REBECCA Lawrence has every reason to be looking forward to next month’s Children in Song extravaganza – it will be her first visit to the Isle of Man and the first time she will see the musical she wrote for the concert performed.
More than 500 children from 22 different schools will take to the stage at the Villa Marina on Saturday, June 16, for Children in Song, which is staged by the Douglas Buxton Music Trust every two years.
The event will see the world premier of Jazzy Jinks, a magical 45-minute musical drama about the secret life of a jazz cat.
Jazzy Jinks’ creator, Rebecca Lawrence, a former teacher and children’s songwriter who has had 80 of her songs published, admits: ‘It’s going to be quite emotional for me.’
She says she has deliberately not found out how Jazzy Jinks will be performed, only that rehearsals are going well, so that the production will come as a complete surprise: ‘The gift of this is that it is down to their interpretation and I know it will be wonderful whatever they do. It’s really exciting.’
Rebecca, 41, was approached two years ago by Maggie Richardson, head of music service with the Department of Education and Children, to ask if she would like to do a commission.
‘Of course I jumped at the chance,’ she says.
Inspiration for Jazzy Jinks were the tales told by her later father, Allan Veak, about a cat he had had as a child which had been called Jimbonathan Jinks. Rebecca’s father lived in the Isle of Man just after the war, flying for a local airline.
‘He told these wonderful tales about the island and its fairies. I have this image of the island but I’ve never been. I’m an island girl myself,’ says mother-of-two Rebecca, who was born and educated in Jersey. ‘Maggie wanted me to come up with an original idea and I suddenly thought about my dad’s cat Jimbonathan Jinks. It’s a wonderfully characterful name. The story quickly developed about this collection of Jazz cats and the underground world they inhabit.’
Jazzy Jinks follows the story of Jimbonathan Jinks, who plays trombone and longs to create his own jazz band, with the musical following his auditions for players. Cats sing stories about their lives, through swing, scat, ballad and rap and Jim searches in vain for a lead singer and longs for his cherished Celeste, a beautiful singer he knew in Paris.
‘It has completely contrasting musical styles, which is something I’m quite well known for. I believe that if it’s good music, it’s good music.’
As well as the main piece, the concert will see individual performances by school choirs and groups. Tickets, at £6 for adults and £3 for children, are on sale at the box office on 600555.