The Witch of Edmonton

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Last night Sarah Hosking and I went to see the RSC production of The Witch of Edmonton, with the sublime Eileen Atkins as Elizabeth Sawyer – the Witch, David Rintoul as Sir Arthur Clarington and Jay Simpson as The Dog – the Devil.  Quite a shock to see Simpson, such a seasoned TV and film actor playing such a raw physical role, but he was wonderful, as was Eileen Atkins and the whole cast.

This exciting production was directed by Gregory Doran, Artistic Director of the RSC  and the beautiful music was composed by Paul Englishby.

Here is a very interesting review by Kate Kellaway from the Observer and Michael Billington’s review from the Guardian Here

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Trust

DSCN0393 Only in the countryside would you find a little cupboard like this, stacked with wonderful jams and jellies, and laid out with trust.  Inside was also a tupperware box to put your money.  I bought two jars of Jane’s Jam: a Pershore Plum and a Crab Apple & Sloe Jelly and deposited my cash carefully in the box.

The cupboard is in Preston on Stour, a very old idyllic village.  This overgrown Tudor farmhouse looked like just the sort of house that my lead character inherited.  Spying through the windows I could see it is lived in but everything is faded and covered in dust.

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On the Stour with Sarah Hosking and Daisy

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The Cottage comes with a boat and so Sarah Hosking took me out on the River Stour to test my river legs. Here she is rowing like a land girl with the intrepid Daisy as our figurehead.

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I discovered that Daisy was waiting excitedly for her big moment – leaping out of the boat and running across the top of the weir.

The River air cleared my head and the next scene, which had been crawling along, suddenly took flight.  Getting time out in the fresh air is wonderful.  I try to have at least an hour out every day.

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Happy Halloween!

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My scary mono-browed pumpkin head is sitting ready for tonight when the village children will come a-knocking at my door.

This morning I have been struggling with the internet.  Just trying to send an email has been difficult.  Not everything in the countryside is rosy!

I am onto Act II now.  All country matters from Act I have gone out of the window and now my main character is in Soho in the seventies.  It was a strange and exciting place as I remember it, but also shabby and a bit seedy, and the opening of Act II reflects that.

The more I research into the seventies the more I realise how little I really knew about what was going on.  But maybe that always happens.  We understand a time with hindsight, but it is hard to really see it when you are living in it.

Happy Halloween!!

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Georgia Stitt in Concert

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I spent a wonderful evening with Skye Crawford and Whitney Mosery at the Georgia Stitt concert at the Garrick Theatre on Sunday night.  Georgia is a rising star from the USA, a composer, lyricist, MD and, as I discovered after the show – she is also a really lovely person. Her songs are  so honest and personal, funny and poignant.

She was joined on stage by a cast of great singers including Simon Bailey, Norman Bowman, Cynthia Erivo, Jamie Muscato, Eva Noblezada and the lovely Caroline Sheen as well as the choir from Arts Ed. Drama School.

The producer for this great show was Danielle Tarento.  After sitting on an MMD panel with her and John Cohen, talking about stage rights and writers, I seem to meet her everywhere. Her  wonderful productions including: Dog Fight, Titanic, Mack and Mable and Parade.

It was great to catch up with my dear friend Skye Crawford (producer from Crow and Elk) and meet Whitney Mosery, who is Associate Director for the Almeida Theatre on the celebrated new production of Charles III, and also worked with Rupert Goold on the musical thriller American Psycho. I think we are going to be hearing a lot more about Whitney!

After show drinks at the Hippodrome and then I leapt in my little silver bullet and shot off back to Stratford.

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Blue Sky and Mermaids in Blackpool

DSCN0377  After my night of drag and Shakespeare I ventured out onto the front at Blackpool and discovered Mermaid illuminations that looked as if they were floating over the Hilton – and a stunning blue sky.

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In the distance was Blackpool Tower, The Pier and the Pleasure Beach – rusting under a dazzling sky with fluffy white clouds.

On the way back to the hotel to collect my car there were mermaids as far as the eye could see!  It was a long drive back but so worth it to have seen the Funny Girls and the mermaids for myself.

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Funny Girls in Blackpool

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After lunch with the Trustees I went up to Blackpool, glimpsed the “Illuminations”, checked into the Hilton, caught the second half of Brian’s Twelfth Night and then we went on to see Britain’s number one Drag show – Funny Girls.  This was research for our show and will really help with Act II, when I get there. This scene above was a perfect Moulin Rouge extravaganza – but all the girls were boys with the most amazing legs!

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I loved this hilarious Spice Girls number.

DSCN0358This wasn’t a good picture but I really wanted to put it up just so you can see how incredible he was playing baby spice – and look at those legs!

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Brian pointed out that the boys playing boys had none of the power that the boys playing girls had.  So interesting!

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Lunch with the Hosking Houses Trustees and Daisy

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A delightful and chatty lunch with the Hosking Houses Trustees at Sarah Hosking’s enchanting cottage.  From left to right in the picture are: Professor Louise Campbell, the wonderful Sarah Hosking herself, Dr Sara Lunt, Andrew Holtom (the musical IT specialist), Pat Willson (book-keeper) and Reverend Dr Paul Edmundson. We were joined by Daisy the dog as well, of course. Although she looks singularly uninterested.  Daisy is finely tuned to rabbit chasing and stick catching, not listening to the literary musings of the Trustees – but I had a really lovely time and was made welcome by all!

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Yellow Marrows?

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On my afternoon walk I discovered this strange field.  From a distance it looked like a field full of dismembered limbs – but up close I realised it was yellow marrows.

I am enjoying “The Fall” in Stratford.  One Americanism I really like. It echoes the season of my show.  All it has to do now is snow. Strange how the seasons are always so important in the shows I write.  I think this may be partly because musicals often have scenes outside. There is something about taking the audience outside to an expansive world that suits song.

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Twelfth Night!

800x600.fitdown-2At the end of a good weeks work at the retreat I drove off to the Sheffield Crucible to watch Brian playing Feste in the English Touring Theatre’s production of Twelfth Night. Directed by Jonathan Mumby, who directed the wonderful RSC production of Wendy and Peter Pan, I saw twice last year! This was a stunningly beautiful, exceptionally musical, production of Twelfth Night – I was completely transported. How perfect Brian was for the part of Feste, bringing together his exceptional talent as an actor and musician – the show seemed to emanate from his character, bursting onto the stage like phantoms emerging from his mind.

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Brian Protheroe as Feste

Fabulous, emotional, rousing music by  composer Grant Olding – acclaimed for his  music for One Man Two Govnors and a raft of shows for the National Theatre.

Grant Olding Composer

Grant Olding Composer

After a critically acclaimed run (5 stars in the Times!) at the Crucible the show is now on tour, so do try and catch it at any of these theatres: Tue 21 – Sat 25 October Grand Theatre Blackpool Tue 28 October – Sat 1 November Watford Palace Theatre Tue 4 – Sat 8 November Cambridge Arts Theatre Tue 11 – Sat 15 November Hall for Cornwall Tue 18 – Sat 22 November Richmond Theatre Tue 25 – Sat 29 November Theatre Royal Brighton

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