Mama Mia! Mother's Made a Musical

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Not content to win awards at the Edinburgh and Tribeca film festivals with its Eurostar film Somers Town, Mother, London's off to conquer the West End and Broadway with an hour-long musical for Pot Noodle, to premier next month at the Edinburgh Fringe Fest.

"It's this ridiculous idea that we had following the campaign we'd just written," says Mother creative Stuart Outhwaite. "We thought Why not stretch it out? We had all these fantastic songs that had gone by the wayside when we were developing the campaign." In doing so, Mother may be the first to break the branded theatrical performance barrier, but more on that in a minute.

Pot Noodle: The Musical sees Steve and Digger, the ragtag protagonists in the TVCs, vie against Allan Little, Pot Noodle factory overlord. Steve tries to win the affections of Sandy, the love of his life, with witty ballads, while Little schemes to thwart him. Outhwaite says Little's in a "Barry White-like number called 'I Pay For Sex,' because he loves fast cars and prostitutes." Little's goon, Flick Ferdinando, is the fifth cast member, and there's an opera number as well at the finale. Actor Will Owen, who plays Steve in the spots and in the musical, was confident enough in his singing to sign on, but Jarred Christmas, who plays Digger, passed on the role because he "couldn't sing for toffee," Outhwaite says.

The musical cost much less than a TV spot to produce, despite the team's bringing on Edinburgh veterans, director David Sant of Peepolykus and composer Peter Coyte, Outhwaite says. The professionals have made up for the Mother group's utter lack of any experience writing plays—much like the Mother Comics, now in their second edition with Time Out London.

"It's a case of accepting our shortcomings and fully embracing the creative talents and abilities of people who have greater experience and more to offer in these things. You come up with a much stronger piece of entertainment than we could have written cold." The initial script, Outhwaite says, was too close to a TV sitcom and had to be made to work in the theater by Sant and company. "We were told that actually theater is more about high drama," Outhwaite says. "A lot of those things started to come up in the script and we started developing and devising it with the director and the cast, so it became a collaborative process." The cast and crew did a full run-through last week, and a final dress rehearsal will be held next week. Outhwaite says after cursory research he believes Mother may be the first agency to attempt a branded musical—and perhaps even the first for a branded stage production. "The closest you come is Jerry Springer the musical," Outhwaite says. "We think it's the first-ever branded musical, even the first-ever branded piece of stage theater. To that end I guess we're preparing for the purist backlash."

The image of Mother creatives being driven back to Shoreditch by a crowd of angry harlequins and improv actors hurling rotting produce is hilarious, but the group hopes the entertainment value will outweigh any brand-related invective. "In all honesty, [we hope] that we're entertaining our audience in a way we haven't entertained them before. We've got no doubt it will ruffle feathers. It'll have people up in arms. But we hope they'll judge it as entertainment, by coming to see it, rather than suggesting it's evil to begin with. We think we're going to do it justice."

Pot Noodle: The Musical opens for previews July 31 and August 1, running nightly at Assembly Rooms, on 54 George Street in Edinburgh starting at 10:30 pm. Tickets are £11, £12 during the closing week, August 21-25.
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