All the Sky’s a Stage
Spitfire, a new musical with book and lyrics by Steve Darlow and music by Glenn Tollett, tells the story of Jenny, her journey of self-determination to become a pilot with the Air Transport Auxiliary in the Second World War, and her relationship with an RAF pilot called George. With the support of her aunt Joy, Jenny yearns to break away from the expectations of others, fly Spitfires, and find freedom, overcoming societal norms, chauvinism, and psychological challenges to reach her goals. Indeed, George has his own physical and mental struggles, which seriously threaten his relationship with Jenny. Friendships are made, and love is found, lost, and regained, set against the tragic consequences of total war.
In 2018 Steve Darlow attended the premiere of the feature documentary ‘Spitfire’ in London and one of the veterans attending, and who appeared in the film, was the inspirational Mary Ellis, a Second World War Air Transport Auxiliary pilot. Mary, who was 101 years old, turned up in her wartime ATA uniform.
Steve: ‘Meeting Mary was inspirational. She was one of the very few surviving ATA female pilots. Nicknamed ‘Attagirls’, Mary and her colleagues ferried all sorts of aircraft types between factories and RAF units. Mary alone delivered no less than 403 Spitfires. During the Second World War 166 women served as pilots with the ATA, overcoming many barriers to achieve their ambitions. When the Attagirls received equal pay in 1943 it was the first time women were paid the same as their male counterparts in Government employment.’
Following this meeting Steve ran the idea past Glenn of a musical about a female ATA pilot. Glenn was keen and in the autumn of 2018 Steve set about putting together a treatment and then a first draft of the script.
Glenn already had a number of compositions, which were deemed suitable song vehicles, composed and dedicated to his father shortly before and after his death. (Glenn’s father served with the RAF and Bomber Command during WW2 Initially as an engineer, maintaining the famous Merlin engines which powered the Spitfire and Lancaster aircraft. He also served in the Desert Rats for a period, subsequently moving to aircrew as a flight engineer.)
In November 2018 Steve had the first draft of the script for Spitfire the Musical.
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