Sting and Kate Prince's Message In A Bottle: Alex Lacamoire, Anna Fleischle and Lukas McFarlane discuss the show's creation
The brand new production opens later this year
Using the music of Sting, Kate Prince's new show Message In A Bottle has its eagerly-anticipated world premiere in February before the show tours to Birmingham and Salford. With that in mind, we spoke to three members of the creative team – Alex Lacamoire, musical supervisor and new arrangements (musical director on shows like Hamilton), costume designer Anna Fleischle (who worked with Prince on the award-winning Everybody's Talking About Jamie) and associate choreographer Lukas McFarlane.
The show tells the story of a village that is besieged, forcing its inhabitants to flee. Songs featured from Sting's back catalogue include "Every Breath You Take", "Roxanne", "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic", "Walking On The Moon", "Englishman in New York", "Shape of My Heart" and "Fields of Gold".
What has it been like working with some of the most iconic music out there?
AL: One of the earliest songs I can remember listening to as a kid is "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da". Being a child of the ‘80s, I was obsessed with the Synchronicity album, on the strength of its singles. I learned about the earlier Police albums as I got older, right when Sting was establishing his now-years-long solo career. Basically: Sting and his music have been "there" my entire life…
What initially drew you to the project?
AF: I wanted to work with Kate again after we did Everybody's Talking About Jamie together. She is an exceptional artist and quite unique in her approach and style as well as being a strong female voice. I was interested in working on one of her full-length projects with her to be able to develop our working relationship.
What sort of themes and ideas does the production tackle?
LM: The production explores the trials and tribulations of refugees and the challenges they face. But the story is an uplifting one; whilst it focuses on the impact loss and separation can have on relationships, it shows how love between family can weather any storm.
Can you run us through your basic ideas for the show's visual design?
AF: The main aspect was following the storyline of displacement - of being driven from your home and sent on a journey of hardship to finally arriving in a new place and needing to adapt into new surroundings. The idea was to draw inspirations from different cultures but create our own worlds in terms of costume. It is a metaphorical world. The clothing responds to the story of a vibrant origin - a sense of home and warmth - through a journey of danger and disorientation - to arrive in new and different lands.
Can you describe what your approach has been for the production in terms of transporting
the songs onto the stage?
AL: It's been a mixture of both recreating iconic songs to sound exactly (or close to) the way people know and love them, and/or reimagining songs in ways that may surprise people. All our choices are always in service of the story being told onstage, and Kate has been our beacon and leader in terms of threading these songs to shape a beautiful narrative.
What has it been like working on choreography for some of the best-known songs out there?
LM: The challenge has definitely been doing these iconic songs justice. When everyone around the world knows the song you are performing to, there is already such a high expectation with how you are interpreting it. These songs have been a huge part of so many people's lives and we all have our own attachments to them.
How do you think the piece will encourage new audiences to embrace the world of dance?
AL: What I find so exciting about this piece is that it shows how hip-hop choreography, concert dance and Sting's catalogue can all go together. When you take elements that people may not normally intertwine and put them on a stage, it can inspire them to learn more about an art form that they may not have delved very deep into. My hope is that it will delight people who may like all these separate art fields and therefore be excited about all of them being grouped together in a piece!
What has been your favourite number to work on?
AL: I'm particularly proud of the songs where we re-arranged them in a new and unexpected way. Tracks like "Invisible Sun" and "Every Breath You Take" are presented in arrangements where they both pay homage to Sting's fabulous compositions and also serve the story being told onstage. I'm hoping people will have an (even) deeper emotional connection to these songs because of how they're being presented in our narrative.