The Emperor’s Clothes and a mother’s pride

The Emperor’s Clothes is back on the stage this week. During the lockdown periods, composer Phil and I worked hard to refine and polish the show, and then Phil spent countless hours working on the musical landscape of the piece. We were then approached by Canterbury Operatic Society who asked if they could produce the show, and would we like to direct and musical direct it. We said yes, and many months later, we will be opening tonight at the King’s Hall in Herne Bay. Tickets from Ticketsource or on the door.

The logo for The Emperor’s Clothes – a purple wardrobe on a bright yellow background.

I am so incredibly excited about this production. Seeing our work come alive again, with a bigger cast and bigger stage, is thrilling. And I have been able to put my own spin on how this musical world looks and feels. One of my favourite moments was seeing a coat stand be transformed into a lamppost, retaining the essence of both identities and looking incredible.

My one sadness is that my mum won’t be there to see it. My family and many of my friends and colleagues are incredibly supportive of what I do on stage, and have seen countless productions over the years. My mum became well known to front of house staff as well. She would always get a programme and make a point of turning to the page where I was featured to tell them “that’s my son!” It did not matter whether they would be people who would know me or not, they got told anyway. Other family members and housemates have told me that this would continue once she took her seat. Whoever she was sitting next to, or behind, or in front of, would know that her son was in the show. And a great many people in my home town who had never met me knew exactly who I was due to being shown the programmes by a very proud mother.

When Legacy Performers produced the show in 2020, my mum and dad were not able to attend. Mum was too unwell to travel and by this time Dad was her full-time carer. She did get to see me as Henry Higgins in Spring 2019, definitely a good last show to see! Due to a combination of deafness and the early symptoms of dementia, I am not even sure to what extent Mum even knew I had co-written a show. She never forgot that I do theatre, but the details became hazy.

And now she is no longer with us. In a strange twist of fate, I learned that the Society were definitely going ahead with the show within 24 hours of my mum’d death. She was given an incredible send-off, where I met some of the people who only knew me as “Barbara’s son who does the shows”. My dad and my sister are both coming down to support the show, as are many friends and colleagues. But mum’s absence will be felt.

However… I don’t know how the afterlife works, and I assume that all depictions in art, music, literature and film are very wrong. But if any of our notions of our loved ones watching what we get up to are true, I know my mum will be very busy right now. Somewhere, whether it is up there or out there, a group of souls or angels or both will be gathering. They will be assuring Mum that their eyes are glued to the King’s Hall. And every one of them will smile when she says, no doubt many times, “that’s my son. He write this. That’s my son!”

This one’s for you, Mum. If you are somehow able to watch this, I hope you enjoy.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: