Will Marshall has worked at Eden Court as the Musical Director and Arranger of our annual panto since 2012. 2020's COVID pandemic saw Eden Court close, lockdown set in and the cancellation of panto became unavoidable. Will decided to use his time creatively, recording an album.
Will told us about his disappointment over a very hard year for a working musician and how he used his new-found creative time productively.
Will Marshall in the pit at Eden Court's Empire Theatre
The roar of the Empire theatre after the opening number, the laughter, the boos at the baddy. The interval cup of tea backstage with the band, actors popping in and out of wardrobe for a blether, laughing about something that’s happened in the show.
We have such a great team that come together to make the Inverness Panto every year and we are all aware just how much it means to every one who comes to visit the theatre. I work closely with Steven Wren the director and dame, Garry Boyle, sound designer, and Claire Darcy, choreographer. It was so strange not having our panto meetings and discussing music. My band in the pit, I love working with those guys and being in charge of a finely tuned machine. The actors and ensemble, management, backstage crew, office staff, ushers, people in the café. I could go on, but everyone pulls together to make something really special.
As a musician I spend a lot of my time playing live, usually with other musicians and performers. Last year, I slowly watched every project and tour in my diary disappear for the year. It was a worrying time and I had to adapt quickly to the changing situation. I started new projects, teaching my students online, recording and arranging music for Fèis Rois, things which were not only great fun to do, but provided employment! I am so used to being creative and making music I took it upon myself to compose an album (Destination – Home) and write a book, both of which I otherwise wouldn’t have had the time to do.
I was composing for people and places that mean something to me. The album was inspired by many things. My morning walks with my wife and son around the Forth Rail Bridge - we live very close by and I find it inspiring. Having time and headspace to compose was a refreshing delight that certainly helped to give me a creative focus too. All my compositions were written in the space of a few months.
I was hopeful that panto would go ahead in some shape, all be it perhaps a smaller production. Though it became inevitable, it was still a massive disappointment for me in what has been a terrible year for the arts. It was so strange when the middle of November came and I normally pack the car and head north to see my ‘panto family’. I love being in Inverness, the beauty of the highlands is stunning. When my family come up and I have a day off, we head out to Loch Ness or take a walk along the river. What a beautiful part of the world.
I can’t wait to hear the Eden Court audience again and the roar of sound that comes over my head to the stage. Working with my friends on something we love and really care about too. It is going to be exciting to get back to doing what we do, it has been over a year since I have had any live performance in front of an audience. I can’t wait to get going again.