Cautionary Tale: A new British musical invites you to stage the show at home

A new British musical is inviting you to stage the show at home.

Rebecca Atkinson-Lord and Rebecca Applin were developing new musical Cautionary Tale when the current lockdown was put in place.

With workshop performances cancelled, the writers are now giving people the opportunity to stage it in their own homes and share their recordings online.

For five weeks, they will release sheet music and backing tracks, Tik Tok choreography, character sketches and script extracts. In week six, the best of these recordings will be used to create a live Zoom version. Record the weekly section by yourself or with your friends and family, share it online using #CautionaryTaleMusical and help make this a reality.

The content is available to download from

Cautionary Tale features a book and lyrics by Rebecca Atkinson- Lord (Founder of Arch468; Director of Theatre at Ovalhouse, 2010 – 2016), music by Rebecca Applin (Cameron Mackintosh Resident Composer Award holder at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, and Mercury Theatre, Colchester), and choreography and additional material by Mark Iles (The Brook Under Siege for Medway Council and as performer: Elf the Musical, Dominion Theatre; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Theatre Royal Drury Lane)

A synopsis of the show reveals:

Cautionary Tale is the story of Gloaming, a town filled with perfectly ordinary, yet perfectly remarkable people. The inhabitants of Gloaming all have special talents and interests; the Hamingtons, for example, know the answer to any question you can think of, the Bittingworth sisters are so strong they can lift an elephant and the Trockles can make pretty much anything you like out of knotted string.

Some talents can be pretty dangerous and it can be tricky to manage a town filled with such interesting people. One day, in the mists of time, the town elders decided that the best way to keep the town safe was to forbid anything that might be a bit too dangerous. The adults of the town have to suppress their talents and conform but it’s hard to live a life of stifled potential. There is one place where they can go to remember what it’s like to feel human – The Black Dog, an ordinary pub where it’s OK to be extraordinary.

But there are consequences to breaking the rules and there are consequences to living lives without fun. One day, the children of Gloaming wake up to discover that all the adults have turned to dust and blown away overnight; there just wasn’t enough joy left in them to hold them together. The children set off on a quest to find all the joy and talent and curiosity that was forbidden for so long so that they can rebuild their town with joy at its heart.

Rebecca Atkinson-Lord said: “I wrote Cautionary Tale at a time when I was really unhappy because I felt trapped in a life that didn’t feel authentic. It’s a show about finding joy in
the darkest of circumstances and right now it feels like we all need a bit of help to be happy, so it seemed like the right thing to do to share it with people.”

She added: “I hope that people will help us make it happen anyway by staging bits of it in their own homes and sharing them online – and maybe we can all remember how to find a bit more joy.”

Designer James Turner commented: I love the rich and detailed world Rebecca has created for Cautionary Tale, and the challenge and ambition of bringing that world to life on the stage, at least in miniature in the modelbox for now.

“The creative outlet that working on the show has given me during lockdown has been invaluable. I’m relishing the opportunity to dive in and focus on it for a few hours each day, and be transported away into another world.

About the author: Josh Darvill

Josh is Stageberry's editor with over five years of experience writing about theatre in the West End and across the UK. Prior to following his passion for musicals, he worked for more than a decade as a TV journalist.


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