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As 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 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 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.
However she did not want to be totally defined in that genre and eventually she moved to London to try her hand at musicals.
Her 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 ...’
However 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 BEAK..one of her favorite owls.
Plus others BEST DISCO IN TOWN, STOVIES, GATHER ROUND, MUSICAL JOURNEY plus guest spots on several others, POP GOSPEL, SONGBOOK, POP THE QUESTION and a few TV specials such as GIRLS FOR GERSHWIN, GRETCHEN CRYER SPECIAL.
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.
“Having the chance to ‘do’ animation voices is like most things in the business and depends on lots of luck and being in the right place at the right time plus also having the ability to actually do the job.
My chance to do ‘ Voices’ came while I was performing in the West End. A good friend from BUDDY had hooked up with a musician and producer who specialsied in voice–overs and just happened to need an actress who could play ‘crazy’ American kids and Moms in a cartoon series called BAMBOO BEARS.
I was given a ‘try-out’ gig but I was strangely qualified to do the job since I had been born in Canada and lived in the US as a child...so I had a good ear for the accent....”
Interestingly this was just at the start of the Canadian and US animation companies recording their voices in the UK because it was cheaper. ( UK companies often record their voices using American accents too for the world market )
Even the popular UK series 64 ZOO LANE was redubbed in US accents for FOX TV and Megg was one of the two actresses that revoiced it.
Cut to the present day and Megg has now voiced hundreds of animations.
As part of a team of four voice-artists KATE ROBBINS, BOB SAKER and DAN RUSSELL of CHARACTER DEVELOPMENTS... (all songwriters and musicians by the way) Megg voiced MEME’S GANG and the series MEME AND MR. BOBO playing her regular characters OLGA and BIG MIKE plus MEME’S MOM and others as necessary.
Since most cartoon series are done in huge batches the scripts are sight read and the characters are dished out on the spot depending on what’s needed...
“It’s brilliant fun but not for the faint hearted.... I’ve discovered silly things like my ‘dog’ barking skills are more suited to being a terrier rather than a labrodour for instance....and you must feel completely happy swapping from one voice to the other as you will certainly end up at some point ‘talking to yourself “
Her animation series include fifty–two episodes of TITEUF playing EDDY and other characters such as Titeufs Mum and some of the other kids.
NINI’S TREEHOUSE playing OOPAGOGO was a very tricky series to voice’.
The scripts did not sync with what was on screen so I used to have to watch the sequence through..... get the gist of the script and improvise the voices and reactions watching the screen.... No wonder OOPAGOGO was green. So was I by the end of 84 episodes.
It should also be mentioned that Megg did some voices on THE WILLOWS IN WINTER narrated by VANESSA REDGRAVE.
As an independent producer for BBC Radio 2 Megg has written and produced music documentaries.
Megg set up NO LIMIT PRODUCTIONS as a one man band audio-production company to do commissioned production music, special recording projects, voice-overs and talking books.
When Independent Radio production really took off she was well placed to tender for radio programes and as a freelance producer for BBC RADIO TWO she has written and produced two music documentaries so far. One called BUBBLEGUM looking at the teeny bop pop music of the seventies and another ARE WE DOWNHEARTED NO! looking at the life of WARTON DAVID and his son who were both hit songwriters in the early years of the twentieth century.
NO LIMITS also became known for doing high quality audio show reels and their services were in demand from HOBSONS and LIPSERVICE in particular. At the present time she is currently in development with other projects for BBC RADIO 4.
She has also co-produced with JOHN FAULKNER two musicals at the Edinbugh Festivals under the banner KUMQUAT THEATRE PRODUCTIONS , a review CITY LIGHTS and I’M GETTING MY ACT TOGETHER AND TAKING ON THE ROAD with Broadway star and writer GRETCHEN CRYER resulting in a tour as a co-producer of COWARDY CUSTARD with the SWEDISH NATIONAL THEATRE.
In 2018 Megg has joined LFT Productions as creative director tasked with the job of delivering the LITTLE FIR TREE PROJECT. This was an exciting initiative that links the Arts and the Environment with the aim of increasing awareness of the importance of trees in our cities, complimenting the Woodland Trusts inner city tree planting strategy, and cutting down pollution in and near our schools.
At the heart of it is a new family musical called LITTLE FIR TREE based on the Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale The Little Fir Tree, re-imagined by Megg Nicol & David Stoll which was premiered in London as part of the 2018 Christmas celebrations.
Coinciding with there was also a launch of a ten-week environmental project with workshops for primary schoolchildren supported by the WOODLAND TRUST.
Based in London, Megg is committed to giving back to the Songwriting community that has supported her career by leading workshops such as THE BIG DEMO LISTENING EVENT, SONGSHOP & TALK TO MY MANAGER to give developing songwriters commercial opportunities for their work to be heard.
She also lectures on the postgraduate MA Music Management Degree at London College of Music and has sat on the Songwriter’s Executive of the BRITSH ACADEMY OF SONGWRITERS COMPOSERS AND AUTHORS for many years. Currently she serves on the committee of management for the MEMBER’S BENEVOLENT FUND of PRS FOR MUSIC.
Her first publishing deal was with SPARTA FLORIDA with a song she co-wrote with HAL SHAPER.
"I’ve been writing songs since I got my first guitar at fifteen, but I didn’t get paid for doing it until my third year at Drama College in Edinburgh, when the score hadn’t been sent with the parcel of scripts for an end of term semi-musical production of John Arden’s ‘THE ROYAL PARDON’ . Apparently the publishers had none left and to re-order would be too late. Seeing the director was in a tight spot I volunteered to compose new music to go with the original lyrics and played them to her at the next rehearsal. The director was highly delighted and bought me a bottle of wine...result!
I had no idea at that point that you could actually make money doing what I had just done. I was simply being helpful.
Then in my first radio play for Radio 4 as an actor in CORRESPONDENCES with Marius Goring, I over heard the producer saying they couldn’t get clearance for a song they wanted to use in the play. I cheekily asked what the song was and went home and wrote a new song with the same sentiment. The producer liked it, recorded the song with me singing and this time I got actual money and a contract.
Suddenly, the penny dropped, people needed specially written songs for all sorts of things and producers didn’t always know who to ask to do the job."
Fast forward till now and Megg’s got hundreds of songs under her belt written for BBC and ITV including lots of children’s programs such as LISTENING CORNER.
This daily program ate up lots of material and she often presented it as well as writing the music and scripts.
‘ The show was such a delight to do, especially if it was with someone who had a jolly sense of humour like MICHAEL ROSEN for instance . In that case we presented the program together and I wrote music to some of his fabulous poems and we sang them’
....And there were many others too such as HOPSCOTCH, JIGSAW, KNICKITY KNACKITY, all long running series plus LETS SEE and GATHER ROUND.
Perhaps the most ground breaking was being included on the songwrtiting team of YOUR MOTHER WOULDN’T LIKE IT . This was a naughty teenage light entertainment program that prided itself in doing funny and outrageous sketches that often inlcuded spoof Pop songs. The show was very popular and won a BAFTA in the 'Best Light Entertainment and Drama' Category.
In fact Megg made children’s music a specialty and she has written and produced numerable “Edutainment” products. Such as KID STUFF RADIO, THE SING N” DO SERIES and INSTRUMENTS OF THE ORCHESTRA. Scripts for the animation series THE SECRET LIFE OF BENJAMIN BEAR.
Writing for the theatre has always been important to Megg and in 2015 she collaborated on her first opera with David Stoll co‐writing the words and music for THE DRUMMER BOY OF WATERLOO a children’s opera that Premiered in Aldeburgh with Jubilee Opera.
THE DRUMMER BOY OF WATERLOO is a new children’s opera, commissioned for the two hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. The photos here are by David Herman from the production by Jubilee Opera.... the world premiere.
The opera tells the story of Edward Drew a young lad, who was apprenticed to work in a northern textile mill when his mother died. He’d never known his father, but his father was a soldier, who’d gone to fight Napoleon in France.
Life was not easy at the mill and the children often had to work more than ten hours a day but eventually Edward made friends and settled down.
There was music in him, and the machines had rhythm of their own. Inside his head that rhythm didn’t stop even when the machines did. Edward could often be found drumming on anything he could find from crates to tabletops.
When Edward heard that the army needed boys to send drum signals on the battlefield, and that he would be suitable, he was very excited. However, the mill owner had other ideas; to him, the children were simply machinery to be worked until they were of no more use.
How Edward escaped, and what happened to him at Waterloo, is the story of this opera.
"The music of Nicol and Stoll was easy on the ear and very evocative of the action." Martyn Harrison - Seen and Heard International
"Megg Nicol and David Stoll have composed an attractive and highly effective work that deserves to find a secure place in the repertory of children’s opera. Everyone involved in this auspicious world premier is to be warmly congratulated." Gareth Jones - East Anglian Daily Times
"...Megg and David have created a work which, I'm sure, will enter the repertoire and will be enjoyed by performers and audiences alike for years to come” Chris Butler - Head of Publishing & Rights for the Music Sales Group
"The music is skilfully composed, with a variety of styles and an acute sense of what will work on stage" Gareth Jones - East Anglian Daily Times
"We (Jubilee Opera) were very proud and honoured to be able to give The Drummer Boy his first outing" Jenni Wake-Walker (Director)
Click here to read more about the world Premier.
Drummer Boy of Waterloo photographs courtesy of David Hermon.
Megg wrote ANOTHER ONE FOR THE ROAD with playright David Ian Neville for THE SCOTTISH YOUTH THEATRE which was a political play about the Jarrow March and the Peoples March for Jobs. The songs and music were performed by the cast within the show, with their own rock band.
WASTELAND WARRIOR again was written with David Ian Neville as a contender for HIGHLAND QUEST, the project backed by Cameron Mackintosh for the Eden Court Theatre in Inverness.
The story is set in the normally tranquil Highland town of Lochmuir as the fruit picking season begins. The same traveller family has helped in Donald McIntyre’s farm for over forty years; and they have become friends. But this year there is trouble brewing; as Kieran, the charismatic wayward son of traveller Tipp O’Donnell has brought a radical element to the group that severely disrupts the McIntyre family, the harvest and causes havoc the local community.
HIGHLAND FLING was an ‘alternative Scottish’ two woman show for Triple E-Productions in Sweden, that Megg wrote and performed with Christine Mckenna to full houses in Stockholm.
She also wrote songs for SPIKE MILLIGAN AND FRIENDS, the West End show and tour that was performed, by special request, as a Royal Command Performance for Prince Charles at The Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue.
TO YOUR GOOD HEALTH was a children’s show written and peformed with Bernard Shaw and commissioned by the SCOTTISH ARTS COUNCIL.
LASTEST: Megg and David have recently had in 2018 two staged concerts of LITTLE FIR TREE a family musical they wrote inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson story of the same name.