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Announcing… The Quest!

Apologies for the huge gap in newsy blogs. I so wanted to post one but I couldn’t write about the very thing I wanted to talk about because I was sworn to secrecy till now.

Here goes…

Since just before Christmas I’ve actually been squirrelled away writing a libretto for a new Opera called The Quest commissioned by London Youth Opera, for their 2024 production in December… very exciting!

I met the composer Nathan Williamson when he was in the orchestra of The Drummer Boy of Waterloo, the opera I co-wrote with David Stoll and premiered with Jubilee Opera in Aldeburgh . Happily, Nathan had remembered me and he got in touch to say that he had his synopsis of The Quest accepted for a commission with LYO and would I consider writing the libretto.

Of course the answer was… yes please!

For those of you unfamiliar with what writing a libretto entails, basically you are given a synopsis of the idea and the librettist writes the storyline, characters, and lyrics to all the songs and sung dialogue (recitative)… then it’s over to Nathan to compose the score.

If I just made it sound easy… believe me it isn’t ! But the process is so enjoyable and fulfilling and I absolutely love it!!

Below is a photo of the awesome performances of PANDORA'S BOX last December at London Youth Opera. The cast were really impressive, so talented, and they totally inspired my thinking when I was writing the libretto.


the quest

Here’s what London Youth Opera has just announced:

Not resting on last year's laurels, we are now excited to announce the 2024 commission:

The Quest - this time we are reaching for the moon!

Stan and Gretchen, the chosen two, joins a group of brilliant young scientists who believes they are on the cusp of solving the world’s environmental problems and saving the planet.

Will they stick to their quest and fulfil their promise to humanity, or will they have their heads turned by the fame and fortune offered to them by the alluring but corrupt politicians?

Inspired by Auden and Isherwood, this opera depicts a group of young people who, against a backdrop of social media, fake news and malign political influences, has to make a choice between power, fame and personal fortune or true friendships, integrity, and working for the greater good.

Their QUEST could change the world…

Music is by composer Nathan Williamson and libretto by singer-songwriter Megg Nicol. Together, they are a dynamic duo, who are excited to create their first commission for the company.’

Do watch this space… because there’s lots more to come and I can’t wait!

How Little Fir Tree Can Help


einstein quoteFor some children brought up in an urban environment, the first tree that they are likely to have any emotional connection with could be one that comes into their home or school, perhaps at Christmas.

LITTLE FIR TREE is a new feel-good family musical, aimed at the same demographic as ‘The Snowman’.

While entertainment is the first priority for this show, there are also lessons to be learned from its story. The situations that Little Tree encounters parallel those of every child, and his adventures show the power of friendship and loyalty – especially the importance of never giving up.

LITTLE FIR TREE also reminds us of the value in preserving our woodland areas for the future well-being of the planet. Little Tree, for example, is not chopped down and disposed of at the end of the story (as in the original) but dug up and replanted as a symbol of growth.

lft productionsUsing the concert premiere of the show as a platform has allowed us to build a series of workshops and events which not only support and celebrate the important elements in the story, but also the importance of trees in our cities.

We believe that we have a chance with this show to deepen the emotional connection children may have with trees. We also hope to inspire the wider values of preserving woodlands for future generations. Our ability to do this is greatly enhanced by the support of The Woodland Trust.

The LITTLE FIR TREE PROJECT creates a bridge between music, theatre and the arts, and the environment. Together with the Musical, the Project opens a door to a magical world of trees which children, especially those in an urban environment, might not even know exists’

The Little Fir Tree Project


img 0063What has been so exciting about the LITTLE FIR TREE PROJECT is that it has the potential to engage the whole community so that together we can really make a difference.

THE ISLINGTON COUNCIL has shown great interest, and councillors and officers from various departments have been keen to promote – what is being offered. We were delighted to welcome Councilor Rowena Champion, who is the chair of Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee along to one of our ‘Tree Awareness’ workshops this Autumn so she could to see how the Islington Primary school children responded to hearing all about their neighborhood trees.

We’ve also been given sound advice from James Rice from the Woodland Trust who has helped us get the message across. Here’s what he says:

“Trees are a public asset and belong to all of us, so it's up to all of us us to make sure they're recognised and valued. The Little Fir Tree Project will do just that, teaching the next generation of their value and worth.

Little Fir Tree ProjectOur ‘Tree Awareness Workshops’ covered topics such as identifying and describing the functions of different parts of trees and what trees actually need to grow and of course the very important point of how trees act to counter pollution. Which, by the way happens to work very well with the Year Three science curriculum.

During the two hour workshops, the youngsters spent an hour in Thornhill Park identifying the different trees, learning how they grow and how they help to clean our air and help us breathe more easily. Then they went on a nature trail through the park, finding things for themselves, before heading inside the RIGPA Centre for a hot chocolate and to hear a preview of the music and from the show and to ask more questions about trees.

Little Fir Tree ProjectWhen it came to talking about seasonal changes in trees of course that’s when LITTLE FIR TREE came into his own ...after all he is an ‘evergreen’!

We also try to support the disadvantaged schools by offering them free tickets to see the show, when it is on, if their timetable will allow.

By offering a combination of a Theatre concert, an outdoor nature and environmental learning experience and a possibly even a tree planting session if the schools take up the Woodland Trust offer is making the LITTLE FIR TREE PROJECT a memorable experience for everyone involved. IMG 0067a

Little Fir Tree -The Musical


Sylvester McCoy Little Fir Tree December 2018‘A Magical new musical show for all the family’

It was such a delight to bring LITTLE FIR TREE to Kings Place, London in December 2018 as part of their Christmas Celebrations.

The show is a new vibrant family musical based around the Hans Christian Andersen story, re-imagined and composed by Megg Nicol and David Stoll.

Showcased in two concert performances at Kings Place, with Sylvester McCoy (The Hobbit Trilogy, Doctor Who), a full cast and orchestra, this production has been widely praised and acts as a perfect launchpad for our goal of staging a full-scale musical.

LITTLE FIR TREE - the Musical, provided the inspiration for LITTLE FIR TREE - The Project; uniquely linking the Arts and the Environment to highlight the importance of trees in our cities, and to complement the Woodland Trust’s inner-city tree planting strategy.

Initial comments on the show have been very positive including a delightful quote from Michael Simkins in The Times newspaper regarding shows he’d seen over Christmas, writing that he "was enchanted by a children's musical, Little Fir Tree, at Kings Place".

The Gala Premiere was directed by David Ian Neville, and the musical director was Stephen Clarke.

Claire Lyth's (Designer) imaginative visuals brought the stage to life and her beautifully crafted projections of a fairytale forest with all its subtle shades of colours created a strikingly atmospheric glow. It was not difficult for the audience to be naturally drawn into the world of the LITTLE FIR TREE. Staging and costumes were kept simple in line with a concert format. Little Fir Tree December 2018 cast

The cast led by Sylvester McCoy included David Burt, Owen Oakeshott, Elena Breschi, Billie Hamer, Simon Anthony, Ryan Hunter and Nancy Hill.


The story revolves around Little Fir Tree as he struggles with the challenges and joys of growing up in the Great Forest, where animals live happily alongside talking trees. A little girl called Lara lives nearby and shares this dream. But unforeseen dangers threaten this idyllic place.

When Little Fir Tree’s best friend, Owl, goes missing, the future looks bleak as the two bully trees, Big and Bigger, take advantage of his absence to plot to destroy the Little Fir Tree’s dream of happiness and turn Lara’s world upside down.

There is a strong environmental message throughout the show that children can relate to. The Little Fir Tree for instance is not chopped down after the festivities but dug up and replanted.

Above is the programme from the Little Fir Tree Concert at Kings Place with details of cast and everyone involved in the show. Clive Anderson ( President of the Woodland Trust) very kindly said a few words introduction.Little Fir Tree December 2018 Stage Set

Little Fir Tree and The Woodland Trust

 You could say that LITTLE FIR TREE is a tiny tree with big ideas. The aim is simple; we have successfully staged the concert showcase and now we would like to get on a full-scale production. We believe that once established the show could run every year as a Festive Evergreen.

Supporting us on this exciting adventure is the Woodland Trust who not only brightened up the Kings Place foyer with their Festive stall but they also gave away party bags that contained a sapling tree for each child as they left the venue.

It is our pleasure to be able work with the Woodland Trust and to contribute to their efforts in broadcasting the message, that trees are important and the more we plant, the healthier our planet!

During October 2018 a series of ten free ‘Tree Awareness’ workshops for local Primary Schools took place in Thornhill Square Park, Islington. Incorporated into the Workshop content were many of the themes from the show.

The next step for us is to share LITTLE FIR TREE - The Musical and LITTLE FIR TREE - The Project with a wider audience.

As LITTLE FIR TREE himself says, ‘I am growing, watch me growing’!

Here's a little taster from the show ' Forest of Dreams' sung by Emma Stevens and produced by Pete Woodroffe (yet to be released).


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The Drummer Boy of Waterloo

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Buddy, Victoria Plaact TheatreAs a performer Megg has starred in four West End Musicals; BUDDY, BLOCKHEADS, I’M GETTING MY ACT TOGETHER AND TAKING IT ON THE ROAD plus SPIKE MILLIGAN AND FRIENDS and supporting roles in others.

Megg Nicol meets Prince Edward at Buddy, Victoria Palace TheatreMegg Nicol meets Prince Edward at Buddy, Victoria Palace TheatreMegg was in the first cast of the show BUDDY that ran for twelve years in the West End, London and it a was a real energy busting roller coaster of a show. At the audition she was asked if she could play any musical instruments and she told them guitar and violin... however she hadn’t in fact played violin since she was at school. Then on the first day of rehearsals she was told to bring her ‘fiddle’ to discover she was being featured as a fabulous fiddle playing country artist with a country band.

Megg says: ‘A good fiddle player I am not so I was totally freaked to have a solo in the number and at my first attempt to play it the cast roared with laughter’ I had to practice a lot... and in the end I played on the cast album too.....which incidently happened to go Platinum...probably no thanks to me’

BLOCKHEADS was the story of Laural and Hardy and Megg played Stan Laurel’s mistress Mae Daelburg. Life was never easy with Mae.

Megg Nicol in Getting My Act TogetherMegg in Getting My Act TogetherMegg Nicol in Blockheads at The Mermaid TheatreBlockheads at The Mermaid TheatreMegg played Alice twice in I’M GETTING MY ACT TOGETHER AND TAKING IT ON THE ROAD. Once in at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue with Ben Cross and Diane Langton and then at The Edinburgh Festival with Gretchen Cryer the writer and original Broadway star.

SPIKE MILLIGAN AND FRIENDS started as a tour of the country that ended up in the West End with Megg playing second on the bill to Spike.

Megg says: ‘ This experience is actually worthy of a chapter in itself I first met Spike doing a recording session for a musical he was writing with Ed Welsh...and we got on really well, thus leading to the show. I learned a lot from Spike about ‘how to improvise ‘ on stage. He used to announce me by saying ‘ Brought up by the Nuns and brought down by me.....

And at the Royal Command performance we did of the show he called Prince Charles ..’Trainee King’

Before moving to London from Scotland Megg acted with PITLOCHRY FESTIVAL THEATRE, ROYAL LYCEUM, PERTH REP , DUNDEE REP and she also did various Folk tours as a singer/songwriter working with Scottish Folk bands such as FINN MACUILL and hosting and singing on TV series like STOVIES with Alistair Mac Donald also SOUNDS OF SCOTLAND that featured acts like RUNRIG, THE MACALLMANS or BARBARA DICKSON.

Megg Nicol and Spike Milligan, LondonMegg Nicol - Spike Milligan and Friends However she did not want to be totally defined in that genre and eventually she moved to London to try her hand at musicals.

Girl FridayHer first major break through on arriving in London was to land an understudy role in FIRE ANGEL which was a multi –million pound rock opera of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE choreographed by ARLENE PHILIPS and directed by BRAHAM MURRAY. This lasted for exactly six weeks in the West End but in that time Megg’s understudy role turned into a major part when the star dropped out. It was during one of these performances she was spotted and asked to audition for a show that went into rehearsals just after the closesure.

Ironically it was a gig singing in Gaelic as a solo performer at the LONDON PALLADIUM for an amazing Celtic ice ballet with JOHN CURRY ; so the Scottish Folk connection was perfect for that.

 At the time she was also in a couple of bands 'FLICKS' and 'GIRL FRIDAY' which was Megg’s attempt at being a punk and as she says...

‘ We had a single out that John Peel loved ‘ TUNING IN’ but basically I looked too wholesome to pull it off ...’

Pop QuestTops on TVHowever the wholesome image plus a great interest in pop music and songwriters led to her Presenting and singing on various network TV series of the time ..POP QUEST being one. This was a quiz program that was recorded at Yorkshire TV as live. Megg Presented it with MIKE READ.

After that came GET IT TOGETHER that she presented with ROY NORTH and OLLIE of her favorite owls.


...Only three weeks till the 'Drummer Boy of Waterloo'

In three weeks our show ‘The Drummer Boy of Waterloo’ premieres in Aldeburgh with Jubilee Opera, at the Jubilee Hall and I have to say I am beginning to feel very excited...

Its actually the weekend of November 7th and 8th.

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