Who’s Upstairs: James Burn

James Burn is the composer of London-Paris-Roam! on at Alexander Upstairs from 16-18 March 2017

Home town?

Tell us a little more about your show?
London-Paris-Roam! is a combination of stand-up comedy, soul-searching monologue, cabaret, blues, torch songs and theatre, all blended together to create a unique one-woman musical. Sarah’s idea to write a musical from events in her life gave us a seemingly bottomless pit of source material for inspiration. It has been a joy to create and to watch it come to life.

And what’s next on the cards for you?
I’ve written a musical called Silent Voices – based on the controversial career of Doris Stokes who made her name as a psychic clairvoyant back in the 1980s. So now I’m meeting with potential producers and venues to develop the show into….

And the project you’re dreaming of?
…a full-scale production

How did you get into theatre?
I studied music at Oxford University and my first job on graduation was a commission to write a musical. Writing for musical theatre has been my favourite thing ever since. I love to write a song for a specific character or situation. 

Dinner with any two figures from history: who would you invite and what would you serve them?
Doris Stokes, because I’m fascinated by her claim to be able to speak with the spirit world. And Harry Houdini who was famously sceptical of all things supernatural. That would make for a lively discussion. I’d serve them both a good steak and plenty of wine. In vino veritas!

Favorite spot in Cape Town (besides Alexander Bar, obviously)?
Haven’t visited yet. It’s on the list.

What excites you about theatre?
That moment when the story and the music come together and create an emotional response in the audience. When a roomful of people are all responding in the same way to what is being created on stage, that’s amazing.

What mistakes have you made and learned the most from?
So many! I think we learn all the time, but the most important thing I’ve learned (and am still learning) is that networking is just as important as writing. You can write the best song ever but there’s no point if you can’t get it out there into the big wide world.

Who do you think people should be talking about?
There’s a lovely show in development in London (not by me) called The Wicker Husband by Darren Clark and Rhys Jennings. A great story and a wonderful score.