Musicals don’t have to be camp. At least, that is my opinion. I see quite a few new British ones which are inconsequential, sentimental, twee and whimsical, shows which avoid big issues and are shot through with moral conformism and a heavy feel-good factor. Compared to mainstream British theatre which is often so relevant and audacious our musicals seem to inhabit a nostalgic backwater. Too often they appear puny and dated. Two factors may contribute to this. Firstly, a pre-occupation with the interpersonal – who’s doing what to whom, who loves who, who hates who, who said what about who, who’s gay, who’s straight etc. These foreground issues are, of course, crucial but people don’t exist in a vacuum, they live their lives against a background of economics and politics, affected by history and geography, dictated to by nature and happenstance. Extract individuals from these wider vistas and you end up with something superficial and self-indulgent. Secondly there seems to be a fad for recitative which I believe makes for blandness in a musical. What you want is stuff which the audience goes out singing, stand-out songs with skilful hooks and clever repetition which catch the ear and remain in the head and heart. It’s harder to do than recitative of course. My aim is to write strong plays illumined with lots of memorable three-minute numbers, musicals which are unblinking, honest and not camp. There, I’ve nailed my colours to the mast.