When Roy Arbuckle’s musical ‘The Fountain’ opens in the Mermorial Hall later this month, it will be a reflection of both his own life and the many years spent developing the idea.
Classed as a love story, it didn’t always start that way, as Roy explained.
“Five years ago I produced an album of songs that reflected my connection with the Fountain; it was where I grew up and they were the songs that I had penned over many years.
“As a songwriter I wanted to reflect on that culture through music, rather than through history books. I think they can be more emotional.
“But they weren’t suitable for the work I produced for ‘Different Drums,’ so I never used them. Finally, I had them made into an album.”
The album was well received, but it was their inclusion in the BBC documentary ‘Paridiso,’ directed by Alessandro Negrini, that gave them more prominence.
Then a visit from the director, Michael Nangle, pushed Roy into developing an idea he had thought about for so long.
“Michael came to see me and I mentioned that I had this idea of turning the songs into a stage show.
“So he took some notes I had made and he came back the next day with an extra three pages of notes. He assured me that we had the bones of a good show.
“It now has taken on the form of what those in the business call a ‘jukebox musical,’ a bit like ‘Mamma Mia,’ where the story is told through the music.
“But like most pieces of theatre I realised I needed to include a love story - to add that extra adrenaline; a backdrop for the music.
“Now the actors and the play give that original music a context.”
The songs too have gone through a transformation, as renowned producer and friend of Roy’s, Tom Newman, has given them a contemporary feel for the stage.
Roy explained,:“It has been a new process for me to see what I have written changed completely.
“But I do believe they are a better version of what they were before.”
The show itself will have 16 songs and a large cast, most of whom are local.
But Roy admits that the project has been a ‘big departure’ for him.
“I’m 71 now and I’m getting too old for all the travelling. The story is also autobiographical in places.
“But I’m looking forward to telling the story of the ‘Fountain’. It was a village within the city, with lots of good people at its heart.
“The story, I hope, is celebratory. We do touch on the ‘Troubles’ because it’s impossible to avoid but it’s also about so much more; the shirt factories, the dancing, the flute bands and of course, the love story.”
‘The Fountain: A Musical’ will be performed in the Memorial Hall, Society Street from Wednesday 25th to Saturday, November 28th, starting at 8.00 pm each night.
Tickets are £11 and are available through the Millennium Forum Box Office, and online at www.millenniumforum.co.uk