This May Rhys Jennings and Darren Clark learned their new musical was shortlisted for the Kevin Spacey Foundation bursary and were to present to a panel of musical theatre experts including Michael England, Beverley Knight, Clive Rowe, Danielle Tarento.. to name a few. I’d first worked on The Wicker Husband, an original story by Ursula-Wills Jones, exactly a year ago. We had a week’s rehearsal and development under the playful direction of Charlotte Westenra. Ever since, Darren andRrhys have been working tireless on the story, the script the score and, most importantly the funding.
The song Darren and Rhys choice to use in their presentation was My Wicker Man which they asked me to reprise (yes being my obvious answer) and with the musical talents of Rachel Dawson, Loren O’Dair and Ruairi Glasheen we had our ensemble. There’s no recording of this wonderful performance but here’s my recording made at the St James’ Theatre as part of the “Coup Coup Club” performance of music from “These Trees Are Made of Blood.”
Then after the excitement of performing in front of these industry leaders, the Stephen Sondheim Society invited Darren and Rhys to have one of their songs performed at their monthly Monday night Cabaret. It just so happened it was the very same day as the presentation to KSF so on an adrenalin high Darren (on guitar) and I took to the stage. There’ll be footage at a later date but here’s a production photograph from the night.
It’s a song that has become very close to my heart not least because of it’s beautiful lyrics and soulful melody. I have been fortunate to share it’s development with two other wonderful actresses: Olivier nominated Laura Pitt-Pulford and soon to graduate vEllie Pawsey. All three of us are at different stages of our careers and come from vastly different singing backgrounds and this, by his own admission, has really helped Darren build “My Wicker Man.” We were interviewed about it last month and you can find the full text on the Musical Theatre Review‘s website.
The final note on this particular song (for this week anyway) is that this Sunday it will be performed by a lucky and talented gradate at the 10th annual Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year competition as it is down to the last 12 songs nominated for the Stiles & Drewe Award. Do go if you can get to the Novello Theatre for 3pm, it’ll be wonderful.