Monday, 13 June 2016

Stop The Dramaturgy (The Musical.): Rick Guard & Phil Rice @ Edfringe 2016

More to Life Productions Ltd

by platinum selling songwriters Rick Guard and Phil Rice

‘Sanctuary’ at Paradise Green in Augustines (Venue 152)

15-20, 22-28 August 2016

Stop The Train-The Musical is an explosive, brand new show from platinum selling songwriters Rick Guard and Phil Rice. The two have worked with international artists such as Lionel Richie and Russell Watson, as well as successfully composing for film and TV.

This feel-good and uplifting dark comedy, wrapped in a twisting love story, sees a carriage of commuters from all walks of life, held hostage by a once-successful man, now with nothing left to lose. He parts his fellow passengers from their beloved mobile phones and makes his one demand…a conversation.

This enforced human connection leads to surprising, shocking and hysterical revelations from all, as they embark on a journey together that they will never forget!

What was the inspiration for this performance?
The inspiration for the piece came from a personal experience. I witnessed a ranting and threatening individual on a London to Brighton train, whilst making my daily commute to my first, last and only ‘proper job’. I was amazed at the lack of reaction from the other commuters; no conversation, no acknowledgement, no response. 

The passengers simply ignored the fiasco, cowering into their seats. The incident sparked the question…what would it take to make these people come together and interact…what was going on in their individual lives that they were so afraid to communicate…would I ever know a personal thing about these people that I shared my mornings with 5 days a week.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
Once we were happy with our songs and our first script draft, we held local open auditions. From this we formed our skeleton cast and brought them together with a locally respected Director and Choreographer to knock the draft into shape. From these workshops and workshop performances we honed the songs and script to a show worthy of an Edinburgh audience.

How did you become interested in making performance?
As writers, primarily in the music business, we had always talked of bringing the meaning and message of our songs alive in a stage musical environment. It was a real challenge to us from making songs that usually only last 3 or 4 minutes for a commercial artist or TV program, to create an entire musical where the songs where part of a longer and interconnecting piece.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance? Truthfully, this is the first time as writers that we have written a musical, so we had no past experience to take a formulaic approach. We sought advice from any industry contact who would take a meeting or call. 

We constantly asked for workshop audience feedback at every stage of development. We filmed the audiences reactions to each scene, to establish where we engaged them and where we lost them and then honed each continuing workshop based on this knowledge. It has been and will continue to be a long process of weeding out the unnecessary and tightening and polishing the strongest elements of the show.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
Our constant goal was and still is to provide accessible, high quality entertainment that encourages the audience to think, as well as lose themselves in the comedy and joy of the spectacle. We are extremely positive and hardworking, so we hope that the audience will be able to feel the attention and devotion that has been invested in this musical by all involved, as well as the life-affirming, uplifting message it sends.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
 Our main aim was to make the audience feel very much involved in the show and accepting of the sense that they were experiencing a train journey. After looking at different ways of presenting the show we decided not to go ‘in the round’ but an ‘end on’ venue. By using sound effects, projections and physical movements of train carriage seats on wheels and the actors themselves, we have attempted to create an immersive environment, that allows the audience to perceive the ‘train carriage’ from different physical perspectives.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
We hope that it is viewed as a feel good modern musical. The themes and references are contemporary and address issues that affect us all in modern life. Stylistically we are big fans of Potter’s work, where he effortlessly bounces between the fantasies and reality of his characters aspirations and everyday lives. (Lipstick On Your Collar /Singing Detective) These pieces were a big influence on us. From that point of view Stop The Train is certainly not a ‘classically influenced’ musical. The emphasis is on producing memorable songs that express the emotions of our diverse mix of commuters whose lives are entwined on a train journey that they will never be allowed to forget.

The journey of this fledgling musical is the subject of a long-term documentary by BAFTA winning film maker Chris Swann, known for his work with Pavarotti and Sir Paul McCartney. Guard & Rice have also attracted industry support from Nick Richings Emmy nominated lighting designer (Joseph & His Technicolour Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Starlight Express etc) and theatre technical giant HSL Holdings.

The cast is headed by Greg Patmore, who plays Eric Molton, a man who has lost everything and holds the modern world in contempt.  

Others lead characters are Megan Pearl Spencer, Jack Wealthall, John F Doull, Amy Forrest, Jarrard Richards and Katy Oliver.

Stop the Train is directed by Owen Phillips, choreography is by Lindsay Pollard and lighting design by Nick Richings

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