Music by Denis King - Book and lyrics by Alan Ayckbourn
Licensing agent: Samuel French Ltd.
Music publisher: Eaton Music
“For Christmas 2000, Alan Ayckbourn teamed up with the accomplished composer Denis King to work on their first musical together. This would be Alan’s first true musical play for children and is possibly one of his finest and most well-rounded family plays.
Whenever is a time-travelling play which draws its inspiration from the likes of H G Wells, Frank L Baum, Isaac Asimov and arguably the future-changing and alternative history stories of Ray Bradbury and Philip K Dick. It is a narrative packed with ideas that challenges its intended audience. The narrative has a definite feel of The Wizard of Oz to it as Emily (Dorothy) goes on an adventure in order to return home and right a wrong, with her companions of Oscar Fieldman (Scarecrow), the android Ziggi (Tin-Man) and the furry beast Hoombean (Lion). The appearance of the less-than-epic Timekeeper at the end of time is also reminiscent of the unveiling of The Wizard in Oz.
The first production also made design nods to films and television with references to Doctor Who, Star Wars, The Time Machine and many others. As with all Alan’s plays with music, the songs are an integral part of the narrative and not only push the story forward but deal with some of the play’s most pertinent and complex themes: Hail-Greet deals with the familiar theme of our inability to communicate and how technology is not helping this process, while The End Of Time is practically a science lesson on the Big Bang theory delivered in three minutes. The pairing of Alan and Denis would be very successful and lead to several more projects in the future, including the similarly ambitious musical Orvin – Champion Of Champions.
If Alan’s mantra with his plays for children in recent years had been not to patronise or underestimate them as an audience, here he brought all his experiences to bear with a play that is scary, fast-paced, demanding, funny, ominous, intelligent and witty. It is a play that can be enjoyed on many different levels and by all ages.” Simon Murgatroyd www.alanayckbourn.net
Premiere: 5 December 2000, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
Director: Alan Ayckbourn
Music: Denis King
Design: Roger Glossop
Lighting: Mick Hughes
Costumes: Christine Wall
Musical Director: Simon Cryer
Choreography: Gavin Lee
CAST (5 M 4 W)
Alison Pargeter, Saskia Butler, Sarah Redmond, Nicola Sloane, Nigel Williams, Stefan Bednarczyk, Giles Taylor, Gavin Lee, Richard Banham
Click on any track name in blue to listen to the track, use the controls on the right hand side to play, pause and stop the audio.
Radio play for BBC RADIO 4 broadcast August 2006; directed by Bruce Hyman for Above The Title Productions.
Original live cast album, not available for public sale.
Fact of the Day
Denis, on a rare foray into the kitchen to prepare dinner, was discovered on his hands and knees mopping the floor and when queried said he "didn't know mozzarella packets had sodding water in them".