Music

Guy Fawkes the Musical: Promo video and CD Review ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

Musical Theatre Review’s Jeremy Chapman had this to say about the recently released show soundtrack CD Guy Fawkes the Musical by Ben Durkin, Terry Newman & Dave T Rolleston. Orchestrated, recorded and mixed here at The Playroom, Arundel by Mike Saunders. Mastered at Abbey Road.

Review:- When theatres eventually get the go-ahead to entertain us, there will obviously be a queue of musicals old and new looking for a stage that’s not already booked.

So Guy Fawkes, a first musical by composer Ben Durkin with book and lyrics by Terry Newman (additional lyrics by David T Rolleston), will have to wait its turn but if it plays as well as it sings, it will be well worth seeing.

Many of the 25 numbers on the double CD are first-rate and the wistful promo ballad ‘Where is the Man For Me?’ by Francesca Leyland is a real “keeper”. Shetland Islander Leyland plays chaste Viviana Radcliffe, who has to choose between Fawkes and Gunpowder Plot mastermind Robert Catesby. Hers is not a big voice but it’s a pure one.

Where Is The Man For Me? – Francesca Leyland – Guy Fawkes the Musical

Not to be confused with Treason, another new musical about the shenanigans of 1605 which is being filmed live at London’s Cadogan Hall and streamed next month, the only common factor, subject matter apart, is that Waylon Jacobs, who sings the role of the Pursuivant here, appears in both cast lists.

Guy Fawkes features the wonderful bass-baritone of Adam Pearce, whose moving ‘The Greatest Star of All’ as fading movie star Norma Desmond’s devoted minder Max Von Mayerling was such a high spot in the recent Curve Leicester concert stream of Sunset Boulevard. I mention that show because it was the Lloyd Webber hit Durkin saw when taken to London as a young teen in 1993 that sparked his love of musical theatre.

Pearce, due back as Hotep in Prince of Egypt when the Stephen Schwartz musical resumes post-Covid at the Dominion, plays Fawkes while opposite him is Leyland, whose duet with Pearce on ‘Be As A Father’ is another winner. The Pearce solo ‘But Do I Love Her?’ is also a stand-out and the one reprised number ‘A Faith of My Own’, with Pearce and Leyland joined by Tim Ede as Father Oldcorne, makes for a fine finale.

Durkin got the idea for the show when shopping for food for a Bonfire Night party. He has been working with a dramaturg to tighten up the script as it is too long in its present incarnation and will then do a live performance or staged concert. It has been a fair while gestating as it was back in 2015 that Durkin released the 21-track concept album Guido – The Gunpowder Plot which formed the basis of the full-stage musical. What better day to launch it than 5 November!

The show, which is scored for a band of 12 (orchestrations by Mike Saunders who also plays bass guitar and sings in the ensemble) is based on the 1840 novel Guy Fawkes Or The Gunpowder Treason by William Harrison Ainsworth. It turns Fawkes into a doomed hero and is full of magic, romance and the supernatural.

Also in the cast on the 95-minute recording are Sandy Grigelis as Catesby, Danny Edwards, Caroline Lowe, Becky Morgan, Jackie Watts, Craig Dacey, Nick Forrest, Antonia Forrest and Lucy Forrest. Do give it a listen. The one flaw is the back cover which has the singers in red on black, a colour combo that’s virtually indecipherable.

Jeremy Chapman

CD (£10.99) available direct from www.guyfawkesmusical.co.uk or download from iTunes (£14.99) etc.