West End dream still alive for Larne pair as council pledges financial support

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A pair of Larne musicians have taken a step closer to realising their dream of bringing their self-penned stage production to London’s West End Theatre.

Behind the Dream, a two-hour musical written and composed by local singer-songwriters Esler Burke and Richard Geddes, is a project that has been over a decade in the making.

Hundreds of people packed into the Auditorium at Princes Gardens, Larne back in 2011 for a one-off performance of the production by a cast of local amateurs.

Following the show’s debut success, Esler and Richard now hope to bring their musical to a much larger audience.

The Theatre at the Mill in Newtownabbey has asked for the production to be performed as part of their arts programme.

But before that can happen, a number of refinements have to be made to the project.

With the help of the Theatre at the Mill, work has now been completed on tweaking the script.

However, the production must be musically scored before it can be performed, and eventually pitched to producers on a national level.

Ultimately, Esler and Richard harbour dreams of the taking Behind the Dream all the way to the West End.

Having already pumped about £6,000 of their own money into the project, the pair have now managed to secure funding to the tune of £1,000 from Larne Borough Council to help with the scoring of the production.

In return, the local authority has asked to be acknowledged in all publicity of the musical, and that consideration will be given to the project being performed in Larne once it has been completed.

Esler told the Larne Times: “We have been working with well-known and highly respected musical director Wilson Shields, who has told us that Behind the Dream has a lot of potential.

“Getting this two-hour production scored will cost over £3,000, and it will cost a total of about £20,000 to put this show on in Northern Ireland with a cast of professional actors.

“We had massive success when we put on the show in Larne. If it had been a flop, then that would have been the end of the road for us. But because it was a success, we felt we had a mandate to take the project forward.

“The performance in Newtownabbey, whenever that may be, will be the next big test for us. If the audience like it, we will know we are on to a winner.

“Hopefully, if it proves to be successful, one day it will get picked up by the West End Theatre.”

Behind the Dream is a cautionary tale of fame in the music industry told through the eyes of a character called Will Sampson.

It is a story of love, self-doubt, humour, betrayal, loyalty, madness and death.

When it was performed in Larne, the cast featured local singing sensation Zolene Mayberry and ex-chairman of Larne FC, Johneen Black.

Behind the Dream did not originally start out life as a musical, but gradually became one in the years following its inception.

Esler and Richard, who played in bands together when they were younger, had been writing music separately for many years.

Over a decade ago they started writing songs together, and soon realised that there was a common thread linking them all together.

And so the concept of Behind a Dream was born - an idea that continued to develop over the years.

Esler is hopeful that Behind the Dream will take to the stage in Newtownabbey in 2015.