written for this song.  Richard Stilgoe said that I CAPTURE THE CASTLE had all the qualities needed for a good musical and wished us the best of luck with it.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Richard Stilgoe Masterclass

Becky Moult

Royal Academy of Music graduate Becky Moult will be singing ONLY MEN, a song from our musical I Capture the Castle, at the Richard Stilgoe Masterclass at the Drill hall tonight.   Becky played the part of Mrs Cotton in the RAM workshop and showcase of I Capture the Castle last summer.  Becky is a wonderful, versatile performer with a fabulous voice.  She is represented by Maitland Management.

A Stage Kindly's Katy Lipson is going to be playing the piano for our song ONLY MEN.   Katie MD'd the April Revue at the Kings Head and The Space recently, where one of our songs HUNGRY SEA was sung by the young talented singer Caroline Hardman.  Steve was very impressed by Katy's musical prowess as an MD and so we are delighted that she will be playing our tango number from the show tonight.

The Masterclass is one of the Lionel Bart Memorial Masterclasses which are held every year at MMD.

Katie Lipson

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Richard Stilgoe Masterclass

We have been invited to present one of our songs from I CAPTURE THE CASTLE for the Richard Stilgoe Master class at Mercury on 10th May.  We have decided to present ONLY MEN, a song which we think needs some more work, and so it will be really helpful to get feedback from Mr Stilgoe.

Apart from all his comedy musical writing for TV Richard Stilgoe wrote lyrics for many of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals, including Phantom of the Opera and Love Never Dies.  With his brilliant musical humour we are hoping he will be just the right person to help us with this song.

Andrew Lloyd Webber and the Pre-Raphaelites

Astarte Syriaca by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

On the 1st of May Andrew Lloyd Webber paid homage to his love of the Pre-Raphaelites in a programme on ITV1 called 'Andrew Lloyd Webber and the Pre-Raphaelites'.

He owns a substantial collection of PRB paintings, which he started collecting many years ago.

You can see this programme for another week on ITV Player

The interesting thing that I took from this is programme is that he says that Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelites have been more loved by ordinary people than by the great art critics - having seen a huge blown up picture of Rossetti's Proserpine in Las Vegas, he was told that it was there because it was the most popular greetings card.  He also said that he felt that the Pre-Raphaelites are extremely relevant to today, with their very British passion. He believes they will become increasingly popular as time goes on.

Our musical POSSESSED, tells the passionate and dramatic story of Rossetti's love for William Morris's wife Jane.  All the way through Lord Lloyd Webber's programme I hear echoes of the iconic Rossetti and Morris words that come through the songs and dialogue in our musical.  It is also interesting that many of the songs that have been used for the programme have that same Celtic feel that many of our songs have.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Caroline Hardman singing Hungry Sea

A Stage Kindly made a video of the April Revue at the Kings Head.  Here is footage of the wonderful Caroline Hardman making her stage debut singing HUNGRY SEA from our Pre-Raphaelite musical play POSSESSED.  This is one of the ballads sung by the lead character of the show - Jane - wife of William Morris and lover of Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  After turning a blind eye to Jane's relationship with Rossetti, Topsy (William Morris) can no longer cope with it and gives Jane an ultimatum.  All her hopes and fears come pouring out in this song.

The imagery comes from the Tristan and Isolde legend.  The artists have been working on a series of stained glass windows based on the legend, which has begun to infect their lives.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

The April Revue

Steve and I had a really fun evening at A Stage Kindly's April Revue at the Kings Head on Thursday.  It was a packed house and lots of supportive friends came along.  Adam Spreadbury-Maher, the artistic director, was not to be seen, but I was told this was because he was having a crisis at his other venue The Cock Tavern which has had to close in the middle of a season.  However, I did get a chance to talk to James Hadley from the Arts Council, James Haddrell from Greenwich Theatre and lovely Kate Western, who I had interviewed at an MMD  evening about agents, and had come along on behalf of two of her American clients.

Caroline Hardman sang Hungry Sea really beautifully and it was very well received.  She has a charismatic stage presence, and I hope to see a lot more of her on stage when she finishes drama school.  Katy Lipson really had her work cut out for her with the myriad of styles of songs throughout the evening, and was absolutely brilliant on the piano!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

April Revue at the Kings Head Tonight!

Steve and I are going to the Kings Head tonight to see Caroline Hardman sing our song HUNGRY SEA as part of A Stage Kindly's April Revue.  It starts at 10pm and promises to be an exciting evening of new international songs!

Time of My Life at Watford Palace Theatre

Marion Bailey (Laura), Gregory Gudgeon  (the Waiter) and Craig Fletcher (Adam),  in Time of My Life

Steve and I were invited to the press night of TIME OF MY LIFE at Watford Palace Theatre on Monday.  Brigid Larmour's new production of Alan Ayckbourn's brilliantly funny, acerbic play is a theatrical tour de force!  Anne Morley-Priestman at Whatsonstage has given the production a well deserved five stars.

Premiered in 1992 at Ayckbourn's Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, this lesser known Ayckbourn has been given a new lease of life in Brigid Larmour's seamlessly directed production with a fantastic cast and clever jagged geometric set designed by Ruari Murchison.

Opening at a family birthday party, held for Laura, the viciously selfish mother (played to perfection by Marion Bailey), the play is set in a restaurant, with a lower level which appears to have been broken apart.  On this lower level scenes between the younger members of the family play out - moving forward and backwards in time leading to and from this bitingly funny family party.  The father, Gerry, played by Paul Bentall appears to be a self satisfied businessman but slowly the cracks in his life begin to yawn.  Gerry and Laura's two sons Adam (Craig Fletcher) and Glyn  (Chris Kelham) are continuously pitted against each other by their mothers favouritism and sniping.  Jessica Dickens (Adam's hairdresser girlfriend Maureen) wow's us with her mad hairstyles and although she tries hard to impress the family she never stands a chance under the acid spotlight of Adam's mother.  Anna O'Grady who plays Glyn's hard done by wife Stephanie survives the storm and transforms wonderfully into a confidant, self assured woman by the end of the play.

I was completely duped into believing that there was more than one waiter but discovered later that they were all played by Gregory Gudgeon, whose amazing quick changes produced an array of hysterically funny foreign characters.

This is a production not to be missed.  The link to Watford to book seats is here

Monday, 4 April 2011

Stiles and Drewe New Song Prize

The Diary Song, Cassandra's opening number, from I CAPTURE THE CASTLE, has been shortlisted for the Stiles and Drewe New Song Prize at the Sondheim Society's Student performer of the Year Award at the Queen's Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, on 22nd May.  We now have to wait and see if one of the twelve drama schools will choose this song to be performed as part of the award competition.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Caroline Hardman

Caroline Hardman

Beautiful Caroline Hardman will be making her stage debut singing our song Hungry Sea in A Stage Kindly's April Revue at the Kings Head Theatre on 7th April and The Space on 12th .  Whilst training at Italia Conti her credits include: Joanne in 'Company' at the Avondale Theatre, Baptista in Complete Works Theatre Company's production of 'The Taming of the Shrew', Holly in 'The Wedding Singer; Countdown' at the New Wimbledon Theatre and session singing for Framelight Media. Her film credits include:  'Lily McAnderson' in 'Taboo' - a WAX Productions film, and 'Amy' in 'Mission', written and directed by Nadia Barbu.

When not performing Caroline is also a composer and lyricist and has collaborated on work with Christopher Burr and Doug Berwick.

Caroline is graduating this year and aslo tells me that she is getting married!  

Steve and I are really looking forward to hearing her sing our song! 

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

ACE Announces Funding

It has been a surprising day - some arts organisations have taken some very hard knocks and others have been celebrating their good fortune.

Luckily the Arts Council has acknowledged the musical theatre contribution to the economy and Mercury Musical Developments have received full funding for the first time.  They have been given £365,000 over three years and will now, at last, be able to run a festival of new musical theatre along the lines of NAMT in New York, and with the opportunity of a full production for the most successful musical of the season.  Perfect Pitch, another musical theatre development company, also received a grant of £111,756 over three years.

My friend Felix Cross, from the BML, who runs NITRO,  has sadly lost his grant but is not daunted and they are already making plans to keep the company up and running.  It must be tough, after running a theatre company for 32 years to suddenly have the carpet swept from under you.

Many of the regional theatres have taken an 11% cut but Watford Palace Theatre has been lucky with only a 2.9% cut.

One of the major changes that has taken place in the Arts Council is that it has become centralised with the head office working from Manchester, rather than regional offices making the most important decisions.  The cut in Arts Council money given to organisations was cushioned by a cash injection of £85 million from the Lottery, which has at least made it a lot better than it might have been.  This lottery money is focused on work for children and young people and touring.

It has been a tense day for many people in the industry.  You can read more about it all in The Stage Funding Supplement here 

Monday, 28 March 2011

Looking for Lowry

On Sunday morning Steve and I were invited to the preview showing of Foxtrot's new film LOOKING FOR LOWRY, along with the cast and crew.   We are hoping to work with Foxtrot at some point.  This was a fantastic new documentary film about Lowry's life presented by Ian McKellan who was also Lowry's voice.   There were also moments with Noel Gallagher from Oasis, and the artist Dame Paula Rego.   It was directed by Margy Kinmonth.

Foxtrot are a BAFTA award winning film company and have produced other notable films including: NAKED HOLLYWOOD (BAFTA 1991), THE SMOKING DIARIES,  THE SECRET WORLD OF HAUTE COUTURE (nominated for a Prix Italia 2007) and THE STRANGE WORLD OF BARRY WHO? (Royal Television Society Award 2002).

LOOKING FOR LOWRY is going to be shown on the ITV Network on Sunday 24th April at 10.15pm.

I was not a great lover of Lowry's paintings until I saw this film - so do look out for it - there are some real surprises!!  Ian McKellan's sensitive performance is such a joy to watch.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

April Revue at The Space

I have just had news that HUNGRY SEA, one of the big ballads from our Pre-Raphaelite musical POSSESSED, is going to be part of A Stage Kindly's April Revue at The Space on 12th April, as well as The Kings Head Theatre - London's Little Opera House, on Thursday 7th April. 

My dear Friend Richard Voyce, from the BML Librettists Workshop, also has a duet at The Space Revue called TEN LONG YEARS, from his exciting new musical ROSA VAN SANT.   Having already listened to emailed mp3's of his songs, beautifully performed by his own mellifluous voice, I can't wait to hear his work performed on stage.  

One of the wonderful things about the BML Workshop is the opportunity to share work with each other in this way.  At last new musical theatre writers have a support network, like the BMI Lehman Engel Workshop in New York, and it is thanks to David James the force behind the BML that we are no longer working in a vacuum.

The Space is a performing arts venue on the Isle of Dogs at 269 West Ferry Road, London E14 3RS and the April Revue has two performances at 3pm and 8pm on Tuesday 12th April.  There is a link to the box office here or call the box office at: 020 7515 7799.  The Tickets are £12.50.

The staging for A Stage Kindly's Revue at The Space and  The Kings Head is by Paul Taylor-Mills and Musical Direction by Katy Lipson.

The cast includes: Benjamin Vivian Jones, Luke Barron, Jonathan Redfern, Mark Halliday, Constantine Andronikou, Emma Sewell, Kimberly Blake, Jill Cardo, Caroline Hardman, Victoria Boden, Jessica Anne Ball, Laura Wickham, Chris Price, Adam Bayjou, Kendra McMillan, Leon Trayman, Charlotte Bradford and Toni Green.

The Box Office link for the Kings Head April Revue on Thursday 7th April at 10pm is here or call 0207 478 0160. 

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Through The Stage Door

Stage and screen star Peter Polycarpou has been running a summer school for children for a few years now.  It's called Through the Stage Door, and is growing from strength to strength!  I have spoken to some of the students from Arts Ed School who were in the Les Miserable show last year and they raved about it and many of them are going back to do another one this summer.  Industry professionals who watch the showcases are amazed that they manage to accomplish so much in such a short time, but knowing Peter's work and his dedication I am not at all surprised.

Peter and students during the Sweeney Todd Workshop
This summer he's starting off with a Bugsy Malone Summer school for 10 to 16 years olds, which is running from 30th May to 3rd June with a showcase on the last day, and he has some new and exciting shows planned for later in the summer.  He is also running an acting class on Friday evenings at Vernon Hall in East Sheen.

Maddy Brennan, Peter's wife, works with the kids on choreography for the shows.  She's been a principal dancer with Matthew Bourne's New Adventure Company for the last five years and was trained at the Royal Ballet School.

 It is a wonderful chance for young actors to work with such a talented performer -  someone who really knows about the craft of musical theatre.  The classes are not expensive and really give young performers a taste of the musical theatre world.

To find out more go to the Through The Stage Door blog here.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Hungry Sea at London's Little Opera House

I heard this morning that our song HUNGRY SEA, from the musical play POSSESSED is going to be part of the April Revue at The Kings Head Theatre, London's Little Opera House, on 7th April.

The revue starts at 10pm.  Tickets for this event are available here.

Our song will be one of 20 new musical songs from an international team of musical writers.  I have been told that the singers for these revues are always wonderful and so it promises to be an exciting evening!

If you want to make a night of it  Pagliacci is also on at 7.15.  This is a new transcript by director Anna Gregory and has had some amazingly good reviews "Anna Gregory's punchy modern-dress staging is the company's best production to date." The Independent.  Tickets for Pagliacci are available here

We may also be part of The Space Revue, but I am waiting to hear about that.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Motion Design and Print Group

Front page of the Oxford Playhouse Flyer  designed by Asra
printed by Motion Design and Print Group

Motion have just done some more printing work for me in record time and so I really must give them a mention on my blog.  They are a fantastic printing company, extremely fast and with very competitive rates.  I discovered them through a friend who had millions of postcards printed by them to advertise his photography.  So when Kelmscott Productions needed printing done we used them for all the beautiful flyers and posters created for Possessed in 2008, business paper, event invitations and business cards.  You can find out all the details on their website, make your order online and the work gets delivered to your door.  If you need artwork done they can do that as well.  And they are very friendly and helpful if you have any problems.  I just can't recommend them enough!!

BML Librettists Workshop

It was the first night of the new season of Librettists Workshops.  We welcomed in some exciting new members, including Chris Burgess and Andrew Brinded.

David James gave his introductory lecture on the structure of the musical libretto and we all listend with rapt attention, ticking off in the back of our minds whether or not our latest shows held all the magic ingredients.  The new members are going to be presenting outlines for musical theatre adaptations of three plays which David has chosen for their particular musical adaptation difficulties.  Next week we are all going to be deconstructing West Side Story - a musical theatre version of Robert McKee's Casablanca exercise.

It was good to be back with old friends and new faces for an exciting and challenging year ahead!

Monday, 7 March 2011

A Stage Kindly at London's Little Opera House

A Stage Kindly are producing two new shows this Easter in association with London's Little Opera House at the Kings Head Theatre.

The first is a A Feast of Snacks - the premiere of four new mini musicals by Michael Gordon Shapiro and Mark Harvey Levine on 24th March.  It is for one day only and to book tickets go to this website at the Kings Head.

The second is the their April Review on 7th April which will showcase some of the "funniest, most heart-wrenching, most beautiful and above all fantastic songs from a whole host of new musicals from around the world".  This is also for one day only and to book tickets for this go to this website at the Kings Head.

A Stage Kindly is a new musical theatre company launched in London in 2008, with a sell out run at the Battersea Barge and the Rosemary Branch Theatre of a new show called "Debut", showcasing some of the best songs from new musicals from around the world.  An extended version of the show then toured London and Brighton throughout March 2009.  The new revues were followed by a recital of "Turkish Delight the Opera".   This was followed by a third revue of international new musical theatre songs called "Bravo", the world premiere showcase of a new musical "Epic Zion", a showcase of "Don't Cry Butterfly" at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and the UK premiere of David Reiser's new musical "Ballet Russes".

More information about A Stage Kindly can be found on their website.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Daniel Radcliffe to star in a Broadway musical!

Daniel Radcliffe (Photo by Dave Itzkoff)

Daniel Radcliffe is going to be starring as Finch in a revival of the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying!   The book is by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert and is based on Shepherd Mead's book of the same name.  The music and lyrics are by Frank Loesser.  It is scheduled to open at the Al Hirschfield Theater on Broadway on March 27th.  So watch this space!  Can our boy wonder wow the critics in a broadway musical????  I have to admit that I thought he was extremely good on stage in Equus, so am very interested to see how this goes!

SUGAR at HM Prison Send

It is not often you get to watch a musical inside a women's prison, but tonight that is what I did.   I had to take my passport to the prison and had my hand stamped with a butterfly in the family wing outside the prison walls.  A thrill seemed to run along the visitors as we waited for the guards to open the white iron gates to let us in - the drama had already begun.  Walking along the pathway, beside the high barbed wire laced fence,  a woman pulled back the curtain of her cell and stood watching us with such a sense of yearning that I had to look away.  Apart from the prisoners who performed in the show she was the only inmate I saw.  The guards guided us to a huge tent with metal walls which served as the theatre.  It seated about four hundred people, and every seat was filled before they shut the door behind us and ceremoniously rolled up the black carpet that led across the acting area.

It was a very moving show and unlike anything else I have ever watched.  The knowledge that  most of the performers were inmates of the prison never quite left my mind.  I found myself watching them in a different way, searching their faces and wondering what they were there for.  But it didn't take away from the drama, merely added another intense dimension.

Pimlico Opera collaborated with Send prison to produce Sugar, a musical based on the film Some Like It Hot.   The musical book is by Peter Stone, lyrics Bob Merrill and music by Jules Styne.   Pimlico has been staging musicals in prisons since 1991 when they produced Sweeney Todd in Wormwood Scrubs which was described as a "coup de theatre" by the Times.  Pimlico have brought 25,000 members of the public into prisons to witness these special events.

Sugar is a very faithful rendering of Some Like It Hot, with all the brilliant humour that cross dressing can achieve.  The professional leads, playing the parts that Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon performed to worldwide acclaim, were Victoria Ward, Duncan Patrick, Rob Gildon and Deryck Hamon as Sir Osgood.  There were also two male pro dancers along with a 17 piece band but the rest of the cast and many of the backstage crew were inmates of Send.  They had been impeccably rehearsed in just six weeks, and produced faultless dance routines, shoot outs and slick polished performances with an energy and passion that was heart rending to watch.  The attention to detail was wonderful in the costumes and make up and it was clear that everyone who had been involved had given their all to this piece of theatre.  One inmate called Gaillene Young who played the band leader Sweet Sue was an extremely good actress.  She had stepped in to play the part at short notice when the original cast member got released!

At the end of the musical, Jerry (the Jack Lemon part) tells Sir Osgood that he can't marry him - removing his wig he yells "I'm a man" and Sir Osgood replies "Well, nobody's perfect".   Somehow this line meant more here than it did in the film.

At the end of the show one of the inmates took the stage to tell us all how wonderful the experience had been, and although I am not sentimental about prisons it was difficult not to weep.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Mrs Worthington's Blog

I have started up a new blog for young performers called MRS WORTHINGTON  - do have a look!!


Here is Emilia Fox reading I Capture The Castle from the abridged audio book produced by CSI in 2003.  I haven't listened to the end so do not know how much of the book is here on YouTube, but Emilia Fox reads it beautifully and it is lovely to just turn on the voices of our musical at will.

Book, Music and Lyrics

The BML Workshop has expanded its program to include a weekly composers and lyricists workshop. If you are interested in joining this exceptional group of new musical writers the deadline for applications is drawing near.  The closing date for applications will be Friday, 11th March. To apply as a lyricist, send a CV plus the lyrics for 2 or 3 contrasting songs, along with a short explanation of dramatic context. To apply as a composer, likewise send a CV and 2 or 3 contrasting songs (sheet music or pdf or both), along with a short explanation of dramatic context. Email these to: david@bookmusicandlyrics.com. You may be asked to audition as well.

There will be 30 sessions in two terms. The spring term will begin on Monday, 4 April, from  3:30 – 5:30 p.m. all sessions will be at Nitro, 6 Brewery Road, N7.

Please check the website www.bookmusicandlyrics.com for more specifics.

Facilitators on the Composer lyricist Workshop are Steven Edis, Joel Fram, Tim Sutton, Mark Warman and David Firman.

Monday, 28 February 2011

The April Revue

Our song Hungry Sea from the musical POSSESSED has been chosen to be included in the international collection of songs from new musicals by A STAGE KINDLY.  The revue is being performed at the Kings Head Theatre and The Space in April.  We are not sure which venue our song will be performed at yet but will put up more information when we find out.

Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year

Haydn Gwynne
Every year the Sondheim Society hold a Student Performer of the Year competition in a West End Theatre.   This year it will be held at the Queen's Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, on Sunday 22nd May and will be hosted by Haydn Gwynne.

Haydn Gwynne played Mrs Winkinson in the musical Billy Elliot, for which she won an Olivier Award in the UK.  On Broadway she was also lauded for this role and won the Outer Critics Circle Award, Theatre World Award, Drama Desk Award and was nominated for a Tony in 2009.

For the Sondheim Performer of the Year Award every musical Theatre course in the UK chooses their best pupils to enter the competition, singing one song by Stephen Sondheim and a new musical song by a member of MMD.

The award winning musical writers George Styles and Anthony Drew award a prize for the best new MMD musical song in the competition.

Last year Steve and I had one of our songs from POSSESSED shortlisted (Hold Still) and this year we are entering two songs from I CAPTURE THE CASTLE.   The competition is stiff because we are up against well known musical writers like Tim Minchin and Conor Mitchell, who are members of MMD, but we have to try.  Even getting a song through the competition to be performed would be fantastic!

Monday, 21 February 2011

O Moon of Alabama - A Kurt Weill Cabaret

Last night I went to a Kurt Weill Cabaret starring Walter van Dyk and Liza Sadovy, at the Kings Head.

Walter is currently performing in A Flea in her Ear at the Old Vic and performed in the first showcase of our musical Possessed, at Greenwich Theatre.  His co-star Liza Sadovy has just returned from the hit Broadway transfer of La Bete, playing alongside Joanna Lumley and Mark Rylance.

The cabaret played to a packed house at the Kings Head.  Walter and Liza completely embodied the world of Kurt Weill - the sensual seediness and fading glamour, the heartbreak and passion, that his beautiful evocative music conjures up.  With such seasoned and brilliant actors this was no ordinary cabaret - the connection between the two singers was bewitchingly acted in every song.  I particularly loved the way they performed some of the songs in German so that we got the pure feel of the lyrics - which can never be perfectly translated into English and get quite the same resonance.  Both Walter and Liza have wonderful versatile singing voices, perfectly pitched for Kurt Weill's unusual harmonies and aching melody.

The show ended with a standing ovation and afterwards the bar was heaving with the great and good of the theatre world - including Joanna Lumley, Ron Cook (who has been starring as the Fool to Derek Jacobi's Lear at the Donmar Warehouse) and many of the cast of A Flea in Her Ear.

It was a really wonderful evening!

O Moon of Alabama: A Kurt Weill Cabaret at the Young Vic

Sadly I don't have a recording of Lisa Sadovy and Walter van Dyk singing any of their Kurt Weill Cabaret, but her are some pictures from their show at the Young Vic and a lovely old recording of Moon of Alabama.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Imperfect or Perfect Rhymes?

Lately I have found myself in the midst of discussions about rhyming with my musical theatre friends.  Should an imperfect rhyme be used?  Why be obsessed with perfect rhyming when the meaning is all important?  After arguing against perfect rhyming one lyricist sang the first verse of his song and it was clear that it was not an imperfect rhyme he was using, but assonance, "that's OK!" we replied, assonance is good.  He was very relieved!

The great Mr Sondheim has this to say about imperfect rhyming:

"True rhyming is a necessity in the theatre, as a guide for the ear to know what it has just heard.  Our language is so complex and difficult, and there are so many similar words and sounds that mean different things, that it's confusing enough without using near rhymes that only acquaint the ear with a vowel... [A near rhyme is] not useful to the primary purpose of a lyric, which is to be heard, and it teaches the ear to not trust or to disregard a lyric, to not listen, to simply wash over you."

Emily Dickinson was fond of near rhymes:

"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without words
And never stops at all"

Poetry is not the same as the lyric of a song, it goes to a different place in the brain... a lyric has to sing out and also thrust itself home, so that we know and understand the words.  I have a feeling Mr Sondheim is right.  It is difficult, it does take hours trying to find the right rhyme sometimes, but I don't think that this stops us having freedom of expression - limitations have a freedom in themselves.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Julia MacKenzie at MMD

Julia MacKenzie

After the AGM, Mercury Musical Developments invited Julia MacKenzie to take a Sondheim Masterclass with Royal Academy of Music Students.    Known well for her role in the TV series Miss Marple, we must not forget that this multi-talented performer was one of Sondheim's favourite musical theatre performers, who brought to life the character of Mrs Lovett in the National Theatre's Sweeney Todd, for which she was awarded and Olivier for Best Actress in 1994.  Among her many gongs was also an Olivier Award for her performance as Best Actress in Guys and Dolls in 1983, London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actress in Woman in Mind and a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in Side by Side by Sondheim in 1977.

Karen Rabinowitz,  the Course Leader of the Post Graduate Musical Theatre Course at RAM, sat with the students.  She was the director of our I Capture the Castle showcase last summer and it was lovely to catch up with her and let her know the good news about the show.

It was a rare treat to watch Julia MacKenzie, this mistress of the Sondheim musical, put these young and very talented singers through their paces.   Their response to her direction was a lesson in itself for many of the Mercury Writers, who seemed surprised at how maleable they were and how brilliant they were at re-interpreting a song after she had explained more clearly the impulse behind it. It was difficult to hold back the delighted laughter as we watched glimpses of her Mrs Lovett seeping out through her direction of By The Sea and I am sure I wasn't the only one who longed to hear her sing it for us.  Below is  a You Tube video of Julia singing The Worst Pies in London in the National Theatre Production of Sweeney Todd - sadly I couldn't find By The Sea.

The star performer of the evening was Alex Young, winner of the Sondheim Award last year.  Alex played the part of Leda in out first I Capture the Castle Workshop at RAM and is definitely someone to watch.