Having already provided the basis for an award-winning documentary, the TT races have now inspired a rock musical, which is due to have its first test showcase performance in a London theatre, tomorrow.
’Twist and Turn-The Musical’ has been created by theatre producer Tony Gibbs, who is the former chief executive of the National Operatic and Drama Association, and who is highly familiar with the Isle of Man and the TT.
Featuring a talented cast of recognised theatre actors and a soundtrack written by Graeme Duffin, a former member of Wet Wet Wet, the play is based around the fortunes of a Manx champion motorbike racer who returns home to tackle the mountain course, and also to face up to his personal demons.
’”Twist and Turn – The Musical” has been a labour of love for me, said Tony.
’I was a frequent visitor over several years with my role in NODA, and curated the first TheatreFest celebration of new work for musical theatre in 2015.
’While I was at a function hosted by the Isle of Man Arts Council, I casually said to a member, “Isn’t it odd that there’s never been a musical about the TT races?”, to which the answer was, “Why don’t you write one?”
’It’s a character-driven story about the importance of family values set against the backdrop of the Isle of Man TT races.
’I have based it loosely around the famous Dunlop racing dynasty. Robbie Skelton is a Manxman and the reigning World Superbike racer. He returns to his island home after a long absence of eight years, which then re-opens wounds between family and friends and uncovers some dark secrets.
’There is a secondary storyline running through the production about female empowerment, where the women in the story take it on themselves to form their own team and enter the race,’ said Tony.
’It is a play about infidelity, dark secrets, and reconciliation.’
The lead role is played by Simon Gordon, who has some previous form on singing rock songs whilst astride a motorbike. He sang the lead in the touring production of ’Bat Out Of Hell’ in theatres in London and Toronto.
The cast is also headed up by Erin Caldwell, who stars as Simon’s former girlfriend Jen, who Tony said has taken the songs of the show, including ’Should I Stay?’, ’Go Go AhAh’ and ’When We Were Young’ and made them her own, views of which have already topped 100,000 on Youtube.
’It was a “no brainer” for me to ask Erin, and you only have to listen to her to appreciate how great she is,’ said Tony.
’I’m totally convinced that Erin Caldwell is going to be a major musical theatre star and so I’m thrilled that we’ve got her in our show.’
Also joining the cast is Georgina Castle, the daughter of the former tennis star and commentator Andrew Castle.
She stars as Robbie’s sister and Jen’s friend, Charlotte.
Georgina joined the cast straight after finishing performing as the lead role in ’Mamma Mia’, on London’s West End
’It’s a contemporary rock musical which takes the audience on an emotional roller coaster,’ said Tony.
’It’s one that will have laughter and tears along the way, a fantastic collection of memorable high octane songs.’
Tony and his team are applying the final touches to the show, and is preparing to hold two showcase performances, essentially test runs, at the Other Palace Theatre, Palace Road, London on Monday and Tuesday, October 1 and 2.
’There is already a lot of interest from the press in “Twist and Turn”, and we are hoping to have some great crowds in to see the show, and to get some good reviews and positive feedback.
’Then, we will fine tune the show and hopefully take it on from there.
’Of course, my dream is to bring the show to the Isle of Man at some point. I have been in contact with the Gaiety Theatre, and ideally I would like to bring the show there before taking on tour, possibly around 2020.
’My dream would be to have the actual premier of “Twist And Turn” on the island, during race week. That would be perfect.’
More details and background about the show can be found at twistandturnmusical.com
by Mike Wade