All aboard, next stop West End hit
Rick Guard, co-author of musical Stop The Train, which comes to The Clitheroe Grand next month, tells TONY DEWHURST the production has its sights set on the heart of London’s theatreland
Atomic Kitten singer Kerry Katona and funny man Johnny Vegas could land a ticket to ride on Stop The Train’s express journey to London’s West End.
Lancashire singer-songwriter Rick Guard, who co-wrote the play, appears to have a major hit on his hands with influential West End movers and shakers showing interest in the production that calls at Clitheroe’s Grand Theatre next month.
Guard, from Ribchester, said: “I wrote to Kerry Katona and Johnny Vegas and they both said they enjoyed the script and the feel of the play.
“There’s a possibility they could become involved – they are definitely interested – and that would be marvellous.
“There’s a lot of hard work ahead, but it is fairytale stuff what has happened so far.”
Guard, a jazz singer who has worked with Lionel Richie, added: “The response to the show has been beyond our wildest dreams, we truly believe we could get Stop The Train to the West End one day.”
Stop The Train already features a cameo from king of the stars Russell Grant, who plays Colin the Conductor in the dark comedy.
The play follows passengers on a busy commuter train who meet a mysterious stranger that changes their lives.
“When it was first shown at the Grand, we didn’t know what the reaction would be, but audiences have taken the play to their hearts and just seem to love it – we are all terribly proud of that.”
Stop The Train has attracted the attention of West End lighting director Nick Richings, recognised for his work on Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Starlight Express.
Guard’s More To Life Productions team are negotiating with theatres for a national tour in 2016, and in discussions with international producers to stage the play in China and the Far East.
“To have Nick Richings on board is fantastic, it gives Stop The Train that stamp of credibility that can open doors in the West End. Hopefully Nick is coming to the Clitheroe show and that’s incredible.”
Guard, who has co-written Stop The Train with Phil Rice, recruited the cast and production team from Lancashire.
“It was a long time ago since we had the auditions in Clitheroe, with a mixture of professional and amateur actors, but it showed me the incredible pool of talent we have here in Lancashire.
“It would mean the world to me for an unknown actor from Lancashire to achieve their dream of acting, singing or dancing in the West End.”
From the very beginning, award-winning documentary maker Chris Swann, who produced Pavarotti in the Park for Sky TV and Charles Dickens in America for the BBC, has filmed every step of the play’s development from the opening night at Clitheroe’s Grand Theatre.
“The documentary makers are convinced Stop The Train will reach its destination and that in the next three years we will open in a London Theatre,” added Guard.
Catch Stop The Train: August 8, Clitheroe Grand. 01200 421599. £18.50. Advance £17.