May 2, 2014
Wonderful to be able to see the world premiere of a new British musical, in this case Curve's Water Babies. Full review embargoed until next Wednesday, but suffice it to say that it's a shame to have to report that the show struggles to justify the effort and resources put into it. Pay attention, young Tess...
April 29, 2014
The Royal & Derngate writers' forum meets again, with a new member welcomed into the fold. Mind you, they do seem to be getting younger. Great discussion about Alex Lynch's thought-provoking script on the subject of dementia, plus different views on scene-by-scene outlines (I'm strongly in favour). Further confirmation of the value of this kind of group.
April 22, 2014
Sudden burst of musical compositions from partner-in-crime Michael Blore leaves me panting halfway down the track while he's merrily romping away. Does a nice romp, Michael. Fortunately, a little fillip (who's little fillip? Ed) comes in the shape of Fiddler on the Roof, starring my boyhood idol Dave Starsky - sorry, Paul Michael Glaser. Some good lessons for Tess in terms of structure, instrumentation, lyrical brevity, etc. Time to start catching up with the composer...
April 7, 2014
Really interesting meeting of the Northants Film Network, shared with the Northamptonshire Theatre Network. Lots of old friends and some great new faces, and good to catch up with one or two from as much as 30 years ago! Well, I am 50 now...
March 29, 2014
Bookending a week of birthday festivities, we catch Stephen Ward on its final day (well, it was Tim Rice last weekend, so Lloyd Webber seems appropriate). Alexander Hanson in the title role is superb, the production is sassy and glamorous, and it's a bit mystifying that it's closing so soon. Strange business...
March 25, 2014
So here it is. And there it goes.
March 24, 2014
The big day is here at last. No, not my fiftieth birthday (that's tomorrow). The staged reading of Reality in the Royal Theatre. It's a fabulous day, with Gary Sefton masterminding proceedings, and the six actors - Robert Daws, Amy Robbins, Michael Fenton Stevens, Naomi Sheldon, Christopher Harper and Eleanor Fanyinka - pick it up and run with it brilliantly on a just a few hours' rehearsal. Audience reaction is terrific, too, with loads of positive comments, and there's plenty for me to get my teetch into on the next draft. Great fun, and a wonderful curtain-raiser for the next big day tomorrow.
March 22, 2014
So we've answered the question of what to do in the evenings. Four this week have been spent in the theatre. Milton Keynes, Stratford, Leicester and, to round it all off, London for the shortlived but highly entertaining musical From Here to Eternity. There's a connection, as Tricia appeared in a previous show by composer Stuart Brayson, entitled Mata, which played at Blackpool Grand in the 1990s, and she's very happy to find him on Twitter and congratulate him on this West End debut. Oh, and we pop into the Savoy for lunch. As you do.
March 15, 2014
Last night of the R&D's magnificent production of A Tale of Two Cities, featuring particularly impressive mop cap work and singing in French by my other half as part of the ensemble. What will she do in the evenings now...?
March 10, 2014
Finalising artwork for the play reading, and busy sending out invitations. The R&D (specifically Rebecca Targett) is proving handsomely supportive.
March 6, 2014
Brilliant news from the R&D as producer Rebecca Targett confirms we now have the Royal Theatre itself for the staged reading! After more than 40 years as a punter, 30-odd as a reviewer and even having trodden its boards, I will now get to see my play staged there. Permit me, if you will, a bit of a shiver up the spine.
March 3, 2014
We now have confirmed castings for the staged reading of Reality. They include the rather wonderful Robert Daws, his wife Amy Robbins, Michael Fenton Stevens and my old Man of the Moment colleague Christopher Harper. Three weeks to go...
February 28, 2014
Rather extraordinary week - two amazing shows directed by James Dacre at the Royal & Derngate (A Tale of Two Cities and Body of an American), Warhorse screened live at the cinema, work with four separate roleplay companies, and some very exciting casting progress on the staged reading - more news to follow.
February 20, 2014
Very exciting to report that the staged reading of the latest play Reality now has a date, a venue and a director! The superb Gary Sefton - responsible for a whole sequence of stunning shows at the Royal & Derngate and elsewhere - is to direct, at the Royal & Derngate, on March 24. Time is short, so casting is the next priority. No pressure then...
February 15, 2014
It's a marathon day of Ayckbourn as the master's ensemble tours to Warwick Arts Centre with three productions directed by Sir Alan himself. Farcicals is a pair of one-act bits of nonsense, Time of My Life is a revival of his 1992 comedy, while Arrivals & Departures is his newest play (although soon to be overtaken back in Scarborough). Not only is it a wonderful day's entertainment, it's also a great chance to catch up with old Man of the Moment pal Kim Wall, who's in two of them but who manages to find time for lunch and tea between shows. It's a pleasure to be able to report that Kim is terrific, both on stage and off!
February 7, 2014
To Birmingham Rep for Nikolai Foster's highly entertaining production of The Dishwashers, starring David Essex. Great fun, and a full review here if you're interested in catching it on tour...
February 4, 2014
Something of a personal special for me as I get to interview legendary adapter Mike Poulton for the programme of A Tale of Two Cities at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton. It's an epic project involving more than 30 cast on the tiny Royal stage, with music by Oscar-winning composer Rachel Portman. Poulton, fresh from his RSC blockbuster versions of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies (see January 8 below), is in very chatty mood and proves a fascinating interviewee. Can't wait to see the finished product.
January 30, 2014
Lovely to be able to support Northamptonshire novelist Judith Allnatt at the launch of her latest, The Moon Field. I worked with Judith a couple of years ago on the 48-hour book and not only is she delightfuil company, she's also a highly evocative and gifted writer.
January 29, 2014
A gathering of the Royal & Derngate Writers' Forum to discuss scripts submitted by potential new members. There are some really interesting ideas and some well-executed scripts among the applicants, and it looks as if the numbers will be swelling somewhat in the coming months.
January 21, 2014
Work begins in earnest on pulling together a rehearsed reading of the latest play Reality. While I already have lots of interest from other writers and actors, I'm really keen to hear the piece spoken by professionals, so the hunt is on for a venue and director!
January 13, 2014
Thanks to the wonders of an eclectic freelance life, I spend the day in that Big London on a mission to interview top director Nikolai Foster about his forthcoming show The Dishwashers. He's charming company and extremely engaging to talk to, and as an added bonus I get to hang out (albeit briefly) with its star, David Essex, who's now my new best friend.
January 11, 2014
Freed from the bonds of Saturday night gigging, Tricia and I attend our first ever dinner party as a married couple, thrown by our lovely friend Maddy Kerr to mark the (temporary) departure from these shores of my musical writing partner Michael Blore. Fab food, copious amounts of alcohol and terrific company make it a memorable evening.
January 8, 2014
Energising and exciting day at the RSC in Stratford for Mike Poulton's new adaptations of Hilary Mantel's epic novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies. Six hours just flies by!
New year, new impetus for existing projects and fresh ones. Great to find time for family and friends as well, though.
For earlier ramblings, check out the Previously... page.
WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT MICHAEL'S WRITING...
'Bristling with theatrical ideas'
- Sir Alan Ayckbourn
- Matthew Graham, Life on Mars creator
'An unforgettable evening'
- Audience members at Rasputin's Mother premiere
'Very funny... entertaining characters... great vignettes. I enjoyed it and laughed, both quite rare!'
- Micheal Jacob, Creative Head, BBC College of Comedy
'An amazingly good job... stories work well and are full of character and texture'
- Simon Harper, Holby City senior script editor
'Strong, distinctive dialogue... well defined, powerful characters... and a real understanding of the medium.'
- Emmerdale core writer Chris Thompson
'Intriguing and edifying... alive and full of energy'
- actor Paul Copley
'Cracking dialogue, fascinating ideas, strong complementary characters'
- Ronald Duncan Playwriting Competition judges