Monday, 15 June 2015

Gypsy

So, today I cut my hand on an AIDS ribbon and burned my fingers on a baking tray, whilst trying to oven roast some vegetables. I'm not altogether sure whether I'm becoming more clumsy, or just going through an unlucky period! My eye continues to hurt. There's now a very clearly defined lump under the lid which feels incredibly scratchy. Boo!

On the bright side, the plaudits for Brass continue to trickle in. I had an email from the head of musical theatre at the Arts Council today who said he thought Brass was one of the best British musical scores in many years. Of course, this piles all sorts of pressure on me for the next one. Em has to be good. In fact, it has to be better than Brass. It will actually be my fourth stage musical, if you include Letter to a Daughter and Blast, but it feels (as Nathan suggested last night) like I'm embarking on that tricky second album...

I finished the first draft of the synopsis today, however, and sent it off to Philippa, who, I'm excited to report, has agreed to dramaturge this project. Next week will start with the slow process of creating the show's book, which I expect to take about three months. Only when I think everything is ready, and when I'm literally itching to do so, will I allow myself to actually compose music!

This evening Nathan and I went to see Imelda Staunton in Gypsy at the glorious Savoy theatre. I'm always amused to note that anyone who plays the part of Rose in Gypsy is billed as having been "born to play the role", whether it's Patti LuPone, Bernadette Peters, or the third year student, whose name I've forgotten, that played it at Mountview when I was studying there... That said, Ms Staunton is extraordinary, and it was an absolute treat to see her playing the iconic role. It's the first time in this country I've ever witnessed an entrance round of applause for a lead actress. It's happened on almost every show I've ever seen Stateside, but over here we tend to be a little more reserved, and save our appreciation until the end. I guess it's an indication of the fact that many people in today's audience had come specifically to see Imelda playing the role she was born to play!

The only character that came even close to upstaging Staunton was the extraordinary orchestra - essentially a stripped down big band with added elements - who were tight and hugely authentic. Some of the saxophone and trumpet playing was quite breathtaking. It's a beautifully scored show.

...and yet the songs themselves, in my view, never quite hit the spot. I think there's a reason why so few of them are known outside of the show. The melodies just aren't quite strong enough, and many of them seem to sit on a generic Broadway "oom-chink" accompaniment.

But that's a small thing in a show which is otherwise wonderful. And frankly, if you go for no other reason, go to see Imelda. And to hear that extraordinary band!

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