Cameron Macintosh is reputed to be worth £635 million which is just a wee bit short of what Andrew Lloyd Webber is worth. When Cameron was asked to look at ‘La Belle Otero’ he yelled “No money! There’s no money!’ and fled to his office, or so I am told.
Of the musicals (book and lyrics) I have written only one has been produced and that is my version of ‘Peter Pan’. That came about because of a commission; otherwise it too would probably never have been done. In fact I most probably wouldn’t have thought of writing it in the first place. It is now published thanks to DCG and sits in Amazon among two hundred other versions of ‘Peter Pan’.
The very first musical I ever attempted is an embarrassment. It was ‘Salad Days’ that inspired my having a go. ‘Salad Days’ was a huge hit in London at the time. Later I came to be involved with it twice and thought it a truly twee little bit of English nonsense. However it did lead to my ‘Opus One’. Yes embarrassing as it may seem, that was the title of my first, simply because I didn’t really have anything to write a musical about. ‘Opus One’ was followed by an adaptation of Ronald Firbank’s ‘Prancing Nigger’, a title that certainly couldn’t be used today although it was an affectionate use of the word at the time and suited the book admirably. But there you go, Agatha Christie had to change her ‘Ten Little Niggers’ into ‘Ten Little Indians’. ‘Prancing Nigger’ never found a composer and I couldn’t get the rights for it anyway. This was followed by ‘Cupid and Psyche’, music by Kenny Clayton, a show I would still dearly love to see on. Forty years ago and more the young Cameron came to the house in Hackney to listen to it and went away unimpressed. ‘Black Maria’ came next, again music by Kenny, and this late in the day there is a slight chance of it being done. It lay in the script drawer for forty years but when I took it out recently I realized it was much better than I originally thought, hence it being touted again. After ‘Black Maria’, a version of ‘Pickwick Papers’, nipped in the bud by Mister Harry Secombe getting there first but which again I feel is much better than I originally thought. Then came a two hander called ‘Fugue In Two Flats’, a difficult piece if only because it takes some doing writing numbers for just two people. The music this time was by Paul Knight and I really love it. This did have an audition in London that I didn’t attend as I was working in America at the time. Obviously though it didn’t go any further. There followed a television spectacular called “Alice In Winterland”. This was at the request of one, Charles Pinner, and Charles being Charles it never saw the light of day and all I received was a rubber cheque. My last attempt at a musical while still in England was the rewrite of one on Garibaldi, the original attempt having been by a London lawyer whose pet it had been for twenty odd years. I use the word attempt advisedly and the twenty odd years should have rung warning bells but didn’t. Unfortunately he couldn’t let it go so I only completed the first act before the collaboration fell through. Finally here in Crete I wrote ‘La Belle Otero’. As with the London lawyer and his pet, this had been on the cards for me for twenty odd years or more before it finally materialized which is probably why those bells didn’t ring. The composer this time was Chris Littlewood and Chris Beeching produced a demo disc in Athens of half a dozen numbers. But that was five years ago and that was the musical Cameron said there was no money for. It does indeed take an act of God with all his angels, archangels, cherubim and seraphim to get a new musical on the road. Unless I get lucky and if it’s not too late I will never see any of these in production. A big disappointment but as the Greeks say, ti na kanoume; what can we do?