Time for a musical partay
Twenty-three- year-old Freya Smith is an up-and-coming musical composer whose first musical, co-written with Jack Williams, has sold out at the Edinburgh Festival and gone on to be picked for Leicester Square’s ‘The New Musical Project’, showcasing new talent. I caught up with Freya to see how the musical was going and what she has in store!
Congratulations on being picked for Leicester Square Theatre’s ‘The New Musical Project’! How did you find inspiration to write your musical?
Part A (pronounced “Partay!”) is a song cycle detailing the events of a house party through observational comedy. The idea first came to me while I was attending a house party during the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Because I had an early train the next day, I’d decided to abstain from drinking. As a result, I was able to observe the strange and funny antics of my fellow party-goers from a sober distance. It struck me that some of the behaviour would lend itself to song. I talked to Jack, my co-writer, about the idea and he was keen to progress with it. So we did!
What are your future plans for Part A?
We’ve been lucky as the reception to the show has been very positive so far. It was first performed at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and was then picked up by the Actors’ Church in Covent Garden and then at The Roundhouse. We’d absolutely love to do a cast recording, and a university tour would be brilliant. The next step would be to get the piece licensed so am dram societies and students can put it on independently.
What advice would you give other aspiring writers?
See as much theatre as you possibly can, listen to music – new and old – at every opportunity, and keep writing. Think about what inspires you; personally I love people-watching, reading, going to galleries and museums. Immerse yourself in the arts! Don’t be afraid of showing your work to others – outside perspective is really important. Apply to every competition, scheme and bursary you can find. Most of all, keep going, and keep having fun!
What’s your favourite musical?
A very hard question, and it changes often – my favourite musicals at this point in time are probably Merrily We Roll Along by Sondheim and The Scottsboro Boys by Kander and Ebb.
How did your interest in music develop?
I’ve always loved music. I saw my first musical at the age of 3 – according to my mum I was transfixed! No one in my family is a classically trained musician – they’re all self-taught and learn by ear. I started keyboard lessons at primary school and then first thought seriously about composition while writing songs for my music GCSE. I was one of the geeky kids who spent my lunch break in the music rooms! I went on to study English at Oxford, but spent most of my time involved with extra curricular music activities, including a wonderful a cappella group (the Oxford Belles) which taught me a lot about vocal harmony and has helped a lot with my writing. I want to write music that people who claim “not to like musical theatre” would enjoy – hopefully we’ve achieved that with Part A!
Follow Freya on Twitter, or to find out more about Part A the musical, you can visit the website here, or follow them on Twitter. Leicester Square’s New Musical Project will be announcing its winner shortly – read up on the shortlist here.