Sunshine Daydream

October 8, 2017 | By | Reply More

World premiere for new musical

A new musical by Edinburgh-based pairing of storyteller Andy Cannon and composer Richard Ferguson had its world premiere in The Studio this weekend before setting off on a Scottish tour.

Sunshine Ghost, directed by Ken Alexander, tells the story of a remote Highlands castle shipped off to America by a love-struck American billionaire as a wedding present for his astrologer fiancé – only to discover that its supernatural inhabitants have not left the building…

The Sunshine Ghost Publicity. Pic Eoin Carey

Between them, Cannon and Ferguson have years of experience working in theatre, but this is their first collaboration and incredibly, although he has been in and  helped create many plays with music, this will be Andy Cannon’s first foray into musical theatre.

Cannon started out at Theatre Workshop in the 1980s and was a founding member of legendary Edinburgh children’s theatre company Wee Stories. He was most recently seen at the Fringe with Is This A Dagger: the Story of MacBeth, and last Christmas he  performed in and co-created Black Beauty at the Traverse.

Fortunately Richard Ferguson is a trained opera repetiteur and conductor who, besides his operatic career, has earned his musical theatre chops as a visiting lecturer at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and who already has a couple of new musicals on his CV.

“It is a bit like if you knew tennis and went to see a game of badminton,” Cannon told Æ, of the move into the new genre. “You would totally understand what is going on. It is very familiar but there is a difference – it is nether better nor worse, but it is different.”

Storyteller

The pair have been planning on creating a new musical together for several years, Cannon says, adding: “The thing about this project, right from the get go, was that I liked the idea of what would happen if a storyteller was to work within a musical as opposed to just having a narrator.

“That was kind of our starting point on it. So my character, Lachlan, is pretty much the storyteller, although it is a very light touch. He is a resident of where the castle was who tells the tale of the Sunshine Ghost.

“And, despite what was said initially, apparently I can sing! At least enough so I have got songs… Which is great – but talk about being out of your comfort zone!”

The Sunshine Ghost Publicity shot. Pic: Eoin Carey

Although the whole project has been years in the dreaming planning, writing and composing, it has had just three weeks rehearsal time, in The Studio on Potterow, thanks to co-producers the King’s and Festival Theatres. And on this first outing, with limited dates in Edinburgh before a twelve-stop Scottish tour of rural and mid-scale theatres, there are just five in the cast, with Ferguson providing support from the keyboards.

“In my normal world, if you tell people that you have got a cast of five and a musician, with three weeks and a tech, they are like ‘Wow, that’s a big project!’,” says Cannon. “But tell it to people in the musical theatre world and they are like ‘Wow, that’s brave!’.”

Whether it is a brave act or big project it is unlikely to be folly, as Ferguson and Cannon have surrounded themselves with some pretty strong support.

Direction is by Ken Alexander whose work on new musicals includes Wee Free – The Musical, and Whisky Galore and Clinton The Musical. Barrie Hunter, a regular conspirator with Alexander who has worked on his musical productions of the likes of Whistle Down the Wind and Into the Woods, is playing the American billionaire Glen Duval.

Astrobeth

In the role of Duval’s intended as his second wife, the famous astrologer Astrobeth, is taken by Helen Logan who has 11 seasons at Pitlochry to her account. While Jacqueline, his daughter by his first marriage, is played by Neshla Caplan, who was recently seen in Adam during the fringe at the Traverse.

Taking up the final role of the long-time inhabitant of Castle Mackinnon is musician, performer and composer John Kielty, one half of the Kielty brothers who wrote the opening number for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games – for the  ceremony which, incidentally, was directed by Andy Cannon.

“For myself, as someone who is quite nervous about singing, it has been amazing to be in their company,” says Cannon. “But they have been so supportive. As I said to Ken last week – I am out of my comfort zone in a very comfortable place.”

And what of the production itself? Cannon will reveal that the whole production is set in the 1950s and that Ferguson has had the chance to stretch himself in a variety of styles, including a pastiche of an American radio show theme song.

“What we tried to do was to create the music sounding like it was the music of that late fifties, early sixties period,” Cannon says. “In some ways it has got quite a traditional feel to it. But that has been our choice to create a musical set in the late fifties that would sound like something in the late fifties.”

Website: www.thesunshineghost.com.

The Sunshine Ghost on tour:
Thurs 5 – Sat 7 Oct Edinburgh
The Studio
0131 529 6000 Book online
10/10/17 Isle of Skye
SEALL at Sabhal Mor Ostaig
01471 844 207 Book online
Thurs 12 Oct Aberlour
Scout Hall
Aberlour Pharmacy Book online
13/10/17 Kemnay
Kemnay Village Hall
01467 538947 Book online
14/10/17 New Deer
New Deer Public Hall
01771 644366 Book online
18/10/17 Stirling
Macrobert Arts Centre
01786 466666 Book online
Thurs 19 Oct Giffnock
Eastwood Park Theatre
0141 577 4956 Book online
20/10/17 Glasgow
Platform
0141 276 9696 (option 1) Book online
21/10/17 Livingston
Howden Park Centre
01506 777666 Book online
22/10/17 St Andrews
The Byre
01334 475000 Book online
Wed 25 Dunkeld
Birnam Arts Centre
01350 727 674 Book online
Fri 27 Greenock
Beacon Arts Centre
01475 723 723 Book online
Sat 28 Johnstone
Johnstone Town Hall
0300 300 1210 Book online

ENDS

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