Musical Theatre Blind Date: Holborn’s High Stakes Show-Stopper

We catch up with Lyricist Julian Eaves, partnered with composer Patrick Stockbridge, to talk about their musical theatre song inspired by Holborn.

What is your song about?

A couple, two high-powered lawyers, meet in the corridors of legal power. She is doing very well, breaking through the glass ceiling, and – he fears – leaving him behind. Annoyed, he speaks his mind… and says far too much. She responds in kind. They both say things they will regret later. Have they just ruined everything they’ve been working for all these years…?

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What was your reaction to this year’s Blind Date theme, and your assigned station?

Being a HUGE fan of the London tube, in all its manifestations, I loved the concept from the start. It so happens that my first ‘real’ theatre job was at Holborn – our assigned stop: I was Assistant Music Director for an NYT production at the Jeannette Cochrane Theatre, a venue I subsequently worked in more often. So, there have been strong sentimental connections with the place ever since. I’ve always had a lot of friends who are lawyers, and the High Court has long held a fascination as the place where they get to do their amazing stuff.

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Why are you excited about Blind Date 2015?

Although I’ve done a lot of work as a composer, this is my FIRST pro-commission as a lyricist, and I’m cock-a-hoop about it. Of course, something may bring me back down to ground with a bump soon, but at the moment everything is very exciting and new!

How have your and Patrick’s ‘writing dates’ been going?

I have known – and admired – my collaborator, Patrick Stockbridge’s work since first discovering it more than a year ago, and feel that I already know him. Apart from being a brilliant composer, in so many different genres, he’s also a great song and show lyricist in his own right, and doesn’t really need me there, which is humbling. So, I’ve worked harder than ever – I hope – to earn my place in this partnership. (He may feel differently about this, but might be too polite to say anything.)

What style of song are you looking to create this year, and why?

The lyrics are aiming for ‘clarity’, with not too much fancy wordplay: and I want there to be a strong dramatic direction to the song. Patrick’s music has such drive and character, it speaks for itself. He’s reaching for a ‘contemporary music theatre’ style, and I like that: last night, I was at ‘Showstopper!’ and the Apollo Theatre was full of a young, hip crowd, as well as more seasoned theatregoers: that’s the wide audience we want to speak to.

Have you done anything like Blind Date before?

In a sense, this is new ground. However, in March 2015, I began working on David James’ ‘Book, Music and Lyrics’ Composers and Lyricists course, and have been doing a lot of collaborative work there. In June, I was part of Jenifer Toksvig’s ‘Tiny Shows’ event, which was all about collaboration in every conceivable form.

Are you staying safe with your song style or trying something new, and how?

I think we’re both completely open and flexible about how the project is developing and growing, as well as allowing ourselves to be surprised – and, we hope, delighted – by any unexpected outcomes. Ultimately, it’s the performers who get to present the song who really determine its final character, and we are so looking forward to working with the great artists Iris Theatre brings together on a project of this kind. We hope people will like the results.

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