Festival Banner

Mike Maran Productions

Picture of Mike MaranIt all started way back in 1970. Mike Maran left his home town, Edinburgh, and came to London with his guitar, hanging out with Al Stewart in Bunjies, Colin Scot at The Troubador, Roy Harper at Les Cousins, and Ralph McTell and John Martyn at The Hanging Lamp in Richmond. After three years on the folk scene Mike recorded his first album for Bronze Records, “Fair Warning”  and moved into the rock scene opening shows for Uriah Heap, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Captain Beefheart, ELO, Roy Wood’s Wizzard, etc… doing late night John Peel shows on Radio 1. In 1977 he opened a show at the Edinburgh Fringe about the life and work of Robert Louis Stevenson,

… and maybe this is where the story really starts. David Rose, senior drama producer at Pebble Mill (do you remember Z Cars? – that was David Rose!) bought the show for BBC television and Penny Whistles of Robert Louis Stevenson was BBC2’s flagship musical of 1979, shown on Bank Holiday Easter Monday. There followed a stream of plays with music – a new one every year – and it’s still going on …

In 1991 Mike wrote a musical play about the life and work of the Scottish novelist, Neil Gunn, An Atom of Delight, with music by Derek Hoy, which toured the Scottish Highlands and was broadcast on Radio 4. In 1993 Mike presented Italia n’ Caledonia in Valvona & Crolla during the Edinburgh Fringe. It was a media senasation, critically acclaimed, and sold out two shows a day. In 1994 he revisited Robert Louis Stevenson with Songs of Travel which was broadcast on Radio 3. In 1996 he wrote Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman about the bongo-playing Nobel Prize winning physicist – one sell out performance in Cambridge included 167 children and 6 Nobel Prize winners and all of them went away inspired.

The way Mike Maran communicated was turning into very wide and fast-flowing river. Exploring his roots Mike turned out more Italian shows – The Secret of Santa Vittoria, Private Angelo, and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, and more shows about his enthusiasms, Mahler: Song & Dance Man with music by Karen Wimhurst, and Did You Used to be R.D.Laing? His missionary zeal about Gustav Mahler and Ronnie Laing, a show he did with the incredible Scottish jazz pianist David Milligan, won Mike Maran Productions Herald Angel awards (Oscars with wings!) at the Edinburgh Festival in 2001 and 2003.

By now the company was growing and Mike entered into partnership with John Brown, technical manager, touring manager, set designer and builder, and the number of musicians that joined the team grows with each show. Mike Maran Productions was awarded Arts Council funding to support Mahler: Song & Dance Man (2003), The Little World of Don Camillo (2004) and Novecento (2005). Colin Steele (trumpet) and Martin Green (accordion) provided the music for Don Camillo and David Milligan arranged and recorded the music for Novecento.

Novecento was produced in association with Lighthouse, Poole and The Nuffield in Southampton, directed by Patrick Sandford with lighting by David Kidd and set design by Juliet Shillingford and the same team produced Picasso & Me which toured to theatres throughout the UK in 2007 … such a long way from those solo singing songwriter days at The Troubador in 1970. In the same year we also produced Garibaldi! in association with the Scottish Storytelling Centre, The Italian Cultural Institute and Valvona & Crolla.

We were awarded a further Arts Council grant to produce A Funny Valentine the Chet Baker story, with music by Colin Steele (trumpet) and Dave Milligan (piano) – Faust, Jeckyll and Hyde, and Peter Pan all rolled into one big story as the American dream unfolds into the American nightmare to a score of cool West Coast Jazz.

In October 2010 our friend and colleague, Ali Stephens, died. She had been with us since 1999 playing mandolin in our adaptation of Corelli. At the time of her death Ali had been working with us on an adaptation of A Christmas Carol which we proposed to take on the road in December 2010. Ali was determined the show would go on the road and was booking the hotels for the tour at the time of her death. We were lost without her and didn’t know what to do. With the support of her partner, her family and friends, we decided to do what we believe she would have wanted us to do and took the show on the road – and we asked Norman Chalmers to play the music on concertina and whistles. A Christmas Carol now goes on the road every year during the festive period.

In 2010 we also produced a new version of, Italia ‘n’ Caledonia, a show which tells the story of the Italian community. It is the story of the generation who emigrated from Italy and settled in Edinburgh which includes Mike’s grandparents. In particular, it is the story of Alfonso Crolla who established Valvona & Crolla. It was the first show we produced in Valvona & Crolla during the Edinburgh Fringe in 1993. We have now rebuilt the show so that we could take it on tour to bigger venues and incorporated movies of the big Italian picnics in the 1930s when hundreds of Italians from all over Scotland gathered together once a year. They played football, ran races, had a tug o’war tournament, and they ate and they drank, and they sang.

In 2010 Mike took part in a new version of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin which was produced by The Mercury Theatre, Colchester and The Marjanishvili Theatre in Tbilisi which had a cast of five actors and thirty puppets.

Mike returned to Tbilisi in 2012 to work with Nino Namitcheishvili, who created the Corelli puppets. They worked together on a new production directed in Georgia by Levan Tsuladze called, Platero – Travels with a Donkey, based on the writings of the Spanish Nobel laureate, Juan Ramon Jimenez. On a much smaller scale than Corelli, this new production is played by one actor, Mike, and one puppet, Platero, a little silver donkey created and manipulated by Nino.

And for the future? Possibly Dante’s Divine Comedy in Georgia or John Muir, the father of the National Parks in the USA….

Mike Maran Productions is an extending family of artists who come together to do work that is interesting, fun, and available to everyone. We don’t have fancy ticket prices, an agent or publicity person. Over the years we have produced some of the most successful work touring to theatre spaces of all sizes throughout the UK and abroad.