William Russell gives an account of the launch of The New Musical Project.
The New Musical Project
Anything that smooths the paths of those who would be the creators of the next era of British musicals is to be welcomed. The New Musical Project to write a one act musical set up by the Leicester Square Theatre attracted some hundred entries from all over the UK, six of which have been chosen by the judges to get a staged reading lasting in the New Year. The winner – the judges are Sally Ann Triplett, George Styles and Anthony Drewe– will be given a full length staging by the theatre next summer.
The 30 minute long staged readings will take place at the theatre on the following Sundays – 26 January, 2,9,16 and 23 February and 2 March. Each one will be followed by a Q&A with the audience and an industry panel, which should be useful for all concerned.
To launch the scheme four talented vocalists and a terrific pianist were assembled at the theatre and one song from each show was performed. To be honest the spirit of Sondheim loomed rather large, just as it does over the off Broadway composers of the day. The songs were good, but there was no stand out ballad, something Andrew Lloyd Weber, one of those held up as role models, never allows in his shows. And one or two sounded like Sondheim rejects, and one like something the man might himself have been pleased to have penned. Maybe the would be creators of musical theatre of the next decade could do a little more backward looking than they appear to have done – Bricusse and Bart for a start would repay research. It was also possibly a mistake of the four vocalists to perform all those Porter songs while waiting to start the show, because nothing that followed was better.
However, the plot outlines show promise. The Next Big Thing by David Kent is about a novelist who creates a character with a will of her own, Grace Notes by Robert Gould and Christopher J Orton is about a love affair between a white songwriter and a black singer set in America, Part A by Freya Smith and Jack Williams is about a present day house party, Reception by Tom Read Wilson and Gary Albert Hughes is set in 1967 at a wedding reception at which the groom comes out of the closet, Pierced by Tamar Broadbent is about present day youth and De Profundis by Paul Dale Vickers is based on the Oscar Wilde poem.
No complaints about any lack of variety or ambition then. The judges have a considerable task ahead.