How did you come up with the idea of Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others?
"I loved The Smiths from when they first appeared in the eighties and Perrin (Manzer Allen, Musical Director) also liked them. We were working together about ten years ago in the first German production of Les Miserables, and we used to sit around at night and think of crazy ideas for shows. We’d both spent a lot of time in commercial musical theatre, so we wanted to do something different, and it was one of the ideas that came up then, but in the end, other things happened and we ended up working on a show together using the music Jacques Brel.
"More recently, we were looking for something else to do. I think ten years ago, I was too close to the songs, but having worked through the Brel stuff and found a way of using songs that weren’t linked, we found a way of making that work, using the personalities of the performers and what they had to say about them. So we wanted to try it again with The Smiths’ work."
How did you decide which songs to use?
|Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others|
"That was quite a long process! I really loved the work for years so I had a massive list of songs that I’d liked to have used. Through the casting process and beginning work on it, we discovered the songs that seemed right for the performers we were using and the subjects we wanted to look at. It was gradually paring down the list and there are about 19 songs in it now."
How would you describe the show?
"It’s not a musical in that traditional sense where you have a rigid storyline. The characters are much more based on the personalities of the people; it’s much more like a surreal review. There are links between songs and there are situations in the songs but it’s not as delineated as a musical."
What does it feel like to be performing the songs in the city that inspired them?
|"I think the songs are universal and they speak to people in any environment where they feel alienated and trapped."|
|Andrew Wale on the appeal of The Smiths' songs|
"It’s slightly scary, but we’ve had such a good response from the Smiths’ fans that have come. In fact, they’ve given a better response that a lot of other people that don’t know the songs. It comes from the heart and a place of respect, so I hope that the fact we’re actually being audacious enough to use the songs in the first place won’t count against us.
"We’ve never tried to do a tribute to The Smiths or have a sense of place in the show. I think the songs are universal and they speak to people in any environment where they feel alienated and trapped. I mean, we know now that Morrissey is so enormously successful in South America, and they mean a lot to Perrin and he grew up in upstate New York, so they obviously mean things to people who don’t have those same references."
Has using these songs given you as a Smiths fan a new perspective on them?
"I suppose so. It’s given me an opportunity to play out some of my own ideas about them. Certainly some of me in there, it’s not just a matter of handing them over to the performers. Also, my ideas about them shift as I get information about them from how other people perceive them, but I think that’s a good thing. It only enriches them. As it is, the lyrics are often contradictory, that’s one good thing about them, that so many people can find something of themselves in it."
Have you had any reaction from Morrissey or Marr?
|Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others|
"No, not yet, because neither has seen the show, although the producer had a long chat with Johnny Marr during rehearsal and he was very supportive and seemed to get what we are doing. I’m hoping that one or both of them will come along."
What do you think they’d make of it?
"I hope they’d enjoy it. It’s very difficult to say, because I suppose when someone writes something so personal, it’s difficult to look at it from someone else’s view, but I hope that they’d recognise that we love the material."