The following quotes were given to appear in the programme of Henry VIII The Musical’s London Debut in December 2012.
Ian Wainwright: Producer RSC Open Stages, Royal Shakespeare Company
“Henry VIII The Musical was performed as part of Open Stages, the RSC’s UK-wide project engaging with, developing, and celebrating amateur theatre. We were so impressed with Walden Music Group’s ambition, and the commitment of its cast and creative team, that we invited them to perform as part of a Showcase of amateur work, alongside professional productions from across the world, in Stratford Upon Avon at the World Shakespeare Festival in July. As a producer of not just Shakespeare but a number of highly successful original musicals including Les Misérables, and more recently Matilda, the RSC understands the ensemble of hard work, energy, determination, talent and luck that goes into creating a successful new piece of musical theatre. We therefore salute the cast, crew and creative team of Henry VIII and wish the production every success!”
Janet Wheeler: Choral Conductor and Composer
“Where else should Henry VIII be but in his capital city? The meteoric history of this show – rising from a run in its birthplace, Saffron Walden, to performances at Stratford-upon-Avon – has now arrived at its London début here in the Britten Theatre. This spectacular success attests to the quality both of this new musical and of the performance given by a hugely talented cast of young performers.
“The writer/directors of the show: composer Paul Harris and writer Eddie Copeland, have created a wonderfully moving and entertaining account of Henry’s marital history, with its resultant personal and political upheavals. This subject matter is well-known through many literary and dramatic treatments, in print, on film and on the stage. What is it that makes this new musical version such a convincing piece of music theatre? It is certainly down to the winning combination of tuneful songs, so varied in style and so beautifully sung and acted, the ingeniously structured script and the imaginative production. But any show relies on the performers to convey it to an audience. This outstanding young cast take up their roles with total assurance and proceed to deliver the music and the drama with a power belying their lack of years. Watching it, one can certainly foresee a bright future both for these performers and for the show itself.”
Ralph Woodward: Conductor, editor, pianist and organist based in Cambridge
“I mean no disrespect to my fellow professional musicians when I say that they’ll generally perform any old rubbish. We all have to pay our mortgages, and many very talented artists eke out a living making purses from various sows’ ears. The point of me mentioning this is that it’s an observation that definitely does not apply to young people.
“With a set of performers such as Paul, Eddie and their colleagues have assembled for this wonderful production, there’s no faking it – if these young people did not believe in and love this piece 100%, it would show. The fact that their performances are so committed is, of course, a tribute to them and the work they have put in, to their supportive parents and teachers, and to the professional musicians with whom they have worked – but let us not forget that it is a tribute to the quality of the piece too.
“A composer friend of mine once expressed to me the opinion that it takes a year to write an opera and only ten seconds to mess it up. If a musical number is four bars too long, or if the music needed to get a character from one side of the stage to another isn’t quite right, you can lose your audience, and the fragile magic of the theatrical experience can be shattered. The whole business of a stage work is so complicated, and involves so many elements, including lighting, set, costumes, make-up, that there’s an awful lot that can go wrong – just one jarring element can ruin everything. I have seen this piece several times during its gestation, and it has always hit the mark dramatically and musically; that is so rare and so hard to achieve, that we should all revel in the chance to see it unfold in front of us. So prepare yourself for drama, comedy, pathos and great tunes.”
Neil Marcus: Executive Director, Mercury Musical Developments
“The British Musical is going through something of a renaissance at the moment. London Road, Matilda, Swallows & Amazons and Once are just some of the many new shows emerging in the West End and on Broadway, but this pattern is reflected in the regions and all the way to grass roots fringe level. There is a community growing around new writing and pockets of creativity emerging up and down the country and Henry VIII The Musical is a welcome addition to the canon.”