The Devil and Mr Stone was a musical based on the age-old Faust legend set in nineteenth century Salem County and was Stephen's second full-length, sung-through musical. The words were by Dennis Pickford who had played God in the composer's Creation Story. Dennis wrote an original libretto which opens at a grand reception given by the wealthiest man in the county Jonas Stone. The reception is rudely interrupted by the arrival of the sinister Jereboam who is selling the mysterious 'universal remedy' which can solve all manner of ailments much to the excitement of the guests. Then as daytime suddenly turns to night, a figure dressed in black arrives...
Stephen and Dennis started writing The Devil and Mr Stone in 1987 after the last performance of Creation Story and it was eventually performed three times at the Donmar Warehouse as a late-night showcase in July 1989. The cast was made up of actors who were all appearing in West End shows who incredibly gave up their time for expenses only. After quite a search to find a director the young Ramin Gray eventually stepped in and did a splendid job at very short notice.
Musically the show was a departure from Creation Story drawing on operetta, American folk music as well as the
sung-through musicals of the time.
At the time of the performances the Donmar was being renovated. Arriving for the second performance the long table and chairs that were the chief part of the set had been used by the builders to mix cement on!
Stephen entered the score for the Sondheim Masterclass in late 1989 and was subsequently accepted on the course.
He is currently producing a vocal score that corresponds to the SoundCloud playlist for Score Exchange. The show is a favourite of the composer.
JONAS STONE - ANDREW MURRAY
HIS WIFE - NIKKI ANKARA
THE DEVIL - NIGEL GARTON
JEREBOAM - ANTHONY O'DRISCOLL
BETSY ANNE - CARRIE ELLIS
GOVERNOR - VAN HINMAN
DOOMED GUEST - ROBIN POLLEY
GUESTS - PIPPA LAY, YVONNE RILEY, CHARLES SHIRVELL,
CHRIS COLBY, ALAN VICARY.
Words by Dennis Pickford
Music by Stephen Keeling
Directed by Ramin Gray
Choreography by Ian Poitier
Designed by Nigel Prabhavalkar
Lighting by Alan Pope
Producer Aidan Bell
Musicians: Flute - Colin Crawley, Clarinet - Paul Mason,
Strings - Evelyn Preston, Bass - Nick Skillbeck,
Percussion - Neil Roland, Piano - Stephen Keeling
Performed at the Donmar Warehouse 7th-9th July 1989
Original demo sung by Charlotte Page, Chris Harley and Dennis Pickford. Recorded at Keele University 1987