Guest Post: The Best Laid Plans – Heather Jopling
We’re pleased to welcome Heather Jopling, a prolific writer, who shares the story of how a desire to bring Jim Steinman’s music to the stage led to the creation of her own musical, Mythos: The Crimson Chorus.
The Best Laid Plans – Heather Jopling
I was going to turn Bat Out of Hell into a musical. That was the plan. After the world-wide successes of Mamma Mia, We Will Rock You and Rock of Ages, I was astounded that no one had thought to tap into the music of Jim Steinman. While researching, I found that Steinman himself had been trying to put together something since 2006, but nothing yet had come of it. Great, I thought. I’ll do up a treatment, send it to Mr. Steinman and we’ll be good to go.
I spent hours and hours in my attic office listening to everything Steinman had written – I dreamed in 70s orchestral rock/ 80s power ballad technicolour for weeks. I roughed out a plot line involving supernatural creatures (Steinman has a lot of blood and wolf imagery in his work). I had an elaborate chart showing which songs might fit perfectly with which plot points. I started researching how one would go about getting the rights to Jim Steinman’s music. Apparently… one doesn’t. Turns out Steinman got burned pretty badly when he attempted to put on a musical on Broadway in 2003, consequently he is loathe to give up control of his work. I completely understand this.
I had a bit of a conundrum though. I had already roughed out my plot. Twisting the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast to incorporate vampires and vengeful Greek goddesses I had a good sense of where I thought my story could go. No longer worried about making Steinman’s music fit into my plot, I decided to take a creative leap. I wrote the lyrics for a song. Then I wrote another… and another and after two months, I had the first rough draft to a dramatic rock opera. For a gal who usually embraces camp and humour, I had taken a complete writing shift and created a serious musical. Sure there were elements of sarcasm and irony in the secondary characters, but first and foremost it was a dramatic rock musical. A dramatic VAMPIRE rock musical. Now, just a year later, we have already done our first workshop of the material and are promoting the show to NY producers and directors– not bad for what had been, in the beginning, a writing exercise.