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Goodbye Charlie Starr: The Musical

Although musical theatre isn't something I have much exposure to these days, I wanted to make an effort to create a multifaceted blog, with something for everyone! Last night was the opening night of Goodbye Charlie Starr a fusion of both a play and a gig all in one.

I caught up with the creators of the show, Avril Tricker and Alex Wedlock who both attend Bath Spa University, to get some background to the making of Goodbye Charlie Starr.

What’s the brief outline of the show?

Alex: “The show is about a successful rockstar, she’s about mid 30s and after a dip in her career she takes a break from music and lives a bit of a reclusive life”.“So she’s just made a comeback, and it sort of flops but suddenly she dies in a car crash in Spain…the whole show is about her friends, family, loved ones coming together and remembering Charlie Starr...the show is all about beginnings, endings and dreams”.

What inspired you to create the show?

Alex: “So this was about 4 years ago now, but a girl that I quite liked didn’t like me back… so I killed her off in a song about a rockstar who dies”.

After hearing the song performed at a local gig, Avril was compelled by the piece and proposed the idea of writing a show based around the story of the song.

Avril: “I remember hearing the song for the first time – I think it was gig night at The Nest…after that, the song was kinda notorious in our year for a while…because the song was so amazing, I thought it definitely could be made into something more”.

The song in question, titled ‘Goodbye Charlie Starr’ is the opening number and title track of the show.

Where did you draw influence from in terms of concept / composition?

Avril: “Well we didn’t want to go down the whole jazz hands show-y route, but we knew we wanted live music in it”.

The pair then came up with the idea of having a show that also incorporates a gig-style element into it’s storyline.

And did you base the character Charlie Starr on anyone in particular?

Avril: “Yes, so we actually filled a Spotify playlist with artists that we imagined Charlie to be like”

Alex: “So a big one was Kirsty MacColl, we had Joni Mitchell, Annie Lennox, Carly Simon”

Who are the musicians playing on stage?

Alongside Avril as Charlie Starr, Alex plays keys accompanied by Sam Hoxley on guitar and Aidan Surgery on drums.

Many thanks to Avril and Alex for taking the time to chat.

Review

Goodbye Charlie Starr is a show about a successful rockstar who unexpectedly dies in a car crash. Following her death, friends and family come together to commemorate and reflect on her life with a special gig dedicated to her work. Written by third year music students Alex Wedlock and Avril Tricker, it is one of the latest creations to come out of Bath Spa University. As said by co-writer Alex Wedlock “the show is all about beginnings, endings and dreams”. The interesting twist that this show brings is its unique concept; half play, half gig. This proved to be very effective in keeping the audiences’ interest throughout the show. As the show begins, we discover the really clever use of the space, as if the audience are ghosts sitting amongst the characters. With regards to performance, each actor embraces their character very well, but markedly Avril Tricker delivers a solid and genuine portrayal of Charlie Starr. The gig aspect of the show is seamlessly incorporated and exhibits further talent from both Alex and Avril, as well as the competent supporting musicians. The high grade of composition for each song allows further character building and I still had ‘Footprints’ in my head the next day! I enjoyed the casual and realistic writing of this piece; particularly from the character Nigel with his perfectly timed one-liners. On a critical note, I felt the main story lacked some substance, as the show ended pretty abruptly and there was space for a more compelling story to Charlie Starr’s life. The use of lighting as a device to differentiate between flashbacks and present day was easy to follow, however a significant change of costume and scene would have been more effective when contrasting between the past and the present.

Overall, this show is the younger cousin to your bog-standard musical; it is refreshing and engaging, and still provides you with the warmth of a full on show, just without the need for those god awful jazz hands.

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