They say that life is a cabaret, and the Battersea Barge is hosting one next month that will have plenty of life in it. Words Shared With Friends returns for a third concert of songs on 10th May 2015, building on the success of not only the previous two events, but the critically acclaimed album of the same name which was released on 14th April 2014. For fans of new musical theatre writing, it’s right up their street as it showcases an updated collection of original songs that feature lyrics by Robert Gould, up-and-coming musical theatre lyricist and librettist. Gould has worked with an assortment of composers over the years and has such musicals as Roundabout (with songwriter Joe Sterling), A Pebble For Aaron (with composer Rob Eyles) and Shadow On The Sun (with composer Omri Lahav), in addition to writing lyrics to several songs featured on the albums of Joe Sterling (Somewhere In My Mind – The Songs of Joe Sterling) and Tim Prottey-Jones (More With Every Line, Surrounded By the Sounds). His name is perhaps most synonymous with the original Welsh musical, My Land’s Shore, which is in fact the project that first brought me into contact with the talented wordsmith.
My Land’s Shore is a new musical inspired by the story of the first martyr of the Welsh working class, Dic Penderyn and set against the backdrop of the Merthyr Uprising of 1831. It has a book by Gould and music by actor/composer Christopher J. Orton, with the two collaborating on the lyrics for the show’s songs. Gould has also worked with Orton on such other musicals as Based On A True Story and Grace Notes. I interviewed the writing duo back in the summer of 2011 after being invited to sit-in on a recording session for the My Land’s Shore studio cast album at I.N.C. Space in Covent Garden, London. It was an eye-opening introduction to a musical which was been described as ‘the Welsh Les Mis’, and after spending the day with Gould and Orton and listening to the stellar cast and ensemble, which included Jonathan Williams, Kelly-Anne Gower, Gareth Richards, I became a firm supporter of the show.
A friendship with Gould arose out of that initial meeting, and my appreciation for his writing talents has only grown alongside it. He is becoming evermore in demand as a lyricist, and his name continues to gain more and more weight and recognition in the musical theatre industry. His rising prominence resulted in the release of his début album last year, which featured 16 songs he’s written lyrics for in collaboration with an array of international composers from the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, Israel and the USA, such as Filip von Uexkull, Jonathan Eio, Dean Heller, Joe Sterling and Christopher J. Orton, among others. The songs were recorded by several stars from on and off the West End stage that he’d worked with in the past, including Kieran Brown, Laura Pitt-Pulford, Jos Slovick, Rebecca Trehearn, Will Barratt and Ceili O’Connor. An album launch concert featuring live performances of songs from the album (plus bonus material) was held at the Leicester Square Theatre Lounge on 13th April 2014, the night before it was released.
More Words Shared With Friends was the follow-up event to this, returning to the Leicester Square Theatre Lounge on 10th August 2014 to showcase other songs written with some of his composer friends. West End stars such as Nadim Naaman, Carolyn Maitland, Rob Houchen and Lauren Ingram appeared in the concert line-up to perform songs from the album alongside some of his new work..
Now, Gould is back for a third outing with series, presenting New Words Shared With Friends at the Battersea Barge next month. It will mostly feature brand new material, which includes world première performances of songs written with Alex James Ellison, Rob Eyles, Jimmy Granstrom, Dean Heller, Omri Lahav, Ben Messenger, Christopher J. Orton, Joe Sterling and Filip von Uexkull. There will be songs from new musicals A Pebble For Aaron (with Rob Eyles) and Shadow On The Sun (Omri Lahav), as well as a few My Land’s Shore favourites and some stand-alone songs. He has also assembled a cast of high quality West End vocalists that sees album singers and previous concert guests Carolyn Maitland, Shaun McCourt and Kieran Brown once again perform. Maitland’s credits include Miss Saigon and From Here To Eternity, while McCourt’s include War Horse and Joseph; Brown (Wicked, Love Never Dies) is currently appearing in the West End production of The Phantom of the Opera as Cover Phantom and has played the iconic role on stage to great acclaim. They are joined by the rest of the announced cast: Luke Bayer, Michael Burgen (The Pirates of Penzance, The Dreaming, Spamalot), Michael Colbourne (Les Miserables, A Little Night Music), Alex James Ellison (Apartment 40C, Whistle Down The Wind, Best of Friends), Natalie Amanda Gray (Elegies For Angels, Punks and Raging Queens, Rent), Emma Kingston (Les Miserables, In The Heights), Kane Oliver Parry (Sweeney Todd, Urinetown, The Light Princess), Keith Ramsay (Dr Scroggy’s War, Julius Caesar), Michael Rees (Girlfriends), Oli Reynolds (Pacific Overtures), Michael Riseley (Les Miserables) and singer/songwriter Serenity Wanders. The event also features musical direction and accompaniment by Rob Eyles, Joe Davison and Alex James Ellis. It takes place at the Battersea Barge on Sunday 10th May 2015.
Supporting new writing is something I, and many other people, strongly believe in, and it should always be actively encouraged and given the place of importance that it merits. Gould is a great creative talent with much to contribute to the musical theatre industry, and Words Shared With Friends provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy live performances of work from his songbook.
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Thursday 9th April 2015