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

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.