DENVER (CBS4) – The world premiere of “Sense & Sensibility: The Musical” is enchanting theater goers in Denver and earning glowing reviews.
It was a labor of love for lyricist Jeffrey Haddow.
“I had thought that ‘Sense & Sensibility’ would make a great musical for quite a while,” he said. “I was just looking for the right composer.”
The right composer turned out to be Neal Hampton, who agreed Jane Austen’s classic story of the Dashwood sisters and their different views on love was perfect for the stage.
“There are a whole bunch of people with tremendous yearning,” Hampton said. “That is very important in the theater. I mean if … they’re big emotions and they’re all clamped down and they couldn’t say anything, but we can give them the opportunity to sing.”
For seven years the men have worked together to fine the pitch-perfect way to get Austen off the page and onto the stage, accompanied by song.
“Neal and I have been working together so long, we’re joined at the hip,” is how Haddow described their collaboration.
That has created an intimate working relationship between lyricist and composer, partners who can finish each other’s sentences.
“All these songs started together in the same room,” Hampton said. “Sometimes we’ll have a start on something, he’ll develop some lyrics. Sometimes I’ll throw a lyric in every once in a while …”
“Once in a while I’ll throw in a musical idea,” Haddow interrupted.
“Absolutely, absolutely and gradually we form the piece,” concluded Hampton.
Hampton said writing a musical means accepting unexpected inspiration.
“Those are the magical times and to get to those times you have to work and work and work and figure that stuff out, and every now and then you get a little gift,” he said. “I don’t want to get too poetic here, but there are just times when the creative process just feels like there’s something else feeding it.”
But it takes a team to translate the dream into a finished product.
This team includes music supervisor David Loud, music director Paul Masse and director Marcia Milgrom Dodge.
“By them doing what they’re doing, it frees Neal up to make changes in the music rather than to have to do several things at once, which is very, very helpful,” explained Haddow.
All of the fine tuning played out at the Stage Theater with the help of the Denver Center Theater Company.
The hope is to take “Sense & Sensibility: The Musical” all the way to Broadway. But the creative men behind it will always remember where the music first filled the air.
“This is amazing, this a dream,” Hampton said. “We’re living the dream. Just imagine how great this (opening) night was and it’s all because of the Denver Center.”