Brief Encounter with the Heather Brothers
We are movie buffs – we have always been big horror fans and we also write and produce films. Some years ago we were in the USA working on a film, and it occurred to us it would be a good idea to actually stage a horror movie. Then we thought it would be better to make it a musical, and then to go one step even further and make it a comedy musical!
Horror movies are so violent these days. We thought it would be a refreshing departure to create a teen-scream flick for the stage with all the usual ingredients – a stranded group of young people, a killer on the loose, plenty of twists and turns – that was comical and packed with upbeat melodies at the same time.
You've written stage shows before. How does this one differ?
Because Camp Horror combines being musical comedy with horror, it has to scare as well as entertain! In a comedy, you build up to a laugh and, in a horror, you build up to getting a scream – but with Camp Horror we’ve had to work hard to try and get both! It has been a long process – there were many rewrites of the script and lyrics – so we are thrilled it is now finally ready for audiences to enjoy. Camp Horror is very different to what people are used to – as far as we know, there isn’t a musical comedy in theatre quite like this one.
It's about teenagers, performed by an adult cast. Is this a problem or an opportunity?
In most movies, whether horrors or musicals, the teens aren’t usually really played by teens anyway – take John Travolta in Grease for example – so having young adults play teenagers should never be a problem, as long as they play them right.
This cut to the chase… production offers a young, fresh-faced, super-talented cast with enormous amounts of energy and discipline. They sing, dance and play musical instruments live throughout the show, and above all, are excellent actors who approach their roles with just the right balance of humour and warmth. Because of all this, they embody the chaos and vibrancy of teenagers very well.
How do you divide up the work – dialogue, lyrics, music – between you?
We all muck in on every aspect – lyrics, music and dialogue. We’re very disciplined and work every day, starting at 8.30am. We sit around bouncing ideas off each other. We chat about films, books and politics and drink a lot of tea! Generally, we try and think of a good story first, something we would like to see. We enjoy comedy with witty one-liners. And because we started out in life as songwriters, we also spend a lot of time on lyrics. We write the first line of a song, then sit down with our thesaurus and rhyming dictionary to find something to rhyme with it.
We have always worked together, so there is a certain natural instinct in that we tend to know what each of us thinks about something. We discuss plot and dialogue, especially about what a character is likely to say or do. We don’t even think about who originally came up with what, because inevitably, one of us would have probably edited it at some point further down the line, so our work is constantly being developed by all three of us.
What future do you hope this show will have?
We would love it to go to the West End and beyond – to tour the world! We believe Camp Horror has the immediacy of one of our earlier West End successes A Slice of Saturday Night, a 60s pastiche musical which toured Europe and Japan. It has been translated into nine languages and people in all these countries identified with it so much that they kept asking us, oh were you living here in the 60s? We truly believe Camp Horror has this exact universal pull and will definitely resonate with anyone who is or has been young and fun-loving. It is a hilarious send-up of the greatest horror films through the years and has something for all ages.
Our cast of teen pin-ups play a host of familiar characters young people will know and love from TV and film – the cocky guy, the cute cheerleader, the geek, the kooky girl, the joker, the hippy chick and of course, the tired old school teacher! Mums, dads, nans and granddads will also recognise these characters because they went to horror movies as teenagers too; it’s just the clothes that are different! It doesn’t matter what year it is, the formula of the horror movie hasn’t really changed for generations. If it still entertains, it still works! So even if your teenage years are a distant memory, you can relive the fun and frights of your youth whilst enjoying a great rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack!
What's next in the pipeline?
We try to keep a few projects evolving at any one time. One is a film called Graphic, with a very creepy plot. We are also reworking one of our earlier musical comedies called Sin and Salvation, which is about a battle between good and evil and a religious TV station.