He was the composer for the musical Fantastic Mr Fox and it's UK tour is coming to Milton Keynes Theatre this week.
We chatted to him about how he got involved in the show and the difficulties of adapting Roald Dahl's novel for the stage.
Q: How did you first become involved with this stage production, and what made you want to come on board?
A: Maria (Aberg) the director called me and said would you like to write some music for Fantastic Mr Fox, I said absolutely! She then said, it opens in November and this was in June, so it has been a fairly swift process but I am very glad she asked me.
Q: Do you think Road Dahl’s writing is something that translates easily to the stage?
A: I don’t think anything translates easily to stage but I think his stories are so rich and full of brilliant well defined characters that it is a real joy to see these characters, especially those from Fantastic Mr Fox jump out of the book.
Q: How does it feel to create music for something as well known and universally loved as a Road Dahl story?
A: It has been a real privilege to write music for this. It is a pinch yourself moment. When re-reading the book I thought I love this book but I don’t know if I can do this, which I think is a good reaction to have. Throughout the writing process, it has been about honouring what Dahl wrote and making sure the music tells the story in the best we can tell it.
Q: Were you a fan of the book ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ growing up?
A: I am a massive Roald Dahl fan. He was basically my introduction to reading. I remember reading Fox in my cabin bed that I had growing up in Birmingham. I read it in one go, in one night and just absolutely loved it. It had a drastic impact on the way my world was shaped. Dahl made the most disgusting things in life seem like the most joyous. He also had a great sense of justice, which can only be a good thing.
Q: Tell us about your process for composing the music?
A: I don’t know if I have a process. I had a clear idea in my head what I wanted it to sound like but that kind of changed and thankfully a lot of the pressure was removed when I was working with the team on the lyrics. They knew exactly what needed to happen and have write with such a good sense of humour.
Q: What did you want to capture about the story and its characters in the music?
A: There are a definite group of characters In Fantastic Mr Fox; humans and animals. I wanted to give them both a very different sound to start with and as the story develops, these sounds slightly cross over depending on what is happening. The farmers have a dirty earthly English sound and the animals are freer. Mr Fox is arrogant at times and Mouse sings about cheese, which is very sweet.
Q: What do you hope audiences take away from the show?
A: It’s a perfect family show for all ages. I hope audiences take away melodies that they can sing on their way home. This show is so much fun and the right people get their comeuppance. It is not black and white. You will go home discussing the moral content of the story whilst laughing at the jokes.
Q: What’s your favourite song in the show and why?
A: I can’t choose one song. I’m very pleased with how the Farmers song (Foxy Feeling) has turned out but they are all good.
Q: Audiences will recognise you from your acting roles in Broadchurch and Doctor Who, but they might not realise that you are also an established composer. Is juggling both careers a challenge?
A: It is a challenge but a joyous challenge. I couldn’t just do one or the other, I have to do both. I have a fun job and I would never complain about it.
Q: What’s coming up next for you?
A: I am currently in Legends of Tomorrow and will hopefully write some more music.
For more details or to book tickets for the show visit www.atgtickets.co.uk/miltonkeynes or call 0844 871 7652