As reported in the NY Post, condensed concert readings of a new musical are taking place in New York Jan. 27 and 29 for some top-line invited producers. The show is The Hard Man, based on a play of the same name which, in turn, was based on the true story of Jimmy Boyle, a Scottish criminal still living in Glasgow.
In The Hard Man's Capeman story, the real-life Boyle becomes a character named "Byrne," who starts in petty crime until he rises to the title of the "Razor King," based on how many stitches you can give a victim. Thus does he become a big man in the Glasgow underworld, despite pressure from his mother to take a different path. He gets his girlfriend pregnant, only to be put in jail for a crime he doesn't commit. In prison he's treated horribly but eventually achieves some level of redemption.
Domenick Allen, a Scot, penned the music and lyrics for this rock musical, which has a book by Chris Smith, a regional theatre director. Smith also directs these concert readings of Hard Man.
Composer/Lyricist Allen was a member of of the rock group Foreigner and played the Narrator in Blood Brothers on Broadway. He also toured with Liberace as a back-up singer.
Says Allen of his show, "Everyone knows about the uniqueness of being Scottish -- you know, bagpipes and kilts -- but this show emphasizes the universality in being Scottish... Clearly [Byrne]...makes some terribly wrong choices, and he makes mistakes. But he's human. He could be someone we see here in New York City or in South Chicago, anywhere... We're taking on a journey through loathing this man...to understanding him to, finally, identifying with him." According to production spokesperson Kevin Rehac, songs in the show include "Rock Hard," "This Is My Life I'm Fighting For," "Born in the Gorbals," "Never Get Free," and "No Mean City." The score is heavily spiked with hard, driving rock & roll and rock ballads, flavored with Celtic bagpipes. At the concert readings, a live percussionist backs pre-recorded musical tracks.
The readings feature a cast of ten, including such current Broadway names as Leah Hocking (Jekyll & Hyde), who plays Byrne's girlfriend; and Leigh Zimmerman (Chicago), as a town gossip. Also in the cast are Bill Nolte (1776), Vince Viverito, Carolann Page, Michael Berry, Ellen Mareneck, Simon Brooking and George Riddle.
Said spokesperson Rehac, "The goal for Hard Man is a Broadway production in the fall. The big guns are coming out for this." Rehac confirmed the NY Post's report that those guns include Cameron Mackintosh.
-- By David Lefkowitz