Interview: founder of New UK Musicals and composer extraordinaire Darren Clark

As new digital sheet music store New UK Musicals launches, I talk with multi-award winning composer & lyricist Darren Clark about the site and his career

Darren Clark has been responsible for two of my favourite shows of recent years in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Wicker Husband so I was interested to discover that he has been keeping very busy during lockdown, creating New UK Musicals

New UK Musicals is an online platform where you will be able to purchase sheet music from some of the best new musical theatre writers working in the UK today. It’s a digital store where performers and fans can listen to online samples, purchase fresh, new songs and also connect with the writers who create them.

Designed and built during lockdown, the site launches with a competition for performers who will be able to buy and download selected songs from the site and upload videos of themselves performing to New UK Musicals. First prize includes a number of free downloads from the site as well as the opportunity to perform alongside West End stars in a special edition of Adam Lenson’s SIGNAL Online Concert Series celebrating the work of these writers on the 16th June.

Writers represented on the site include: Finn Anderson (Islander), Rebecca Applin (Jabberwocky), Bateman & Conley (The Sorrows of Satan), Ed Bell (My 80 Year Old Boyfriend), Darren Clark (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Elliot Davis (Loserville), Gus Gowland (Pieces of String), Teresa Howard (I Capture the Castle), Richy Hughes (Superhero), Carl Miller (Wasted), Noisemaker (My Left Right Foot), Eamonn O’Dwyer (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow), Susannah Pearse (Jabberwocky), Victoria Saxton (Marriage a la Mode), Amir Shoenfeld (Benny in Beta), Emily Rose Simons (Confessions of a Rabbi’s Daughter), Tim Sutton (The Secret Garden), Stiles & Drewe (The Wind in the Willows), Webborn & Finn (The Clockmaker’s Daughter) and Wigmore and Green (Van Winkle). Continue reading “Interview: founder of New UK Musicals and composer extraordinaire Darren Clark”

Album Review: The Clockmaker’s Daughter (2019 Studio Cast Recording)

Webborn and Finn’s cracking new musical The Clockmaker’s Daughter receives a delectable Cast Recording treatment that features the likes of Ramin Karimloo, Hannah Waddingham, Christine Allado and Fra Fee

“Come gather round!
Come gather young and old
Tall and small…
Come gather all!”

I was a huge fan of Michael Webborn and Daniel Finn’s musical The Clockmaker’s Daughter when it premiered at the Landor back in 2015, and loved getting to revisit the show when Trinity Laban’s final year students mounted the show a year later. So news of a cast recording was excitedly received in the Clowns household, especially once the company was revealed, featuring the likes of Ramin Karimloo, Hannah Waddingham, Christine Allado and Fra Fee. 

And with those stalwart supporters of new musical theatre Auburn Jam at the helm (Joe Davison producing) and David Ball Productions executive producing, the album sounds like an absolute dream. The show describes itself as “a musical faerytale” and the richness of the score reflects the considerable folk heritage of the British Isles, utilising Celtic influences as it is set in the fictional Irish village of Spindlewood but widening out its focus to produce something joyously universal. Continue reading “Album Review: The Clockmaker’s Daughter (2019 Studio Cast Recording)”

Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things

Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s new play Emilia already looked like one of the top tips of Michelle Terry’s inaugural season at the Globe and with this cast announcement, Nicole Charles’ production fast becomes an absolute must-see!

Nadia Albina will play Lady Katherine 
Anna Andresen will play Mary Sidney 
Shiloh Coke will play Lady Anne Clifford
Leah Harvey will play Emilia 1
Jenni Maitland will play Countess of Kent 
Clare Perkins will play Emilia 3 
Carolyn Pickles will play Lord Henry Carey 
Vinette Robinson will play Emilia 2 
Sophie Russell will play Lord Thomas Howard
Sarah Seggari will play Lady Cordelia 
Sophie Stone will play Lady Margaret Clifford 
Charity Wakefield will play William Shakespeare 
Amanda Wilkin will play Alphonso Lanier

In 1611 Emilia Bassano penned a volume of radical, feminist and subversive poetry. It was also the first published collection of poetry written by a woman in England. Lloyd Malcolm promises to reveal the life of Emilia: poet, mother and feminist from the 10th August. See you there? Continue reading “Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things”

Review: The Clockmaker’s Daughter, Trinity Laban

“We only have so much time”

I don’t often make it to drama school productions but an invitation to see The Clockmaker’s Daughter at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance was one I found hard to resist. I loved the Michael Webborn and Daniel Finn musical when I saw it premiere at the Landor last year and whilst we wait patiently for a cast recording (I asked Santa again and I have been a good boy this year…), this felt like an ideal opportunity to revisit the show, appropriate too as Webborn is an alumnus of this very institution.

So, The Clockmaker’s Daughter was presented here by Trinity Laban’s final year Musical Theatre students, with two teams of lead performers sharing the four shows and the rest of the company doing them all. And it’s impressive to think that there’s this much talent to share the roles, especially with the quality of Lucy Elson’s confident turn as the titular Constance. Both vocally and acting-wise, she demonstrated an impressive maturity that could well mark her as one to watch in the future. Continue reading “Review: The Clockmaker’s Daughter, Trinity Laban”

10 of my top moments in a theatre in 2015

The inevitable end-of-year lists of favourite plays and performances will be soon be coming (I just have to, you know, stop seeing shows…) but something I did last year which I really enjoyed was a compendium of “top moments in a theatre”, the breath-taking, show-stopping aspects of productions that have etched themselves in my mind over the past year.  Continue reading “10 of my top moments in a theatre in 2015”

Review: Sincerely Yours, Landor Theatre

“Your eyes will tell me all I want to know
When you come home once more”

Christmas 1944 in an end-of-the-pier theatre in Clacton-on-Sea – Sincerely Yours sees a troupe of entertainers put on a show for the latest conscripts about to ship off to the front and looks at their lives both on and off the stage as Britain enters another year of war and they themselves go overseas to join the war effort. Part of the LAMBCO Fringe Festival at the Landor, it’s a sweetly-played nostalgic tribute to those who endured through wartime, and to those who did not. 

The show is at its strongest in the production numbers, which are really rather impressive. Robbie O’Reilly’s choreography works well in the limitations of this space to still give a full tap routine with ‘Pack Up Your Troubles’ and keeps its tongue firmly in cheek when Carmen Miranda gets involved. Jennifer Sims, Sarah Goggin and Sarah Day are fabulous as an Andrews Sister-esque vocal trio, ‘Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree’ and ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’, two highlights among many. Continue reading “Review: Sincerely Yours, Landor Theatre”

Review: The Clockmaker’s Daughter, Landor

“They try to figure out what makes her tick”

Described as a musical faerytale, Michael Webborn and Daniel Finn’s The Clockmaker’s Daughter aims to create the feeling of a story from the Brothers Grimm but in actual fact, has come up with an astonishingly assured piece of original musical theatre. Set in the fictional Irish town of Spindlewood, the story delves into the myth behind the statue of a young girl in the town square – a tale of grieving inventor Abraham and of Constance, a girl not like the others, and how she touches the lives of the townspeople around her despite their pettiness and prejudices. 

David Shields’ remarkable design work is some of the best the Landor has ever seen, an all-encompassing vision that properly transforms the theatre and transports the audience to a different, magical, place. Cleverly conceived and carefully constructed, its various pieces work…well…like clockwork. And this ambition is matched in the scope of the writing and the score, combining the epic with the intimate, the emotional with the entertaining, the folkloric with the universal in what emerges as a deeply moving tale. Continue reading “Review: The Clockmaker’s Daughter, Landor”

Review: Nunsense A-men!, Landor Theatre

“That’s a little bit of convent humour for you”

With a dodgy pot of Vichyssoise, Sister Julia, Child of God has decimated the Little Sisters of Hoboken. But the business of burying 52 dead nuns is a costly one and the remaining sisters are left with no choice but to put on a fundraising variety show to make up the shortfall. Thus begins Dan Goggin’s habit-forming romp Nunsense A-Men! which has just opened at the Landor Theatre and marks the musical theatre debut of cabaret fixture Sister Mary McArthur.

It’s the kind of warmly affectionate silliness that lives or dies by the strength of its performances and fortunately Robert McWhir’s production has hit the mark with some astute casting which allows the show to cycle through its multitude of turns with a heady sense of mischievous glee and irreverent charm. From the moment you enter the theatre, the nuns are there welcoming you in, cracking any number of terrible jokes and generating the kind of relaxed, fun atmosphere that characterises the whole show even at this late preview. Continue reading “Review: Nunsense A-men!, Landor Theatre”