I was once a drama teacher in schools and part of the job was directing the school play.
I wanted to create plays with a difference so I started by writing a play that told the story of the second world war. I was nothing if ambitious.
I went to the head of history and asked him if he could put all the important things that happened on one page.
I then took that list and made a set of slides that would be projected during the performance and set about creating scenes that explored the human stories – for instance there was a whole section on children being evacuated from the cities to the countryside. I interspersed songs of the time and had a ten-piece orchestra. It was a hit – and I hope it helped their history classes.
The next year I decided to go further and write the book and lyrics for a musical. I had met a talented young musician called James Osborne who composed music and together we made Dream Date. My idea was to make fun of all those corny teenage love magazines and contrast the idealised dreams they spouted with a more down to earth story of a young man who worked at the magazine but pretended to be more. What made it different was that I had most of the performers become the magazine itself. Each scene that ended saw a new page so I was able to cover such things as photo love, horoscopes, pop idols and make up. There was even a Supremes type number called Love Says Goodbye. All the music was pastiche. For the set we had a giant magazine that opened up on stage with the face of a dreamy pop star whose eyes twinkled while a professional band gave the songs a real kick. The show was a big hit and we were invited to perform it for one night at the famous Theatre Royal, Stratford East. The audience went wild especially when I went a bit over the top with the smoke machine and the Boy George type character had to dive to floor level to be seen.
A couple of days later to my astonishment I received a letter from Samuel French Ltd, the play publishers. They wanted to hold the rights for performance and publish the play and score. A few months later I held in my hand my first published play and inside it said Samuel French – London – New York – Sydney – Toronto – Hollywood. I was deeply impressed. I thought I had made it.
That was in 1984 but the reason I mention all this today is because one of the songs, Deodorant, is going to have an outing in our next big show in September. Those immortal lines …
In his bath Archimedes sat
Won’dring why, water’s where it’s at.
It was then, just as he crouched down.
Sniffed the air and it made him frown.
That’s why he said, “Eureka –
I reek as well so seek a
…will see the light of day ahead and although teenage love mags may not be around so much I think we can all agree that body odour will always be with us – if we let it!