This production, at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter, was directed by George Roman, for whom I’d worked as a composer at Theatr Clwyd nearly a decade earlier. This time I was on stage, playing the role of Pickwick Club stalwart Mr Winkle. I think George hoped I might stand as a kind of adjunct to the excellent musical director, Denys Rawson, but Denys certainly didn’t need any help for me. Besides, the composer Cyril Ornadel was often present in rehearsals, since George, now artistic director of the Northcott, was hoping for a West End transfer. To that end, lyricist Leslie Bricusse flew in from America to inspect the quality of the work. I’ve no idea what he and Mr Ornadel made of it, but the transfer failed to materialise.
The company was full of talented, experienced and friendly people, but I didn’t benefit from their warmth as much as I might have done, since I was having a difficult time in my offstage life. I was able to confide in Christine Caldwell, in whose large, rambling house I stayed while I was in Exeter. She buoyed me up with an immense kindness. for which I will always be grateful.