The Queen of New Orleans
The Queen of New Orleans is the first collaboration from the 'Roebuck & Stemp' team.
‘The Queen of New Orleans’ is a traditional book musical using music and song to advance the plot or punctuate a moment, a characters thoughts or emotions or to set the scene. The songs are woven into the script and lead the audience on a linear journey through the storylines.
Inspiration for a musical set in New Orleans’ first came when Roebuck visited the city for the first time in 1994. He was struck by the vibrancy of the French Quarter and the role music played in every day life – jazz filling the air of even the most remote corners of the ‘Vieux Carre’. However, it would be a decade later when all the pieces were finally in place to begin the writing process. Unlike many musicals in the West End at the moment, ‘The Queen of New Orleans’ is a completely original show. It is not built from a back catalogue of popular song, it is not based on a movie or book and is not a revival; Roebuck & Stemp started from scratch with every aspect of the show.
During the early stages of planning the story it was envisaged that the principal characters would be Tommy O’Hanlon and Jack O’Donnell, two Irish immigrants who have just arrived in New Orleans. However, as writing advanced the relationship between Tommy and Nancy Broussard began to move to the forefront as the key storyline around which other events and storylines would revolve. The relationship between Nancy’s mother, Bernadette Broussard and Chief of Police Frank Newlin became a key sub plot as did the relationship between the misguided and ambitious Millie Monroe and her crooked boyfriend Charlie Scott. As these storylines developed one of the original key storylines between Jack and runaway Mae Harper became less and less significant. In order to prevent the two characters from becoming mere background characters with little or no storyline of their own Mae was axed from the show and her storylines with Jack were merged into the Millie Monroe story arc.
During writing and subsequent re-writes and workshops the story has developed and evolved from one exploring the complexities of moving to a new country, finding ones self and understanding the effects newcomers can have upon existing relationships to a story of love, betrayal, trust and honesty, while it has moved, in parts, to a darker place than originally envisaged, it has gained a depth and meaning it previously lacked. ‘The Queen of New Orleans’ shows us what can happen when one finds true love, what can happen when we place our misguided trust in someone we love and how hurt and heartbreak can have a devastating effect on someone’s life for many, many years.
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