SEE UPDATED BLOG FOR 14th MARCH 2018 BELOW
SEE UPDATED BLOG FOR END OF FEB 2018 BELOW
End Of September 2017
Well here we are again, with the excitement of Martini still buzzing around my head in the aftermath of a very satisfying show, all poised to get on with writing the next one. So am i tired and need of a rest from it all? Am i stuck on what to write about next? Am i suffering from writers block? NO NOT A BIT OF IT!
I am just bursting to get my head full of plot devices, characters, comedy and music downloaded into music score and libretto. I had 3.5 songs written for this next show a while back along with the first scene of the script. Now, just 3 weeks after Martini, I am writing Act 1 Scene 5 of WW7 already and am introducing the last of the characters to the audience. God i have missed this! Putting on a show is enormous effort but also enormous fun. Writing a show is just me and the computer and a much easier role as far as i am concerned. I get to be creative without worrying too much on how i might realise it on stage.
So what is Wagon Wheel 7 about? I hear you ask, well thats simple BISCUITS, yes biscuits this time. It's basically a childrens bedtime story that gets a bit out of hand. It starts with a young boy and girl (played by adults) getting into bed and asking their Dad to tell them a story that covers all the things they like. I know all about this as i used to do this for my kids when they were young. I made up dozens and dozens of stories up like this off the cuff and usually my kids enjoyed them far more than the published ones i read to them on other nights.
The girl (Ginger) wants a story about princesses and palaces, the boy (Rocky) wants space with rockets, robots, ray guns and monsters
So Dad comes up with a story (all biscuit related) set on a space station where various species live in relative harmony. Empress Oreo is the leader of the community along with her daughter Princess Bourbon, they are protected by the Space Rocket Hob Nob, Commanded by Captain Jam E Dodger and his crew, who i will tell you about next month. There are other characters on the Space station, such as a Space Vixen, A trader, A mad Professor and a malfunctioning Robot called J4KAKE. I will keep back details of these characters for next month too.
The bad guys are a species nick named The Penguins, because they look a bit like them and they want to take over the space station for self inprovement reasons. I have just written their introduction song along with another one called Dark Side. Just from the music style they cant be anything less than hilarious. Cant wait to tell you more about them next month.
Its so inspiring to write knowing we have some support for cast members right from the start, thank you to the cast members of Martini for doing such a fine job with my silly murder mystery. I wont dissapoint you with the next one either.
Better get back to writing my next creation......i really will go into more detail next month.
End Of October 2017
What an interesting month it has been. I have been having horrendous problems with my video mixing software, its so slow that it took me longer to mix 25 minutes of Martini than it did for me to write 25 minutes of new stuff for Wagon Wheel 7, crazy. I am trying to resolve this problem so we can have a video night with the cast soon, which would be great.
I am approaching about 40 minutes of Act 1 completed. As you know i tend to write in the order of the show, its just the way i am, and i am pleased with how the plot is developing. However i promised last month to tell you about the characters so here goes. I talked about Dad and the 2 kids last month so will not cover them again.
First we have the crew of the spaceship Hob Nob. This vessel protects the station from would be trouble makers. So the crew are effectively the security for the station too. They are lead by Captain Jam E. Dodger, a Kirk parody (or a William Shatner one to be exact), he loves himself and thinks he has a way with women, but he probably doesnt and i play the humour in this. He has a song where sings about how great he is. Then his side kick is Commander Choc Alatechipcookie who is very reserved and dignified, no prizes for guessing who he is supposed to be like. They have Leiutenant Gary Baldi as their skivvy who does everything else, he is ships engineer, cook and bottle washer, he also has some health issues with his feet.
Then we have the main characters of Wagon Wheel Seven itself. They are lead by Empress Oreo, a very Royal leader of the community who has airs and graces which are constantly undermined. She is assisted by her daughter, Princess Bourbon who is somewhat oppressed by her role as the heir apparent. She is a cute character who has layers that get uncovered during the show. She sings a song called "I'm Princess FYI" which outlines her role and her desires. The station has a slightly mad scientist called Professor Rich Tea, amongst other things, he is working on his latest creation who is a robot cyborg android called J4KAKE. He keeps having boot up problems which distort his personality (the robot not the professor). They will sing a song together called "Man and Machine In perfect harmony", which they most definitely are not. We meet the resident Space Vixen Di Gestive, she is a species of irresistable women who are plagued by the attentions of men. Her actual services are not revealed until a song in Act 2 but needless to say there is a lot of innuendo going on about what she does to these men behind closed doors in Act 1. It's a fun character and very sultry in a stupid way. The we meet Kit Kat who is a Trader, she is there to buy and sell, and makes money by trading with any one she can. She sings "Goods For Sale" which outlines her strategy. All of these characters interact for plot exposition but mostly for comedy.
Then there are my current favourites, the bad guys, The Penguins. They just have me in stiches and should be enormous fun to play. To start with, Yes! they ARE actual penguins, they walk like penguins, they squawk like penguins, but they are sentient, human size and very competitive. I think in my addled brain, they are based on a combination of people i have known, and our chickens (who are funny, endearing and competitive, but incredibly stupid). So the audience meet them as a collective, or multipack to use the correct term, in the song "Penguins", i will shortly put this online in a demo because it really does capture them brilliantly. They all live by their own code called "The Great Grand Pecking Order" and are based on a nearby rival and somewhat delapidated Space Station. They dont like to share things and want to conquer Wagon Wheel Seven and make it their own. There are 99 of them and they dont have names, they just have numbers, which are allocated to them according to where they stand in the "Great Grand Pecking Order". No 1 is a power mad matriarchal character that the others are terrified of, especially No 2 who spends the most time with her. She doesn't suffer fools very easily and she is surrounded by them. No 2 is a bit of a jibbering wreck as a result. Penguin No 4073 is introduced and found to be so stupid that he is called this, even though the highest number he can actually be called is No 99. Then the others No's 13, 42 and 66 all appear too. It is my intention that, like in the Operetta Pirates of Penzance, most of the cast will get to have a go at playing a penguin in the first Act, then this will reduce in the 2nd Act when the confrontation takes place.
The penguins slowly infiltrate Wagon Wheel Seven but keep getting caught. This causes No 1 to have to think of a way they can move stealthily about and she reveals her idea in the song "Dark Side"
I am also designing the set as we go, and expect we will start painting as soon as the christmas holidays.
As you may gather, the whole thing is moving along nicely, with 11 songs complete and a script full of sci fi references which will hopefully entertain everyone, not just the geeks like me. At this rate of knots i should have the show complete by around April 18, and hope to start rehearsals in May 18, with a view to putting the show on in half term week in October 2018.
End Of November 2017
I have been busy editing the DVD for Martini most of this month so haven't written more than a few pages of Wagon Wheel Seven. However, some very interesting developments of plot are emerging in my head so I will cut this blog short and give a full report on progress at the end of December. Merry Xmas to you all.
End Of December 2017
I have just done my first rewrite this month which involved going back through the scenes and adding and subtracting bits and pieces. It also looks like a couple of extra characters will emerge which have been made necessary by these ammendments. Its hard to explain without giving away major spoilers but basically I have added more drama to the plot, which came as a result of a change of heart on what will develop in Act 2. What I can tell you is that i am almost at the end of Act 1 as a result, which comes in at just under an hour. This is extrememly good news as i have to tweak some more bits and bobs which will lengthen it slightly at just over an hour which is a perfect duration for Act 1. I also have a thing about wanting the audience going for an interval drink trying to work out where it is all going. Part of me says this means they are engaged and will want to stay to find out. Its just an insecurity us writers have about our subject matter. One thing I am completely confident about is how different this show is to my two previous ones. This pleases me immensly, as I do like to surprise people and stretch my creativity and widen my range.
I have shown parts of what is already written to several members of the Martini cast and have been very pleased with the reactions I have got, it was very satisfying to hear them being so positive. It's really nice knowing we will have a much easier ride casting this next show because of their support.
Musically I have been wrestling with trying to get Finale Act 1 underway with 3 failed attempts so far, but its just a matter of experimenting until i get something that clicks with me. Needless to say we will leave the audience with a cliff hanger at the end of it. I am not unduly worried, Finale Act 1's are always the hardest thing for me to write.
Comedy wise i have just added some more funny stuff for the penguins which also involves the cyborg android J4KAKE, its all visual stuff and should be hilarious. I have also written a song for the Empress which I am very unsure about, so I will probably evolve it into something that works better for me. I had the same problem with Savage Sea AND Vast Fortune, so its no surprise.
I have also been busy putting the set back up in my garage so were are ready for painting the scenes for the next show. I have designed most of them now, just 2 or 3 left to do. So everything is just about ready for my step daughter Claire to get her artwork underway. She will probably be pleased to have some help once she starts later this month so if any of you have any spare time we would love to have you along. Please get in touch with me if you are up for it.
I am also making good progress with my next album "Oceanic". This is a bit of a departure for me as i have written my first Chill Album . It is syntheziser based with tonnes of brilliant and beautiful instruments mixed with gentle guitars, I have to say I am exceptionally pleased with the result. It will be 70 minutes of continuous music featuring exploration of the sea. I have forced myself to slow down my usual delivery so the pace is not rushed. I think its my best work to date, but then I am always excited about something new. On the rare occasions when i havent been fired up with my latest work it has usually not been my best. Thankfully this is the exact opposite to that. I have just 10 minutes left to compose and record, shouldn't take too long and it will definitely be available on this site by my 60th birthday (8th March).
Thats it for this month. I am expecting to have a very productive January.
Happy New Year To You All.
End Of January 2018
Well I have to say that this has been a very productive month of Wagon Wheel Seven. Firstly I completed the script for Act 1 and have now gone storming into Act 2, and here's the thing. My problem isn't what will I include for this Act, but rather what I will have to leave out, because the ideas for this part of the show are certainly a lot bigger than the time available will allow. I guess it's better to be this way round, but its still always a tricky one. No doubt as in previous shows the characters will just decide this for me, as I type away.
I do love how the script is coming together, I still keep making Jane laugh in her office just across the landing from my studio in our house. She hears me typing away and then suddenly laughing out loud at what I have written. She often calls out "You in there entertaining yourself again?" She so knows how I work, well if she doesnt who on earth does, lol. There I go again. There is a nice run of physical gags running upto the end of the first Act which should lift the audience nicely just before the interval. I am very pleased with that.
Musically I have to finish the harmonies etc to finale act 1, which has evolved into a lullabye, "shoo wop wop" style, if you get my meaning, but other than that Act 1 is done. I talked about the Empress's song last month which is now in the bin and has been completely replaced with something different. It now relates to an attack on her which should be quite funny..
I have already written 5 of the songs for Act 2, which should work in to the script nicely. The opening of the act is a chorus number "Tales told at bedtime". It is a somewhat errie song with some interesting harmonies and more than a little on the "Alice Cooper" side. (I have always been a big fan of him and have tried to write in his style in the past, his lyrics are always brilliant.) It's a nice variation to the other music in the show and should be challenging to teach to the chorus. Be very very afraid (No not really).
I have also been busy trying to get our on-line publicity up together this month, as you can see I have seriously upped the game in the last week or so.
In this vein, I have been making the definitive article this month.Yes thats right! I built a model of the Wagon Wheel Seven station out of bits of sticky back plastic and Val's old knickers. Some of you are probably too young to remember that "Little & Large" joke. Basically, I spent a few weekends cutting, drilling, glueing and painting bits of left over drainage pipes. Oh I also stuck a depleted Sweetie tin on the top for good measure. Its about 3 ft in diameter and is illuminated. I am quite pleased with it and have put it in all of the new updated publicity.
It started out looking like this............
Then evolved a little into this..................
And now looks like this.......................
Looks grand doesnt it?
By the way, I still haven't had anyone volunteer for helping with the painting of the scenery revolve panels on the set. Please put yourself forward if you can. As Tescos say "Every Little Helps." I really need to get this underway as I wont have my step daughter Claire about after the next few months as she is going to Canada. Thanks
Aside from all this Jane and I went to see "The Comedy About A Bank Robbery" at the Criterion Theatre, up in Piccadilly Circus last weekend. I can't praise it enough. What a brilliant, daft and funny show. So inventive so stupid, so me!!!!!!! If you get a chance to go and see it, you really should, hilarious. Thanks to the Martini cast who had a whip round and gave us some money towards going, during our last show, It was a nice gesture and we had a great time.
Finally, I have completed my new album "Oceanic" complete with all CD artwork etc. So that's all ready for release on my 60th Birthday on 8th March. It is a musical representation of a deep sea dive. Different tracks reflect different aspects of what you might see on such a voayage. You experience life just below the surface with shoals and currents, then dive deeper to see the luminescent creatures of the deep, until you arrive at the Mariana trench, the deepest part of the Ocean. Along the way you interact with whales, sharks and dolphins. I am so pleased with it. I thinks its my most sophisticated work to date. I have been listening it it in mp3 form for months, monitoring it for review and tweaks etc. I ran off my first full uncompressed digital copy on CD a week or two back and blew my own socks off with the quality of the sound. I do hope others will enjoy it as much as I have. If you would like a copy, please ask me. I would be delighted to run one off for you and will be doing a number of free copies for the first ones who come along.
I think thats more than enough for this month, I'm going back to writing now.
Thanks for reading this catch up.
End Of February 2018
If I told you that I am almost halfway through Act 2, would you beleive me? Well start believing. I am no more than a page away from this next landmark. The show is coming on in leaps and bounds. The comedy occurs as the characters interupt each other in my head and before you know it another scene is done. I have to say that i find myself loving the Penguins more and more everytime they appear. These little devils are just stupid and hilarious. I will be sorry to finish the show, just because the corners of my mind will wonder what they are getting upto next.
The main characters too have a bit of an adventure in the second Act, I always visualised the final showdown to happen on Wagon Wheel Seven (and it still might i genuinely dont know how it will pan out) but something tells me it might happen on the Penguin Multi Pack Station, we will have to wait and see, and weirdly that includes me.
Musically I haven't done much this month, i was writing too much music and unsure where to fit it in. So I have given the script time to catch up and i already know i have to write a song to fill a specific need for upto seven voices. looking forward to writing that one.
I have also backtracked through the script for Act 1 and made a few changes and tweaked some of the set ups, to save some time and give the show more pace. I am still on Version 1b but will probably be on version 4 or 5 by the time its edited into the shape i want. I am still loving the writing though, and enjoying myself, can't wait to share it with the cast, which i hope to do end of March/ early April.
On the practical front, i have also been busy. The new flats have arrived for the set and i have cut and treated some of them, so the painting can get underway. I will say again, we need help with painting, please let me know if you have any spare time at all, it will be such a help. I have also built a small wheeled apparatus that will be instrumental in the plot. I don't want to say too much about it, except its purpose is to move about and attack members of the cast. Ha ha You will have to wait and see!!!!
It's all still coming along nicely, and I still have the problem of too many ideas rather than not enough. Ho hum!
See you next month, when I will be a whole decade older thanks to the space time continuum.
14th March 2018
I am very happy to announce that i finished writing "Wagon Wheel Seven" this evening. I am very pleased with the ending, It has a fast pace and like all sci-fi TV series, the story gets resolved in the last few minutes of the show. I checked my notes and I started writing the show on 10th April last year. However i only wrote about 3 scenes and then stopped until Martini was over, so it was the middle of september when I started writing in earnest. That's 6 months to write, and the fastest show so far.
I don't write all the time, i do have a life you know, but writing these shows is my passion so it's never a chore. I don't think i have ever sat down to write a scene and abandoned it as a dead loss. I guess I am lucky. Jane too has been brilliant, she is my number one critic, along with the rest of the family, but she has also made some good suggestions along the way. I just rewrote the last line because of something she said, so I have to give her some of the credit. The jokes and plot are all mine though this time, but to be fair, we have both had bits of the proposed story dumped along the way, usually because of time limitations.
Afterall we want a show with comedy, entertainment, music and pace. So some things have to give. I am very pleased with the shape of it and musically it has some of my best stuff to date. So I really hope it will go down well. It looks like we will have a theatre booked in a matter of days too, but i will report on that when I know for sure.
Check out the songs that are already online. I have started scoring up the music and forming the "Ha Ha" tracks so I can upload both for the cast to download directly, that will save me a lot of time and effort in printing and making CDs. These should be available before the end of the month for anyone keen to get learning. I propose to have the Radio Play Read Through on Friday 6th April (7.30pm The Lars) and rehearsal can start on Friday the following week. So suddenly it's here and we are ready to go.
I have also put my new album "Oceanic" on line for free download to celebrate my 60th birthday. I hope you will download it and enjoy it. I have also uploaded two videos with Jane singing from her album "Just Jane" (One from "The Pier" and one ftom "Martini") Both are the album sound tracks with live performance matched to the track. This was harder than it sounds as "The Pier" was with a live band and I havent used the sound from that, so lots of synching and slow motion dubbing, which thankfully you cant see.
ENJOY and looking forward to getting together again.