Last year was a great one for Robert Wilkinson with two more hit shows to his name and true to his word he’s readying another for this year.
Following on from the much talked about ‘Human Interest Stories’, which had audiences talking in 2012, Robert and his theatre company Tideline Runners brought two more plays to The Maltings stage last year.
First up was dark comedy ‘Love or Money’ and then his 2013 pièce de résistance ‘Words in The Wires’, which played to packed houses in the Henry Travers Studio and was without doubt the best show I saw last year.
But as someone who is always coming up with new ideas, Robert was never going to go out while he was on top and instead has been focussing his creative energy on his latest project.
And unlike its predecessors, ‘Sam and Isla Forever’, is a musical, featuring a soundtrack of 20 original songs.
The show, a joint venture between Tideline Runners and The Maltings, marks the first time the theatre has staged a home-grown musical since the legendary ‘Bourbon Street’ in 1994.
‘Sam and Isla Forever’ is set in Berwick between 1914 and 1974, and, based on stories told by local army veterans, tells the tale of a boy and a girl torn apart by war, whose story would go on to inspire three lonely souls to aim so impossibly high in the name of justice.
“Without wanting to give too much away it is about how something that happened in the First World War has an impact 60 years later,” Robert told ‘WOW’. There is a happy ending but you have to work for it.
“Switching between the two eras meant I could play around with the music quite a bit so there’s some early 20th century sounds but then some disco and glam rock in there as well when the action moves to the 70s.
“It was Matthew (Rooke, The Maltings Creative Director) who suggested I do the show as a musical when I first went to him with the idea. I went along with it but then arrived home thinking ‘what have I just agreed to?’”
Fortunately, given his involvement in various musicals in the past as well as his music alias Secret Gang Handshakes, has all of the credentials to deliver the goods and has been ably assited by fellow local musicians Anna Emmins and Tamsin Davidson.
And Robert was happy to report that things were looking good so far.
“I’ve got my principal cast sorted, with Frazer Smiles (Words in the Wires, Phantom of the Opera as Sam) and Rachel Cross (Human Interest Stories) as Isla and we had our first read through last week.
“I’ve got a fantastic choreographer in Chloe Smith, (star of 2012 solo show ‘I’ve Dreamed About This Since I Was A Boy’), who is perfect for the show as I’m looking for something a bit edgier.
“The music is almost there I just need people to play it.”
And that is potentially where you come in.
Robert is looking for a band of musicians to bring his compositions to life.
He’s on the look out for a guitarist, bass guitarist, pianist, violinist and accordionist as well as some singers to form ‘Sam and Isla Forever’s’ chorus.
If you’d like to be part of the show email Robert at firstname.lastname@example.org.