Calendar Girls show writer brands musicals 'best and worst' of theatre

Calendar Girls stage show writer Tim Firth has said musicals are the best and worst of theatre.

Tim, who has created the West End adaptation of the 2003 film with Take That star Gary Barlow and renamed it The Girls, admitted that for every hit musical penned, there were plenty of flops that failed to entertain audiences.

Asked by The Stage about musicals’ success, he said: “Musicals are the best and worst of what theatre can be. The chemistry is fairly simple. As long as you can answer the question of why are you are singing, you stand a chance.”

He added: “I find myself so drawn to the excitement of the risk of musical theatre. I’ve written a lot for film and television, but I’m never as excited by the potential of what I’m writing as when it’s something for the theatre.”

Tim also said that while he didn’t think The Girls was his best work, it would probably be his most popular.

He said: “I continuously hope I write better things, but the truth is I may not write a piece as successful at connecting with an audience as Calendar Girls, even though it is not necessarily as finessed as other things I’m slightly more proud of in terms of craft.”

The stage writer explained more about working with Gary on the musical and talked about what his advice to the theatre novice had been.

He said: “When we first started this endeavour, I said to him, ‘Don’t try to be a musical theatre writer, don’t try to go around and watch everything, because there’s a danger of trying to write in the style of what you think musical theatre is as a result’.”

Tim went on: “We ended up with primary colours on the palette. We started to write and I sent him lyrics, and he would send songs to me.

“I’d sit at the piano, change it, mix bits of song A with song B and send them back to him, so we ended up with a gallery of different things on the shelf.

“We ended up with about 70 or 80 songs, and the ones that started to be in play were very much like an artist’s easel.”

He added: “The great thing is that I would send lyrics to Gary, and they’d often not be complete and he would have to write something to sing. Some of what he gave back to me gave me ideas.

“So in a very odd way, the lyrics and music are now by the pair of us, and the boundaries are not quite as defined as they would normally be.”

:: The Girls officially opens at London’s Phoenix Theatre on February 21 and runs until April 22.

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