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When I was introduced by Dan Crawford, legendary producer of London's King's Head Theatre Islington, to composer Michael Jeffrey, Michael said he would like to make a musical based on Il Postino. However, he was unable to obtain the rights, and asked whether I'd like to work on something similar. I said I'd either like to do the Il Postino story or something completely different. Something different didn't easily come to mind and so we embarked again on the long but rewarding trail of getting permission to make a musical of the Il Postino story – and that story turned out to be Antonio Skarmeta's novel Ardiente Paciencia.

After much discussion between agents, Michael and I met Antonio and his wife Nora in Berlin, where Antonio was then Chilean ambassador to Germany. Very much like the hero of his story, Pablo Neruda, Skarmeta is a warm-hearted poet, writer and diplomat. After hearing some of the songs Michael and I had written, and during an uproarious dinner in his favourite Berlin restaurant, Antonio kindly gave the project his support.

Trevor Bentham then joined the team. His task was to work out how Ardiente Paciencia could be transformed into a musical, using the novel rather than the movie as a source. Trevor scoped out the action and atmosphere, and started on the dialogue. Together, the three of us then placed the songs and fleshed out the scenes. Michael wrote the music before I wrote the lyrics, the way we both prefer to work.

Over the time it took to bring the show to life in the recording you now hear, the four of us – Antonio, Michael, Trevor and I – became firm friends, with a great deal of discussion and disagreement but never (well, almost never) a cross word between us. Jointly we are all grateful for John Yap and Jay Records' support and belief in the musical, and for producing this recording of The Postman and The Poet.

eden phillips