Blind Date 2015 Judges
  • David James

    Founder of BOOK Music & Lyrics Musical Theatre writing course

    David James has worked in the professional theatre for over 40 years as a costume designer, writer, dramaturg, and performer in New York, Los Angeles, and London, working directly with Kander & Ebb, Bock & Harnick, Michael Bennett, Bob Fosse, Michael Kidd, John Guare, Alvin Ailey and Jose Quintaro, among many others. He designed the costumes for Vanities, which ran off-Broadway for seven years, and K: Impressions of Kafka’s ‘The Trial’, which won an Obie Award for design. His award-winning plays have been produced by the BBC World Services, Radio4, and the South African Broadcasting System. He sat on the boards of both United Scenic Artists local 829 (the theatre designers’ union in New York) and The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, where he was chair of the theatre committee for 11 years. In 2010, he founded ‘BOOK Music & Lyrics’ (www.bookmusicandlyrics.com), a professional development programme for emerging musical theatre practitioners, a registered charity and the only organisation in the UK addressing this need. His current projects include Mountain Medicine (a 60 minute TV drama series in development with Kowalski Media) and three new musicals, including Bandemonium, which has been commissioned by Joseph Weinberger. He also performs new burlesque, both with Liz Carr and with Naked Boys Reading."

  • Fadi Tavoukdjian

    New Writing Manager (Musical Theatre Initiative) Theatre Royal Stratford East

    Fadi Tavoukdjian is a New York and London-based writer, actor and facilitator who has worked with organisations such as The Public Theater. The New York Theatre Workshop, the Bush Theatre, Theatre503 and Tamasha.

  • Karen Rabinowitz

    Former Musical Theatre Course Leader at the Royal Academy of Music

    Karen Rabinowitz is a freelance director, choreographer and acting teacher, whose work has included musicals, plays operas, song-cycles and revues.
    She is particularly interested in directing and developing new work, and during her time as Course Leader for the Musical Theatre Course at the Royal Academy of Music (1995-2014) she was pleased to offer spring workshops in which composers and writers could try out and develop their new work with the post-graduate singer/actors and musical directors.

    Her mainstream productions there included: Follies, A Chorus Line, City of Angels, A Little Night Music, The Wiz, Happy End, Nine, A… My Name is Alice, Little Me, Sweet Charity, The Pajama Game, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Way of the World, Ring Around the Moon, Bastien Bastienne, House of Obsession, Pierrot Lunaire, The Soldier’s Tale and Eight Songs for a Mad King.

    In the freelance world her directing work has taken her as far as Waterville, Maine (Twelfth Night), Dundee (Alice Through the Looking Glass) as well as London venues such as Stratford East (Hansel and Gretel), the Arcola (Goodbye Barcelona), the Rosemary Branch (Unburied Treasures) and Pentameters (Nostalgia Brand Chewing Gum).

    She has also choreographed plays at the Royal National Theatre (The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, The Way of the World), operas for Opera North (La Traviata, Masquerade) and Scottish Opera (Eugene Onegin), Shakespeare in Regent’s Park (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Cannizaro Park (Romeo and Juliet), The Wizard of Oz (Zurich Opera House) as well as numerous plays and pantomimes in reps across the UK.

    Karen has taught acting at a number of drama schools, and coaches performers for specific roles, auditions and competitions.

  • David Firman

    Orchestral Conductor, Musical Director, Composer & Arranger

    David Firman conducted the original West End productions of Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, Chicago, Godspell, Pirates of Penzance, Singin’ in the Rain, Dancin’, Children of Eden, Metropolis, Andy Capp, Annie Get Your Gun, La Cage aux Folles and Phantom of the Opera (Guest Conductor). David Firman is Principal Guest Conductor with the Danish Sinfonietta, and has arranged and conducted upwards of 25 albums and a similar number of televised concerts. He recently conducted them in the world première of the musical Matador at Copenhagen’s new Opera House, where he also created the production’s fifty-minute underscore. David arranged, orchestrated and conducted a brand new score for The Hobbit, starring Christopher Lee, which opened the new Danish Concert Hall designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. David also composed and conducted a new score commissioned the Royal Danish Ballet which was subsequently recorded for DVD and television transmission, and returned to the Royal Danish Opera act as Musical Director for their production of My Fair Lady and Les Miserables. Closer to home David acted as Musical Director of the West End production of Carousel at the Savoy Theatre, and conducted the world premières of Cariad and Ad Astra for composer Julie Cooper. He conducted and arranged the gold award album recorded in Cologne featuring Korean soprano Sumi Jo, along with her previous CD’s for Warner and Deutsche Grammophon
    David Firman has conducted many orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra and BBC Concert Orchestra along with orchestras in Australia, Singapore, Bangkok, Stockholm, Hannover and Tokyo. In particular David has a happy and long-standing association with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and together they have performed many musical theatre concerts, including the annual Best of Broadway, at the Royal Albert Hall.
    Next week (on October 29th) David will conduct the world premiere of Frozen – live in Concert with the Royal Philharmonic at the Albert Hall.
    David an enthusiastic supporter of new writing, and has been a facilitator for the Book Music Lyrics workshop since its inception. He remains excited and enchanted with music in all its forms.
    www.davidfirman.com

  • James Hadley

    New Executive Director of Musical Theatre Network

    James Hadley will be the new Executive Director of Musical Theatre Network, a membership organisation focussed on strengthening the UK’s new musical theatre sector, from 9 November. Since 2009 he has worked for Arts Council England as a Relationship Manager in the London Theatre team, with a particular focus on musical theatre. In this role he’s had the pleasure of advising a wide range of musical theatre writers, producers and developers on their applications for funding, contributing to strategic thinking around development priorities for new musical theatre, and monitoring many of the new musicals in development over recent years. Prior to this, his background was as a director and producer, alongside four years programming BATS Theatre in Wellington, New Zealand.

  • Elliot Davis

    Writer & Producer

    Elliot is active as a producer and writer. Theatre Includes: Peter Pan, (Music & Lyrics by Stiles and Drewe, Book by Willis Hall in a new revised version by Elliot Davis), performed in Concert at The Adelphi Theatre, s Fings Ain’t What They Used T’Be, (Co-Producer, script adaptation) Stratford East, Loserville (book, lyrics and music with James Bourne), West Yorkshire Playhouse, Garrick, West End. Loserville was Olivier Nominated for Best Musical in 2013. Out There (book, lyrics and music), also written with James Bourne (Riverside Studios, London). Soho Cinders (book) written with Stiles and Drewe, (Soho Theatre, Queen Theatre, West End). Once Upon A Time At The Adelphi, (Liverpool Playhouse, Union Theatre London). Best Friends and Butterflies (TicketMaster Composer Award and Award For Best Musical For Young People). The Silver Tassie (Galway Ireland Tour and Broadway), The Colleen Bawn (Galway & Ireland Tour). Radio: Elliot is a prolific music documentary maker for the BBC. He has profiled some of the world’s biggest music artists including, Neil Diamond, Freddie Mercury, Barry Manilow, Liza Minnelli, the Bee Gees, Paul Anka, Jerry Herman, James Last and Lionel Bart. His centenary profile of Joan Littlewood aired on the BBC in November 2014. Film: Elliot recently completed a screen play for a feature film commissioned by the BBC which started filming in September 2015. Awards: Olivier Award Nomination: Best New Musical – Loserville. TicketMaster Composer Awards - Best Friends and Butterflies. Best Musical For Young People - Best Friends and Butterflies. New York Festival Award - Sugar Plum Story Time (21 Original Short Stories for the BBC) TMA Award For Best Musical - Once Upon A Time At The Adelphi. Best Original Book and Audience Choice Award for Best Musical in The BOH
    www.elliotdavis.co.uk

  • Pippa Cleary

    Composer, Songwriter, Singer

    Pippa has written many of her shows with collaborator and bookwriter Jake Brunger including; 'The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 1/2', 'Jet Set Go!' and 'The Great British Soap Opera'. For more information about the shows Pippa and Jake write together please go to www.brungerandcleary.co.uk
    Pippa and Jake’s work is often performed at London caberets and concerts, including A Song Cycle For Soho at the Soho Theatre (see cast recording) and their own showcase on the Battersea Barge.

    This year Pippa won the Arts Foundation Fellowship Award for Composition for Musicals in January 2012 and in 2011 she won The Times Christmas Carol Competition with ‘In the Snow’. Pippa’s other credits for music, songs & lyrics include The Night Before Christmas (The Humbe Theatre Company), The Lost and Found Office (Youth Music Theatre UK), Alice in Wonderland (Polka Theatre), Katy’s Road Show (CBeebies presenter Katy Ashworth’s Tour), The Wonderful World of Dissocia (Wickham Theatre, Bristol) and various Stagecoach productions.

    Pippa’s song ‘Star Shine’ was performed by Gina Respall at the 2011 Tim Williams Awards and last year Pippa’s song ‘Big White Wedding’ was shortlisted and performed at the Stiles & Drewe Songwriting Competition. In 2009 Pippa received an MTM Judges Discretionary Award for Compositional Development for JET SET GO! and THE GREAT BRITISH SOAP OPERA. Her song ‘Christmas Without You’ was shortlisted for the Notes for the Stage competition in 2008 and in 2004 she was awarded the Wax Chandler’s Prize for Composition at the Junior Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Pippa also creates and runs Pippa’s Poppets Baby & Toddler Music Classes for which she composes original songs.

    Pippa has a BA in Music from Bristol Univeristy where she specialised in Singing and Composition. She previously studied Composition under Jeffery Wilson at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She then went on to study Composition at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome and Music at L’Université d’Aix en Provnece 1.

    As a Musical Director, Pippa has worked on 1888 (Union Theatre), THE GREAT BRITISH SOAP OPERA (Jermyn Street Theatre), JEKYLL & HYDE (Winston Thetare, Bristol) and I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE! (Edinburgh Fringe 2008).