Out There is directed by Steven Dexter and performed by members of Youth Music Theatre UK, and runs at the Riverside Studios from 25-28 July 2012. Loserville played at West Yorkshire Playhouse earlier this month starring Gareth Gates. Soho Cinders, starring Jenna Russell and Michael Xavier, runs at the Soho Theatre from 8 August to 9 September (previews from 2 August).
How did you first get involved with musical theatre?
I wrote to Lionel Bart when I was at university having seen a South Bank profile on him. After I graduated I started to transcribe his musical ideas which led me to getting a job as a rehearsal pianist in the West End and it built up from there.
You are a writer, composer and musical director among other things. Is there anything that you prefer?
I've been lucky to have worked in many areas of the industry. However, writing is probably the keenest passion. I love coming up with an idea that starts from nothing and grows into a full scale production. Original work and stories are particularly exciting for me. I think audiences crave a good new story. At least I hope they do.
How did you meet your writing partner James Bourne and how do you find collaborating?
I met James, as he lived in the same block of flats as me when he was in the band Busted. I was playing tennis one day and he walked over to the courts and got chatting. We knew the same people in the music industry and started to swap songs and ideas. The friendship built from there.
James is such a great person to work with. His lyrical and musical voice is so defined and it has a refreshing originality to it.
Collaborating is everything. The debate over lines, jokes, words, songs, structure is the tension needed to mould a show into the best possible shape. However, to do that you have to have a great team and I've been so lucky in my collaborators.
Did you write Out There specifically with youth theatre in mind?
No. Both Loserville and Out There were written story first. I always say to James that the core idea has to be so strong that it could be a book or a movie but we just happen to like the musical genre so we start there.
Out There's themes are universal but are focussed around a son, father and grandfather. I wanted to write about family, trouble within families and find an original way of doing that. The generational gaps give the story a scope. When we previously staged Out There there was a great response to it and people found it very moving.
Do you work much with youth theatre and Youth Music Theatre?
YMT is a great organisation. They were the original commissioners of Loserville and Out There and James and I have promised to deliver a new show for them next year.
How are you finding juggling three productions around the country?
Slightly stressed! At the time of writing this Loserville is in previews and I am making final changes to that before press night in a few days. Out There is being prepared for production in July at Riverside Studios and I am making final changes to the script of Soho Cinders with Anthony Drewe ready to start rehearsal for the August opening of that. It's a very busy but rewarding time.
Have you changed much in Soho Cinders since the concert performance last year?
Yes. I think both George, Anthony and I found the concert very instructive. There is nothing like hearing an audience respond positively to your work but you also have to listen out to where you might have lost them on the way. We have therefore tightened the story, added a new song, focussed on character development and honed the jokes. I hope it will make for a tighter script and therefore an even more enjoyable evening of new musical theatre!
What are your plans for the future?
I have to deliver a film script to the BBC which they have commissioned. It's a movie about the life of a musical theatre icon told in an original way. It is great to have that project in development with such an excellent team.
I'd like to write more shows with the people I'm lucky enough to work with and see Loserville, Out There and Soho be successful and go on to many more productions.
Oh - I'd quite like a holiday as well.
Come on our hosted Whatsonstage.com Outing to Soho Cinders on Tuesday 7 August 2012 and get your ticket, a FREE signed poster and our EXCLUSIVE post-show Q&A with cast and creatives - all for the INCREDIBLE price of just £30.00!! Click here to book