The incredibly popular new musical Miss Nightingale almost didn’t make it back to the stage for a third tour because its Sheffield creators had moved on to new projects.
The show’s Sheffield-based creator and composer Matthew Bugg and his collaborator and partner Toby Oliver have spent a decade battling to get the show into theatres – and as soon as they decided to move on, lots of theatres clamoured to show it again.
Toby said: “I’d just left my job a Sheffield City council to work with Matthew full time. We were being very grown-up and decided to do a five-year plan. We felt very smug with ourselves!
“The next day I had an email from this venue about touring Miss Nightingale and we thought ‘isn’t it funny? What a shame’. Then the next two weeks every day we got an email, some from people saying we want to back it and take it on tour.”
They realised that they had to go for a third run of the show.
Miss Nightingale the Musical has a new director Karen Simpson, who has worked as education and creative development director at the Crucible, and a new cast.
Clara Darcy takes over the role of Maggie Brown, a feisty northerner try to make a name as a nightclub singer in wartime London.
Maggie works alongside songwriter George, a Jewish refugee living a double life to hide his homosexuality. The show depicts the couple’s bid to find success and personal happiness in tough times.
Like her fellow performers, Clara has to play music live on stage as well as perform and sing. Matthew insists that all the music is live, rather than using click tracks or partly pre-recorded singers in the show.
In one scene Clara even manages to do the splits on top of a piano and then play the trumpet!
The splits were Clara’s idea, which came out of the team playing around with a specially-reinforced piano that Matthew’s dad Howard, who is an architect, built for them so Clara could sit on it.
Matthew said: “As I have done with every version, it has been completely reworked. I’ve taken five songs out and put four back and one has reemerged.
“It’s abwout my obsessive search for perfection and making sure everyone else hates me!”
They are also busy at Cast in Doncaster, working on the venue’s pantomime for the second year running, doing Sleeping Beauty.
Miss Nightingale the Musical is at Cast in Doncaster tomorrow and Saturday and at the Library Theatre, Sheffield next Tuesday to Saturday. Tickets: http://miss nightingale.co.uk