musicworks commissioned a piece of musical theatre for Nottingham from Stephen Williams and Catherine Spoors. In May 2012, the musicworks production of the musical ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’ had it’s world premiere at the Nottingham Playhouse.
This new musical, based on the acclaimed novel by Nottingham author Alan Sillitoe, brought Arthur Seaton to life like never before. Commissioned by musicworks, written and performed by Nottingham people for the people of Nottingham, this was the first musical theatre adaptation to hit the stage.
‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’ is the story of a young man’s awakening in the late 1950s in working class Nottingham. He works at the Raleigh factory by day, earning enough money for his weekends of drinking, womanising and fishing. Any woman is fair game to Arthur and he happily flits from one to another, but has he pushed his luck once too often?
The book provides great scope for theatrical drama, from the bawdy pub drinking contest opening, to the hustle and bustle of Goose Fair. From the solitude of fishing by the canal, to the mind-numbing starkness of factory life. The classic film version (1960) starring Albert Finney as Arthur is regularly listed as one of the greatest films ever made but he musical keeps as strictly to the book as it can whilst bringing in typical musical theatre devices such as stylised dance and dramatic ensemble. The eleven piece orchestra, for which the music is written was comprised entirely of local musicians, and the entire production team was made up of experienced and eminent local professionals.
The Nottingham Playhouse was where the first version of the play, based on ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’, was premiered in 1964 starring a young Ian McKellen as Arthur Seaton so we felt it was fitting that we returned to the Playhouse with the world premiere of a musical based on the same book.
musicworks worked with students of the Nottingham Trent University Theatre Design School to create the sets, costume and design of the show with the second and final year students working from conception and design through to the creation of the finished set.
For more information about the production and the musical’s progress, you can ‘like’ the page on facebook here.
Catherine Spoors – Book & Lyrics
Catherine was born in Nottingham and began playing the violin at an early age, becoming a prominent member of various music groups and orchestras. She studied music and English at Clarendon College, Nottingham – combining her two favourite subjects. During this time Catherine studied creative writing and also took part in numerous music ensemble, solo recital and musical theatre projects.
Catherine went on to study violin at the Birmingham Conservatoire, and later to Nottingham Trent University to pursue her love of literature and creative writing. For Catherine, music and words have always been related, and to amalgamate the two is a natural progression. As a lyricist, Catherine is able to combine a love of music with a passion for words. Working on ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’ is particularly poignant, as her grandfather worked in the frame shop at Raleigh for most of his life.
Catherine is currently a violin teacher in and around Nottingham, a tutor with the Nottingham Youth Orchestra and a freelance musician.
Stephen Williams – Music & Additional Lyrics, Musical Director
Stephen was born in Nottingham and his early musical life was as a violinist, leading the Nottinghamshire County Youth Orchestra and playing with the National Youth Orchestra. Having graduated from Surrey University, Stephen worked as a composer, lecturing in the subject at Nottingham Trent University.
Stephen then studied singing at the Guildhall and the National Opera Studio and went on to sing many roles throughout the U.K and Ireland such as Don Basilio (Opera North), Tamino, Don Jose and Edgardo (English Touring Opera), Steva (Opera Theatre Company, Ireland), Marco (New Sadler’s Wells Opera), Ruiz (Opera Northern Ireland) and also Rinuccio, Brighella and Remendado for Castleward Opera.
Stephen returned to Nottingham and is now a singing teacher and Musical Director. He has conducted various performances of Opera and Musicals for many different companies at Nottingham Theatre Royal, Nottingham Playhouse, Derby Playhouse, Buxton Opera House, Nottingham Arts Theatre, as well as conducting the European Festival Orchestra and Castleward Opera in Ireland, Switzerland and Belgium.
Parody Quartet – Mark Pollard, Kate Taylor, Morven Harrison, Alice Bentham,
Arthur Seaton – Tom Keeling
Doreen Greatton – Amanda Bruce
Winnie – Nicola Bilton
Brenda – Kate Williams
Jack – Simon Theobald
Harold Seaton – Stephen Godward
Fred Seaton – Andrew Regester
Loudmouth – Lyndon Warnsby
George – Andrew Dennis
Barmaid – Denise Palin
Mrs Seaton – Adele Lee
Robboe – Lyndon Warnsby
Doris – Denise Palin
Bill – Tom Beynon
Policeman – Paul McPherson
Ma Bull – Sharon Mitchell
Mr Bull – Nick Smith
Neighbour – Amanda Dixon Smith
Aunt Ada – Lorna Kirkland
Mrs Greatton – Julie Fowler
Doreen’s Mate – Harriet Hollowell
All other characters played by the ensemble
Book & Lyrics – Catherine Spoors
Music & Additional Lyrics – Stephen Williams
Director – Sarah Warnsby
Musical Director – Stephen Williams
Producer – John Osborne
Set Designer – Abaigael Snape
Technical Designer – Melanie Smith
Set Construction – Students and Technicians from Nottingham Trent University
Lighting Design – Nick Gale
Stage Manager – Duncan Forrest
Deputy Stage Manager – Nigel Newton
Wardrobe Mistress – Rita Prince
Properties Mistress – Heidi Marshall
Dialect Coach – Andrew Davys
Repetiteur – Chris Rees
Argentine Tango Choreography – Denise Palin
Production Photography – Graeme Crawford
Violin I – Karen Burton
Violin II – Anna Bruce
Cello – Sarah Huson
Bass – Tim Batchelar
Piano – Chris Rees
Guitar – Jon Orton
Drums – Sam Hancock
Percussion – Helen Shelton
Reed – Ian Hibbert
Trumpet – Phil Reckless
Horn – Robert Parker
What the Press Said…
“When, back in 1958, Alan Sillitoe finally saw his novel about a young Raleigh worker in print, he can hardly have foreseen its transformation into a musical of blazing quality. Potentially, though, there’s more to anti-hero Arthur Seaton than an engaging big-mouth and womaniser. Sillitoe went on to say that a simple man was a man who couldn’t express his complexity.
And now an absorbing new work by librettist Catherine Spoors and composer Stephen Williams brings out an extra dimension to Arthur. He, and the women in his life, are allowed to voice their innermost fantasies and emotions. It’s what all good musicals do, and the lyrics are verbal hooks for a complex but accessible score, imaginatively tailored to the in-depth vocal talents of the city’s Musicworks ensemble and a spirited 11-piece band.
The writers avoid anti-climax by virtue of Seaton’s dream-like Falling, a scherzo-like Ma Bull’s Yard episode, and above all the vibrantly tender music for Arthur and Doreen.
Eat yer heart out, Lloyd Webber. This truly unmissable show runs until Saturday”.
Peter Palmer – Nottingham Post
“It’s perhaps not the most obvious choice for an all-singing and dancing adaptation. In fact it sounds like something Chris Morris would do for a joke…
For those who need more schooling in Nottingham culture, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning is a classic novel by Alan Sillitoe about working class life in 1950s Nottingham, which was soon turned into a classic social-realist film by Karel Reisz. It specialised in the grittiness of working class roots and factory life. At no point during the book or the film did any of the characters look like they were about to burst into song.
Fifty years or so later; enter Catherine Spoors (book and lyrics), Stephen Williams (music and additional lyrics) and Sarah Warnsby (director) to mix it all up a bit. And I didn’t expect to find myself saying this, but it all works incredibly well.
The Raleigh factory scenes are done brilliantly, with the various machines and tools providing the rhythm section for the songs that take place in there. The tension between the foreman and Seaton is tangible, as is his childlike revelry in playing pranks on his colleagues – and denying infidelities with their wives.
The Goose Fair scene, where Arthur balances Brenda, Winnie and his new love Doreen (played by Amanda Bruce) is a particular highlight….there even appears to be a cameo appearance from a younger version of tthe Xylophone Man! Okay. So he might not have actually been around the city playing his instrument in the late fifities – but this is a bit of poetic licence that we very much like.
I came into this musical with a bit of trepidation, expecting at best a twee butchering of a much-loved local classic. I left feeling elated and wanting to burst into song myself. From the great set design (credit must go to Nottingham Trent University graduate Abigael Snape), to the local-centric songs (I’m a lucky bogger – has to go down as a classic) and the excellent performances, it’s a really enjoyable night out. Everything you fear it might be, that’s what it’s not…”
Jared Wilson – LeftLion