What were the circumstances behind you joining the MMD board? And how long have you been a board member?
I have to admit to have been hanging around since the very start of Mercury, so that’s 24 years ago. It all started because I worked closely with Brenda Cooper’s husband, and as Brenda was a founder member, she asked if I could take a financial role on the Board of Trustees.
How would you say your skills and experience compliment the other board members? We are very fortunate to have a great mix of skills and talents on the Board. Where I hope I bring value is because I am one of the only ones on the Board not involved in the theatre world as a day job. So I tend to see things from a different angle and hopefully contribute something extra and fresh (but not always positive!). Also, I have substantial financial experience and together with Roger this is obviously an important part of my role.
How has MMD changed since you joined the board?
It has grown substantially, in fact out of all recognition from when we started. I feel that it is now better structured, and far clearer in its objectives and how it helps people with their careers and ambitions. The support from ACE has been fantastic and has taken us up a notch in terms of what we can achieve.
What are your hopes for the organisation?
I would like to see us better and wider profiled out there. MMD is still not known by many aspiring writers and musicians, certainly not by the theatre going public, and it yet it has so much value to bring to the MT world. It would also be lovely to see some more MMD members have some major successes and become names to add to the rather short list of alive and kicking composers and writers known to the public at large. The list is far too short, and given that even greats like Kander and Ebb are not household names, it is not an easy ask.
What was your most memorable theatrical experience as a child?
Wow, what a question, how much space have I got? As a child I was obsessed with Gilbert and Sullivan. I used to buy tickets for D’Oyly Carte and then try to find people to come with me. I remember, aged 15, being amazed when a nice girl I really liked accepted my offer, and then how she realised with great disappointment, half way there on the tube, that we were not seeing Gilbert O’Sullivan. Musicals started taking over after University; probably seeing Leaping Ginger at the Royal Exchange in 1978, whilst studying at Manchester Uni, was a seminal experience for me.
Who are your heroes and why?
Sticking to musical theatre - In no particular order: George Gershwin, Sondheim, Cole Porter, Kander and Ebb, all geniuses. On the performing front, Garland, Sinatra, and today, well Maria Friedman is special. Beyond Musical Theatre, well I won’t go there as it will take too long, but if you want a quick irreverent variety, how about Winston Churchill, Frederic Chopin and Ian Botham.
When you were growing up what did you want to be? I don’t really remember although I recall a dentist phase somewhere. Certainly chartered accountancy (what I ended up studying) did not feature on the list, especially given what Monty Python (another obsession of mine) had to say about it.
What’s your favourite musical? I knew that was coming, it always does! Impossible, so I’ll name the top three – Guys and Dolls, Company, Les Mis.
If you had a magic wand what would be the one thing you, would change / improve in the (musical theatre) sector? I’d somehow get vast numbers of bums on seats to see shows by unknown (or lesser known) writers so that they can see that Lloyd Webber is just one of many…
Why would you encourage writers to join MMD? Fellowship, collaboration, development, new ideas. It’s a nice place to belong and of course you make lifelong friends and colleagues.