Yesterday, the musical
Richard Eden, Deputy Editor, Sunday Telegraph
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jh ... acca24.xml
At the end of his very own annus horribilis, Sir Paul McCartney is about to revisit happier times.
The former Beatle is planning to make a stage show inspired by his working-class childhood in Liverpool.
"It is based on Paul's classical work The Liverpool -Oratorio," explained Kate Robbins, Sir Paul's cousin, who is working on the adaptation. "Paul will approve every note as musical director."
For the 64-year-old it has been the year when divorce proceedings began between him and his second wife, Heather Mills, and when, in a legal submission, the model-turned-campaigner accused him of drunken and abusive behaviour towards her.
"The project has been delayed by divorce worries," admitted Miss Robbins.
Sir Paul composed The Liverpool Oratorio, his first classical work, with Carl Davis in 1991 to commemorate the city's 150th anniversary.
The story loosely follows the path of the musician's life, with the main character, Shanty, who was born in 1942 in Liverpool, marrying his sweetheart, Mary Dee, after the death of his father. McCartney was deeply affected by the death of his mother, Mary, in October 1956, when he was 14.
Shanty and Mary Dee are forced to deal with the rigours of balancing a happy marriage and their careers, in the same way as Sir Paul and his first wife Linda – reportedly, the couple spent a total of less than a week apart during their 29-year union, despite their demanding commitments.
During a quarrel, Mary Dee reveals that she is pregnant and, after surviving a near-fatal accident, gives birth to their son. Linda was four months pregnant with McCartney's first child, Mary, when they married at Marylebone Register Office in 1969.
This was not the first time McCartney's childhood had been the inspiration for his music: his 1967 song Penny Lane was named after a road in Liverpool in which both he and John Lennon were said to have played as children.
McCartney's upbringing was far from affluent. At his wedding to Heather Mills in 2002, he referred to its poverty. "Back then, I'd have had a wedding just to get the rice," he said. "My trousers were so thin, if I sat down on a penny I could find out which way up it was – heads or tails."
Although theatres in the West End of London are expected to compete to stage the new musical, Sir Paul may decide to open it in his home town during Liverpool's year as the European Capital of Culture in 2008. The Liverpool Oratorio was first performed at the city's Anglican cathedral and starred the classical singers Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Jerry Hadley, Sally Burgess and Willard White.
Despite receiving a mixed reception from music critics, the recording proved to be a commercial success and topped classical charts around the world.
Sir Paul completed another classical piece earlier in the year, this time not inspired by childhood but by his marriage to Linda, who died of breast cancer in 1998. Ecce Cor Meum – Latin for "behold my heart" – received its première last month at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
His last pop album, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, appeared to be inspired by his second wife – and their very public split. The songs seem to include thinly veiled references to his marital difficulties, most notably the bitter track Riding to Vanity Fair.
Miss Robbins's involvement in the pending musical, which she is working on with the writer Steve Brown, has been given extra poignancy by the fact that, like her cousin, she is undergoing a difficult period in her private life.
The 47-year-old actress, perhaps best known for her work as an impressionist on the satirical television programme Spitting Image, separated in February from the composer Keith Atack, her husband of 19 years, by whom she has three children.
Sir Paul has long enjoyed a close relationship with Miss Robbins, who inspired him to burst into song for the first time since his separation from Mills. After Miss Robbins won a best supporting actress award at the Monaco Film Festival this month for her role in the film Fated, the musician sang his congratulations in a message recorded on video. "I watched you grow up since you were a little sproggling," he said. "Now, not only are you talented, you have real heart."
Miss Robbins said: "Paul is a real family man. He bought me my first piano and helped me get my first record deal.
"We are known as the Liverpool showbiz mafia. In our home growing up, even the sewing machine was a Singer."