The concept of writing a fully-sung work for the theatre which embraces operatic forms yet is delivered by musical theatre voices, gave rise to the idea of a 'Street Opera'. Composer Stephen Powell and Lyricist Stephen Francis set out on an organic process to create a genuine mixture of the two theatrical worlds, combining lyrics that range from the hard-hitting to beautifully poetic, with music that has a Classical foundation and structure but lends itself to the world of musical theatre.
The work's background can best be illustrated by Stephen Francis's Director Notes for the stage production programme:
"24/SEVEN began its life proper over lunch at the Edinburgh Festival in 2005 where Stephen Powell and I were performing as part of the Company of 'Piaf'. I had been toying with the idea of writing a musical for some while before and had already written some numbers which Stephen read, liked and - the rest, as they say, is history!
Since those early days, we have worked closely together - allowing a freedom for our work to develop in the way that it wished to go. Although we had the basic premise - a gay love story - it has been a voyage of discovery to have arrived at 24/SEVEN as we present it here tonight.
As we progressed in our development of the piece, each of the characters became a friend whom we got to know intimately - their successes, hopes, fears, loves and hates. And yet, they still had a few surprises for both of us as we came to rehearsal - and now to performance!
Certainly 24/SEVEN is still a gay love story, but it is also the story of seven individuals caught up in a fragment of time - a microcosm where every event has a ripple effect on the lives of each of the protagonists.
What holds them together is that they each, in their own way, are searching for acceptance - to be 'someone' in a world that is all too happy to pass them by and write them off as the losers.
Yes they all have a past, a present and at least some hope for the future - which they will tell you about during the course of the evening. Perhaps the tragedy is that no matter what happens to these seven, time will flow on regardless and untouched by actualities - and that, in the end, the momentous events recorded here will eventually spread out and be forgotten in the pool of time.
We invite you now to spend a little time with our seven friends - Steve, Jay, Dips, Mary, Shaun, Dean and Tony. Listen to their stories and make up your own minds!"
24/SEVEN was premièred in Birmingham in March 2008, followed by a London run in July 2008. A feature-length film of 24/SEVEN has recently been completed and submitted to film festivals worldwide. The film won an Award of Recognition at the IndieFEST Film Awards in California in October 2017.