Naughty Cat and the Cheesy Moon

It's been a busy few months (which has included making a new website - you can check it out here) as I've worked on a couple of fast-paced musicals. First up was Vinyl Idol - which I co-wrote with Debbie Hannan - and was performed at Glasgow's Oran Mor as part of Play Pie and a Pint. I had been involved in PPP productions before, in very small ways, so it was fun to co-write and direct this mad little piece about golden-age idols appearing out of a girl's closet and causing chaos!

Kara Swinney, Darren Brownlie and Paul James Corrigan in Vinyl Idol
Currently I have my show for children, 'Naughty Cat and the Cheesy Moon' on at Assembly Checkpoint as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. It has been getting great responses from the public and press alike. Here's a 5* review from The Herald. The show went through the same development scheme that my musical 'Towards the Moon' started on back in 2011. It's a great opportunity where the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Musical Theatre Masters students get to work on and perform new musicals. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to write and direct one of this years platform pieces (the other one, 'Confessions of a Justified Songwriter' is a fun play about the ethics of songwriting by the Kielty brothers with Andrew Panton directing).

The scientists, guard and astronaut realise a cat has stolen their rocket!
The creation of this show was very different to anything I had done before. It all started last year when I was making music for Primetime at London's Royal Court. It was a fun project for me, I had to write all sorts of backing tracks to complement the mad stories the youngsters had come up with.

The idea behind this project is that young people write plays that are then performed by professional actors. I took this idea and developed it a little for my youth theatre in Greenock. We asked local schools to write us stories and we would then adapt these stories for the stage and have our young people perform them. One of the stories that arrived on my desk was called 'To The Moon And Back Again' by Mrs Walker's P1-2 class from St Andrew's school in Port Glasgow.

Naughty Cat, Super Plod and his Dog
It was just a couple of paragraphs long, but was packed with a lot of interestingly fun characters and a mad story. Just what I like!

I took this idea and then developed it, taking every little word and seeing if I could build something more around it. For example, in the original story there is a brief mention of some 'spacemen' but we don't really find out anything about them. So I took this opportunity to build up some characters and came up with the somewhat ridiculously named Doctor David Dong Ding Davis and his friends. This was a common thread throughout the piece as we looked at developing it, any little hint of a character or a situation was pounced upon (you can see the original story at the end of this blog).

We thought it would be fun to have our senior class perform this story, and they did it with great aplomb. It's not an easy thing to do and our rehearsal time was short, so I didn't get the chance to get all the different characters and situations on stage...that time!

Naughty Cat lays her traps for the chocolate mice
The RCS then contacted me, looking out for new musicals to develop. They had never done a children's show before so were interested in seeing where 'Naughty Cat and the Cheesy Moon' as it was now called, would take us. "It's bonkers!" was the first piece of feedback that I received. I couldn't disagree!

I worked on the show with a musical director and 9 actors. We looked at what I had originally written, it had a somewhat bleak ending with poor Naughty Cat ending up in cheese jail, we felt it would be nice to stay truthful to what the young people had written but perhaps continue the story on a little bit so that NC finds redemption of some sort. As it has turned out, this change has been one of the favourite bits of the show for our young audiences. They love seeing Naughty Cat stop being Naughty!

Super Plod and his Dog in the Plod Mobile
Even though the majority of the cast are American and Canadian I deliberately kept the references to Port Glasgow in the show, there's something even more surreal about this Canadian cat being from the Port than there is about a cat going to the moon!

The feedback from the show has been incredible. You can read a review from Broadway World here and Fest magazine did a wonderful feature on us here.

Here is the original story that the young people wrote for us:

Once there was a very naughty cat. His mum told him a story about the moon that was made of cheese. On the moon, lived lots of chocolate mice. Now, the naughty cat really loved chocolate and he really loved mice. So, he was excited to go to the moon and get some chocolate mice all for himself. One day, the naughty cat went and stole a rocket from the space station so that he could visit the moon. He blasted off and landed on the moon, where he set lots of traps to catch the chocolate mice. 

When the spacemen found that their rocket was missing they made an emergency phone call to the police. But, they didn’t phone just any police. They phoned Super Plod and his superhero pet dog! Super Plod and his dog quickly flew off to the moon to find the naughty cat and save the chocolate mice. When they got there they found the mouse traps and kicked them out of the way. Then they spotted the naughty mouse. An epic battle started and it was the most amazing cheeseball fight you could ever imagine.   Super Plod and his dog threw cheeseball after cheeseball at the naughty cat. Wham, Bham, Kaboom!  = One huge cheeseball hit the naughty cat and knocked him to the ground.  Super Plod grabbed a cheese string rope and caught the naughty cat with a lasso.  

The naughty cat had to stay in Cheese Jail on the moon for years and years. When Super Plod and his superhero dog came back to earth they met the spacemen.   They gave him a hug, a high 5 and a huge big cake made from chocolate!!

And you can read the final script here. Hopefully you can see how we managed to take every little bit of the young people's story and squeeze lots of detail out of it!

Naughty Cat Photos by Ken Dundas


Popular posts from this blog

Some Audition Tips for School Leavers

My First Post

The End of the Arts Guild