Wuthering Heights is an evolving work and I'm very happy to have the opportunity to present this musical adaptation of Emily Bronte's haunting and powerful novel to an audience for the first time.
I get emotional trying to express the cultural connection to the primal threads that run viscerally within Emily Bronte's work. I grew up in Doncaster in Yorkshire, as a boy playing "Robin Hood" in the remains of Sherwood Forest and chasing around Scarborough Castle on family summer holidays, being a Knight In Armor! Mix this to the pensive and fertile soil of this young Northern lad's imagination, school trips to The Bronte Parsonage in Haworth and the awe-inspiring ruins of Fountain's Abbey, and you might understand my lifelong love affair with the ancient, gritty and hauntingly romantic landscapes of Yorkshire.
One wet Sunday afternoon in the early 70's, my mother told me I had to go with Sandra (my sister) to see a film as she was studying for her English Literature A level exam. Usually going to "the pictures" was a real treat but not only was this film not a war film or a James Bond movie but "English Literature." And even worse, it was written by a girl!
I was mesmerized by the film from the opening titles and the simple ethereal soundtrack. This was the Tim Dalton, Anna Calder-Marshall version of Emily Bronte's unique masterpiece. My sister left after the first showing and I (as you could in a movie theater in those days) managed to sneak back in and sat through a second showing. I went back to see the movie several times that week before it quietly moved on to another, weathered and stoical northern town.
The film prompted me to read the book several times over. But I shall never forget the first time I got to the end and read those haunting words: "Unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth." Emily Bronte's stark and simple truth touched me deeply and it still does to this day
The idea to write a "concept album" based on the story came to me during recording sessions with Greg Watkins in 1988. The first song I wrote was Heathcliff's Prayer and the rest followed. After writing to The Bronte Society to make sure there no copyright restrictions regarding musical adaptations, some 18 songs were written and will all eventually be included in this production.
Obviously, with much of my career spent in projects like Evita and The Mystery Of Edwin Drood, musical theater has always been a major part of my life. But after touring with Eric Idle and performing in 1776 here in Los Angeles, musical projects were put on the back burner while film, TV and Graphic Novel commitments took priority. But after work on Transformers and questions regarding projects including "giant singing alien robots" I decided it was time to dust off the old vocal cords and return to my original musical roots! This production is the result.
Robb Vallier was recommended by John DuPrez, whom I worked with while touring with Eric Idle in the US. John is a gifted and respected musician and co-wrote Spamalot, which we performed live at Eric's house for director Mike Nichols. Robb also worked on Spamalot and has brought his rare musical energy and technical expertise to the project and produced a distinctive, timeless and yet contemporary musical texture to the songs. I enjoy our collaboration immensely as we both have an ironic and self-deprecating sense of humor! Thanks again for the unremitting energy, enthusiasm creative production skills and considerable musical talent.
I'd also sincerely like to thank Jenn Korbee, Jessica Keenan Wynn and Katie Boeck for their enthusiasm, patience and commitment to the project. I feel very lucky to have found these extremely talented artists and I'm sure all three ladies are going to have long and bright futures in the entertainment industry.
My sincere gratitude also goes to my old mate Ray Winstone for lending his gravely and gritty tones as Lockwood and applying his world class acting talent, narrating Emily Bronte's powerful prose between the songs. Ray's chilling narration really sends a shiver up the spine as Catherine's ghostly apparition grabs his hand in the casement window scene. Truly gothic stuff!
So! Thanks for listening and now just let your mind wander across those stark and lonely Yorkshire moors. Listen to the wind, breathing through the grass like whispering ghosts, as they wander abroad under that benign sky...