Nathan and I have just been to see an evening of excerpts from new musicals at LOST Theatre in Vauxhall. LOST (and I'm told I must write it in capitals despite not knowing what it's an acronym for) is a lovely little theatre space in the middle of nowhere. If it were anywhere else in London it might stand a chance of being a popular venue, but it's miles from any tube, in the middle of 1960s brutalist housing blocks, and windswept streets scattered with Caribbean cafés and Asian convenience stores.
I'm afraid the shows we watched largely irritated me. Writing a musical is something which has to be taken seriously. You need a plot, you need dramatic songs which further the plot, and you need subtle dialogue. More than anything else, you need to do your research to avoid crashing anachronisms which make an audience wince. I don't think I saw a single song in all four excerpts which didn't feel like it had been crowbarred in in some way. The large majority of songs were written in the pop idiom and there wasn't a single character on stage who I gave a damn about. I just kept wanting to scream that we HAVE to do better than this in this country. We HAVE to write better musicals. We must learn to respect the art form.
Julie had produced one of the pieces, which, in fairness, was the one which showed the largest amount of potential. She's been a hands-off producer on the project, so I don't feel bad about saying that it wasn't wholly successful. The show is in its infancy, and putting thirty minutes of it on its feet was a good exercise which will have taught everyone a great deal. She'd assembled a top-notch cast, however, who acted and sang the s**t out of the piece. It's funny: within a minute of a group of actors waking onto a stage, you know whether or not you're in a safe pair of hands, or need to hold your breath for a bumpy ride. The three women in Julie's piece passed that particular test as soon as the lights went up. You can tell an assured actor sometimes just by their stance.
There's not much else to say about today, other than that I did admin. Today's task was working on copy for the inner sleeve of the two albums we're releasing. PK sent me the second draft of the first three songs from Brass, so a fair amount of the afternoon was spent listening to them. He's done a great job... Unsurprisingly!