I first met Paul Stebbings in 1983, when I was Artistic Director of the Brancepeth Festival, held in a 12th Century castle in County Durham, I the northeast of England. We invited the newly formed TNT Theatre Company to perform their production “1945” in the castle chapel, by candlelight – I was immediately captivated by the originality and rawness of the work, and over the next few days together we collaborated to make a production from scratch, a murder mystery with audience participation set throughout the 200 room castle. It was a huge success – and shortly afterwards we were commissioned to write our first collaborative work, Cabaret Faust. In that production my future wife Renee played ‘cello and piano, with a founder member of the English Guitar Quartet, Bob Hoy playing guitar and clarinet, myself as trombonist, percussionist and musical director. It was the start of professional and personal friendships that have lasted 37 years to date, and produced over twenty shows that have toured internationally.
Working with Paul Stebbings is a wonderful intercultural exchange between two mentalities: English and German. We have the same sense of humour, but the English way of creating theatre is more imaginative, more colourful, even more lively than I know from working with German directors and writers. As a German artist, my music develops from the search for the core of a characters and the contrasting British impulse allows us a fertile meeting ground for our music theatre creations.
copyright: Geoffrey Head
copyright Mark Dawson
copyright Dale Stone
I’m Thomas Johnson, I live in the Cotswolds in the UK. I am a composer, musician and theatre maker and have composed hundreds of scores for all sorts of different kinds of theatre: tiny studios, mid-scale theatres, in parks, in schools, on Broadway, on the beach, from Minnesota to St.Petersburg. I’ve been associated with TNT/ADG since 1993 and have written the music for 14 of their productions, including the perennial CHRISTMAS CAROL, OLIVER TWIST, HAMLET, KING LEAR, and most recently OTHELLO.
I greatly enjoy the collaborative process of theatre, and have a passion for working closely to text, believing that a musical underscore can be a proactive and exciting tool in shedding light on meaning; and music can of course be transcendent, travel beyond meaning, detonate a theatrical moment in a way that nothing else can.
I’m also passionate about choral music and have written quite a bit of it: an oratorio with a full orchestra sung in Gloucester Cathedral, and a song cycle performed by the Gloucester Cathedral bells and a children’s choir, are a couple of highlights. Human voices, singing in harmony, thrill like nothing else. There’s something incredibly moving about the sound, and the commonality of it.
"For me composing for music-theatre is like treading a line between film scoring and radio drama; helping to move the story forward while supporting the emotion of a given moment."