BWW Interviews: Nick Fogarty, Creator Of BEST OF FRIENDS
There aren't enough superlatives to praise the work of the Landor Theatre in promoting new musical theatre. At the moment, though, they're not just promoting a new show - they've practically rescued one from ignominy.
Best of Friends opens this week, after its previous incarnation fell through in spectacular style due to issues with an investor.
Show creator Nick Fogarty personally lost tens of thousands of pounds after investing in the production, which was set to be mounted at the Arts Theatre with a sizeable cast of 20.
"Fortunately I was able to rewrite, remount, sent it to the Landor, and our first meeting with [artistic director] Rob McWhir, he said he thought it was brilliant and it had to go on," he says.
He stresses that it was never the work that was problematic, and clearly has a great deal of faith in it.
"It's different from a lot of fringe that's out there. It's got potentially a big demographic without being too cheesy and obvious. It's dramatic, modern and fresh. A lot of new composers struggle to find a current voice and find themselves harking back to a traditional musical theatre style, which I think is a bit hampering. I've come from the pop world and was always writing from my own voice. I'm using that same formula now. I'm not squeezing my good songs in - I'm writing for the book or for exposition. It's written for the theatre in a digestible way. Everything has purpose and definition."
Of course, moving from a cast of 20 to a simple quintet meant changes were needed.
"It was difficult," he admits, "but it seemed pointless to wait for a big advance or a big investment, and really I just wish I'd done it this way a bit sooner. I had to get into the story and dismiss the characters who weren't really relevant. It's about two best friends, so I made it more about them and the immediate relationships around them. If I'm honest, I think it's a better show for it. I believe everything happens for a reason. I'm optimistic. It's stronger, there's less fluff, my investors are committed."
And the story might yet go full circle, as a transfer to the Arts is mooted.
"The future is very bright for the show. I've got the right people in place now - an absolutely unbelievable cast, beyond my wildest dreams."
Apart from wanting success for his own creation, Nick also voices a wish to inspire young people with a "modern passion for music" to create current, accessible forms of art.
"The great new shows aren't going to come from the old composers, but from young people with energy and new ideas," he points out. "We are awesome at music, but we've lost the plot with musicals, and maybe it's to do with producers and the shows they want to put on. I love traditional musical theatre, but I worry about where the new musicals are going to come from.
"It's a real untapped resource - up-and-coming musicians writing theatre. Get young bums on seats by giving them something they're going to go away and listen to on their iPods."
Best of Friends opens at the Landor Theatre tonight.