DO you have a gift for a Wedding Present project?
To explain, a crowdfunder campaign is being launched to support the creation of a musical based on the songs of David Gedge’s “semi-legendary“ Leeds group and John Peel favourites, The Wedding Present…with “some brand new material” from Gedge too.
The driving force behind Reception, The Wedding Present Musical, is York writer, theatre director and Engine House Theatre artistic director Matt Aston, fresh from mounting this summer’s season of Park Bench Theatre monologues in the Friends Garden at Rowntree Park.
Gedge, who turned 60 in April, will be the creative consultant for a show that will incorporate his songs for both The Wedding Present and Cinerama, plus the aforementioned new material, targeting 2022 for a Leeds premiere.
The crowdfunder campaign “gives fans the opportunity to get involved at the very beginning of an exciting journey – and pick up a bunch of specially commissioned artwork and merchandise, only available here, in doing so”.
Reception is the story of a group of friends from Leeds University who keep in touch over two decades of trials, tribulations, and receptions. Their stories are rooted in Gedge’s songs and the title is inspired by the name of The Wedding Present’s original record label, Reception Records.
The idea of doing such a musical has been brewing for writer/director Aston for several years. When he met Tony Ereira, director of the Come Play With Me and Clue Records record labels – where else but at a Wedding Present gig, in Leeds in early 2019 – the concept was batted around still futher.
The concept of the play started to take shape, with the documentary nature of Gedge’s candid, darkly humorous song-writing in the never-ending minefield of love and loss, lovers and losers, longing and lost opportunity suited to transferring those anguished stories and their quotidian protagonists on to the stage.
As Gedge himself said in Gigslutz on August 24 2015: “I’m interested in the minutiae of relationships. I like to write about what actually happens, rather than some imaginary situation cloaked in metaphor, hence the references to the everyday, though I have been known to decorate the songs with science fiction or comic book references!”
“I first saw The Wedding Present in Derby in 1988, so you could say this musical is over 30 years in the making,” says Matt. “I’ll always be grateful to my older brother and his mates for taking his little 15-year-old brother to his first ever gig.
“I got a T-shirt, a set of badges and a nosebleed. Not to mention a new favourite band. I’ve always felt there was something very theatrical about David’s songs. The storytelling, the arrangements, the anguish.
“And, as proven with Cinerama’s re-recording of The Wedding Present’s Valentina album, they have the flexibility to be arranged in a number of different, epic and dramatic ways. Although the show will, of course, still have plenty of fast guitars too!”
Aston and Ereira put the idea to Gedge, along with an early synopsis for the story, and, never one to shy away from a new medium to present his work, Gedge was equally excited to explore the idea further.
“With this crowdfunder campaign, we are looking to raise initial funding to get a first draft of the script written, some artwork and branding in place, and to start preparing for a period of research and development in early 2021 to road test our ideas – Covid-19 permitting – with a group of actors/musicians and some brand new material from David,” says Matt.
“The intention is to be in a position to premiere the musical in Leeds in 2022 – and this campaign is a chance for fans to get involved from the beginning with a bunch of rewards that are all exclusive to this production, including specially commissioned artwork from Lee Thacker, illustrator of David’s autobiography, Tales From The Wedding Present.”
To support the project, go to: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/reception-the-musical