“Go Play” – The Process of Writing an Original Musical

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“You are perfectly cast in your life. I can’t imagine anyone but you in the role. Go play.” ― Lin-Manuel Miranda (writer of the musicals ‘Hamilton’ and ‘In the Heights’).

When the government imposed lockdown in March, I thought it would be a good time to try and write a musical. I didn’t have much else to do since coronavirus cancelled my A-level exams, and it would act as a slight distraction from the craziness that was going on in the world.

I started getting the idea for my musical last December when I went to watch Six the musical in Salford, which was incredible might I add. It inspired me to write a musical set in history, even though I am coming to Lancaster to do a degree in psychology. I chose Queen Victoria to be the protagonist as her reign was one of the longest in British (and other sovereign states) history. Therefore, many events could be used as the basis of the musical. However, I decided early on when developing my ideas that it would probably be best to use an event early on in her reign as most films about Queen Victoria seem to be set later on. I was wary to avoid covering the same events as this could damage the originality of the basis of the musical. The other historical people that are currently included are Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Isabella I of Castille (and later Aragon), Empress Anna of Russia alongside Victoria’s husband Prince Albert.

As I was in Year 13 and preparing for my exams, I thought it was going to be summer before I managed to properly start writing my musical. That all changed when Boris closed all schools and cancelled the A level exams; this meant the script was started before I had properly finished planning, leading to more of the second act being written than the first act. This is due to my original plan having only one act; this act became the second act to try and create a stronger connection between the audience and the character/person of Victoria. 

This meant I could also avoid the confusion associated with opening the musical with a sad ballad. For that reason, I opted to add the first act and remove the original name I had planned for the musical, leaving it for the time being unnamed.

Whilst writing, I discovered a large issue; songwriting is not one of my strong points which is a problem when attempting to write a musical! Luckily, near the start of lockdown, people began to create unofficial group chats for Lancaster freshers 2020 so that people could get to know each other better before we started university together; after all, we had nothing better to do during the lockdown! A few weeks after I had joined some of these groups, me and Laura Vaughn began discussing our shared love of musicals, so we agreed that we would co-write this musical, with me focusing on the spoken word line and Laura on the song lyrics based on the plan I’d already made.

Regarding the plan, necessary changes and other issues faced led to slight setbacks and delays in the progress of the script. This means it is still unfinished but I hope to complete it as soon as I can and maybe organise a small production once I’ve managed to complete the script!

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