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Boiling Frog, Grand Opera House, York, August 11
YORKSHIRE writer-composer Keith Humphrey has teamed up Robert Readman, the York musicals director with the Midas touch, for the relaunch of Humruddy Productions’ debut show Boiling Frog.
By day the joint managing director of Premier Financial Protection in Wakefield, Keith gave his first musical its bow at Harrogate Theatre last July, when Phil Ruddy directed the premiere, and it is now being revived and revised for performances at the Grand Opera House, York, tomorrow at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.
Jake Abbott, who played Leo in the West Yorkshire Playhouse’s The Go-Between last September, and Harrogate tenor Christian Lunn will lead a cast of 20 in Keith’s tale of love, family, divorce, desperation and hope.
Introducing his musical, Keith says: “Lewis is the guy next door, a family man with a steady job and a few good mates, but when his wife suddenly reveals her unhappiness and asks for a divorce, Lewis finds himself in a life he no longer recognises.
“Raw emotion blurs reality. Lewis believes his tormentor, Twelve, is shadowing his every move. Will the frog leap to safety or get boiled alive? Will it be the love of his children or the love of a woman that saves Lewis? And is Twelve just a hint of the real story?”
Cryptic indeed, Keith. “Post-show last year people said to me, ‘What’s your plan now?’. The simple answer was I didn’t know, but I knew the show had potential though it wasn’t the finished article,” he says. “So I had it critiqued by Andy Barnes of the Perfect Pitch organisation in London, as I wanted an objective view.”
Keith took assorted suggestions on board. “The first version I wrote was instinctive rather than following any classic narrative,” he says. “This time I’ve applied more science without losing its soul, and this reworked version is in some ways like a new premiere.”
Keith has added new compositions to a story with a title that demands an explanation. “In essence, if you place a frog in water and watch it as you slowly increase the temperature, the frog won’t notice the change and will eventually boil to death.
“For Lewis, the ‘boiling frog’ is that he thinks he’s got the perfect life and suddenly his wife wants a divorce and then starts drinking more and more, and he rather puts his head in the sand until he pays almost the ultimate price – like the boiling frog.
“What Boiling Frog deals with is the social epidemic of our time: divorce. I’ve been through that and some of the material will be from my own experience but though it’s portrayed from the male perspective, it’s trying to be very balanced.”
Keith is flattered that his musical has drawn comparison with both the work of Dennis Potter and Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers and he goes on to say: “There are two camps emerging in musical theatre: those that follow Stephen Sondheim and those that follow Andrew Lloyd Webber. I would definitely be in Lloyd Webber’s camp because I go for the emotional side of things, rather than cleverness, though I do like to be clever too!”
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