Photos and podcast: The making of new British musical The House of Mirrors and Hearts

In Features, London theatre, News, Opinion by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

The adage – usually attributed to Sondheim – that “musicals aren’t written, they’re rewritten” was central to the post-show discussion that I hosted last night at London’s Arcola Theatre. It was the final preview performance of The House of Mirrors and Hearts, the new British chamber musical by Eamonn O’Dwyer and Robert Gilbert, which faces critics this evening.

This season at the Arcola Theatre, continuing until 1 August 2015, is technically the show’s world premiere, but it’s had a long birthing period since Eamonn, inspired by the loss of his own parents, first had the idea to write a musical about a family torn apart by grief … nine years ago.

The House of Mirrors and Hearts (HOMAH – no exclamation point – for short), in a much abridged version, had an Edinburgh Fringe tryout in 2010 and subsequently got picked up by new musical nurturer Perfect Pitch, when director Ryan McBryde came on board for a series of workshops and readings over many years.

Since its creators started counting, they estimate there have been some 47 rewrites (maybe an exaggeration, but somehow I don’t think so) – and the rewriting continues as actors mould the work and, now in this first full production, audiences have a chance to respond.

The show’s genesis – as well as the challenges of writing an original musical, the importance of organisations like Perfect Pitch and Aria to the genre, the mirroring themes that run throughout, the appeal of new musicals to actors, the consciously timeless setting of the story, why technology ruins plotting and how you write a song about alcoholism – were just some of the topics chewed over in last night’s discussion.

The discussion involved: Eamonn O’Dwyer (music, lyrics, book), Robert Gilbert (book), Ryan McBryde (direction), actors Jamie Muscato (who plays Nathan), Molly McGuire (Lily), producers Katy Lipson (Aria Entertainment) and Andy Barnes (Perfect Pitch) – and many new musical-loving members of the Arcola audience.

Pictures, live-tweeting and full, unedited podcast below. SPOILER ALERT on podcast: The discussion does reveal some plot surprises. I recommend you see the show first and then listen to the podcast to enhance your understanding of the show and its development.

The House of Mirrors and Hearts continues at the Arcola Theatre until 1 August 2015.
Click to view slideshow.

 

Post-show discussion on Twitter

HOMAH2015
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Terri Paddock
Terri Paddock runs the Terri Paddock Group, which provides content and social media marketing services for theatre clients across channels including MyTheatreMates.com, StageFaves.com, Stage Talk and TerriPaddock.com. Previously,
Terri Paddock founded WhatsOnStage.com and the WhatsOnStage Awards, running the company and its events from 1996 to 2013. Terri is also the author of two novels, Come Clean and Beware the Dwarfs, and has previously written for the Evening Standard, Independent, The Times and other national publications. She is renowned for her 'legendary' post-show Q&As and also produces the annual Critics' Circle Theatre Awards and acts as a digital, content strategy and event consultant for theatre, producers and other clients. She tweets about theatre at @TerriPaddock.
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Terri Paddock on FacebookTerri Paddock on InstagramTerri Paddock on LinkedinTerri Paddock on TwitterTerri Paddock on Youtube
Terri Paddock
Terri Paddock runs the Terri Paddock Group, which provides content and social media marketing services for theatre clients across channels including MyTheatreMates.com, StageFaves.com, Stage Talk and TerriPaddock.com. Previously,
Terri Paddock founded WhatsOnStage.com and the WhatsOnStage Awards, running the company and its events from 1996 to 2013. Terri is also the author of two novels, Come Clean and Beware the Dwarfs, and has previously written for the Evening Standard, Independent, The Times and other national publications. She is renowned for her 'legendary' post-show Q&As and also produces the annual Critics' Circle Theatre Awards and acts as a digital, content strategy and event consultant for theatre, producers and other clients. She tweets about theatre at @TerriPaddock.

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