Alchemy: Cheltenham’s Newest Musical

PUBLISHED: 16:48 19 August 2013 | UPDATED: 17:06 22 August 2013



(C)2013 Neil Palfreyman, all rights reserved

Brooke Cleave meets with the cast of ‘Alchemy’, a rock musical coming soon to the Cheltenham Playhouse Theatre.


Sitting in the traditional and quaint Royal Oak in Bishops Cleeve isn’t where you’d expect to find two rock pros, usually thought of for their high-volume singing and head bashing. But alas, here sit composer Clive Nolan and producer David Clifford, sipping on chilled glasses of Rosé and discussing the financial matters regarding their upcoming musical.


Alongside the practised cast sits Paul Blower, the newbie to the group. A recruiting company director by day, he transforms into a guy-liner clad diva by night. “I met David when he came to me looking for a job” he said. “We got talking about our passion for music, then David asked me to try out for the chorus for his latest musical. So I did, but I never imagined I’d be cast as a lead role.”


The most acting experience Paul had until this point was as a criminal in a Police training video, but - as he pointed out – it’s never too late to start.


Composer Clive now lives near Windsor, but still has a penchant for his Gloucestershire roots. “I grew up near Nailsworth and went to school at Wycliffe College before moving to Kings in Gloucester. The two years spent at Kings were the best of my life.” His composing talents were found here, where he was asked to compose Christmas carols for the choristers and entire school to sing in Gloucester Cathedral. “The Cathedral and surrounding grounds are my favourite place to visit when I’m in the Cotswolds – they are an oasis in the middle of Gloucester and bring back so many happy memories.”


Now on to bigger and better productions, ‘Alchemy’ includes 50 members of cast and took Clive over three years to compose. He’s also built a fan base across the world, following a global tour and performances in Bolivia. “Eighty per cent of my audiences come from outside the UK. It’s hard to break into the British theatre market without a big budget, but we’re trying to attract more locals along – they just need a little faith to try something new.”


When the cast isn’t cooped up rehearsing, they’re quite an outdoors bunch. “My new favourite thing to do is to take a trip on the narrow boats in the canals around Stroud,” Paul revealed. “I hopped on one from Saul last weekend and was surprised how quiet it was – completely undiscovered by tourists”.


So where will they be celebrating after it’s all finished? “The Gumstool at Calcot Manor is always great,” says Paul, “but to be honest, once it’s all finished I look forward to going home, kicking back and relaxing with a cold beer.”


• ‘Alchemy’ runs at Cheltenham Playhouse Theatre from the 5-7th September 2013. Tickets can be bought from the box office by calling 01242 522852.



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