Musical fans have the chance this week to catch the work of a new generation of British composers and lyricists, plus hear from some old favourites, in the intimate setting of the Soho theatre as the venue pays homage to the history of its location in A Song Cycle For Soho.
Official London Theatre asked the stars of the show, Michael Cantwell, James Gillan, Claire Moore and Niamh Perry, to tell us which composer we should be keeping an ear out for and why they think it’s important to showcase work from the likes of established duo Stiles & Drewe to newcomer Barnaby Race in one evening of musical genius.
Describe the show in six words
Cantwell: Slick, witty, fun, educational, bright, swirling (in its concept as a cycle).
Gillan: Soho, filth, stagey, dramatic, comedic, new.
Moore: Challenging (for us), funny, contemporary, moving, naughty, brilliant.
Perry: Innovative, witty, hilarious, rewarding, humbling, fumbling.
Why do you think it’s important to be a part of the show?
Cantwell: Because new work is very important to the business and I love doing it.
Gillan: Lots of reasons – to support the writers and it’s great exercise for keeping you on your toes as a performer. It’s easy to get rusty otherwise.
Moore: It’s a pledge of allegiance to new writers. Doing the show is the best way of showing support.
Perry: It keeps the creative juices flowing as a performer and it’s great to see what the future holds in this crazy business.
Which musical theatre writer included in the show do you think we should look out for and why?
Cantwell: Richard Hughes and Scott Dean.
Gillan: Stuart Matthew Price, both as a performer and a writer.
Moore: All of them. I don’t have favourites, we’ve embraced them all equally, but I am very partial to my solos. Come and see the show and make up your own mind.
Perry: Barnaby Race because he’s young, up-and-coming and humble.
What’s your favourite musical ever and why?
Cantwell: Sweeney Todd. It was the first thing I saw in the West End with Denis Quilley and Sheila Hancock and I didn’t know what had hit me.
Gillan: Taboo because it was done on a shoestring but the great writing shone through; a great show!
Moore: It’s not been written yet. I’d love someone to write a part for me.
Perry: Jesus Christ Superstar because it’s incredible and has the best overture I’ve ever heard.
What song from a musical do you most identify with?
Cantwell: Our Time from Merrily We Roll Along.
Gillan: Corner Of The Sky from Pippin because it’s about always looking for the reason and the rhyme behind everything.
Moore: It varies depending on what mood I’m in. At the moment – Losing My Mind!
Perry: Right now, I’d say Totally F*cked from Spring Awakening.
Do you enjoy seeing plays as well as musicals? If so, what’s the last play you saw?
Cantwell: Yes I do like plays, but I can’t remember the last one I saw; it’s been too long.
Gillan: Yes. One Man, Two Guvnors.
Moore: Yes, I do. The last play I saw was Our New Girl at the Bush theatre; it was brilliant!
Perry: Yes, I love it. I last saw The Crucible at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast.
What’s next for you?
Cantwell: Good question! Can I pass on that one? I’m open to offers!
Gillan: Very little – give us a job!
Moore: Back to London Road at the National Theatre in the summer – hurrah!
Perry: Back in the studio writing and recording my own stuff and continuing to work on The Little Prince by Nick Lloyd Webber and James D. Reid.