Ukulele Days: a new musical
Ukulele Days is a feel-good new musical for actor-musicians and the world’s cheeriest instrument. At the Seaside Ukulele Festival, music brings a community together – but first, there are bitter rivalries, family dynamics, and exploding egos to sort out. Think Pitch Perfect meets Much Ado About Nothing, set at a ukulele festival.
Ukulele Days: a new musical
REALLY? A UKULELE MUSICAL?
Yes! Imagine a field with a marquee tent, bunting, and hundreds of ukulele players… wouldn’t it be a perfect setting for a musical? Then add the best lovers in all of Shakespeare, Beatrice and Benedick from Much About Nothing, the drama of competing in a song contest, and an ensemble of quirky characters. Finally, jazz it all up with the sonic variety of the soprano, baritone, piccolo, and bass ukuleles, plus the cajon, shakers, and vocal harmonies… Oh, and kazoos. You can’t have a ukulele festival without kazoos.
All together, Ukulele Days promises to be a joyful show with tons of heart and toe-tapping tunes.
Alongside the show, we’re excited to create opportunities for everyone to join in, with ukulele lessons, open mic nights, pop-up street performances and give-aways. The ukulele has such a spectacular community of players, and we want to invite more people to be part of the fun!
THE JOURNEY OF THE SHOW
Amy started writing in 2021, and now has a complete first draft of the book, music, and lyrics.
We presented a 10-minute pitch of Ukulele Days in May 2023 at the prestigious BEAM Showcase of new musical theatre at Oxford Playhouse. (You can hear a couple of songs and some more info from the pitch in the video above.)
Now, we’re in talks with a venue about presenting the show at their outdoor festival in summer 2024, and we’re already working on an Arts Council England application to support that first production. After that, we’ve set our sights on Edinburgh Fringe 2025.
From 2026 onwards, we’d love to tour the show around the country, looking for places where we can connect with ukulele groups and inspire even more new players. (Let us know if you’d like us to bring the show to a theatre near you!)
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Please consider making a donation to support the development of Ukulele Days. You can give any amount from £1 upwards - and don't forget to select a reward!
We don’t want to wait until next year to get started on the show - and that’s where crowdfunding comes in. (You may know, it can take a long time to put a £30,000 Arts Council application together, and around 2 months to wait for a decision - and that’s if we’re successful the first time.)
So we asked ourselves, what could we do now with, say, £4,000? We’re planning a small R&D (research & development) week in the autumn with just the two main characters, Bibi and Ben, along with the key creative team of writer, director, musical director, and dramaturg. The aim is to develop the characters and make their love story as compelling, funny, and moving as Shakespeare’s original Beatrice and Benedick. (If ukuleles had been invented yet, we’re sure that Will would have put them in the show.)
With the venue's support for rehearsal space, the main costs of this R&D are the artist fees: 6 people paid at the industry standard rate of £545 per week. We'll also spend a little money on documenting the work with rough song recordings, photos & videos to help with future pitching and marketing of the show.
Writer Amy Clare Tasker is a theatre maker and songwriter. She taught herself to play the ukulele in 2019, and discovered a wonderland of music-lovers, community events, festivals, and creative expression. Amy is a co-director of Pinecone Performance Lab, where she writes, performs, directs, and embraces an all-around "theatre maker" ethos. Amy previously wrote and performed the show HOT (Helen of Troy), which premiered at The Cockpit in February 2020. Since 2022, she has been a member of the Book Music & Lyrics workshop, honing the craft of writing for musical theatre. Amy also works with The Cockpit on the Voila! Europe Theatre Festival and the Theatre Maker artist development programme.
Director Nicky Allpress's recent credits include The Shape of Things (Park Theatre), The Walworth Farce, and Romeo & Juliet (Southwark Playhouse); Crackers! (Polka Theatre), My Fair Lady (The Hexagon, Reading); Market Boy (Union Theatre); Invisible Me (Bloomsbury Festival); Moment of Grace (Lockdown Film); Summon up the Blood (RSC Open Stages community project, director and adapter of Henry IV, V and VI). She is currently in preparation for he 60th anniversary tour of Oh What a Lovely War with six actor musicians. As Associate Director she worked on Dragons & Mythical Beasts (Regents Park and Tour); My Brilliant Friend (National Theatre); Summerland (film dir Jessica Swale); Finishing the Picture (Finborough Theatre).
Nicky works closely with writers in the development of new plays and musicals, creating a a new writing residency at the Swiss Church Covent Garden to help 16 writers host readings, workshops, and development rehearsals to further their new work. Nicky is about to start her third year in the Book Music & Lyrics workshop, under the auspices of Tim Sutton, Jason Carr and David James.
Dramaturg Tricity Vogue, AKA Heather Tyrrell, is a seasoned scriptwriter and lyricist, as well as a celebrated ukulele player and cabaret performer. Her most recent theatrical collaboration was as lyricist on Alma, a new original musical produced by Théatre de Namur, Belgium, created by director Fabrice Murgia and celebrated drag queen Peggy Lee Cooper.
Tricity spent a decade working in television (credits include My Family, Totally Frank, Holby City, Byker Grove and the Teletubbies) before she fell down a rabbit hole into London's cabaret scene. As an international cabaret performer and musician, Tricity Vogue has staged five hit Edinburgh Fringe shows, and played venues including London's Royal Festival Hall, Royal Albert Hall and Wiltons Music Hall with her All Girl Swing Band. Her “drag action musical” Heels of Glory, co-written with composer Richard Link, was awarded development funding from the Arts Council of England, and headlined the Pride in London Festival 2016 at Chelsea Theatre.
Pinecone Performance Lab is a London-based company obsessed with unexpected connections. Led by co-directors Amy Clare Tasker and Susie Italiano, we make theatre that seeks to understand how we relate to each other: audiences, artists, fellow humans, our culture, other cultures, the earth, the universe.
Our previous projects include Home is Where… a headphone verbatim performance inspired by stories of cross-cultural identity, developed 2016 - 2018 at Rich Mix, Camden People’s Theatre, The Cockpit, Theatre Deli & CLF Art Cafe. In early 2020, we premiered HOT (Helen of Troy) at The Cockpit, a 90s-inspired play with songs about beauty, power, and myth, featuring a teenage Amy and the voice of Helen of Troy. We also ran the London Devised Theatre Intensive in 2018 & 2019, a two-week Open Space workshop for theatre makers to explore, collaborate, and create their own work. www.pineconeperformance.com
GET IN TOUCH
@AmyClareTasker on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
Ukulele Days socials
@UkuleleDays on Twitter
@UkuleleDaysMusical on Instagram & TikTok
Pinecone Performance Lab
@PineconeLab on Twitter
@PineconePerformanceLab on Facebook
@PineconePerformance on Instagram
Jason Kajdi performed "Time to Heal" from Ukulele Days, at an open mic night for new musical theatre, hosted by MMD (Mercury Musical Developments) at The Other Palace Theatre. 24 July 2023.