Tag Archives | Maurice Walsh

We Have Crossed The Finishing Line

I rather like the title of this post as it is appropriate to the central racecourse scene in Act II of our show.

Before mentioning anything else, I think it might amuse many of the followers of this show to hear a bit about how we designed the ‘Logantown Races’ scene for Castle Gillian.

Firstly, a horse race is a notoriously difficult thing to stage in a theatre.  In fact, and of course, it really can’t be done with any degree of realism – where do you get all the horses!  In theatrical terms today, we now have the work of the brilliant South African company Handspring and its designers, Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones to thank for making the representation of a horse (in their case, ‘Joey’) a brilliant conceptual idea.  But, that said, it is unique solution for the production of ‘Warhorse’ as created by the National Theatre in London based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo.

How else can it be done?  Well the first way of course is not to show the horse race at all – as was the solution designed by the writers of My Fair Lady (lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe) and, in our humble opinion, still the best Musical ever written.  Today we have the luxury of back projections and other types of sophisticated puppetry as choices, so there are alternative options.  I’m not going to give away how we do it, other than to say the audience does get to see and watch our ‘Benbecula’ on-stage in our adaptation of Castle Gillian.

Moving on:

The first complete version of Castle Gillian is now complete.  We should be going into a first workshop in New York in September 2020 but, as mentioned in my last post, the global COVid-19 pandemic has put pay to any likelihood we will be able to do this until after April 2021 and, even then, we remain entirely unsure at to whether restrictions currently in place by Governor Andrew Cuomo  in New York City, will permit us to put actors together in a studio to do the work. It is a waiting game for everyone in the theatre industry.

In the interim we have commenced orchestrations for the show with the hope that we will be able to get into the recording studio in late November, pending the severe restrictions in Melbourne, Australia, being lifted by then.

More soon,


Closing in on Act II Completion

cgcrop3So, we are now just over the mid-point in June and the progress report is very positive.

We are closing in on completing all the songs for Act II and this should be done by mid-July.  I am reminded right now however difficult it is to write the first act of a new musical, the second act throws up just as many, if not more, challenges. It’s not harder necessarily, but issues of character arc (I hate that term really), plot resolution, and the requirements to bring the story to its satisfying conclusion all start to stare unrelentingly back at you in the writing process.

Given the long gestation this project has endured with several false starts, roadblocks and the inevitable things that life just throws up in general, it is immensely satisfying to see the end of the road ahead for this first complete-draft book, lyrics and score.  We are indebted to the Estate of Maurice Walsh for their generous patience.

One of the most salutory experiences of working on this wonderful musical, particularly over the last six months, has been in reflecting on how the world has changed due to COVID-19.  Myself and the rest of the writing team have watched our beloved theatre industry come to a grinding halt worldwide with all the consequential impacts created both at a personal level and for an industry crippled. Friends and colleagues across the theatre world have lost their livelihoods and theatres are shut for an indeterminate period (because actors and musicians can’t work under social distancing protocols necessarily imposed).

The world is a much poorer place for the loss of live theatre and music in our lives. These essential art forms are not guaranteed to survive, so let us hope that respective political authorities will have the foresight and wisdom to ensure they are appropriately supported during this unprecedented time of challenge.

The recent protests too, centred around the Black Lives Matter movement, has also reinforced our collective personal belief that theatre should always be a place where stories are told wherein race and gender are excluded from any decision or choice pertaining to the telling of those stories.

More soon,


We Have A Book!

cgcrop12It’s early September as I write this before heading off to Europe later this week for conducting engagements. Victor and I have been working throughout July and August to create the foundation of our work in efforts to complete the initial development work on Castle Gillian over the next 12 months.

OK. Drumrol! We have a complete first-draft of the book for Castle Gillian – and several new songs in the works with the first of these new songs to be released next month on this website.

We can also now announce the timeline for the first complete workshop of this new musical which will be held in September 2020 in New York where we will present the first version of the whole show to prospective investors and producers.

Over the next 12 months, we’ll be posting semi-regular updates on progress, posting new song videos and generally introducing you to our musical stage adaptation of Maurice Walsh’s captivating novel.

More soon,


Is There Anything Happening?

cgcrop3I originally began to write this update as to progress on our musical stage adaptation of Castle Gillian with a brief statement intimating that little progress has been made on this project for over a year but, without giving any informed reason as to why this is the case.

Then, I thought, this was a cop-out in terms of not providing an adequate explanation since we are aware that there is a growing level of interest in this work.

So, what is the cause of these incessant delays?

The issue is that we have, so far, failed to develop an adequate treatment of how the stage adaptation should be shaped to transfer a rich and complex narrative; as exists in the novel, to what invevitably has to be a leaner, less complex version for the stage.

In the case of musicals, one of the key questions that has to be answered at the outset is, “whose story is it that we are re-telling?”  We have gone back and forwards on this – over  and over again – trying to determine from which character perspective we will tell the story.

Straight forward you would think but, no, I’m afraid it isn’t. Continue Reading →

The Importance of Field Work in Writing Musicals

cgcrop8I have always wondered whether field research in a writing a new musical was ultimately warranted?  I know the great American musical theatre songwriter, Stephen Schwartz, swears by the benefits of doing so – and it certainly seems to have worked for the great man himself.

Therefore, it should come as no little surprise I have decided that, at least for this project, a research trip to areas of Ireland is a necessity. So I am heading off to do just that in the middle of June after I have fulfilled my requisite obligations in the UK for this year.

The imperative for this trip comes from finishing reading two quite disparate approaches to the societal history of Ireland.  The two books in question are ‘In Search of Ireland’ (1930) by H. V. Morton, and the far better known ‘Ireland – A Novel’ (2004) by that truly marvellous storyteller – Frank Delaney. Continue Reading →