Remains of the Day musical opens in London

LONDON (AFP) – Award-winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro is supporting a new musical based on his novel “Remains of the Day” even though he dislikes a lot of the musicals staged in London.

The production with music and lyrics by Alex Loveless opens at the Union Theatre on Wednesday and Ishiguro showed his enthusiasm by attending a private preview on Tuesday.

“I’m not a big fan of West End musicals. They are not really my cup of tea, but the musical form can be used to tell all kinds of stories,” the author said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“Remains of the Day”, Ishiguro’s third novel, won the 1989 Man Booker prize and a 1993 film version starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson was nominated for eight Oscars.

It tells the story of Stevens, long-standing and devoted butler to the late Lord Darlington, as he sets out to meet his one-time housekeeper and bring her back to Darlington Hall.

“I always thought it would work as a musical,” Ishiguro said. He even thought about the possibility of staging it but was put off by the fact many people saw the idea as “a bit of a joke.”

The novel is about “repressed emotion” and “thwarted ambition”, not themes normally associated with the glamour of musicals, but he believes the format enables the characters to express their underlying emotions.

Loveless, whose brother Chris is the show’s director, has been writing music based on the “Remains of the Day” story for several years and eventually took the project to producer Simon James Collier.

“I liked it because it is a very British story and London needs new British musical theatre productions” to compete with the many revivals and non-British shows, Collier told AFP.

“We talked to Ishiguro and he completely endorsed the idea,” the producer added.

“Remains of the Day” is opening in a small theatre by West End standards because the recession makes it difficult to raise money for new shows, Collier said.

But he has big ambitions for the project.

“It is a work in progress. We have another two and a half or three hours of music and when we get feedback from the opening we will chop and change it and develop the show further,” he said.

“Ishiguro is extremely enthusiastic about the production and the direction it is heading in.”

Collier said Ishiguro could not attend the musical’s press nights because he was flying to the United States on Wednesday for the opening of his latest film, “Never Let Me Go”.

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