I’ll come clean, I’m not generally a huge fan of musicals, but for the first time in my adult life I’m really looking forward to seeing one. This Saturday, I’m off to see The Decent Rogues, which is co-written by Dan Lashbrook, an old friend married to an even older friend (neither of them actually old). Dan works as a GP in Bath and has a young family. Baffled by how he (along with his friend Rob Pratt) had managed to write, put on and publicise a real live musical on the side, I sent him a few questions:
The Decent Rogues in a nutshell?
A brand new musical about the contest between friendship, love and revenge.
Tell me about process: whose idea, how long did it take?
Rob and I had played in bands together, colluded on joint music ventures and one day decided to write a musical as we thought musicals should be written, mainly driven by wine.
It took 3.5 years of pre-production, 6 months casting and rehearsal for the premiere, and a further 6 months to complete the second run and get the show to London.
Tips for writing one’s own musical?
- Start with the book – is the story worth telling? A musical needs more than catchy tunes
- The music has to amplify what’s going on on stage. If the scene is too dramatic for speech, sing it!
- It is fairly helpful to be able to play piano, understand music theory and have a basic idea about the difference in writing style between speech and prose
- Get the best production director you can find
- Always be self-critical and listen to other people’s assessments
- Be obsessive about detail
- Never assume anything has reached its end-point
Proudest (musical) moment ?
The standing ovation during the premiere
When everyone sat down afterwards and wondered if that was the end of the journey.
Will you ever give up the day job?
It would have to be a cast-iron offer of financial stability to drag me out of medicine. The performing arts is certainly no cash point except for the lucky few, so a ‘regular’ job is a must.