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, 10 October 2012

MMD 20th Anniversary Musical Gala and Auction!!

Everything is hotting up for the MMD 20th Anniversary Gala this Sunday 14th October at the Novello Theatre.

The Online Auction of Amazing Musical Theatre Memorabilia is going live on the MMD Website tomorrow.  Just follow this LINK and get your chance to own a bit of theatre history or tickets to a major musical show.

Some of the lots include:  A Phantom of the Opera platinum album, Don Black's signed lyrics for "Diamonds are Forever", Hippodrome tickets,  items from the new Les Mis Movie signed by Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman (wow!),  a Jesus Christ Super Star gold album and many many more - just follow the link above.

At the Gala on Sunday there will be a live auction of two additional surprise lots, hosted by actor Christopher Biggins.

There are still a few tickets left for the Gala, so to get your chance to be part of this extravaganza of musical theatre follow this LINK!!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A Chorus of Disapproval

Steve Edis in rehearsals for A Chorus of Disapproval

Steve is not only the Musical Director for Trevor Nunn's new production of Alan Ayckbourn's A CHORUS OF DISAPPROVAL, but is also playing Mr Ames.   After having seen him on stage in a double act with Josie Lawrence I am not at all surprised to see him take the stage again in this wonderful comedy!!

Rob Brydon is making his West End debut as Dafydd Ap Llewellyn.  The rest of the cast includes Nigel Harman, Teresa Banham, Daisy Beaumont, Georgia Brown, Rob Compton, Matthew Cottle, Jessica Ellerby, Barrie Rutter, Paul Thornley and Susan Tracy.

The Pendon Amateur Light Operatic Society’s production ofThe Beggar’s Opera is going off the rails, that is until a handsome but shy young widower Guy (Harman) joins the group. An instant hit with the company’s ferociously zealous director Dafydd (Brydon) and the show’s leading ladies, including Dafydd’s wife Hannah (Jensen), Guy soon gets more than he bargained for as he discovers that all the best action happens off-stage. Classic songs fill the air as the drama on stage is mirrored by the romantic rivalry and small town squabbles causing a stir in the wings of this ambitious local show.   Not seen in London since the National Theatre’s hit production over 25 years ago A Chorus of Disapproval promises to be an hilarious battle of wits and sexes!!  Oh how I love Ayckbourn!

A Chorus of Disapproval is opening on 17th September for a limited season, 
until 5th January at the Harold Pinter Theatre, Panton Street, SW1 4DN 
There will be 100 tickets for only £10 for each performance!!

A link to the website for tickets can be found here

Mercury Musical Developments Gala

I'm looking forward to going to the MMD 20th Anniversary Gala.  There is going to be quite a line up of stars and wonderful songs.  This will all go towards the fanstastically good cause of MMD's festival of new musical theatre!!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

11 o'clock numbers

I have been thinking about 11 o'clock numbers and brought up the subject as a focus for discussion at the Musical Writing Lab I go to.

What is an 11 o'clock number you may ask?

I have read a lot about what it means and here are some replies:

"The term is derived from the fact that during the golden age of broadway, shows had later starting times which meant that the 11 o'clock number would occur late in Act II, which would typically coincide with 11pm."

"A big song near the end of the show that stands out and energises the proceedings before the finale."

"A song in a musical that is placed near the end of the second act, before the plot's loose ends are tied up."

"It isn't a reprise."

"A song in which the main character has some kind of revelation or undergoes a major emotional moment that brings the musical to a climax."

Last April Birdland in New York had a cabaret evening that was called "11 o'clock numbers at 11 o'clock!" which seems a strange idea for a cabaret night because every number would supposedly be a show stopper.

here are some examples of 11 o'clock numbers:

Memory - Cats

Confrontation - Jekll & Hyde

No Good Deed, March of the Witch Hunters and For Good - Wicked

Marry the Man today - Guys and Dolls

Fifty Percent - Ballroom

Omigod You Guys - Legally Blonde

Reviewing the Situation - Oliver

How Could I Ever Know - The Secret garden

Not While I'm Around - Sweeney Todd

Step In Time - Mary Poppins

Anything You Can Do - Annie Get your Gun

What I Did For Love - Chorus Line

Rose's Turn - Gypsy

Two Lost Souls - Damn Yankees

Send in the Clowns

Being Alive - Company

Gimme Gimme - Thoroughly Modern Millie

From this I deduce that it is often a solo from the protagonist, but not always because many are duets and some are ensemble plus the protagonist.

I think the use for this song, structurally, must be to heighten the audience's excitement before the denouement.  Although some of the things I have read have said that this should be a song we come away singing at the end of the show - many of the above songs are not the best songs in the show or the ones we come away with, although some are.  There are rules but they can be broken.  But it looks as if there is a good reason for this type of number.  But did the composers sit down and say "let's write an 11 o'clock number" or did it just happen by chance?  Or was the idea of an 11 o'clock number so ingrained that they wrote it without thinking?

I have written the lyrics for a song, near the end of Capture, which could, I think, be an 11 o'clock number.  But when I wrote the lyrics I didn't realise that was what it might be.  In fact I wasn't quite sure what an 11 o'clock number was at that point.  So perhaps it does just happen!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Shakespeare's Godfather

Ruby Thomas as Beatrice and Jordan Waller as Benedick

Oxford undergraduate and producer Jessica Campbell invited me to the Oxford University Dramatic Society's fantastic production of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing at Southwark Playhouse.  This was one stop on an international tour from the creme de la creme of OUDS, produced by the legendary Thelma Holt CBE, in association with the Cameron Mackintosh Foundation.  They have already been to The Bodleian in Oxford and the Dell in Stratford Upon Avon and will be going to Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud and then to Japan's Saitama Arts TheatreBugei and the Kanagawa Arts Theatre, Kaat.

The OUDS have produced some of our best actors including Rowan Atkinson, Imogen Stubbs, Sir John Gielgud and the multi-talented Richard Curtis. I think there will be some members of this troupe who we'll definitely see again too!

The creative team were also all from Oxford, including brilliant direction from Max Gill.  Max had cleverly transfered the play to the mafia torn Sicily of the 1950's. Jay Anslow's atmospheric soundtrack was a tapestry of old Italian songs which could have been straight out of the Godfather, interlaced with more contemporary pieces, which reflected the emotions of the characters and heightened our awareness.  I spoke to the set and costume designer Anna Lewis, who told me that the set had to be carefully designed for transport to Japan.  She had dealt with the restraint expertly, creating exactly the right environment for Gill's gangster world, and the costumes were also fabulous!

The actor who stood out for me in this energetic and exciting production was Ruby Thomas, who played her viciously merry Beatrice with the expertise of a seasoned star.  Her sensual husky voice reminded me of a young Samantha Bond - no surprise that the audience hung on her every word.   Jordan Waller, her Benedick, gave a wild passionate performance - but why is it that they both believe the gossip woven around them and begin to fall in love ?  Oh how frail we mortals are!  Other performers of note were Rhys Bevan (Dogberry) who had impeccable comic timing, the innocence of Jessica Norman as Hero and the completely unmannered freshness of Jeremy Neumark-Jones as Claudio.  I was also very impressed by Matt Gavan's interpretation of Don Pedro.

Beatrice, Benedick and Claudio

Thelma Holt's Shakespeare tour is an annual event for the OUDS.  What a wonderful experience for these young actors and creatives - not only to be able to make a piece of exciting Shakespearean theatre but also to tour it, with that added opportunity of taking it to Japan.

The next stop on the tour is The Mill Studio at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford from 5th to 8th September, so do try and catch it before it goes off to Japan.  A link to Guildford, to buy tickets can be found here.

I leave you with Thelma Holt's words:

"I believe that in these tours we see British theatre's true insurance policy, the proof of a generation of great directors, producers and acting talent waiting in the wings."

Monday, 6 August 2012


Loserville was everything it promised to be and more!

Kate Weston and I absolutely loved the show.  It has closed at West Yorkshire Playhouse now, but I am certain that this not the last we will see of it!

It was a very well picked cast, starring Gareth Gates as Eddie Arch.  I was stunned by Gareth, who was utterly brilliant and really carried off being the baddie of the show.  Other names I recognised were Li'l Chris who made his name in Rock School,  Eliza Hope Bennet who I recognised from Nanny McPhee and Inkheart and Sarah Watson from X Factor 2011, but many of this wonderful cast had only just finished drama school.  The band were also very young and amazingly talented.

I loved the shows design from Francis O'Connor, brilliantly using the internal image of a computer for the moveable set and in complete contrast everything else is created by notebooks and pencils, reminding us about what life was like before internet and emails.

I love the way that the composer and book writer met and created the show:

Elliot Davis (book, music & lyrics) met James Bourne (book, music & lyrics) on a tennis court. Despite coming from opposite ends of the music industry, the pair discovered a connection through composer Lionel Bart. Davis had begun his career as Bart's assistant. In his pre-Busted days, an 11-year-old Bourne had starred in the title role of Oliver! at the London Palladium. Bourne introduced Davis to the album Welcome to Loserville, released by his post-Busted project, Son of Dork. "To my ears, the songs were like compact, three-minute dramas," Davis says. "I heard all these characters and narratives and said, 'Have you ever considered turning this into a musical?'

The rest is history!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Very excited to be going to see LOSERVILLE on Saturday at the Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds.  

This is a new musical by Elliot Davis and James Bourne (inspired by his Son of Dork album Welcome to Loserville).  Loserville is directed by Stephen Dexter and choreographed by Nick Winston.  The  producers are West Yorkshire Playhouse, Kevin Wallace First Act! and Youth Music Theatre UK.

The cast includes Lil' Chris (Rock School), Gareth Gates (Pop Idol), Charlotte Harwood (Legally Blonde), Eliza Hope Bennett (Inkheart), and Aaron Sidwell (Eastenders).

Loserville is set in 1971:  Michael Dork may be a computer geek but he's invented something that could change the world. He's also discovered girls: a prospect (almost) as exciting as his love of binary.
Holly is the girl: she has looks and brains and wants to be the first woman in space - well, this is 1971! But will she want Michael? Eddie wants a fast ride to the top and doesn't care who gets trampled along the way. Leia just wants Eddie. Michael's friends are all set to change the course of history, fashion and dating - in no particular order, but just as soon as possible, especially the dating bit.

The reviews have been fabulous:

"A Bright Bouncy book-show"
The Guardian

"Rocking, Rollicking, poster-bright, high energy fun"
The Observer

"A brilliant company of vibrant young talent"
The Stage

"A tidal wave of kinetic energy"

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Live at the Hippodrome

The Stage is set at the Hippodrome Matcham Room

I was lucky enough to get invited to see the wonderful Tony Christie  "Live at the Hippodrome" on Monday night.  It was a really spectacular evening in a great venue.  This is just what London needs!!  Soon to be stompin' on the Hippodrome stage will be Julian Ovenden and also the burlesque queen Miss Polly Rae.

The Hippodrome is right by Leicester Square tube so very easy to get to.

At the moment they are running a special price for tickets to see Tony Christie at this link

You'll definitely be on the way to Amerillo!!

The Hippodrome

Monday, 28 May 2012

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Sally Dexter as the White Witch is centre stage

Very excited to be going to the press night of the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe tomorrow night!!

Sally Dexter, who played Leda in our I Capture the Castle showcase is the White Witch and Sophie-Louise Dann, who was Topaz is playing Mrs Beaver and David Suchet is going to be the voice of Aslan.

The show is adapted and directed by Rupert Goold.

Sophie-Louise Dann as Mrs Beaver

It is at the Threesixty Theatre in Kensington Gardens which holds an audience of 1480 and promises to be amazingly spectacular!

Tickets and more information about the show can be found  here

Inside the 360 Theatre

Monday, 7 May 2012


How can I not be watching Smash!   A TV series about the making of a musical about the life of Marilyn Munroe.  Such a brilliant way of promoting the real musical of Marilyn, which I am sure we will all be watching in the West End in a couple of years.

It is glib, focusses much more on the actors than the writers and what they actually do.  It bears more resemblance to Chorus Line at the moment.  Perhaps I should be glad that they are still keeping what writers do a mystery...

But I am still watching it  - just another sucker!!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink..."

Dodie Smith Photograph: Hulton/Getty Images

In the Observer today was a piece by Robert McCrum entitled: The 10 best lines in fiction -  and the opening lines of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle was included, along with those of novels by James Joyce, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte and Donna Tarte.  McCrum goes on to say:

"A brilliant beginning to a much loved English classic, which tells us almost all we need to know about the character Cassandra Mortmain."

This is why we have used her opening lines of the novel in the first song in the show.

McCrum also says that:

"Perhaps only an English writer could extract so much resonance from that offbeat reference to "the kitchen sink".

I have often wondered whether, in a round about way,  Dodie started off the phrase "kitchen sink drama".

Her autobiographies are entitled: Look back with Astonishment, Look Back with Gratitude, Look Back with Love and Look back with Mixed Feelings.

John Osborne's play "Look Back in Anger" (1959 is also very autobiographical) came out not long after Dodie's last book.  I have often wondered whether he was poking fun at Dodie through the title - but how very strange that this play was the beginning of "kitchen sink drama"!!!  Legend has it that audiences gasped at the sight of an ironing board on stage!  The ironing board looms large in the opening of Dodie's novel too!!

Kitchens seem to be Ok in musicals but I have been told (I think it was Richard Stilgoe) don't ever have a sofa on stage in a musical!!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Paris Arrowsmith

Paris Arrowsmith and Frances Rose Knox

Paris Arrowsmith played a fantastic preppy Simon in our workshop of I Capture the Castle.  Above is a picture of him in the first read through of the show with Frances Rose Knox as Cassandra, way back in 2009 before Steve and I had written any songs.    Not long after that first reading Steve met Paris again in Trevor Nunn's production of Inherit the Wind at the Old Vic.

Paris has recently appeared in a film with Cate Blanchett and Tom Hollander called Hannah. 

Monday, 16 April 2012

Liza Pulman

Liza Pulman - Mrs Hester Cotton

Liza Pulman, who played Mrs Cotton beautifully in the workshop, is one of the members of Fascinating Aida and was Drama Desk nominated for their New York run of Absolutely Miraculous.  Liza is an amazing singer and her duet with Sally Dexter, of our song Only Men, was a wonderful moment in the show.  

25 copies of I Capture the Castle

I collected my 25 copies of I CAPTURE THE CASTLE from the library today - in readiness for World Book Night!!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

World Book Night

Not long until World Book Night on 23rd April - when I will be giving away free copies of I CAPTURE THE CASTLE in pubs in Forest Hill.  It is one of 25 novels which have been chosen by thousands of people.  The books have been specially designed for this one night only event.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Jos Slovick

Jos Slovick

Jos played Neil Cotton in the workshop of our Musical Adaptation of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle.  I first met Jos as he was about to go off to Chichester to play Matt in Love Story in 2010 and he doesn't seem to have stopped working since then.  He was such a joy to watch in the workshops and played Neil's mixture of underlying pain and outward bravado so brilliantly. 

Michael Pickering

Michael Pickering

Michael played Stephen in our Musical Adaptation of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle.    This was a rather different part from his recent role as Robin in the world tour of Batman Live.  But Michael stole the audiences hearts in the showcase with his sensitive characterisation and beautifully sung duet with Cassandra of Turn off the Stars.

I Capture the Castle Showcase at Drury Lane

The cast of I Capture the Castle backstage before the showcase

After a period of intense work on the Musical Steve and I telescoped the material down to one hour.  Having taken advice about presenting new work we decided to present the material without any stage directions being read.  The feedback we had on this was all good, we never had to break the fourth wall by telling the audience anything, instead the action was continuous.

The presentation took place at the Grand Saloon at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane to a mainly industry audience of 80.  To create more atmosphere in the Grand Saloon we used stage lighting brought from Watford, a small stage and a PA with four mics to enhance the sound.  Feeding the mics into the PA also meant that we were able to record the showcase from the sound desk.  Steve has lifted all the songs out of that recording and although they are not to recording studio standard we are very pleased with them.

I stood at the back with the director, Brigid Larmour, and my agent Kate Weston, to watch the reading.  From the moment I heard the first ripple of laughter I began to relax and really enjoy it.  The cast were absolutely fantastic and it zipped along at an exhilarating pace.  It was the closest we had come to realising the show.  Steve's beautiful music swept over us all and carried us from scene to scene.  Even though the actors had really given it in the songs during rehearsal, this was the moment it all came pouring out and it was such a joy to hear the songs we'd written performed so well.

The audience response was really very overwhelming - it was what I had hoped for, but never expected.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Sally Dexter

Sally Dexter - Leda

The beautiful and hugely talented Sally Dexter is playing Leda in our musical showcase of I Capture the Castle at Drury Lane.

Sally is going to be playing the White Witch in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe in Kensington Gardens which opens to previews on 8th May.  For more information go to this link HERE

Walter Van Dyk

Walter Van Dyk - James Mortmain
Walter Van Dyk played Gabriel in our very first showcase of Possessed at Greenwich Theatre.  He is now playing the eccentric but loveable James Mortmain in our workshop of I Capture the Castle.

Last Year Walter played the Herr Schwarz in Sir Richard Eyre's brilliant production of A Flea in her Ear at the Old Vic, alongside the charismatic Tom Hollander.  Walter will shortly be flying off to Hong Kong with the Rose Theatre's production of The Importance of Being Earnest.  

The First Week

Claire Chambers - Rose Mortmain

It is the end of the first week of the workshop, and it does seem as if we have achieved a lot but there is still a long way to go before next Friday afternoon.

Everyone in the cast knows their songs and have been rehearsed and rehearsed with Steve and our consultant MD Cathy Jayes.  We have all collaborated on the setting of the songs, cutting and rewriting dialogue leading up to and away from songs.  Brigid Larmour, the director has also  made some really interesting and clever comments on the delivery of some songs.  Listening to our wonderful cast singing I feel completely transported.  The new harmonies Steve has written are unbelievably wonderful, as is all his music.

We have a new tighter version of the libretto.  I've especially worked at the scenes with Leda, because she has had to change from the male character Swann.

Today I telescoped the whole libretto to get it closer to the one hour we need for the showcase.  I still need to go further but it is beginning to emerge.  The interesting thing was that some of those cuts feel really good and may possibly be kept in the final libretto - others felt painful and won't.

It is always difficult to present vicious cuts to actors once they have become fond of their character.  There were cries of pain but I listened to the loudest and am thinking again on one or two scenes but in return others will have to go.  It is tough but we have to get that hour.

Working on the libretto alone today I missed the songs and am looking forward to the moment I have completed the moulding and they can come back.

Above is a picture of Claire Chambers - our lovely Rose.  I first met Claire singing for writers at the BML workshop while she was still at Central.  I saw her again playing Meg  in Little Women and thought she would be a good Rose if we got Suzanna Kempner - we did, and she is a fabulous Rose!

Sophie-Louise Dann Nominated for an Olivier!

Sophie-Louise Dann

Great excitement in the workshop when we all discovered that the wonderful Sophie-Louise Dann who is playing our Topaz has been nominated for an Olivier Award for her role as Diana Divane for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in LEND ME A TENOR.

I loved Lend me a Tenor and Sophie's performance as the ultimate diva was a tour de force.  We are all keeping our fingers crossed for her big day at Covent Garden

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Workshop Begins

Cassandra - Suzanna Kempner

The Workshop begins tomorrow!

The actors all received a copy of the libretto on Friday and next week we will be developing this though the workshop process.

Suzanna Kempner will be playing Cassandra.  Sooz was our Cassandra at the workshop and reading at the Royal Academy of Music in 2010, while she was a student of the Musical Theatre course.  We got the chance to work with the Royal Academy of Music on our show through Mercury Musical Developments.  After a very exciting workshop period Katen Rabinowitz  asked us back to work on the musical and do a Concert Reading in 2010, which she directed herself.

Friday, 9 March 2012

I Capture the Castle Cast

We have got a really fantastic cast for the I Capture the Castle Workshop - in order of appearance they are:

Cassandra: Suzanna Kempner

Rose: Claire Chambers

Topaz:  Sophie-Louise Dann

Stephen:  Michael Pickering

James:  Walter van Dyk

Simon:  Paris Arrowsmith

Neil:  Jos Slovick

Mrs Hester Cotton:  Liza Pulman

Leda:  Sally Dexter

Thursday, 8 March 2012

French Retreat

Where better to be doing re-writes on I Capture the Castle than at my friend Lizzie Jackson's house in St Hilaire, near Carcasonne.  This amazing fairytale castle is just up the road!  I was chained to the desk at Lizzie's over the weekend.  Apart from writing all I had to do was to put wood on the fire.

Last Thursday Steve and I had a meeting with Brigid Larmour at Watford Palace Theatre.  It was an exciting afternoon: discussing the musical book, planning how we were going to present the work at the showcase and doing casting.  We also sat round the piano and sang Brigid one of the new songs we had just completed.  I left knowing it was going to be a busy time in St Hilaire, which it was, but also wonderful to escape London for a few days and be staying in such an inspirational place.  I think Dodie would have approved.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Soho Song Cycle

Mercury Musical Developments is going from strength to strength - the new Soho Song Cycle that previewed last night was a perfect gem!  There is something very special about watching a song cycle about a place and then walking out into the night to the very place that all the songs were about.  Soho is of course one of my favourite haunts in the West End.

Andrew Brinded was chosen by MMD to create a book for the song cycle, so that the songs had a framework, he also created a blue print for the characters he wanted songs about.  There were some wonderful songs by well known writers like Styles and Drew (I Wish, I Wish), Tim Sutton (Saturday Night In), Alexander S Bermange (It's Hard to be an Artist) as well as some beautiful songs by new writers - especially Self Respect by Christopher Ash and Carl Miller (about Monica and her gay lover Ronnie Kray) and Andrew Brinded's own poignant song -Sarah's Song.   Both Self Respect and Sarah's song were sung by the glorious Claire Moore.  The rest of the cast were Michael Cantwell, Niamh Perry and James Gillan.  It was a really strong cast taking us on the Soho journey through the wild and wonderful lives that that graced our city streets.

There was excellent direction from Simon Greiff and MD Sarah Travis drove the show forward with complete brilliance and artistry with the fabulous guitarist John Gregson at her side!

It is only on until 3rd March and really must not be missed - you can go straight to the Soho Ticket page here

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Our Father premier at Watford Palace Theatre

Anna O'Grady and Faye Winter in Charlotte Keatley's Our Father

Watford Palace Theatre invite Steve and I to all the press nights of shows they have produced.  On Tuesday 21st February we went to see the opening of Charlotte Keatley's new play Our Father.   This was an exciting and ambitious play by the writer of "My Mother Said I Never Should" - produced by Contact Theatre in 1987 directed by Brigid Larmour and 1989 at the Royal Court  - named by the National Theatre as one of the most significant plays of the 20th Century, and translated into 23 languages.  It was good to see Charlotte Keatley back with this harrowing play that takes you down beneath the surface of life.  It was directed beautifully by Brigid Larmour, with delicacy and with a great respect for the writers landscape.

I love what Charlotte said about her writing - that she creates a map with her work and shows it to people.  Lots of producers look at it and just don't believe her but she showed it to Brigid and Brigid not only believed her, she went on the journey with her.

One of the most powerful images from the play was the idea of a drowned village under the reservoir which is slowly emerging as the water dries up.  Water ran through the play and trickled into every crevice - it transformed - gushing, drowning, hiding, nurturing, threatening - a continual presence.

There was a dedicated strong cast:  Paul Greenwood, Chris Kelham, Anna O'Grady, Julia St John and Faye Winter.  Both Anna O'Grady and Chris Kelham had been in Watford's Time of My Life and Family Business, which I had seen last year.

The movement Director Shona Morris had also worked on My Mother Said with Brigid and will be working on the movement for our workshop in March.  There is something stylised about this play and movement was important, Shona did a wonderful job helping to make that happen.  The designer Adam Wiltshire had created something very exciting with the set of this play, as an audience you kept discovering new aspects to it as the play progressed.

If you want to find out more about the production the theatre website has some really interesting information HERE

There is only one more week to see Our Father at Watford Palace Theatre - it runs until 3rd March.  Book tickets through the theatre HERE

Thursday, 23 February 2012

JK Rowling's Favourite Books

Yesterday in the Times newspaper Daisy Greenwell wrote a piece called AUTHORS AND THE BOOKS THEY LOVED AS KIDS.  This is what JK Rowling said:

“When I was a child, I would read anything. My favourite books were I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, The Little White Horse and E. Nesbit. Her children are very real, and she was quite a groundbreaker in her day.”

Friday, 17 February 2012

World Book Night!

I have just received an email from World Book Night telling me that I will be giving away 20 copies of I CAPTURE THE CASTLE on April 23rd!!

Alternating Hats

I'm nowhere near Finishing the Hat yet, instead I am alternating hats - between being a writer and a producer.  Half the working day is spent calling producers and sending out emails inviting them to come to the showcase and the other half is spent working on a new song and amendments to the book.  I find the easiest way to change gear is to go for a walk.  My nearest park is the Horniman Gardens.  Luckily there are no swings in it and so during the day in the week there are not many people out for a walk and you can sing undisturbed while tramping through the undergrowth.  Walking and working on the beginning of a song is often really helpful - perhaps it is something to do with the rhythm of your stride and being outside where there is no limitation.  I have spoken to a number of lyricists and many of them say the same.

(Finishing the Hat is a book written by Stephen Sondheim about his lyric writing!)

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Søren Møller and MJ Chung illuminate new musical landscape in Denmark and Asia

I went to an absolutely fascinating MMD (Mercury Musical Developments) talk last night chaired by Neil Marcus with MJ Chung and Søren Møller  talking about the musical theatre in Denmark, Korea, China and Japan.   Jennifer Toksvig was on her laptop making notes of the whole event so I expect you will be able to read up on it properly on the MMD site at a later date.

We all huddled into one of RADA's basement studios and were given a brief incite into these burgeoning musical theatre markets.

Søren Møller is from Fredericia Teater Denmark and the principal at Det Danske Musicalakademi.  The Frederica Teater is putting on plenty of new musicals (some by european writers) as well as new translations of all the well known shows Like Avenue Q, High School Musical and Cabaret.  Stiles and Drew's musical The Three Musketeers was translated into Danish and produced there - much to the writers delight.   

The  theatre is attracting some big names in the musical theatre world to go out and work with them including: Victoria Clark, Stephen Schwartz, Andrew Lippa, Jason Robert Brown, Judy Kuhn, Susan Schulman, Marcia Milgrom Dodge, John Bucchino, Michael John LaChiusa.  Søren explained that every show is produced anew in Denmark, nothing is replicated.  I naturally invited him to our showcase!

MJ Chung, who I know from the BML Workshop, was a font of knowledge about the musical theatre world in Korea, China and Japan.  MJ is a multi-talented person, a translator of all the biggest musicals - from English to Korean as well as having worked as a producer and dramaturg in Korea and the UK.  

MJ has written an ebook called the International Trends in Co-Production Manual with Judith Staines and Sophie Travers.  This is something everyone in the theatre should read.

In Asia, as well as Denmark every european show is translated and a completely new production is created.    There are openings for European writers in Asia, sometimes from the creation stage upwards.

We spent time discussing how very important translators are, especially for lyric translation which can sometimes be extremely difficult with languages like Korean.  

This is the sort of evening that MMD is so brilliant at!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Showcase Venue Confirmed

We have now confirmed the venue for our London workshop showcase as the Grand Saloon at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.  This is the wonderful old theatre where Shrek, the musical is playing - which I thought was rather apt!

This is a private showcase, by invitation only, because seating is limited.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Les Miserables original cast album

The original cast album for Les Miserables was due to end and the cast were no longer going to get any royalties, even though the album is still making plenty of money.  Although each actor still only gets a small amount, every little counts in this business.  I signed a petition about this.  I am so glad to hear today that the royalties are being reinstated and a new agreement is being drawn up!

Here is a link to Mark Shenton's Blog which explains the whole story.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Research and Development Grant - first meeting

"I want to capture every moment..."

Now that we have our grant the real work on the research and development of our new show has begun.

Last Tuesday Steve and I had a meeting with Stephanie Hay, the Programme and Projects Manager at Watford to discuss the business part of the workshop.

We have to confirm a showcase space in the centre of town as soon as possible and have also considered that perhaps we should have an extra day there - a get in day.  This makes a lot of sense but of course will cost more.

We also decided that we needed to raise a bit more money for the workshop and so I have set up a We Fund site.  I will put up more about this as soon as it is completely sorted out.  There have been some problems over the little video I created.  I have no idea whether this will actually work but do know others who have used "We Fund" and it worked brilliantly - like Dougal Irvine, who raised funds to create his musical theatre album.

I have drawn up a comprehensive list of all our contacts for the show and will be sending them off to Stephanie because she will be handling the invitations side of things now.

We will be having meetings with Brigid Larmour the Artistic Director of the Palace, (who is going to be directing), at the end of Feb and beginning of March, for a few sessions to discuss the creative side of the work.  In the meantime I am working on further re-writes of the libretto and Steve and I have started another song that has been in my mind for some time.

The workshop reading will be private and by invitation only but experience with the Possessed readings tells me that you have to invite a lot more people than you actually think will come.

It is strange that once you have the grant everything moves into another realm, what once seemed almost impossible starts to become possible.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Little Women at the Lost Theatre

"Little Women has to be one of the best new musicals to arrive on the London Fringe in 2011" - The Stage

I had a really enjoyable night at Little Women at the Lost Theatre, in Stockwell, last night!  There are only a few more days of the show left (it finishes on 7th January) so you will have to be quick if you want to catch it.  It was a full house the night I went and for a 180 seater fringe venue I was very impressed.

This well loved novel is by Louisa May Alcott and the libretto written by Peter Layton with music and lyrics by Lionel Segal.  It was directed by Nicola Samer.

Little Women was produced by Skye Crawford and Samuel Julyan.  Skye is the brilliant new Australian producer I met at our showcase at the Royal Academy in 2010.

There were some excellent performances in the show especially Claire Chambers deeply loveable portrayal of sensible Meg and Laura Hope London's  brave Beth - who are both Central School graduates I met at the BML Workshop.  I was also very impressed with Glenn Lloyd as Seamus, Beth's young suitor.

This is a really 'feel good' show and very faithfully based on Alcott's book.

Little Women cast on stage

The link to the Lost Theatre Website is here and to book tickets here