The Golden Voice, a musical exploring the trials and tribulations of two young musicians, was slated to open last summer at the Arts Theatre, with Darren Day in the lead role. The premiere was delayed due to financial problems before eventually being cancelled, with producer Rob Hewitt later being arrested on suspicion of fraud.
Nick Fogarty, who originally conceived of the musical eight years ago, has secured funding to stage a slimmed-down version, Best of Friends, with the original cast of 20 reduced to seven, and Fogarty himself replacing Day. Musical Theatre Review’s Henry Bird spoke to him about his experiences of writing, composing and starring in his first ever musical.
Can you tell us a little about the project’s background?
As in any field, when you are a bit of an outsider it takes a long time to build up contacts and get your foot in the door. Although I’d had success as a pop writer, it carried no weight in the musical theatre world. I may as well have been a successful plumber.
After funding many workshops myself including a huge one at Dance Attic which involved 22 West End professionals, I still hadn’t managed to get any producers to watch. I was told that I needed to put it on at a regional theatre. So after a year of trying, I finally managed to secure the Key Theatre in Peterborough. I knew it was going to be expensive but I was assured that producers would attend. That wasn’t the case, although I did attract one of my current investors, Andreas Bartels.
What made you so determined to bring the show back?
I only know how to move forward; you only lose when you quit. Best of Friends is not perfect as a seven-hander because a lot of the supporting characters, who play pivotal parts in the main characters’ stories and expositions, are no longer there, and the book is weakened by this. The reviews have been very mixed. However, the critics aren’t the ones who buy the tickets and the public so far seem to love it!
How have your own experiences of the music industry informed the story?
There are many similarities between my experiences and those of the character Mike Chariot. I was basically under contract with two major record labels throughout my 20s. I then joined a large production company as a writer and producer, and went on to work with some of the biggest pop acts in Germany. At the height of my success I realised I wasn’t satisfied with the type of material or artist I was working with. That’s when I walked away from the music industry and got involved in musical theatre working as a vocal coach and MD.
Did you envisage the characters being part of a particular music scene (Britpop springs to mind, as the play is set 20 years ago) and if so, has this influenced the style of the music?
The 1990s didn’t really influence me because I really didn’t listen to a lot of pop music. I would listen to classic stuff I had always liked: Bowie, Prince, Motown and classic soul. Those are a few of the influences that have probably contributed to the score of Best of Friends. I wanted to create something in a timeless pop style.
The musical features a talent show – was this based on any real-life TV shows?
Not really! When I first came up with the title The Golden Voice, I just thought it was a ridiculously obvious name for a talent show. Low and behold two years later The Voice was launched, much to my amusement. Then after the horrendous events surrounding the cancellation of the Arts Theatre run last year, I had to change the name. I chose The Face & Voice, then the next month I became aware of the model show The Face. Perfect, I thought!
It sounds like you’ve been very busy, with your second musical Seven Senses due to be staged later this year. Do you still find the time to play in bands yourself?
No, I really don’t like performing anymore. After casting we didn’t have a suitable Jim so I suggested playing against Adian O’Neill’s Mike, and Andreas agreed. I find it very draining playing Jim, who is aggressive and destructive every time he is on stage. Actors say they like playing the villain, I can’t imagine why, but then again I’m not a jobbing actor.
* Best of Friends continues at the Landor Theatre, London until 10 May.
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Best of Friends – Landor Theatre – Review