When Opera Australia’s 2016 production of My Fair Lady opens at the Sydney Opera House, Julie Andrews will be the Director and a North Lincolnshire born man will be Musical Director.
For Guy Simpson it has been a remarkable journey to the peak of his profession working alongside some of the biggest names in music.
The journey began 46 years ago when, as a Brigg schoolboy, he left with his family for Australia.
Margaret and Alan Simpson took Guy and his brothers, Brian and Mark, from their Bridge Street home to a new life Down Under and into the unknown.
For Guy, the oldest of the sons, it was the start of an amazing career in the field of music.
Before he left Brigg Guy had started playing the piano.
He grew up in Sydney, completed his education and in 1976 he saw Queen in concert.
He never imagined 27 years later he would be meeting with Brian May and Roger Taylor.
On leaving school, Guy started a law degree, but what he really wanted to do though was play the piano.
So Guy went to study at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, gaining a degree in piano performance with secondary studies in conducting and cello.
His first Musical Director role was at the small Marian Street Theatre in Sydney.
“I had a great cast and band, the show was a success and one thing led to another,” said Guy.
It certainly did, as Guy’s career developed until he became one of Australia and South East Asia’s leading Musical Directors, overseeing productions of Cats, Miss Saigon, Chicago, Phantom of the Opera and We Will Rock You!
In many ways he made his name with his work on Phantom, which began in Australia in 1990, and 25 years on has overseen its productions in Auckland, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Shanghai, Bangkok, Singapore and Seoul.
But the list of shows he has been involved with is endless.
Guy is married to Alyson, a university lecturer, and they have a son Oliver and daughter Hazel.
Music is clearly in Oliver’s genes; he recently completed his master’s degree at the Royal Academy of Music and is now a freelance double bass player with orchestras such as the Philharmonia, Opera North and Halle.
Guy visited London recently to meet up with Andrew Lloyd Webber and also record a new album with Anna O’Byrne, one of Australia’s leading sopranos.
That journey on a boat all those years ago is now but a distant memory, but Guy still travels the world.
Earlier this year, fresh from supervising Phantom in Istanbul, he was Musical Director of the much acclaimed West Side Story production in Melbourne.
Then it was to China for Phantom again and now, as the New Year beckons, he looks forward to working with Julie Andrews.
Quite a journey!
Back in Brigg
For two days Guy returned to his roots in North Lincolnshire and in Brigg went to his childhood home on Bridge Street.
“This is where I played my first piano in the house next to my grandma’s on Bridge Street.
“This is where my late Uncle Ron used to have a greengrocer’s shop, now the Yarborough Hunt.
It was a long journey from first tinkling the piano in Brigg to working with Andrew Lloyd Webber on Phantom or Julie Andrews on My Fair Lady.”