METTA THEATRE AND PERFECT PITCH RELEASE STUDIO CAST EP AND MUSIC VIDEO FOR IN THE WILLOWS / CLIVE ROWE TO BE METTA’S NEW PATRON
Metta Theatre – one of the UK’s leading production companies devoted to British musical theatre – is pleased to announce the release of the studio album for hip hop musical IN THE WILLOWS, in collaboration with Perfect Pitch. IN THE WILLOWS has been produced remotely during October and November 2020, and is released via Spotify, iTunes and other digital media today, 1 February 2021, alongside a new music video for the number Head Above Water, choreographed and starring deaf dancer Chris Fonseca, who starred in the original production.
IN THE WILLOWS transforms Kenneth Grahame’s well-loved tale into a thrilling new hip hop musical, written and directed by P Burton-Morgan (Little Mermaid UK Tour, Jungle Book UK & International Tour), with music and additional lyrics from award-winning composer Pippa Cleary (The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Ambassadors Theatre; Prodigy, St James Theatre) and groundbreaking hip-hop Composer Keiran Merrick.
P Burton-Morgan, who in 2020 won the Writers Guild of Great Britain Award for musical theatre book writing for In the Willows explains, “This is not Disney. These animal students are recognisably human, young and for the most part abandoned by the rest of society. Their teacher Badger is one of the few adults who believes in them and in their potential to achieve. They are by turns angry, lost, mischievous but ultimately searching for a sense of belonging – a new family made up of their fellow classmates.”
Andy Barnes, producer at Perfect Pitch who support and develop new musicals said, “It has been a pleasure to partner with Metta Theatre to put this EP together during lockdown – a much-needed creative outlet for the team during a difficult time. We have been honoured to work with many fabulous performers, musicians, and a fantastic team of writers who worked tirelessly to ensure we found the right sound across a varied landscape of musical styles. We’re excited to share it with you.”
Amongst the performers on the album is Olivier award-winning actor, ‘the nation’s favourite pantomime dame’, and star of BBC’s The Story of Tracey Beaker, Clive Rowe – who starred in the 2019 touring production of the show as ‘Badger’ and has just been appointed as Metta Theatre’s new Patron.
Clive Rowe said, “I’m incredibly honoured to have been asked to become a patron of the Metta Theatre company. Its drive, diversity, and constant pursuit of focused truthful work is a breath of fresh air and at its heart P Burton Morgan strives tirelessly to create new innovative and expressive work. I only hope that my patronage will in some way go to shine an even brighter light on this wonderful company.”
Clive is joined on the album by former cast member Harry Jardine (Shakespeare in Love, Les Miserables) as well as Hiba Elchikhe (Aladdin, Ghost the Musical), Sharon Rose (Hamilton, Motown The Musical) and Tim Mahendran (& Juliet, Spring Awakening).
Full track listing is as follows:
Walk Into The Fire
Between You and Me
Head Above Water
IN THE WILLOWS transposes Kenneth Grahame’s bucolic animal fable to an urban British Comprehensive school ‘The Willows’ and surrounding estates. It’s Mole’s first day – she is taken under the wing of hip-hop cool girl Rattie, her boyfriend Otter and the bling laden, rich-kid rapper Toad. A series of adventures ensue in which Mole learns both how to make friends and how to lose them – but ultimately how to find her voice and finally speak up about her troubled past. Simultaneously uplifting and politically provocative, we hope to give a voice to a group of young people rarely represented on our stages.
IN THE WILLOWS was conceived by P Burton-Morgan, with Book & Lyrics by P Burton-Morgan & Keiran Merrick, Music & Lyrics by Pippa Cleary & Keiran Merrick.
For the EP, the Musical Supervisor is Mark Collins, Orchestration Consultant Renell Shaw and the Music Producer & Mix Engineer is Sam Featherstone. Musician credits are: Richard Coughlan on Bass, Luke Davies on Trumpet, Joe Evans on Drums, Will Robertson on Cello, Curtis Volp on Guitar and Corey Wickens on Violin.
The HEAD ABOVE WATER music video stars Chris Fonseca. Philip Clyde-Smith is the Video Editor, with Deepa Shastri providing BSL Translation and Laura Goulden as BSL interpreter.
Established in 2005 by P Burton-Morgan and Motley trained Designer William Reynolds, Metta Theatre has been at the forefront of new work – with a strong focus on the development of new British musical theatre, and a commitment to highlighting climate justice and sustainability; disability and deaf integration and inclusion (both from a political perspective and in order to artistically enrich the work); queering mainstream and family theatre – writing characters that represent and normalise (rather than problematise) the diverse range of queer experiences and identities; re-gendering protagonists in order to give girls strong female role models.
During the 2020 pandemic, the company focussed on the launch of two other studio albums and music videos for THE RHYTHMICS and HOUSEFIRE, as well as the launch of environmental consultancy Metta Green.
Award-winning Metta Theatre is one of the UK’s leading mid-scale touring companies – making exceptional theatre and opera that represents and celebrates the diversity of our world. They are known for combining emotionally powerful performances with imaginative theatricality and striking visual style. After their smash hit street-dance Jungle Book (Theatre Royal Windsor & UK tour), circus-musical Little Mermaid (Theatre By The Lake & UK tour) and In The Willows (Exeter Northcott & UK tour) Metta Theatre released cast albums of two new original British musicals in 2020, The Rhythmics in July and HouseFire in December. Other productions include Mouthful (Trafalgar Studios) and Arab Nights (Soho Theatre & UK tour).
Perfect Pitch is a not-for-profit theatre company, supported by Arts Council England, dedicated to creating new British musicals. Established in 2006, by independent producers Wendy and Andy Barnes, Perfect Pitch work in close collaboration with venues, writers, producers and creatives across the UK and beyond to create develop and produce high quality new musicals.
Notable productions include The Go-Between starring Michael Crawford in the West End (Winner Best Musical at UK Theatre Awards & nomination for Best Regional Production – Whatsonstage.com awards); Lift at Soho Theatre starring Cynthia Erivo (nominated for Best Original Music – Whatsonstage.com awards) Departure Lounge (nominated for Best New Musical – Whatsonstage.com awards) and Pieces of String at the Mercury Colchester (nominated Best Musical at UK Theatre Awards). Andy and Wendy through their production company, Global Musicals, are the original UK producers of the worldwide hit musical “SIX”.