Yesterday, at the Vancouver Writers Fest, I had the honour of participating on a panel discussing the adaptation of my first novel, The Best Laid Plans to the stage as a musical. This has been underway for over two years, now. But it’s really happening. It will premiere in September of 2015 at the York Theatre, here in Vancouver. On the panel yesterday were Katrina Dunn, the Artistic Director of Touchstone Theatre, Peter Jorgensen, the play’s Director and head of Patrick Street Studios, Vern Thiessen, the Governor General’s Award-winning playwright who is writing the play, Ben Elliott and Anton Lipovetsky, the award-winning composers, and yours truly. It was quite an afternoon.
I had met Katrina before when we’d done the initial negotiations for the stage rights to the novel, but I’d never met any of the others beyond a few emails with Vern and Peter. I was thrilled to meet them all and get an update on their progress. Then we hit the stage for the panel discussion in front of a sellout audience. Katrina was the ring leader. I offered a general overview of the novel. Peter described a bit about the history of adapting novels as stage musicals. Then Vern talked about what he considered when adapting TBLP to the stage. Then the fun started. I read three excerpts from the novel that led beautifully into three scenes and three songs from the production performed by the two composers and a wonderfully talented local actor/singer. Remember, I had never heard these scenes or songs, so I was taking it all in for the first time while on stage in front of a large crowd. My heart was pounding. All of the songs and the dialogue leading to them were wonderful, compelling and powerful. At one point in the middle of the second song, I very nearly burst into tears. It was a love song sung by Angus to his recently deceased wife, and it was beautiful, haunting, and very moving.
Music is important to me. I’ve played guitar, written songs, and sung (not particularly well) since I was 17 years old. I played in a band in university. I think I have a sense of what makes a good song, largely because I’ve written quite a few bad ones. Ben and Anton are incredibly talented songwriters who seem to have a magical collaboration. In less than a year, when the show opens in Vancouver, I think you’ll agree that these songs will be with us for a very long time.
Much more work lies ahead, but this is really going to happen. And I think it’s going to be something special. And by the way, the hovercraft will part of the play!