There may not necessarily be that many opportunities for new writers in the West End when it comes to staging a full-blown musical there, but in terms of creating a platform for their work to be heard, more and more opportunities are emerging.
Yes, they always have the cabaret option: Midlands-based composer Chris Passey recently hosted his own cabaret night featuring songs from his debut album, and transatlantic writing duo Anderson and Petty will soon be showcasing their work in an evening of musical theatre at the Delfont Room. Then there are the themed concerts, such as new writing organisation Perfect Pitch’s fundraising concert The Great British Musical, hosted by Stephen Fry and featuring a mix of work from new and established writers. Of course, you always have award systems like The Tim Williams Awards scheme, in which a variety of new, talented writers are invited to submit original theatrical compositions, to be performed by a range of West End stars. It was up-and-coming composer Stuart Matthew Price, currently performing in Shrek The Musical, who won the TWA for composition in 2011 with his song ‘Stories Of Heroes’.
Another opportunity is being provided to new writers this Sunday at The Actors Church, the popular West End venue which recently hosted Giggin4Good and MADTrust’s A West End Christmas. This opportunity comes from Iris Theatre who are presenting Workin Process 3 – Blind Date. This new concept aimed to match people up with one another on ‘blind dates’, but if you’re expecting to see Cilla Black playing Cupid to lovelorn boys and girls then you’ll be disappointed – Workin Process is all about the musical theatre love. Through personal ads posted on the theatre’s website, they matched up new composers with new lyricists to create fourteen writing teams, all of which were challenged to write an original song together. These teams were given two months to complete their task, which carried only one stipulation: the song would be inspired by Iris Theatre’s summer romantic comedy, As You like It.
Well the two months are up and on Sunday 19th February 2012, these fourteen new works will be performed in front of an esteemed panel of judges from the musical theatre industry, which include the rapidly-rising musical theatre composer Michael Bruce, West End musical director Nigel Lilley, staunch supporter of new writing, SimG Productions/SimG Records director and producer Simon Greiff and Lousie Gold, the West End actress whose previous theatre credits include Mary Poppins, Mamma Mia and Oliver! Below is a list of the fourteen new writing teams:
- Lee Freeman & Olivia Thompson
- James Lark & Louise Ainsley
- Luke Bateman & Mary Evans
- Nicola Jane Buttigieg & Raphael Smith
- Harrison Atlee & Bethany Jameson
- Rose Lewenstein & Jake Brunger
- Becky Applin & Jay Richards
- Noam Galperin & Carl Miller
- Stephanie Amies & Joe Giuffre
- Ian Lawson & Katy Darby
- James Veitch & Buffy Sharpe
- Felix Hagan & Melissa Beattie
- Christopher Hamilton & Blanche Girouard
- Amy Mallett &Kent De Pinto.
It’s an interesting way to approach the under-appreciated area of new writing and offers a great platform for new writers to be heard. There is a long line of composer/lyricist teams who have come together to create musical theatre history – just look at Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. This visionary twist for Workin Progress 3 –Blind Date could just help two like-minded creative minds find one another and, who knows, maybe even uncover the Lloyd Webber-Rice of the future.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Friday 17th February 2012