The creators of Guy Fawkes The Musical are seeking a producer

The creators of Guy Fawkes The Musical are seeking a producer

My first thought when the folks behind a new musical based on Guy Fawkes tweeted me this morning was:

  • what a great idea for a musical!

My second thought was:

  • why hasn’t it been done before? or has it?

(My third thought was:

  • Well done, book writer Michael Matus. I had no idea that Michael, an actor I much admire, was also a scribe.)

But back to Thought Number One. Guys Fawkes is a fabulous subject for a musical. You’ve got drama! You’ve got conspiracy! You’ve got religious persecution! You’ve got ready-made lyrics!

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli’ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holla boys, Holla boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
And what should we do with him? Burn him!

I’m making up my own melodies even as I type.

Okay, you don’t actually have an explosion as, let’s remember, the Gunpowder Plot FAILED and Fawkes was found and arrested while standing guard over the stockpile under the Houses of Parliament. But if they can put some celebratory bonfires and fireworks onstage, I won’t complain.

As you probably know (don’t you?!), after being arrested, poor old Guy was tortured until he gave up his accomplices. When he was later due to be executed by hanging, he instead jumped from the scaffold and broke his own neck. His body was then mutilated – and his effigy has, ever more, been burned ‘alive’. Ouch.

Why hasn’t it been done before? (Or has it?)

Back to Thought Two… A quick Google search reveals that there HAS recently been a musical about the Gunpowder Plot. Called Remember Remember, it was premiered by the Lewes Operatic Society in 2008 and subsequently showcased at London’s Bridewell Theatre (sorry, it passed me by – did anyone else see it?). And there have will have certainly been Edinburgh Fringe offerings on the subject!

Wikipedia tells me that there have been other, earlier stage incarnations too. Guy and fellow plotter Robert Catesby featured regularly in 19th-century pantomimes, and the 1840 Guido Fawkes: or, the Prophetess of Ordsall Cave gave him the starring role. More recently, American Bill Cain’s 2009 play Equivocation imagined that Shakespeare was commissioned to write about the treason.

Onscreen, meanwhile, we’ve had Michael Fassbender playing Guy in the 2004 TV serial drama Gunpowder, Treason and Plot and Natalie Portman donning the anarchic Guy Fawkes’ mask in the 2006, London-set dystopian thriller V for Vendetta.

But that all seems pretty meagre to me. Let’s give Guy his West End debut!



— Terri Paddock (@TerriPaddock) November 5, 2014

It’s a shame that Guy Fawkes the Musical wasn’t around ten years ago to capitalise on all the 2005 hype around the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot. But if they get their skates on, no reason not to squeeze a 410th anniversary production in next year. Given the well-timed splash they’ve made today on Twitter, I’m sure the same has occurred to them.

Michael Matus and composer Nick Butcher (also an actor – multi-talented guys) have been workshopping Guy Fawkes the Musical and are looking for a producer to make it happen. Email for more details.