Friday, June 27, 2008

First Welsh Rock Musical

You're probably wondering what was the first indigenous Welsh rock musical? Let me put you out of your misery - it was Tom Jones Slept Here produced in 1974. It was billed as: "Wales's first home-grown and home produced rock musical." I wanted to confirm this fact, so I checked in the recently published Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. No mention of it. Or rock musicals, for that matter. Ah well.

Rock musicals (and rock operas) were in vogue during the early seventies: Jesus Christ Superstar; Godspell; The Rocky Horror Show. So, no real surprise that we should be getting in on the act. What is surprising though is the choice of subject matter. The musical was based upon John L Hughes's 1971 post-industrial novel of the same name. I've read this book and it can best be summed up as: sex, violence and poverty in Pontypridd. It's a bit grim and hardly the uplifting stuff of musicals.

Anyway, it debuted at Glamorgan Polytechnic in Treforest and then moved on to Cwmbran. Wonder if Baron Lloyd Webber might be interested in reviving it?

UPDATE: I'm indebted to Rhys Wynne who has informed me that there was another Welsh rock musical in 1974. It was called Nia Ben Aur (roughly translated: Nia with the Golden Hair) and was performed at the Carmarthen National Eisteddfod that year. Apparently some of the tracks from it even appeared on the first Welsh Rare Beats CD.

So there you have it. I'm now tempted to refer to 1974 as being the Golden Age of Welsh Rock Musicals.