Larne musician’s new stage show for when the curtains go back up

The Covid lockdown may have closed venues and drastically altered lifestyles but it has not sapped the creativity of Larne musician Esler Burke.

Thursday, 4th February 2021, 3:53 pm
Esler Burke.

For the past seven months Esler has been writing a children’s musical, inspired by a real-life incident involving a hedgehog which made its way into his daughter’s garage to hibernate.

Esler, who is 74, was responsible for writing and composing a highly successful musical, ‘Twisted’, which sold out at Theatre at the Mill in Newtownabbey when it made its debut there in February 2019.

Twisted had made its way to the West End of London where the pandemic has kept the curtain down on it in the meantime. Esler hopes that will change soon, when conditions allow the Covid restrictions to be lifted. And although no one can predict when that will happen, he is now well-prepared for a new show to take to the stage.

Esler has high hopes for his latest creation, ‘Headley’s Garden Adventure’, which tells the story of the tribulations of a hedgehog looking for somewhere to hibernate.

“It’s a lovely, happy wee story for children,” he says.

The show lasts 40 minutes with six songs and has characters including two cats, four worms, a crow, a rabbit and a tortoise.

Esler explained the inspiration for it came from a visit to his daughter’s house some time ago.

“She has two lovely cats and they were in the garage with their backs up, so we knew there was something not right,” he said.

“It turned out there was a hedgehog under the chair and it had come in from the garden to look for somewhere to hibernate. I thought afterwards that I could write a children’s story about it and I added animal characters and composed six songs,” he explained.

In Esler’s story Headley finds himself thrown out of the garage by one of the cats, which is not at all pleasant, and he is then befriended by a tortoise who tries to help him by suggesting that his friend the rabbit might allow him to stay in his hutch for the winter. The hutch turns out to be too small for Headley to get into, but suffice to say the story does have a happy ending.

Now Esler is waiting to have the musical score written and he is planning to make contact with schools and others who may be interested in the unique production. His wife Mandy helped with advice on what would engage younger children, having run a nursery in the past.

“It is written for children aged between six and eight years of age, and there are good messages about the Highway Code, neighbourliness and even about food and nutrition,” says Esler, who has already been contacted by several interested people after he posted the news of his efforts on social media recently.

“People are interested already, I am making contacts and I am getting favourable comments,” he said.

Click here to read: Esler takes fresh look at Dickens classic for brand new musical

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