'Astrid' is a brand-new musical that debuts on the ADC Stage in a week's time, and was longlisted for the Stiles and Drew/MTI Mentorship award earlier this year. We spoke to the show's Writers, Georgia Rawlins and Helena Fox, to find out more about what you can expect from the show...
What should an audience expect from Astrid?
This is a large-scale, full-blown musical to continue welcoming audiences back to in-person theatre. We’re pulling out all the stops with the design of the show, like the lighting and set, thanks to the brilliant production team. But alongside this, the show has lots of quiet moments exploring relationships and dynamics, particularly between women; what it means to feel safe and free; and where - or what - home is. And we can’t not mention our wildly talented cast. It’s a real mix of Cambridge Theatre experience levels, which is really nice to have, and they are all incredible.
There aren’t that many musicals with science-fiction themes: did you feel like you were exploring new territory in developing this show?
Absolutely! The originality of the concept was actually something that was commented on by a judge when we were longlisted for the Stiles + Drewe/MTI Mentorship Award earlier this year. It’s been especially great doing this as such a contrasting duo of an astrophysicist and a die-hard humanities student (although we did get in a nod to Helena’s ASNC degree with the Gaelic-derived names in the show).
Georgia’s enjoyed taking some of the genuinely awesome scientific concepts she’s studied, like time dilation, and, through the medium of musical theatre, trying to make them understandable and accessible so that they can be key plot points that the show rests on. For Helena, it’s been so worthwhile starting to bring science and theatre together, and also, to try and interrogate the sci-fi genre a bit - the show takes its setting and some of its plot points from sci-fi canon, but tries to do away with a macho glorification of space and go a bit deeper than that. Science (albeit with a heavy dose of creative license) is definitely part of the fabric of Astrid, and we’re so proud to have a sci-fi musical, and one that is female-led in such an historically male-dominated genre.
How have rehearsals been coming along?
Zoom is not the easiest for group singing, but the cast is genuinely brilliant and have more than met the challenge. It’s going to be so wonderful getting together in person when we hit the ground running in October, and to gain some new cast members, too. We’ve particularly loved sitting down with the cast and discussing the songs and scenes. The cast’s interpretations, particularly of the more intimate moments in the show, have added a new dimension to the show, and as writers that’s so special to see.
Without spoiling too much, what is your favourite part of the show?
We were very indecisive about this one! Having been working on the show for a pretty long time, we’ve each grown to love lots of different parts, big and small. Something we’re both big fans of is the total lack of romance in Astrid. It isn’t part of the story at all, and we were always set on leaving it out - we were drawn to exploring all sorts of relationships that aren’t romantic, instead.
Related to this, we have a lot of space in our hearts for our three protagonists, who are all women, and all take up space in their own unique and important ways. They love, fight, lead, run, and follow, but their positions are never questioned with respect to their gender, which is refreshing. We’ve each got certain songs we love the most (lyrically and musically!), but shout outs to the atmospheric, underscored dialogue at the opening of each act, and to the hidden chords and musical motifs that run through the show and correspond to different characters and events.