In February I blogged about the dramatised version of Goodnight Mister Tom after I’d seen it on stage at the Lowry. I liked it a lot, and soon after Michelle Magorian sent me her own two act musical of the book, for me to read and compare.
There was singing in the production I saw as well, although not nearly as much. Whereas it sounds strange to think of this tear inducing novel turned into a musical (don’t you somehow feel a musical is happy at all times?), I find that you can fit a lot of back story and explanation into a song, in a way you couldn’t with plain speech, because it’d be boring and sound too much like a shopping list.
So yes, I liked Michelle’s own version a lot. I’m always surprised by how well you can fit a really long book into what is a pretty short play, without losing too much of the general feel of the original story. The actors obviously help, as they can show you in a second what takes a while to describe on the page.
The film starring John Thaw is also excellent for that very reason. The plot of the book has been cut, but you feel it’s ‘all there.’
I have heard of authors who attempt to write screenplays of their own novels, but who give up. Not only is it a different skill, but it must be hard to cut your own ‘baby,’ as it were. The difference for Michelle is her theatre experience, which gives her a head start when it comes to adapting her work for the stage.
The Mister Tom musical was a brief read, but it still brought tears to my eyes. I suspect it always will.
And tonight you absolutely must watch – or at least record for later Christmas viewing – the new ITV film of Just Henry. It’s on at seven this evening, and I have been looking forward to it for months.
Josh Bolt will be Henry, and Elaine Cassidy, Dean Andrews, Stephen Campbell Moore and Barbara Flynn are also in the film, with Sheila Hancock as Henry’s grandmother. Now that should be interesting!