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, 27 October 2010

Stephen Sondheim at the Festival Hall

It was a rare treat to have had the opportunity to hear Stephen Sondheim in conversation with Jude Kelly at the Festival Hall.  There was a fever of excitement from the packed auditorium as we sat to listen to the words of this funny, endearing and very brilliant man.

Out of the unhappiness of his parents divorce at the age of eleven he discovered a new world with the Hammersteins, a world that changed his, and our lives, for good. He was very clear that although he discusses the work of other songwriters, he does not dish the dirt much and really only says harsh things about himself and people who are dead! He is a very harsh critic of himself, and through his own lyric analysis you discover what it is that really makes a song work.  I left with my signed copy of his book "Finishing the Hat" - his generous words about songwriting to be passed on to us all.

He tells us that there are only three principles necessary for a lyric writer:
Content Dictates Form
Less is More
God is in the Details

and these are all in the service of
Clarity 
without which nothing else matters.

His book is the story of his life through his songs, a scrapbook of pictures and manuscripts, an autobiography, and a detailed analysis of the structure of how songs are made.  I particularly like his notes to us, which are scattered throughout the book, written as the teacher talking to his pupil.  Here is one I rather liked:

"*Curiously enough, rhymes whose endings are spelled differently (for example, "rougher/suffer") are more interesting than those which are spelled the same ("rougher/tougher"), not only to the eye but to the ear, perhaps because the brain subliminally sees them in print and is therefore more surprised when they come along.  "Weary" and "bleary" are a less effective pair than "weary" and "eerie" or even "weary" and "leery," not to mention "weary" and "hara-kiri."

I Capture the Castle Canvas Shopper

I Capture the Castle Canvas Shopper


Now you can even buy bags with Cassandra's opening words from the book - and the musical!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Natalie Casey

Can't wait to see Natalie Casey in the Invisible Man.  For fans of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, here she is as Donna:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iH8QPU3pe24

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Anna Francolini in Onassis

Anna Francolini in rehearsal as Maria Callas in Onassis

The beautiful and talented Anna Francolini is playing Maria Callas in the West End production of Onassis, alongside Robert Lindsey, at the Novello Theatre.  Veronica Schmidt, from the Times said that she gave an "epic performance". Lindsey is playing the Greek self made millionaire, who had a voracious appetite for sex, money and power.  Onassis married Jackie Kennedy and was Maria Callas's lover for many years, reputedly destroying her career and her life.   Onassis is written by Martin Sherman (author of Bent) and is based on the book Nemesis by Peter Evans.  The play was originally called Aristo and began life at the Chichester Festival in 2008 and then did a sell out pre-West End run at Derby Playhouse in September.  It is directed by Nancy Meckler.


"The twentieth century was full of larger than life supermen and superwomen, from the monsters like Hitler to the saints like Mother Teresa. The Greek super-rich have occupied a particular place in this pantheon, and in his time Aristotle Onassis was the richest and most prominent of all, at least in the eyes of the general public. Just as the Russian proverb says that Moscow is “a city without limits’, so the Onassis life seemed to be ‘without limits, in terms of money, sex, power and infinite freedom. Onassis seemed to be able to go where he liked, make money beyond the dreams of avarice, sleep with the most beautiful women and influence world events. These threads all converged in his passion for Jacqueline Kennedy."
- James Pettifer


Anna played Jane Burden, William Morris's wife and Rossetti's lover, in our production of Possessed.   I have enormous respect for her.  Anna is a fine actress, with great sensitivity and a glorious soaring singing voice, although I have a feeling we may not hear her sing in this play, because Maria was having problems with her voice during the time she had her affair with Onassis.

I am going to see the play on 22nd October.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The Invisible Man


Steve is working on the music for Ken Hill's play The Invisible Man, based on the novel by H G Wells,  which opens to previews at the Menier Chocolate Factory on 13th November.  The show is being directed by Ian Talbot - who used to be the artistic director of the Open Air Theatre, Regents Park where he produced over 75 productions.  Steve worked on many of these Open Air productions as the musical orchestrator.  The cast includes Olivier award winner Maria Friedman, John Gordon Sinclair, Natalie Casey (star of TV's Two Pints of Larger and a Packet of Crisps as Donna) and Gary Wilmot.

The show will include comedy music hall with magic and illusions by Paul Kieve.  Kieve's previous stage credits include The Lord of the Rings, The Witches of Eastwick and Theatre of Blood.

The show received its premier at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in 1991.

It sounds amazingly fun - I can't wait to see it!