(John O’Farrell’s article appeared in the Guardian, 4/22.)
I got involved with this project expressing extreme doubt that it would ever happen. The Americans just love our British can-do attitude. I first met my chief collaborator, screenwriter Karey Kirkpatrick, way back in the 1990s when we worked together on the film Chicken Run. We kept in touch and a decade later when he pitched me this idea for a musical, I thought it was great and agreed it would be an interesting experience to co-write the script (“the book”, as they say in Theatreland). But I wouldn’t be buying the suit for opening night just yet.
The idea centres on a struggling playwright living in the shadow of Shakespeare in the 1590s. Desperate for a break, he goes to see Nostradamus to ask what will be the biggest thing in the future of theatre. In a big setpiece number, our soothsayer predicts: “Musicals!”
“What? Out of nowhere, an actor just suddenly starts singing?” asks our hero.
“Well, that is the … (sings) stupidest thing that I have ever heard!”