After working together throughout the pandemic, Tim Firth and Gary Barlow came to Salford for “A Different Stage” last week.

Tim Firth is a multi-award-winning dramatist, screenwriter and songwriter, who has been working on this stage production with Gary Barlow for roughly three years.

Tim Firth said: “It’s not like anything else he, I, or anyone else has really ever done before.

“It’s a one off – I’ll never do anything like it again. There’s not many stories you can do this with, you’ve always got to think why, why now?”, he said.

After writing this show since before the pandemic in 2020, Firth believes this time is perfect for this performance:

“It’s a very hopeful, uplifting show. It kind of found its time, because, of course, that’s what we’re all in the middle of.”

The nature of this performance is meant to be an exclusive insight into Barlow’s life who lived the dream so young, only to then lose everything so publicly.

Firth said: “We call it a different stage because, over the course of a lifetime, you walk out in many different forms and be that performer; child; father; addict; recoveree… victim.

“It has to go places that you wouldn’t normally go.”

Firth emphasised how it was the aim to reinforce the understanding of where people are lucky, and what we have to be thankful for.

The two have known each other for almost 30 years, working on multiple musicals including ‘The Band’, and ‘The Girls’, which toured in 2017.

Gary Barlow (left) and Tim Firth (right), on stage after a performance of The Girls at The Lowry. Credit and permission: The Lowry Theatre Flickr.

“[Gary’s] the only person I’ve really ever co-written with.” Mr Firth said, adding: “We wrote an enormous number of songs together, and in a way this is a musical of a life.”

Firth explained how Gary Barlow had memorised this script about a year before: “This is very much a part of him – something that he is at ease with.”

The Lowry, Salford, is the second of 4 locations in the UK, which Barlow and Firth will be visiting.

Firth emphasised the importance of every movement on a small stage: “Every move becomes a mission, every single choice you make.. that’s your world.

“Every tiny move from there to there is a trans-Atlantic crossing.”

When talking about the content of the performance, Mr Firth wants the audience to become more aware of Barlow’s life, as opposed to pitying him for low-points in his life.

“I think they need to be surprised,” he said, “you need that sense of shock.”

Whenever the script started to sound like self-pity, Tim and Gary made sure to pull it away from that.

“It’s more: ‘this is how it is, this is what happened’.”, Firth explained.

Tim Firth at The Lowry. Credit and permission: The Lowry Theatre Flickr.

Tim Firth has written for, Television, Radio and theatre, producing award-nominating and award-winning work.

He said: “The difference in writing for theatre, is the audience is part of that writing process.”

“You can’t beat what makes your heart beat faster.” He added, “Involving comedy and music in theatre – that’s what makes my heart beat faster.”

All performances across the week in the Lowry were sold out, with the next location in Runcorn, and the next available tickets in their final destination: Glasgow.

Tickets, and more information is available via the ‘A Different Stage’ website.

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