I've spent the day today revisiting Em scores and working out which songs to record for the concept album I'm going to be recording in October. The majority of the show is scored for rock band, but I've also scraped together enough money for a single, glorious session with a string quartet. I'll have to be really canny about where to sprinkle them for maximum impact. I've started blocking out the areas where I want them to appear, and I'll do lots of detailed work over the coming weeks and then cut exactly half of what I've written. It's been fairly difficult trying to decide which songs to record. I learnt my lesson with the Brass soundtrack, where I attempted to record way more than I could handle, so, with Em, I've sworn I'll only record 12 songs. Choosing which ones to drop has been nigh on impossible. It's the killing babies thing which all artists dread. Of course I'm not cutting songs from the future show, but a recording like this allows me to breath life into songs, and shape them exactly the way that I want.
I went to the Menier Chocolate Factory tonight to see my good friends Jake and Pippa's musical version of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole. And what a royal treat it was! My only tiny disappointment was that the set designer had opted to cover the walls in pictures of Kim Wilde and Bucks Fizz, when I remember distinctly that Adrian Mole's favourite band was ABBA, which, believe it or not, when the book was written in 1981, was an indication of how square he was!
Anyway, Jake and Pippa delivered a stunning musical. The tunes were highly memorable. The score was rhythmically and tonally restless with every beat of music feeling like it was written to enhance the drama of the piece. This was content dictating form, rather than the other way around, which is what you get with musicals written by pop singers. The words were clever and witty. The script was excellent: a great adaptation of an iconic book which my generation all read as kids. I laughed out loud so many times. I defy anyone not to have a bout of hysterics whilst watching the brilliant Nativity sequence at the end. It was such a treat to see West End royalty on the stage in the form of Gay Soper and Barry James. All performances were wonderful, although this Midlander would have liked more attention to Leicestershire vowels!
The lad playing Adrian Mole was absolutely on the money. Quirky. Charismatic. Gauche. Funny. He carried the show. It was hard to take your eyes off him. As the piece continued I became obsessed with trying to work out who it was that he reminded me of. It finally dawned on me. He was the spitting image of the show's director, Luke Sheppard!
All in all this superb adaptation was a brilliant example of British musical theatre. This is home-grown writing which deserves to be both supported and promoted. Jake and Pippa understand and revere musical theatre and their shows are highly successful and engaging as a result. If you can get a ticket, get yourself down to the Chocolate Factory, and show that you care about the future of our industry. I shall fall asleep humming songs from the show. I salute you Jake and Pippa.