Michael Yale’s This Little Life of Mine, a contemporary musical about life in London will have its world premiere at the capital’s Park Theatre next month.
Directed by Yale, who also wrote the book with music by Charlie Round-Turner, the show will run from 4-29 October.
The small cast consists of Greg Barnett, who takes on five different roles, and Caroline Deverill, who plays four different parts, alongside lead actors Kate Batter and James Robinson.
Musical Theatre Review’s Polly Sisley caught up with the creative team at the press launch of the show which is the inaugural production of new theatre company Stage Traffic Productions (set up by Yale and the producer Eilene Davidson).
This Little Life of Mine focuses on modern and contemporary issues. What attracted you to these themes?
Michael Yale: I had been working a lot on classic theatre, writing stuff about the First World War and adapting Shakespeare. I knew that I wanted to make the next piece very contemporary and ‘in the now’. To be honest, the musical wrote itself. It’s about the lives of people around me, their stories are compelling.
It must be exciting to bring a new show to the London audience, let alone a world premiere. What kind of topics should we expect to see in this production?
Michael: The show is about desire, love, obsession, disappointment, loss and happiness. It really reflects what you see around you, in real life. It includes everything from funny conversations to heart-breaking moments. The show follows a year in the life of a couple living in South London, but it’s really about everyone’s life. It captures all of the emotions we go through within two hours of stage traffic.
Michael and Charlie, you have worked together in the past with your other musical, Cheri. How do you approach a different project with somebody you have worked with before?
Michael: The other production we’re working on (Cheri) actually started up before This Little Life of Mine. We became engrained within the world of Cheri, so we wanted to do something fresh with this show. I think that’s why we chose to do something contemporary. Of course, what is contemporary music? It could be popular music or classical music – so this gave us free range to explore.
Charlie Round-Turner: “We had been through a real process with Cheri, we were constantly revisiting and rewriting it. This Little Life of Mine was very quick and painless… Not that Cheri was painful! But the world was our oyster. It was nice to think ‘we can do anything here’. This show doesn’t play by the rules of musical theatre; there are no jazz hands.
The musical is produced by Stage Traffic productions, your newly formed theatre company. How does Stage Traffic differ from other theatre companies?
Eilene Davidson: We’ve worked as actors, writers, directors and producers, so we’ve been built with a good background and understanding of all components within theatre. We founded Stage Traffic to re-create the kind of theatre we love. Like Charlie said, there’s a theme here of being able to pick any influence you want, we’re really not constricted by anything. I’m good at getting teams of creative people together, like our cast. We’re very lucky to have them.
The cast for this musical is quite small – how are you finding working with only four actors?
Michael: I love it! Nobody had met each other before, but we’ve been having so much fun in rehearsals and have a strong bond. I think that’s important to have in a creative show, particularly a new piece of writing. Two actors play the leading characters and the other two are brilliant at playing multiple roles. It’s just been fantastic.
The musical is being performed at the Park Theatre. How did your collaboration with the Park first come about?
Michael: The Park had seen some previous work of ours and liked it very much. Our show really fits with the venue; it’s relevant and fun.
Eilene: We’re also sending the show across the pond to Boston. There’s a real interest for the musical over there, especially because the Americans love life in London. There’s also a great student population in Boston and they love the idea for the show.
What advice can you give somebody who wants to get work off the ground in the world of musical theatre?
Charlie: It is a difficult world and people are struggling. However, the more you meet people the more you will be able to figure out your place.
Michael: Learn as much as you can about the business as possible. If you’re a writer, learn also about directing and producing. Keep current and see as much theatre as you can.
How are you all feeling about the show’s opening night in October?
Eilene: Extremely excited. It’s a real privilege to be a part of this.
Charlie: I’m really looking forward to it.
Michael: I cannot wait!