No lovey-dovey portrayal
British musical heavyweight Peter Skellern has loaned his talents to the latest Roger Hall production.
The singer-songwriter-pianist had success on the 1970s music charts with Love is the Sweetest Thing, You’re a Lady and Hold On To Love.
He co-composed music for Ridley Scott’s movie masterpiece Blade Runner, released numerous albums and has now written original songs to accompany Hall’s newest play You Can Always Hand Them Back.
Skellern said he met Hall five years ago when he was in New Zealand on one of his annual visits to his family, and he wanted to work with him.
Some of Hall’s plays have been performed in Britain and Middle Aged Spread had West End success.
Hall already had a team in place to write the music for his pantomimes, and none of his back catalogue was suited to putting to music, but he had another piece up his sleeve.
Hall had had the idea for a play to be called Say Goodbye to Grandpa, to be performed by the late Grant Tilly. He had begun playing with the idea years ago but Tilly never lived to see it completed and the bits and pieces of the work lay fallow until Skellern showed up.
The two collaborated over the next 18 months to turn it into a reality, during Skellern’s sum- mer visits and long-distance.
Hall said the show doesn’t present grandparenting in a ‘‘fantastic, lovey-dovey way’’.
The reality is full of hard work, ‘‘and sometimes heartache when they go and live in another country’’.
You Can Always Hand Them Back is not a musical in the same way as Les Miserables, which is focused on the music. Hall’s work is a play with songs.
Despite collaborating with his friend, Hall said writing the play was, like grandparenting, hard work, likening it to running a marathon, and occasionally hitting the wall.
‘‘ I call it psychological stamina.’’
There are occasional rewards but few and far between.
‘‘ You get tiny, tiny eureka moments when you get a good line or a good character,’’ Hall said.
Hutt-born actor/musician Tom McLeod said he had never encountered Skellern’s music before but was enjoying performing the witty lyrics.
‘‘I think every song captures an element of the life of a grandparent – it’s a very different relationship. There is also a very poignant one when the first grandchild is born.’’
McLeod began his musical career as a student at St Patrick’s College, Silverstream. At his instigation Len Fifield, manager of the Piano House, donated use of a grand piano for the show.
You Can Always Hand Them Back runs at Circa until March 30. Call 801 7992 or visit www.circa.co.nz.
All together: George Henare, Roger Hall, Lynda Milligan and Tom McLeod.