Remember, remember the 5th of November,
for its gunpowder, treason, and plot
We’re here to tell you the rest of the tale,
the one that history books forgot
Guy Fawkes remains an anonymous figure,
we have more to bring to the table
It’s time to meet the rest of the plotters,
in our fiery musical fable
We caught up with Ricky Allan to find out more about his new musical ‘Treason The Musical’. Filmed at Cadogan Hall, this concert version is available to watch from 12th March to 14th March 2021. To buy tickets go to https://treasonthemusical.com/
What inspired you to write/compose ‘Treason The Musical’?
I have always been fascinated by the story and felt it had a natural theatrical flair to it which deserved to be explored. Whilst working on the Strand, London, I recalled something I’d read about the plotters scheming in a pub just around the corner, and that captured my imagination and led to me writing the first song of the musical, and it went from there.
Has any of your previous work helped in preparing you to write ‘Treason’?
My background is in choral singing and composing, and with the themes of Treason being centred around religion, there are parallels to be drawn upon which helped in preparing for the project. At times for instance, the music gives a nod to William Byrd, a composer working at the time of the plot. This coupled with my passion for writing catchy pop-inspired melodies, and the storytelling traditions of folk music helped to create the musical palate for the show.
Can you briefly describe the storyline of the show?
Treason delves into the events leading up to the gunpowder plot of 1605, exploring the motivations of the people involved, and the lives that were changed forever because of the actions of a small minority of religious extremists.
The Gunpowder plot and the 5th November is well known for Guy Fawkes’ involvement and he has become synonymous with Bonfire night celebrations. He is noticeably missing from the character list, why is that?
We wanted to look at the lesser-known characters involved in the plot and bring their story to life. Fawkes was the perfect “fall guy”, and the man we have been told to remember as a symbol of anarchy and chaos, but the reality was the mastermind behind the plot was another man, Robert Catesby. In the same way that Hamilton bought its title character to the forefront, we want to tell the story of these fascinating other characters that the history books often forget.
How did you approach composing the music, given that the Gunpower plot took place in the early 1600’s?
I always had a clear vision that the music was going to pivot around a folky world, with nods to the era that we’re exploring with specific instrumentation, such as lute. The sheer scale of the story we’re telling meant I wanted the music to have an epic film score feel to it too, and we wanted to create an unmistakable “Treason sound”. Together with the Musical Supervisor, Nick Pinchbeck, and Orchestrator, Matthew Malone, I think we’re on the right track in creating that unique musical world.
It must have been an amazing opportunity to film Treason at Cadogan Hall. With no audience present and social distancing rules to adhere to, did you have any problems with recording the show? And with the acoustics, given the Hall is such a large space?
Filming at Cadogan Hall was an absolute joy. The venue is incredible, but we did have to adapt to make it work, and filming comes with its own challenges too. We had to think in a different way when putting the concert together, but our director, Hannah Chissick, worked absolute miracles despite the restrictions that were in place. We were also working with a first-rate technical crew, so we were in very safe hands when it came to dealing with the acoustics of an empty auditorium.
Are there any plans to stage Treason for a live audience when restrictions are lifted?
We’ve made the most of developing the musical in plain sight and taking our audiences on the journey with us during lockdown, first with song releases, and now with the streamed concert. Once the restrictions are lifted, we are planning further development of the show and hope to bring it to a live audience as soon as we’re able to!
Ricky Allan – Biography
Ricky is the composer, lyricist, and co-book writer of Treason.
He studied Popular & World Music at the University of Leeds, and has since worked as composer, arranger, and sound designer, writing for film, television, and theatre.
Recent theatrical credits include the scoring of original music & sound design for St John Hankin’s play The Last of The De Mullins at the Jermyn St Theatre, and original music for Meet the Teaspoons at Chiswick Playhouse, inspired by Lotte Moore’s children’s book The Teaspoon Family.
Ricky has also composed music for television including television magazine and chat show The One Show (BBC), & comedy-drama Loaded (C4). Ricky also sings and arranges for acclaimed London based a cappella group The Buzztones.