This week sees the opening of Guildhall School of Music and Drama’s musical Chaplin. Following GSMD’s recent European premiere of Ned Rorem’s opera Our Town, it’s an interesting choice for a conservatoire show because, although it has been produced in the UK before, this is Chaplin’s first outing in London.
Chaplin, which won the Carbonell Award, is based on the early life of “The Funniest Man in the World.” It depicts Charlie Chaplin’s journey from English music halls to Hollywood.
Emmy award-winning writer Ernest Kinoy sets the play on a theatrical stage of Chaplin’s imagination in the language of the particular theatrical style of each era in his life. So we travel from his conception and birth to his apparent triumph in his twenties. This production will be the first full production of the 1982 show. It uses the original script and score with new orchestrations by Steve Edis.
Chaplin’s composer, Roger Anderson, was paired with lyricist and DC Comics author Lee Goldsmith in 1980 to write the musical Shine! This collaboration with Goldsmith continued with several other works including Beside the Seaside, Eldorado, Quality Street, Goodbye My Fancy and now Chaplin. Anderson has worked with, and studied under, Ernest Kinoy, Michael Smuin, Joe Layton, Vivian Matalon and Hal Prince.
Martin Connor directs the show, which has a cast of twenty students. His many productions include the West End revival of Wonderful Town, starring Maureen Lipman, the London premiere of Alan Ayckbourn’s Incidental Music, the West End revival of Stepping Out, and also You Can’t Take It With You and Rough Crossing at the King’s Head Theatre. Connor has had a long association with the Guildhall School as an acting tutor, and has directed numerous musicals there including My Favourite Year, Little Me, Grand Hotel and Rags, all with Bill Deamer as choreographer. He was director for the Vivian Ellis Musical Workshop from 1985 until 2000. Connor also works extensively as an actor, appearing most recently in an international tour of the RSC’s production of The Shakespeare Revue. Martin Connor and Bill Deamer were the production team for the UK premiere of Chaplin in 2007.
There are performances of Chaplin in GSMD’s Silk Street Theatre at 7.30pm on June 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and July 4. There are additional 2pm performances on June 29 and July 4.