A musical about the life of legendary Scots businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie will have a two-night run at Carnegie Theatre, Dunfermline, starring his great-great-great grandson as him, to mark the centenary of his death.
28-year-old singing teacher Joe Whiteman, who’s descended from Carnegie on his mother’s side, will play the iconic Scotsman in the first performances of Carnegie – The Star Spangled Scotchman at Carnegie Theatre, Dunfermline, on May 17 and 18 next year.
The musical has also been published by Stagescripts this year and is available for schools and theatre groups to perform.
The news, and a new song just added to the show, were unveiled in an event at the Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries yesterday [November 25] to launch a series of events to mark the centenary of his death.
An 1880s portrait of Carnegie by James Archer, on loan to Fife Cultural Trust from Carnegie Dunfermline Trust and hung previously in Dunfermline Carnegie Library, which was put into storage during the refurbishment of the building into the new Dunfermline Galleries was returned at the event, which also heard the first performance of the song, Mothers And Sons, sung by Carnegie’s mother, played by Donna Hazelton, and the women in Act 2.
The musical has been developed over the last five years by Ian Hammond Brown, co-writer of Whisky Galore A Musical, who won a development grant for it from Creative Scotland in 2013. It’s since enjoyed a successful run at the 2016 Fringe, with Joe Whiteman playing his ancestor for the first time.
It’s hoped the new run, ‘in concert’, will help gain interest in a full production from producers. Fife Cultural Trust has donated the hire of the theatre free of charge as its tribute to the legacy of the great man. It will also feature Donna Hazelton, winner of Musicality and West End Star of Chicago, as Mrs Margaret Carnegie, and an ensemble of 10 actors and choir a of local community performers.
Carnegie – The Star Spangled Scotchman tells the story of Carnegie’s life from the viewpoint of a steelworker killed in the controversial homestead steel plant dispute of 1892 who has come back from the afterlife to decide on Carnegie’s eternal fate in the last two hours of his life.
Ian Hammond Brown hopes the musical will raise awareness of the Carnegie story and Dunfermline, include a community choir and help support New Musical Theatre Alliance Scotland, a not-for-profit organisation set up to help nurture new musical writing talent in Scotland. It’s aimed that enough will be raised to also give donations to Alzheimers Scotland and Strathcarron Cancer Care.
Speaking about the new run, Ian Hammond Brown said: “I’m delighted we’re able to bring Carnegie – The Star Spangled Scotchman to Carnegie Hall to mark the centenary of Andrew Carnegie’s death.
“It’s a great opportunity to work with a fantastic cast again, a number of whom appeared in the Fringe production, as well as support the local community. It’s always been my dream to perform the show at the Carnegie Hall and it’s particularly poignant in 2019 as it’s the centenary year. Many thanks to Fife Cultural Trust for its support.”
Joe Whiteman said: “I’m delighted to be revisiting the role of Andrew Carnegie and cannot wait to perform in the town where my ancestor was born in the theatre named after him.”
Heather Stuart, Chief Executive of Fife Cultural Trust, said: “As the custodians of the world’s first Carnegie Library, Fife Cultural Trust is honoured to mark the legacy of Andrew Carnegie with our events in 2019. Today’s launch is particularly special as Andrew Carnegie’s great-great-great-grandson performed excerpts from Ian Hammond Brown’s Carnegie the Star Spangled Scotchman, which we are delighted to host at the Carnegie Hall during 2019. Our own Carnegie expert, Sharron McColl gave a fascinating talk on Andrew and Louise Carnegie and Gavin Grant’s introduction saw Carnegie’s portrait returning to the library.”
The show’s website is at www.carnegiemusical.com