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


All to­gether: Ge­orge Henare, Roger Hall, Lynda Mil­li­gan and Tom McLeod.

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