Follow the Star

(1974)

by Jim Parker , Wally K Daly

Description
musical show
Genres
Musicals, School Show
Text
Music by Jim Parker. Libretto and Lyrics by Wally K. Daly
Instrumentation
1100 - 0110 - perc(1) - gtr - pno - 2 vln I.vln II.vla.vlc.db
First Performance
1974, Chichester Festival Theatre (cast included) Elaine Paige
Availability
Published by Warner/Chappell. Administered for hire and stage rights worldwide (excluding North America, Germany, Austria and Switzerland) by Faber Music Ltd
 
For more information on Follow the Star, and to see our full catalogue of stage musicals for hire, visit fabermusicals.fabermusic.com
 
The Story
(Early New Testament)
“Follow The Star” is a delightfully fresh retelling of how Christmas began.  There are plenty of
opportunities for audience participation; children especially will find it difficult not to become involved in
the events enacted on the stage.  Olly, in charge of the angels, gives Gabby (the Angel Gabriel) the task of going below to Nazareth where he must find a lady called Mary and tell her some news.  Gabby is thrilled to have something to do because Angels only grow taller if they do good work.  At the moment Gabby is rather small.  After finding Mary and telling her that she is going to have a baby, he does something he has been instructed not to do – he lets Joseph see him.  When Gabby reports back to Heaven, Olly is annoyed with him for disobeying orders.  However, he gives him another chance. Gabby is assigned the job of being the star that the Three Wise Men follow all the way from their lands to Bethlehem.  Angy, Jelly and Lofty, three other angels, are told to make the Three Wise Men decide to follow the star.  The vain and cruel Herod meets the Wise Men who innocently tell him that a Saviour is soon to be born who will be King.  Herod secretly determines that the baby must not be allowed to live. Mary and Joseph arrive in Bethlehem and because they are turned away by the Inn Keepers the baby is born in a stable.  When Herod comes trying to find the baby, the crib is hidden by Oxy, Assy and Angel Chicago.  Gabby has been so good at being a star that he finds himself grown noticeably taller.  After Herod has gone Gabby comes to earth and goes to the crib to view the baby.  Gabby is closely followed by the Three Wise Men who bring gifts.  Suddenly, Herod returns.  The angels hurriedly erect a small wall of cloud to hide Mary, Joseph and the crib.  Herod and his soldiers are beaten back by Oxy, Assy and the weather (with some assistance from the audience).  Finally, Mary, Joseph and the baby are helped on their way with a happy song. 
 
Principal Characters (plus Chorus)
Olly
Gabby
Mary
Joseph
Herod
Angel Chicago
 
Principal Musical Numbers
I’m Going To Be A Star (Gabby)
Follow The Star (Three Wise Men, Gabby, Chorus)
Home (Mary, Joseph, Chorus)
Careful, Carefree or Careless (Angel Chicago)
A Baby’s Been Born (Angy, Jelly, Lofty Chorus)
Clap Your Hands And Be Cheery (Olly and Company)
 

Stills from the Chichester Festival Theatre production:

Programme Notes
Wally K Daly was Chief Electrician at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London's West End when his song-writing partner (primarily of children’s songs) Jim Parker, heard Wally’s first ‘on spec’ play on Radio Four, ‘Whistling Wally’. Jim said if you can write a radio play we could write a musical, so why don’t we? Wally said okay. So they did. Follow the Star was born. Closely followed by Make me a World. Wally writes: "We didn’t know there are rules about writing a stage musical, the Book and Lyrics to be impeccably typed and bound, and a demo of the songs made with a proper backing, so we just went and did our thing. I wrote the book, and matched the lyrics to any popular song in my head without telling Jim what the song had been. He took the lyrics I sent him and did the usual Jim Parker magic on the musical's tunes. The first act took four weeks to write, second act a bit longer because I had a change of play at my theatre. I learned the book and songs, Jim learned his music. But where did the idea come from? I had already had the idea of a bunch of urchin Angels running riot in heaven, driving their God figure boss ‘Ollie’ mad. So mad, in fact, that he would decide to give them a proper job to do. ‘ Sorting out the nativity.’ Angel Gabriel known as Gabby is told to let Mary the Virgin know that she’s going to have baby. (No way! She responds) Angel Chicago, who’s an angel who smokes cigars and makes burn holes in the clouds because he looks after Herod who is a seriously bad guy and it’s rubbing off a bit. Plus other assorted angels playing various multiple parts as shepherds, Joseph, Ox and Ass, Wise Men, etc. , a cast of twelve in fact, to tell the story until the final climactic ending when Herod’s machinations to kill the baby is thwarted by the cast with the help of the audience. All accompanied by brilliant Parker/Daly songs! Jim and I practised the whole thing in my front room a few times on my £12 second hand white baby grand piano, until it sounded OKAY and then contacted a wonderful lady director Jim was working with at Chichester Festival Theatre, and I had worked with for a spit and cough at the Mermaid theatre many years previously. Jim rang theatre director, Wendy Toye, to see if she’d come to my front room to hear a musical. She said Yes and arrived with her crochet a few days later. Jim played all the songs and I played all the parts, and said the dialogue and sang the songs whilst Jim played. (Rather well, both of us, I felt). Wendy crocheted throughout, turned down a cup of tea at what should have been the interval, pointed out a point or two about the logistics of the piece which were wrong, and Jim said: ‘Yes! But are you going to do it!’ She said ‘Yes of course dear.’ It opened at Chichester Festival Theatre the following Christmas , and has travelled the country ever since to warm praise. Keith Michell (Director of CFTH) suggested I apply to the Arts Council, for a new writers grant to give me room to leave my job and write full time for a few months. He would be my sponsor. Now forty years later having written successfully for Theatre, TV, Radio - plays and series by the dozen, including two Giles Cooper awards for Radio Play of the year, and last year my first fringe play in Washington DC, a one-man theatre show of my prize winning radio monologues Priest and Confessor."

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