Blog

EMINENT AUNT

7th March 2024

Surprised but grateful to be invited to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers for an event celebrating the centenary of the birth of my great aunt, Verena Holmes. Until the presentation by Elizabeth Donnelly, CEO of the Women’s Engineering Society, followed by the unveiling of a portrait of Verena, I had no idea what a pioneer she was – the very first female member of the IME, after a three-year battle to be accepted, and then an inventor of devices as varied as a deep-sea diving outfit, an apparatus for treating tuberculosis and valves for internal combustion engines. Having inherited none of her engineering skills, the only tribute I can think of is to turn her exploits into a work for the stage. Verena the Musical! has a certain ring to it, perhaps?

REUNION AT BAFTA

15th February 2024

It was so good to see Jeremy Swan, who directed me in the BBC TV series Potter’s Picture Palace in the 1970s. He very kindly took me to the elegant dining room at BAFTA, where the food and ambience are wonderful. As well as recently entertaining cruise ship passengers with his ‘Legends of TV’ stand-up performances, Jeremy has a book deal for his autobiography. If his memoirs are as funny as his reminiscences they will be a great read. Which reminds me – I must get my Stagehand Stories ready to show publishers.

R.I.P. DAVID KERNAN

28th December 2023

I’m sad to have lost a very good friend on Boxing Day after a long illness. David Kernan and I devised and produced the revue Dorothy Fields Forever (2001-02) which started at the Theatre Museum before long and successful runs at the Jermyn Street Theatre and the King’s Head Islington, where I was happy to mediate in disputes between the perfectionist David and the sometimes-disorganised Dan Crawford, who ran the theatre. I shall never forget David on television in That Was The Week That Was and in the musicals 1776, Our Man Crichton, A Little Night Music and of course in Side By Side By Sondheim, which he co-devised and starred in, along with Millicent Martin, Julia McKenzie and Ned Sherrin.

SCRIPT ON ITS WAY

13th December 2023

LUCIA LIVE!

4th October 2023

Delighted to see that Kim Criswell is back at Crazy Coqs, next to Brasserie Zedel, from 6th – 8th October. Her show is called Takin’ Stock 2: 30 Years Upon the Wicked Stages of Europe. Who can forget her portrayal of Italian diva Lucia Tivolini in Six Nights in Naples? (Click here) Not me anyway. Enjoy her masterly performance and superb vocals and book up now to see Kim in action – live!

FREE AGAIN?

25th September 2023

At the suggestion of Julian Slade’s family, I have adapted the script of his and Dorothy Reynolds’s 1957 hit musical Free as Air, with the aim of making it suitable for 21st century audiences. Its music is every bit as lovely as that for Slade and Reynolds’s much better-known Salad Days, but the few professional revivals to date have been hampered by the need for a very large cast and, perhaps, an overly 1950s atmosphere. Now, without attempting to make it ‘contemporary’, I’ve tried to refashion the show for 12 actor-musicians, so that its charm and glorious melodies can come alive again. That’s the idea anyway!

A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE

7th September 2023

In the middle of their huge success with Guys & Dolls, Nick Hytner’s team at London’s Bridge Theatre have found time to read and listen to The Postman & the Poet. On top of a positive reaction from Nick when he was running the Royal National Theatre, the Bridge’s Head of Development, Will Mortimer, now adds, “We very much enjoyed reading and listening to the work – it’s a terrific story and very beautifully realised in your adaptation.” 

REFLECTED GLORY

15th June 2023

Delighted, and very proud, to see that Chris Bush won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical on 2nd April. Standing at the Sky’s Edge, which came from Sheffield Crucible to the National Theatre, was a worthy winner. Having followed her work since her childhood, it has been great to see how it has developed all the way to this award. She came to see The Postman and the Poet when it was workshopped at The Other Palace a few years ago and I look forward to seeing her community play, based on Homer’s Odyssey at the RNT soon.

Letts Hope…

19th April 2023

Sunday Times theatre critic and Times columnist Quentin Letts writes to say he likes the idea of the ‘Il Postino musical’, better known to its authors, me and Michael Jeffrey, as The Postman and the Poet. He describes the project as ‘eminently stageable.’ Here’s hoping he gets the opportunity to review it in the near future, perhaps at one of his local theatres, The Barn in Cirencester.

POSTMAN IN CHILE?

6th April 2023

6th April 2023

News just in: a producer in Santiago, described by friends as ‘the Chilean Cameron Mackintosh’, likes The Postman and the Poet so much he is having the book and lyrics translated into Spanish. What could be better than a musical set in Chile, with a Chilean story featuring the Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda, opening in Chile’s capital city? So buoyant are audiences there that theatres have shows queuing to open. Postman is about to become one of them.