Scotland’s first indie pop “jukebox musical” is set to take to the stage after the band Randolph’s Leap joined forces with a Highland theatre company for The Isle of Love – a show inspired by the magic of the Outer Hebrides.
A Highland-based theatre company Right Lines is joining forces with the cult Glasgow band to create a new show exploring the charms of a fictional island location. The musical Isle of Love is inspired by a song of the same name by the folk-pop outfit Randolph’s Leap, whose singer-songwriter Adam Ross is developing the show with playwrights Euan Martin and Dave Smith.
The pair were previously finalists in a competition backed by West End producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh to find a new Scottish musical with their story of a race to find a bottle of a 100-year-old malt and The Accidental Death of an Accordionist, a murder mystery set at a village ceilidh.
Their other stage shows include Who Bares Wins, which was inspired by the antics of The Naked Rambler, alien abduction comedy From These Parts and Rapid Departure, which explored the impact of climate change on remote communities.
Isle of Love is being developed a decade after Dundee Rep brought the songs of The Proclaimers to the stage in a musical penned by playwright Stephen Greenhorn, which was later adapted into a big-screen movie starring Peter Mullan and Jane Horrocks.
It is hoped the new musical, which is being developed with the backing of arts agency Creative Scotland, will go on tour around the country, including forays to some of the nation’s most far-flung destinations.
Martin came up with the idea of Isle of Love after hearing the Randolph’s Leap song on his car radio on a drive home from his work as a social worker in Moray.
He said: “I thought it was a really funny and upbeat song all about the qualities of island life in Scotland. It painted a slightly romanticised, idyllic picture and it struck me as a really interesting concept to develop a show about.
“I got their album Clumsy Knot and became more inspired because it had such great narratives – every song had a story. I delved into their back catalogue and found even more stuff.”
Around 20 Randolph’s Leap songs are being considered for the show, which will focus on the comings and goings of various characters to and from the island.
It is hoped Isle of Love will go on the road in the autumn of 2017 if funding for a nationwide tour can be secured.
Martin added: “We’ve taken the songs and written a story that they weave in and out of.
“It’s really all about the restorative properties of island life - for people who are from there, who have settled there or are only visiting for a while.
“People live on or visit islands for a whole variety of different reasons. We explore a little bit of that and in the script there are darker moments, as well as upbeat and joyous moments.
“We don’t name the island and haven’t had a specific one in mind, as that allows people to picture their own one, but it is definitely in the Hebrides.”
Ross said: “It really came out of the blue when Euan pitched the idea to me.
“I’d never been involved in musicals or writing theatre pieces before. It was quite flattering to meet someone who was a fan of the songs.
“I was totally supportive of it but didn’t necessarily expect it to come to anything, but it’s really exciting that we’ve got this funding to develop the show.
“It’s quite an interesting situation where they’re interpreting my songs and bringing their own ideas to them. There are certain storylines which have come out of the songs that I would never have imagined.
“Isle of Love is set on a fictional island, but I guess it is an amalgamation of places I have visited - predominantly in my childhood, but also as an adult - like the Uists, Skye and Mull.
“It was always intended to be quite a sentimental and romanticised view of the islands and although I’ve also been to Orkney and Shetland it was a Hebridean-type vista that was in my mind.”
Laura Mackenzie-Stuart, head of theatre at Creative Scotland, which has awarded the project £12,000, said: “We are pleased to be able to support the research and development phase of Isle of Love.
“The project will explore the themes of island life in the creation of a new musical theatre production by two very experienced writers, Euan Martin and Dave Smith, and the talented songwriter Adam Ross. We wish them every success with the project.”