MY FATHER'S SON - A Story of Steel - A timeline
1992. Steven Dexter, while staying with the Fawcett family overlooking the Stocksbridge Steel Mills as touring director for The Sound of Music, has ideas for a new musical. On returning to London he asks Stephen Keeling and Stephen Clark if they are interested in developing a new show for 40 young people in Sheffield. They were and work begins and the structure for the show starts to take shape. It would be called Made in Sheffield (a story of Steel). Eileen Fawcett would commission and produce it for the new Made in Sheffield Theatre Company (Mistco). Auditions are held in the Spring of 1993 and the talent of the performers is exceptional.
August 1st 1993 'The three Steves' arrive in Stocksbridge to start rehearsals with a third of the show written with the rest to be devised with the highly talented company and written in situ. Two exciting and hectic weeks follow. Louise Marshall is the musical director. At the end of it two performances are scheduled at Sheffield City Hall.
August 14th 1993 The two performances are rapturously received at Sheffield City Hall. The company are invited to do some more performances as soon as possible. Parts of the show are reworked and new songs added.
October 15th 1993 The show is performed at Stocksbridge Sports Centre.
October 17th 1993 The show returns to Sheffield City Hall for two further performances and it is also to be taken to London the following Spring with Eileen Fawcett producing on behalf of Made in Sheffield and Sacha Brooks on behalf of the Mercury Workshop.
February 20th 1994 Lilian Baylis Theatre, Sadler's Wells London. After restaging the show to make sure it sits happily in the Lilian Baylis Theatre the show is premiered in London by the original cast in two ecstatically received performances.
July 6-9th 1994 Crucible Theatre, Sheffield. The show is invited to be performed as part of the Sheffield Children's Festival at the Crucible Theatre with new songs and for the first time as a two act musical with several new songs and scenes. The performances are very successful.
May 1995. A full-length demo of the two act version of the show (retitled My Father's Son) is recorded in London with leading West End performers including Joanna Riding, James Gillan, Hal Fowler, Lottie Mayor, Josie Walker and Jacqui Cryer. Representing the original cast is Melissa Jacques embarking on a successful West End career (followed by Rachael Wooding, Edward Hogg and other original cast members). The recording can be heard on SoundCloud
1996-1998 The show is rested while all involved turn to other projects.
July 1999 Crucible Theatre, Sheffield. The show returns to the Crucible Theatre in a new production by Mistco. The script and score are developed so the show works on a more complex level. Now a full-length musical for the first time an orchestra is used with orchestrations by David White. Leading West End performers Josie Walker and Michael Cahill play Lizabeth and John. A lot of the original cast return. Musical Stages reviews the show and calls it 'a very strong piece'. Stephen Clark writes in the programme 'and the result is that, for us, the show has come of age. And Keeling, Dexter, Eileen and I are thrilled with where the show has arrived. It is now, I hope, a show for everyone'.
"What Bernstein and Sondheim did for 'Romeo and Juliet' Clark and Keeling have done for 'Hamlet' - and, unlikely as it sounds, the result is electrifying."
'Although we very much wanted the show to revolve around life in a steel mill in the mid 1800s, we knew it would not be enough to have endless working scenes interspersed with songs about how hard life was back then. We wanted a story about people. People who love and hate, win and lose, who seek revenge, who exploit, who survive. So we turned to one of the greatest stories of them all. But this is no simple adaptation. It has developed enormously during the writing and devising process and only the essence of the original story remains. But to say what it is would be unfair for stories are to be unwrapped like presents and their job is to surprise' Stephen Clark