I first heard about Leeway Productions 10 Minute Musical project when an email dropped into my inbox. It was a call out for musicians, poets and writers to apply to be part of this exciting project.
Create a new 10 Minute Musical, collaborating with a new musician and performers. Now the idea of creating a new musical is exciting enough but this would be the first ‘cross border’ 10 Minute Musical, hosted by Queens Theatre Hornchurch, with a group of creatives joining us from Wales. This was a great opportunity to not only push myself as a writer but also to be part of something new and unique. I was very happy to be selected to work as the writer representing the local team when Leeway Productions decamped from Wales to Essex.
I was soon partnered with Andrew Linham a very gifted jazz musician and from total strangers we became a creative partnership in short order.
To guide us thorough the process of the 10 Minute Musical Andrew and I were in email and text contact with the team at Leeway, but it was Peter Cox who became our mentor. While we worked in Essex Peter was in contact via Skype and email. Andrew and I would bounce ideas and work separately before combining our work face to face. Aided by Peter we would work and rework ideas, dropping songs and shaping our story into a tight, concise nonstop mini musical. Our piece, The Bank of Mum & Dad, dealt with a very contemporary subject (adult children still reliant on their parent’s money), using a more traditional musical format.
Production week came around in what felt like no time and we met our singers Melanie Stevens and Aled Wyn-Thomas. They took to the work like ducks to water – working with Andrew for only a few hours they gave our production life, injecting humour and emotion into the script as needed. It was a pleasure to watch them work and transform a script and sheet music into a new piece of theatre.
Performance day came around and the team from Wales set out predawn to meet us in Hornchurch. From midday until late afternoon all the performers, writers and musicians mixed, chatted and rehearsed. One highlight of this afternoon was seeing Andrew work with Beatbox Tangent and Rufus Mufasa on some new semi improvised work. New versions of old songs as well as entirely new tracks formed right there in the room, all with people who had only meet an hour before.
The performance itself was just as exciting, the pieces showcased that a musical can be almost anything. The programme moved from beatbox sampling, to a mythic operatic piece. From soundscapes to guitar rock. The range of stories told was impressive, from intimate personal tales to epic explorations of life itself, all refined into 10-minute micro shows. Aled and Melanie performed The Bank of Mum & Dad, accompanied by Andrew on the piano, to great success. As a writer it was a joy to see an idea fully formed and filling out the stage thanks to our singer’s hard work. Jokes landed, tender songs tugged at heart strings and a good time was had by all.
Would I recommend you take the plunge with 10-minute musicals? Most definitely – either as a creative or an audience member 10MM is an experience like no other.