Supporting New Talent: With Lesley Ross and SimG Productions

I am a a huge advocate of new British musical theatre and have supported it through my various writings, highlighting notable writers and projects and stressing the importance of encouraging and nurturing new talent/work. One of the biggest supporters of new musical theatre is SimG Productions, who have showcased the talents of many theatre artists and writers on stage (concerts, cabarets, plays) and on CD through the independent SimG Records label, which has released original cast and studio cast recordings of many new British musicals, along with the solo albums of West End artists (such as Simon Bailey, Caroline Sheen and Stuart Matthew Price) and songwriters (such as Joe Sterling and Dougal Irvine). Founded by actor-director Simon Greiff in 2009, SimG Productions has become known as the foremost champion of new theatre writing and is soon to release its 24th recording through the SimG Records label.

The company is currently supporting the CD project of lyricist Lesley Ross, who has been writing for nearly 20 years, and in that time, has collaborated with such renowned composers as Mark Aspinall, Matthew Brind and John Victor. Ross is working with SimG Productions to release his début album, Love, Lies & Lyrics, this May in coincidence with his upcoming concert of the same name. They are seeking pledges through crowdfunding to get the project off the ground, with recording due to take place at a West End-based London studio in March 2015 followed by the album’s release in the first week of May 2015. The release would coincide with the launch of Ross’ concert on 7th May 2015, which is being staged at the annual Brighton Fringe Festival (1st-31st May 2015) before coming to London and then other venues further afield.

The Love, Lies & Lyrics concert will feature Ross’ lyrics with music by Mark Aspinall, Matthew Brind, John Victor, James Williams, Gounod and Tchaikovsky, performed by a cast of four performers from the world of film and the West End. Other surprise guests have also been teased. On the crowdfunding site, the event is described as a guide ‘through the life of a man who has been writing lyrics for nearly 20 years and perhaps help them gain an insight into the life of a lyricist and learn something about the world of the word-smiths who bridge the gap between composer and singer.’ The accompanying album will closely follow the track listing of the night, with ‘one or two other gems thrown in for good measure.’ Mds Joe Hood, Neil Bailey and Jasper Beauprez have almost completed the backing tracks, and a talented cast of singers from such West End shows as Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, Urinetown, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Book of Mormon, Margueritte, Sister Act, Jerry Springer the Opera, We Will Rock You, Shrek, Wicked, Blood Brothers, Mamma Mia, Sweeney Todd, Carousel and Cats have been lined up to record his songs.

Lesley Ross is a Welsh actor and writer who grew up in Hong Kong. He trained at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and was awarded the Performer’s Prize and the Principal’s Award for Drama during his time there, graduating in 1994. Under the name of Gregory Ashton, he has performed in such theatre productions as The Tempest (The Grace Theatre – Theatre 503), The Belle’s Stratagem (Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds), Romeo and Juliet (Tour – Shakespeare4Kidz), Madam Butterfly and Tosca (Royal Albert Hall), in addition to his appearances around the UK as his alter-ego, Gladys Allover. His concentration is very much on the writing side of his creative talents now though. In his career, he has written for the National Theatre, the Welsh National Opera, BBC Radio Drama, Theatre Royal Plymouth, HTV Wales, and a host of other UK and international theatre companies. He penned such plays as The 40 Minute Tempest, The Unfortunate Tale of An Egg and The Ghana Midsummer Night’s Dream, and his musical theatre credits as a book writer and lyricist include Life Actually, The Jolly Folly of Polly The Scottish Trolley Dolly, Pick A Ticket!, and the children’s musicals Jorinda and Jorindel, Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White and the Seventh Sheep, Jade – The Lost Adventure of a Sleeping Beauty, Jack and the Beans Talk, Rameo and Eweliet, King Ram and The Amazing Adventures of Little Red. He has most recently been working on the book and lyrics for new musicals Shreds (Made In Wales), Can You Keep A Secret? (developed by Perfect Pitch) and War And Fleece (Ripley Theatre), and next Christmas, the John Victor and Lesley Ross musical, Barry The Penguin – A Black and White Christmas, is to be adapted and published by Perfect Pitch as a picture story book that includes lyrics from the show within the story illustrations by Mate Rowe, with an accompanying CD.

The project has a fundraising target of £7,500, and in return for pledges, is offering such incentives as digital song downloads, copies of the album, a credit in the CD artwork, an invite to a studio recording session, tickets to the Brighton concert and a mystery home performance.

SimG Productions has a stellar reputation for getting behind genuine and noteworthy talent, and if the name of Lesley Ross is unfamiliar, then their backing is all the seal of approval that is needed. The world of theatre must continue to move forwards if it is to remain in good health, and writers of new theatre such as Lesley Ross must be supported and given every chance to succeed for that to happen. It is individuals like these who may well be the future of British musical theatre after all.

You can follow Lesley Ross on Twitter: @lesleyrosslyric

By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25

Thursday 15th January 2015

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