First performed at the Scene and Heard festival in the Smock Alley Theatre, the early rendition of the show was “just thirty minutes of songs all stuck together with a little bit of narration in between.” Chromatics was performed by a cast of Carrick’s friends, many of whom she met through the Musical Society, and who helped Carrick develop the show into a full length two act show. “There is no better way to develop your show, than to see what people think about it. All of the feedback may not be right for you and maybe you think that ‘okay that person didn’t quite get what I was going for,’ but there is no better feeling in learning. I think for anyone who wants to try and create something is putting it in front of people and sharing it with them. Scene and Heard is such a safe space to get constructive criticism, but also really valuable advice from people who are genuinely interested in your show and they want to come and see it.”
It was through this collaborative effort, that Carrick and the Polliwog Theatre Collective took Chromatics to The Other Palace on the West-End in May 2018, with seasoned director Andrew Keates at the helm. “It was very interesting for a London director to come and direct our Irish show, because he actually came in and saw a lot of things that we were saying and what we were doing, that we didn’t necessarily see as inherently different or inherently Irish and he was able to pick them out and say ‘people in the UK don’t think things like this or don’t know these things, and you need to tell them,’ so that was really interesting for me, to see our own lives from someone else’s perspective.”
Having finished the script and fine-tuned the characters, Carrick then “had to hand it over to a different director - to take my baby, and rip it apart and put it back together again” for the West-End stage. “The experience was second to none, and I learned so much from working with people like Andrew, he has so much experience, he has so much knowledge about musical theatre in general and just made want to really up my game.”
Carrick describes how she looks for passion in telling Irish stories through musical theatre. “I don’t believe that there are enough Irish stories in musical theatre, despite the fact that I think that we are people of storytelling and singing and dancing. Pop into any pub, past 10pm at the weekends, and you’ll find somebody having a singsong somewhere.” This passion for Irish culture is further exemplified in her latest show, Tír na nÓg, which blends both the English and Irish languages together to retell the famous children’s fable of Oisin and Tír na nÓg. “I thought that the next thing I write I’d love to have everybody in the family come and for me it was only natural to weave some Irish into that as well, because I’m quite passionate about that we should embrace the Irish language.”
“I suppose there is still a little bit of an old-fashioned view of musical theatre. People think of musical theatre as jazz hands and sparkles...I hear people say ‘musicals just aren’t my thing.’”
In experimenting with this new style of musical, Carrick is attempting to not only fill a void in Irish theatre, but also change the outdated misconceptions that people who would not describe themselves as ‘musical theatre nerds’ have. “I suppose there is still a little bit of an old-fashioned view of musical theatre. People think of musical theatre as jazz hands and sparkles...I hear people say ‘musicals just aren’t my thing.’ I reply ‘you just haven’t found your musical yet, don’t worry.’ Musicals can sometimes be looked down upon a little bit in the wider theatre community but I see that it’s improving.”
For those looking to get a taste of the Irish musical theatre scene, the Bord Gais Theatre hosts many UK touring companies such as Legally Blonde, Miss Saigon and Wicked. Carrick also cites the recent run of Come From Away in the Abbey Theatre, which she described as “phenomenal and not something I ever expected to happen.”
Looking towards the future, what Carrick hopes to get out of the workshops in London is “ to figure out how I work with other people and to figure out what are the kinds of other people that I would like to work with, because I do think sometimes it gets quite lonely, being the only person writing a whole musical.” Mentioning that she and her friend Kathy Moore have written a number of songs together that they are hoping to share together, later in the year, Carrick describes the potential writing partner as “somebody who also understands conveying emotion. Someone once told me ‘people in a musical shouldn’t just start singing out of number. They should sing because words by themselves are not enough to express what they need to express.’” Could Carrick & Moore join the likes of Rodgers & Hammerstein and Kander & Ebb? Only time and an emotional ballad will tell.