LKY Musical lyricist was proud of working in Singapore

Stephen Clark was writing a fourth Singapore musical slated to be staged next year.
Stephen Clark was writing a fourth Singapore musical slated to be staged next year.

Award-winning British lyricist Stephen Clark, who worked on three well-received Singapore musicals and was writing a fourth, died on Oct 15 in hospital. He was 55.

His death was announced on Twitter by his collaborator, English composer Howard Goodall.

Goodall, 58, told The Straits Times via e-mail that Clark had been suffering from a degenerative lung disease for a few years before his death.

"He will be greatly missed by the theatre community here in the UK and around the world," said Goodall, who worked with him on the critically acclaimed musical Love Story, which opened in London's West End in 2010 .

"I know he was particularly fond and proud of his experiences of working in Singapore," he added.

Brighton-based Clark wrote the lyrics for Sing To The Dawn, the Singapore Repertory Theatre's (SRT) 1996 adaptation of Ho Minfong's novel of the same name.

Next came lyrics for Forbidden City in 2002, also by SRT, and last year's The LKY Musical, co-produced by Metropolitan Productions and SRT.

At the time of his death, he was working on the book and lyrics for an upcoming musical, Mu-Lan, about the legendary Chinese woman warrior, slated to be staged in Singapore next year.

According to his agent at Judy Daish Associates, Clark was born in Nottingham on Feb 2, 1961. His father is playwright Brian Clark, 84, best known for his 1978 play about euthanasia, Whose Life Is It Anyway?

Stephen was brought up in Derbyshire and studied at Dartington College of Arts. In 1991, he enrolled in masterclasses at Oxford University with American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim (Sweeney Todd, Into The Woods).

Clark won one of British theatre's highest recognitions, a Laurence Olivier award, with lyrics for the re-worked version of Martin Guerre. The musical about religious intolerance was produced by the influential Cameron Mackintosh .

He adapted The Mahabharata for musical theatre in 2007, with music by Nitin Sawhney. With Goodall, He wrote the book and lyrics for the musical adaptation of Erich Segal's best-selling novel Love Story.

Love Story received an Olivier nomination in 2011 for Best New Musical and was Clark's fourth nomination in that category.

Goodall says: "Stephen was a delight to work with on Love Story - generous, easy-going, patient and creative - qualities which are huge bonuses on projects like a West End musical that evolve over a four- to five-year period."

Clark was also a critically acclaimed playwright. His play Stripped, about a relationship between a man and a woman in their 30s, received a Jefferson Award in 2003. The award is given to acknowledge excellence in theatre in the Chicago area.

He co-wrote the book and lyrics on the production Carmen - La Cubana at Theatre Du Chatelet in Paris, which opened in April and is based on the Bizet opera Carmen. Goodall says Clark was also working on a musical about revolutionary leader Che Guevara for a Cuban theatre company when he died.

The late artist's website preserves his quirky sense of humour. After a list of past and upcoming productions is the line: "Stephen's new play, Le Grand Mort, is inching ever closer to production..."

Le Grand Mort is French for "the great death".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2016, with the headline 'LKY Musical lyricist was proud of working in Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe