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Click here > to listen to highlights of seven of the songs Jazz Musical hello life!

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hello life! the musical

Music: Alexander L’Estrange
Lyrics & Book: Michelle Magorian
Book & Performer: Heather Cairncross

From Autumn to Summer we follow Beth Howard, a newly divorced woman in her mid-thirties as she copes with single parenthood, resists the well meaning help of her two match-making sisters and finds the emotional elastoplast she needs to protect herself from the men who walk in and out of her life.

In May 2003 there were four performances at the Brighton Festival.

The Old Market Arts Centre – Hove
Brighton Festival – May 2003

“During the Brighton Festival it was my good fortune to come across this one-woman jazz musical that is an absolute delight! Ably supported by two musicians Heather Cairncross weaves her magic for an hour and a quarter during which she tells the story by word and song of Beth Howard, newly divorced and how she copes with life as a single parent. If life was not hard enough already she has to put up with the well-meaning attempts by her two sisters to get a new man into her life.

The evening is full of warmth, humour and beautiful singing that due to the gentle score means one can hear every word of the lyrics. The ballad, These are my Children, and the title song that is an anthem to survival, particularly impressed me.

In addition to being the sole performer Miss Cairncross co-wrote the book with Michelle Magorian best known for her novel, Goodnight Mr Tom, subsequently televised starring John Thaw.

I later learned that Musical Stages had spotted the potential of this musical when it was showcased for the New Musicals Alliance at Greenwich in 2001 where it won a prize. Then it was a two handed, half hour piece with Miss Magorian as Narrator. It has now been expanded from seven to fourteen songs with the linking narrative being cleverly dealt with by Beth speaking into the telephone or her tape recorder diary.

Along with Heather, I hope that there will be future productions of the show. Being a delicate piece it would require staging in an intimate theatre space such as the Jermyn Street Theatre or, possibly, the Bridewell.”

Musical Stages Magazine

(also appeared in the Brighton Evening Argus)

In July 2002 we did six performances at the Buxton festival  and were awarded the
”Highest Contribution to the Buxton Fringe Festival” 
by the Festival Fringe Committee.
Here is the review:

hello life!

Unforgettable Production
Old Hall Hotel – Pauper’s Pit
Review by Roger Berrisford

“The first thing I must mention is the amazing voice of the – can we call her a heroine?
Not being classically trained myself, as most people in Buxton are at the moment, I found Heather Cairncross’s voice seductive. She captured for me the pain and self recrimination we all feel in a marital breakdown. This musical is about that – the break-up of a long standing relationship and how one adapts and comes to terms with grief, anger, loss and then the eventual realisation that life is for living.
This was a very moving and entertaining evening, which encompassed all human emotion; fear, grief, love, hate and perhaps the most important – hope. The production in the Paupers Pit used a simple and elegant setting. With the use of a curtain and subtle lighting it created exactly the desired changes in mood required -.quite stunning. The sole musician – a pianist – succeeded in providing an accompaniment that stayed unobtrusively in the background while making his mark very effectively.
There are two minor criticisms however, a different medium other that narrative could have been used to move the story along – choruses went out with Greek tragedies, and secondly that the style of the music didn’t alter enough. There weren’t enough ‘highs and lows’. But these are nit picking points for some of the lyrics were excellent and sung by Heather with great depth of feeling, reflecting perfectly the loving and protective care towards her children of a newly divorced mother. Anyone who has gone through (and survived) a broken relationship, whether male or female – will find this musical very authentic – believe me – I’ve been there.”

hello life! was featured along with ten other musicals in a musical showcase at the Greenwich Theatre on the 22nd-25th May 2001. This took the form of three half hour showcases performed along with two other musicals as part of a collaboration of the New Musicals Alliance and the Mercury Workshop along with the Greenwich Theatre.

The title of the two week festival was called the Greenwich Musicals Challenge.

“The life of Beth Howard as seen from a one woman’s point of view seems like a rather good starting point for a series of musical monologues. A jazzy score by Alexander L’Estrange sounded wonderful and many songs were memorable. Heather Cairncross as Beth was a powerhouse performance and greatly enjoyed by all of us. This work would need to be heard again, but is seems like a great piece of writing to me all in all. I liked this expansion of Tell Me On A Sunday idea and thought it worked very well. The songs were witty and sounded great.”


Hoorah!Carnegie Hall has announced its 2022–23 concert season, including Rhiannon Giddens, who will lead four concerts as a Perspectives artist for the season; past Perspectives artists Kronos Quartet; and an all–Steve Reich program performed by Colin Currie Group and Synergy Vocals: www.nonesuch.com/journal/carnegie-hall-2022-23-season-rhiannon-giddens-kronos-quartet-steve-reich…

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Coming back to Cardiff!CCG is delighted to announce its appearance at this year’s Festival of Voice – Gŵyl y Llais in Cardiff on November 4th. This will also mark the group’s debut at the Wales Millennium Centre – Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru. Mark your diaries now!! We haven’t performed Steve Reich ‘Drumming’ since 2019 and are itching to share this music again with you!Colin Currie GroupSynergy Vocals4/11/2021 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 www.wmc.org.uk/en/festival-of-voice/festival-of-voice-passes

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10 months ago

Heather Cairncross Singer

Hampshire folks – THIS COMING TUESDAY @ 18:00. Click on the link and choose 10th August for details and booking. It’s a scorching trio! www.winchfieldfestival.org/festival-lineup.html Just checking though my charts and searching for David Newton gold (I give him the red pen on a gig and he occasionally adds his harmonic wisdom – although in truth he plays with the hell he likes on the day and I’m VERY happy with that). We’d be so happy to see you there.(photo by Daniel Joy)

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May 2022
theatre - Heather Cairncross UK Jazz Singer