It has long been my belief that the skill of good musical theatre does not hide in the perfect dance step, catchy tune, key change or the haze machine, nor in fact in the vision of any one person. In my opinion, musical theatre is at its core the art of collaboration. The bringing together of ideas that come into existence so fluidly that no one remembers where they came from but all would agree that the heart of their own contribution to the show totally hinges on the very concept.
That is why there is no set rule as to how to make a perfect show. Each show is created from a different artistic temperature and a creative team's unique passions. Live performance is in its very nature a collaboration. We bare our souls and hopefully you as the audience respond. You give, we give. You laugh and we start to flirt. We jump, leap and spin, cry, burn and fly and if we are doing it right you feel like you have been through it with us. We sweat and you let us know what you think by clapping or even standing. I like sitting in the audience before curtain up, feeling the electricity in the air and trying to guess if it's going to be a 'collaborative' audience or not.
DRUNK sees song meet dance in a very intimate way and spending time with Grant Olding on the creation of this show has been some of my happiest collaborative moments to date. Here are some of Grant's thoughts on the process so far...
Grant Olding, composer: "Most of my working life is spent alone in my basement studio, banging out the same four bars over and over again until I feel happy with them. Then I move onto the next four bars. Then I decide I was never really happy with the first four. So when the chance to collaborate with other artists comes along I really embrace it. With Drunk I've had the pleasure of collaborating for the second time with the brilliant Drew McOnie, and right from when he first described the kernel of his idea for the show I knew it was going to be a fun one to work on. The characters he was talking about seemed so vivid, so bright and full of life. And so funny. Plus he couldn't keep still when talking to me about it - that's one of the great things about working with a creative like Drew; they dance for you non-stop.
We spent lots of time talking. And talking and talking. Dreaming up ideas for the show. I rarely talked about music and he rarely talked about choreography. We talked about story. About journey. About images and our shared loves in theatre. And of course we talked about alcohol. My job on Drunk was simply to imagine a soundtrack that could support these brilliant characters and then write lyrics that would help tell the story and get you from Happy Hour to Last Orders. I say simply because the show seemed so fully formed and alive already.
And now as I watch Tom Kelly (our MD), Drew and the dancers add to and enrich the music and songs I've written, the next part of the collaboration is underway. Then the band will join. Then the audience. The collaboration never stops. Isn't that a wonderful thing?"
The wonders of modern technology mean that the collaboration can take any form you wish. I'm currently sitting listening to the wonderful new tracks being emailed over by Grant, You're reading our blog online. Every Facebook 'Comment', 'share' and 'Like' , we get, every 'tweet', 'Favourite' and 'RT' is you collaborating with us, telling us what you connect with and we hope you're keen to get involved and come collaborate with us at the theatre too. It's all exciting energy being passed forwards and back and we are hooked on it.
DRUNK premieres at London's Bridewell Theatre from 5 February - 1 March 2014. For tickets and info visit www.themconiecompany.com. For more backstage insight follow the company on Twitter @McOnieCompany