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Ghosts of Dave's childhood ; GHOST THE MUSICAL Theatre RoyalGhost The Musical comes to the Royal Concert Hall next month direct from the West End. Al...

July 26, 2013


Ghosts of Dave's childhood ; GHOST THE MUSICAL Theatre RoyalGhost The Musical comes to the Royal Concert Hall next month direct from the West End. Al Senter spoke to Grammy winner Dave Stewart about the score he wrote with Glen Ballard

OVER the past couple of years, the relationship between the musical theatre and the worlds of pop and rock seems to have become closer than ever. Most obviously, we have seen a string of jukebox musicals, such as Jersey Boys or We Will Rock You, which have taken the back catalogue of a particular artist or band and strung a narrative on which to hang the songs.

The jukebox musical obviously has its advantages.

There's generally no need to write any fresh material and, since the score is usually already established in the public mind, it does a pretty effective job of selling the show to the potential audience. However, to come up with a whole set of new songs is no easy task. Yet it was an assignment which Dave Stewart, co-creator with Glen Ballard of the music and lyrics of Ghost The Musical, thoroughly enjoyed.

It's been a seven-year process, says Stewart. It began when I was approached by Colin Ingram, one of the show's producers, and they said that they were planning on creating a musical version of Ghost. Would I be interested in being part of it? I watched the movie again and I looked at the moment when Sam is shot dead but comes back as a ghost and I knew I had to get my head around this idea.

So I read about Bruce Joel Rubin, the writer of the film, and about what he'd experienced and when I met him, we really hit it off. This was all before Matthew Warchus came on board to direct. I said that I'd like to bring in my friend, Glen Ballard and then we had a reading around the table with actors and we played some of the songs and Matthew became involved. And we all got on really well from the start.

For Stewart, working in the musical theatre represented a considerable departure, although he now wonders if the seeds hadn't already been sown in his early childhood.

It was something inside of me, something I suddenly remembered. I was about four and we were living in a house in Sunderland on a cobbled street. My dad had a stereo record player in the corner of our bedroom and he built a set of home-made speakers for it. I remember him putting on the music from The King And I. He had about ten albums which he'd play over and over again, recordings of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals such as Flower Drum Song as well as The King And I. And as soon as he got up, my dad would sing Oh, What A Beautiful Morning from Oklahoma!

I had all these songs drummed into me but I didn't realise how much of an influence this music had over me until I started working on Ghost.

Of course, when I got older, I blocked it out. I was more interested in Bob Dylan songs and the electric guitar and anything your parents liked was automatically uncool. But I think that the exposure to those traditional musicals must have given me a sense of melody and it all came back with Ghost.

A pop song and a show tune, though very different animals, also have a number of elements in common. Ideally, both need to make an instant impression on the listener.

A show song should have some kind of narrative to it, explains Stewart. And it should be put in the right place in the telling of the story. A pop tune doesn't need to do this.

But, in fact, the kind of songs which Annie {Lennox} and I wrote did have strong emotions and an element of drama in them. Annie and I would use quite a lot of theatre in the delivery of the songs and Annie would often put over the song in character.

As a producer, I'd incorporate a lot of drama in the arrangements and so, in a way, working in the theatre felt quite natural to me. Ghost The Musical runs at the Royal Concert Hall from August 13 to 24.

Tickets are Pounds 15 to Pounds 39.50 from the box office, call 0115 989 5555 or go to READ THE REVIEW For reviews of the latest theatre shows in the city go to:

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