Interview with Simon
Margaret Vermette is the author of The Musical World of Boublil and Schönberg and has written reviews and articles for Musical Stages and various other publications. She has interviewed Simon several times previously and did this latest interview with him in May 2013
Margaret: It’s been over a year now since we did the last interview, so what have you been up to?
Simon: Well, recently I’ve been doing some interesting things that I’ve fancied doing for myself for a long time and I also did quite a few concerts last year. I did The Three Phantoms at the Chichester Festival Theatre and then at the Theatre Royal Newcastle. We did a few performances at each venue and there were songs from a whole range of musicals. That was a nice thing to do and it was good fun seeing some old friends again.
Then I was asked to do a Queen Concert Tour of Britain, Ireland and Monte Carlo. It was called Bohemian Rhapsody and there were about six of us doing all this great music from Queen. We were working with a fantastic rock band and I was playing the guitar myself on stage for some of the numbers. It was a fun show and we were having a laugh in it really, with quite bizarre costumes that we were kind of making up ourselves. It was a really successful tour and it was interesting to go to Monte Carlo because I’ve never performed there before.
Margaret: Did you enjoy it?
Simon: Oh yes, it was really lovely and the weather was fantastic. It was a shame though that it didn’t coincide with the Formula 1 race! One thing was a bit weird – I was told that the big house next to where I was performing belonged to Shirley Bassey, so of course being Welsh I thought ‘Oh great! I’ll go in for a cup of tea!’ The tour went on for about three months and it actually finished in Monte Carlo.
Margaret: It sounds fantastic – wasn’t it a bit dull after that?
Simon: No, not at all. Sometimes you just have to set some time aside to get on with your own things and I wanted to concentrate on seriously getting back into my own writing. It’s so easy to put that on the back burner when other things come up but I’ve been working on a new musical and I want to get things moving with The Lost Weekend, the musical I wrote with John Sinclair. I have to consider whether to workshop it or to put it on in a concert form to start with. And I’ve been working on a completely new project that I’m really excited about.
Margaret: That sounds interesting – tell me more.
Simon: I’ve been writing some new material for my own acoustic concerts. It’ll be mostly my own material with some songs inspired by shows I’ve done and some new songs, possibly linked with these shows. So there will be nice little twists where you think something is from a show but actually it isn’t – it’s what I’ve written myself, so it’s going to be a little bit different from anything else. Some songs will be jazzy or poppy, some from the musical theatre world and some from my own musicals too, so it will be a nice kind of combination with something for everyone. I’ll be playing the guitar as well as singing and there be a little storyline running through it with some kind of conversational pieces too.
Margaret: Will it just be you on stage?
Simon: I’ll be with some musicians from the Bohemian Rhapsody band who are absolutely fantastic – their playing is right up there. So it will be great to work with them and when you’re working with musicians of such a high standard it just makes everything so much easier. We’re all really excited about coming up with new concepts and new ideas and arrangements for things that maybe you’ve never heard done in that way before.
Margaret: Where will these concerts be?
Simon: We’ll be playing at small venues in London to start with. The dates will be coming up soon and we’re working on an acoustic album that people will be able to buy and it’s all being set up at the moment. Things often come up where you have to drop everything and that’s why I wanted to have this time to concentrate on my own projects and do things that really excite me. And now there is a brand new show that I’ll be starring in in August called The Prodigals.