Composer . Writer . Cabaret Performer

Mark Bunyan Composer . Writer . Cabaret Performer

Musical theatre writing:

Defining Dr Minor
Dr Minor
Dr Minor

Dr William Chester Minor was an American army surgeon who, in a fit of madness in 1872, killed an innocent passer-by in London and was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment in Broadmoor. Here, over the next thirty years, he made a major contribution to the Oxford English Dictionary.

I first came into contact with the story in the late 1990s in a small article in the Smithsonian magazine. It instantly struck me as an interesting piece to make into musical theatre and this immediately struck my partner Andrew as the most bizarre idea I had yet come up with.

Nonetheless, once I’d completed Telling Tales, I started work on what eventually became Defining Dr Minor and it had workshops at the Royal Academy of Music in 2005 and 2006.

The piece is for a cast of ten, five men and five women. One of the priorities for me on the score was to ensure that it had a lot of humour; this story isn’t exactly a barrel of laughs and I wanted to be certain that, as a piece of theatre, it wouldn’t be a grim evening.

Recording Dr Minor
Recording Dr Minor
In 2007 a demo recording was produced by Stuart Barr featuring a cast headed by Nigel Richards as Minor with Will Barratt, Christopher Colley, Ben Fleetwood Smyth, Elizabeth Griffin, Sam Kenyon, Louisa Maxwell, Gemma Morsley, Verity Quade and Andrew Thwaite, Michael Roulston doing wonders with my score on piano.

Here’s Will Barratt as a very Gilbert and Sullivan-esque Dr Murray, editor of the Dictionary, interrupting the proceedings to introduce himself.

Listen to Dr Murray:

And Dr Minor himself, sung by Nigel Richards, deep in his thoughts.

Listen to And I Think of You: