Richard Roebuck and Neil Stemp's second musical theatre venture is about as different from their first as it could possibly be! ‘The Queen of New Orleans’ featured a cast of characters who were of good heart but in difficult situations. The characters in Studio 54 are almost the polar opposite!
Roebuck has lifted Shakespeare's 'Othello' and placed it squarely in the heart of the decadent, hedonistic heyday of 1970's disco culture - the now legendary Studio 54. Desdemona is a drag queen - Mona Desire, Iago becomes Nikita Santiago, a promising disco singer desperate for success but often overlooked - especially with the arrival of new boy on the block 'Josh Cassio' who, as a former school friend of Mona's (Desmond in her school days!) is immediately accepted into the higher echelons of Studio 54 helped by Mona and her beau Jake Moor, much to the disgust of Nikita! The scene is set for a devastating chain of events that will change - and in some cases end - the lives of those involved forever.
During the early stages of writing Roebuck and Stemp were both excited by the prospect of a musical set in Studio 54 but it took a little longer for the story to develop. A full synopsis and several scenes were written around a story loosely based on Othello but Roebuck in particular was worried about setting a tragedy in such a vibrant and upbeat environment. A new, 'happier' ending was written but this simply did not work. It was back to the drawing board!
The second incarnation of Studio 54 was again based on a Shakespeare play, 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream', several songs were written and scenes were created but, once more, it did not feel right, the characters (a group of love struck upper class kids run away from their engagement parties and ending up in Studio 54) simply didn't gel. The characters from the original version were strong but lacked direction so, with this in mind, 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' was dropped quicker than you could say 'Methought I was enamored of an ass' and it was back to 'Othello'. A thorough rethink of the synopsis, much closer links to the Shakespeare storyline and a few disco tunes later and Studio 54 is a fresh, vibrant and exciting show just waiting the thrill audiences time after time!