“What we try and do is find, encourage, nurture new musical writing talent in this country. It’s what we have to do. Musicals are the lifeblood of the theatre. We have to find new talent, we have to encourage them.”
Michael Ball, Patron of Perfect Pitch
Perfect Pitch is a not-for-profit theatre company, supported by Arts Council England, dedicated to creating new British musicals. Established in 2006, we work in collaboration with venues, writers, producers and creatives all over the UK and beyond to create, develop, produce and license high quality new British musicals.
We work together with the writers and composers throughout the journey of the musical from initial idea to full production, offering creative and dramaturgical support, workshops and readings along the way. Once they are fully developed Perfect Pitch licenses the shows to both professional and amateur companies in the UK and overseas. To date, our new musicals have had full productions all over the world including London’s West End, New York, Seoul-Korea, Australia, Tokyo-Japan, Belgium, Mexico, California and Indiana.
We also have a collection of work, currently featuring Lift, From Up Here, and Pieces of String on digitaltheatre.com for audiences worldwide to view online.
British productions include: Pieces of String, The Mercury Theatre colchester; The Go-Between 2016, Apollo Theatre Shaftesbury Avenue; Lift, Soho Theatre, London; The House of Mirrors & Hearts, Arcola Theatre, London; From Up Here, the Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park; The Go-Between 2011, West Yorkshire Playhouse/Royal and Derngate/Derby Live; Defect, Arts Educational School; Lia’s Guide to Winning the Lottery and In Touch, The Musical Theatre Academy; The 45th Marvellous Chatterley Village Fete (previously titled Sex and the Village), Theatre Royal, Bury St.Edmunds; Danny Hero, The Core, Corby.
We are proud to be endorsed by two high-profile patrons, Michael Ball and Stephen Fry. In 2011 Stephen Fry hosted our gala concert The Great British Musical at the Criterion Theatre London, featuring songs from our new musicals alongside classic British musical theatre songs and performed by a host of West End stars including Alfie Boe, Michael Xavier, Emma Williams and Julie Atherton. Michael Ball has hosted and judged our Perfect Pitch Award in 2014 (in association with The Royal & Derngate) and in 2016 (in association with Theatre Royal Stratford East) both held at The Other Palace, London.
“Perfect Pitch, who are an extraordinary organization, see, nurture, develop, and incubate ideas for musicals… I think we sometimes forget in Britain just how extraordinarily good we are at musicals.”
Stephen Fry, Patron of Perfect Pitch
Perfect Pitch’s mission is to create new British musical theatre that reflects and connects with today’s diverse and contemporary Britain. We are committed to seeking and collaborating with emerging British writers and composers and help bring the work of these lesser known artists to a growing worldwide audience for a sustained period of time.
Perfect Pitch is currently the only non-profit theatre company in the UK dedicated exclusively to creating, developing, producing and promoting new contemporary British musical theatre.
We aim to predominantly work with artists whose work is contemporary, challenging and innovative. Musicals that could break boundaries and help us develop an audience’s perception of what the musical theatre artform can be.
We aim to see our shows being regularly produced and later revived worldwide as part of the canon of substantive, critically adept new British writing.
We see the creation of a musical as a collaborative process and as part of that creative team our deals and agreements usually reflect an ongoing stake for Perfect Pitch in the show or a future royalty. Every collaboration we undertake is unique and we are always flexible in our approach to this, whilst ensuring any bespoke agreement we make with partners and writers is in the best interests of a successful long-term future for the show, and is clear, fair and transparent from the outset.
Perfect Pitch has received funding from Arts Council England as a National Portfolio Organisation since 2012. This sustained period of funding, which represents approx 60% of our annual expenditure, primarily supports our core costs and workshop programme.
To help maximise the use of our funding and the the reach of our work we partner with venues, producers, drama schools etc to share resources and maximise the benefit of the development process.
We also value creative meetings as a useful developmental stage between workshops which involves meeting with the writers, a director and musical supervisor to feed back on detail on the most recent draft or material. Only after a few of these meetings when we feel the piece is ready to benefit from a student or professional workshop will we move on to that stage of development.
In line with our policy of promoting a long-term life for our shows we have also begun producing cast recordings/concept albums and set up a licensing arm of Perfect Pitch for both amateur and professional licenses.
We are a small team of just 2 full time and 1 part time staff.
Andy Barnes – Executive Producer
Wendy Barnes – Producer
Josh Bird – Digital Producer
We use a great deal of musical directors and directors to facilitate our workshops and readings on a freelance basis. The creatives listed below are those who have worked for us in this capacity on regular or numerous occasions over the years:
Ryan McBryde – Perfect Pitch Associate Director
Paul Herbert – Perfect Pitch Musical Supervisor
Pearson Casting (Casting Directors)
Grace Taylor (Director)
Julie Atherton (Director)
Racky Plews (Director / Choreographer)
Pip Minnithorpe (Director)
Tom Attwood (Musical Director)
Ellen Kane (Choreographer)
Roger Haines (Director)
Luke Sheppard (Director)
Mark Collins (Musical Director)
Cressida Carre (Director / Choreographer)
Steven Paling (Director)
Nick Barnes (Puppet design)
When we began, back in 2006, we simply requested submissions of new and innovative musicals to showcase to an industry audience. The writers agreed to cast, rehearse and ‘produce’ their own shows within the showcase, whilst we provided the venue, design and marketing. We produced the Perfect Pitch showcase in this manner for two years presenting 22 shows with varying degrees of success.
Both showcases were exceptionally well attended by industry, producers, venues etc. but it became apparent that the best response we could receive was “That show has real potential, let us know if/when something further is happening to it” but nobody would take the financial risk on these embryonic pieces to take them to the next stage themselves and we had no infrastructure in place at that time to take any shows beyond the showcase.
In 2008 and 2009 we held two further showcases, with fewer shows, at Trafalgar Studios. We fully produced each individual showcase ourselves and had the beginnings of a development network in place and a small ACE grant for 2009 – 2010 that enabled some of the shows to have a nominal amount of development / workshopping prior to the 2009 showcase. All the above led to a higher quality of showcase and individual show but generally the response was still the same from the producers that attended “Great potential, would be interested to see the ‘next stage. “
The four showcases from 2006 – 2009 were funded entirely from trusts, foundations and private donations and Perfect Pitch received no funding from ACE towards them. The 2009/2010 project funding was for workshops and development only and not for commercial / ticketed events. A small amount of sponsorship money from individuals and organisations together with any profits received from ticket sales assisted in covering costs for admin, marketing, rehearsal venues and cast/creatives expenses etc. but for all the initial showcases the performers, creative teams and the Perfect Pitch team worked for expenses only.
In many ways it was easy enough to provide a “one-off showcase” or even a short run of a production on the fringe but we realised what was really necessary to progress and improve new British musical theatre was to find a way of connecting with the producers and venues who are able to take the shows on to full production and finding how we can work with them to create longer term existence for the new work.
So in 2010 we still had ACE project funding for ‘developing new work’ and instead of just continuing to showcase to no avail we concentrated on expanding and putting the Perfect Pitch network in place and some exciting partnerships and developments began their journeys.
West Yorkshire Playhouse and Royal and Derngate, Northampton were already aware of The Go-Between by Richard Taylor and David Wood when they attended our 50 minute presentation of Act 1 in the 2009 showcase. West Yorkshire Playhouse had shown interest in producing the show but felt it needed further workshopping and development which they were unable to provide and the show had been dormant for a few years. After our showcase they were encouraged by the first act (which we had workshopped in partnership with Arts Educational Schools before the showcase). It was then suggested that WYP, R and D and Derby Live would consider a co-production of the show if they could see a workshop of the second act. Perfect Pitch were able to provide the resources for Roger Haines (director), Richard and David to work on the second act of the show and present it to the venues, (in a rehearsal room with no production values other than minimal props). This presentation was enough for the three venues to begin setting up the co-production which took place in the autumn the following year receiving a positive response from both audience and critics. It was nominated for Best Regional Production at the Whatsonstage.com awards and won the Theatre UK Award (previously TMA awards) for Best Musical Production. It has since had a limited run in the West End (2016) starring Michael Crawford.
The Go-Between, whilst an encouraging ‘success’ story, also indicated to us the amount of development and workshops a show really needs to reach its maximum potential; whilst we only needed to offer the show three workshops and the showcase, the musical was already some way down the development line as it had been ’growing’ for a few years already. While we helped the writers find a concept for the show, we were primarily helping them to bridge the gap between having a potentially good show on paper and seeing it realised in a full professional production. The Go-Between was also based on existing source material and adapted by an incredibly experienced writer David Wood. Composer Richard Taylor also already had a number of successful professional commissions and productions under his belt. Many of the other shows that we have taken into the network since 2010 have been at the very beginning of their journey, often with less experienced writers and requiring far more time and resources. So along with our NPO status that began in 2012 we also have begun to find a new way of running our organisation to maximise output from minimal funding and give as many shows as possible the chance for a longer term existance in turn growing new audiences for both the writing and the writers.
From 2015, we have adapted our mission statement to focus our work on attracting new, younger, more diverse audiences to the genre without alienating the current musical theatre fans. We want to create contemporary, innovative work that speaks to modern audiences and is a reflection on today’s society.