Sunderland legend Dave Stewart reveals work on new musical alongside The Last Ship director Lorne Campbell
Millions of people across the globe have listened to his stories and songs – and now Sunderland-born superstar Dave Stewart is taking on a new project focused on the power of music, and how it can reach people in the darkest of places.
In an exclusive interview with the Echo, the Eurythmics songwriter revealed that work has officially begun on a new musical, featuring a soundtrack of original songs created by the man himself.
And the show, with a working title of Ebony McQueen, is being brought to life in partnership with Northern Stage and its Artistic Director Lorne Campbell, who directed the UK production of Sting’s The Last Ship.
Exploring the collision of culture, the strength of music and the unity it can provide to people everywhere – whatever their background – Dave and Lorne hope they can touch audiences everywhere with the new release when it arrives in theatres.
The idea for Ebony McQueen, which begins in Sunderland but takes a metaphorical journey across other cultures with the help of a mysterious voodoo Blues queen, came to Dave in a flash of inspiration.
And it was this idea which developed into the show’s title track – and the first key for the route the rest of the Ebony McQueen would take.
“In the back of my mind, I knew there was a story that I wanted to tell, which was about how a certain moment comes along, and that moment can change your life as long as you allow it, and a lot of people don’t allow it,” Dave said.
“They have an opportunity to do something and they don’t go for it because they are too afraid.”
Though the show is not about Dave himself, the musician admits that the show is loosely based on what he has seen, experienced and spoken about in the past.
The innovative project has been a journey in itself so far for director Lorne, who revealed that his work process has involved “getting inside Dave’s subconscious” to rightly understand the message of the music already written for the show.
While the songs he has heard so far are beautifully familiar, they have the power to surprise and take you somewhere unexpected – with the show set to do the same thing.
They make sense both together as a piece and as separate tracks, leaving audiences open to make their own interpretations on what they mean.
Lorne, who became Artistic Director at Northern Stage in 2013, added: “There’s something beautiful about the creativity and the dreaming that comes from dark places, and the unifying experience of that dreaming.
“Music is universal, whatever your background.”
While the creation of the show sits very much within the Northern Stage team and community, Dave admitted his personal hopes to bring Ebony McQueen back to its rightful home in Sunderland, to eventually open at the city’s Empire theatre in future.
It has not yet been confirmed when Ebony McQueen will hit the stage, or when original music from the show will be released – but the parting promise from both Dave and Lorne?
“It will look and feel like nothing you have ever seen.”
Keep your ears peeled, and watch this space.