I recently came across the little known musical “Miser” the story of Margery Jackson of Carlisle, a fascinating story which had me writing the following review:
‘Miser’ the Musical
Anthony Steven’s production gives the audience colourful snapshots of the life of the remarkable Margery Jackson of Carlisle, based on the biography written by Helen Hallaway.
This clever musical presents the audience with fascinating insights into the life and prospects of an orphaned girl in the eighteenth century. Born in 1722 daughter of the Mayor of Carlisle, Margery was orphaned at the age of ten. From that moment on her life was extremely hard but she appears to be a determined lady who though apparently a spinster comes to possess a Court Mantua dress of blue silk. Though high fashion for a short period these extremely wide skirt dresses were the dress of married ladies, therefore Margery’s ownership of one raises unanswered questions. Through hardship and protracted legal battles over her rights to a share of her parents’ estate she doggedly battles on in a world where ladies wanting and deserving status needed to have access to a dowry in order to marry well. Much hampered by the lawyers in the Court of Chancery in London she pursues her brothers and their heirs through the courts until late in life she finally succeeds. However this success does not bring happiness to this now old woman whose life experience has made her miserly. Though now relatively wealthy her manner and reputation as a miser grows.
Anthony Steven’s script and production of this musical version of Margery’s life is handled with great skill and sympathy. The choreography and singing were excellent and the team of David Day (Director) and arrangers Jerry King and Mark Johnson should also be congratulated. Most definitely this production deserves to be given a wider audience and would justify a run at Keswick’s illustrious Theatre by the Lake at the very least.
All in all ‘Miser’ is a clever and edifying production worthy of wider recognition.
If anyone comes across a performance of this musical go and see it, and for those that write, like myself, I am sure you will be tempted to dramatise it.