Home' The Wellingtonian : January 12th 2012 Contents 11
THE WELLINGTONIAN, JANUARY 12, 2012
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A musical killer of a story
By REBECCA THOMSON
THE RAW MATERIAL
It is believed that between 1947 and
1949 Raymond Fernandez and
Martha Beck killed more than a dozen
women in the United States.
They were convicted of three murders
and sentenced to death. On March 8,
1951, both were executed by electric
chair. Movies The Honeymoon Killers,
Deep Crimson and Lonely Hearts, and
an episode of the television series
Cold Case were all based on this case.
Dramatic musical: Bryony Skillington, left,
stars as a serial killer in Michael Nicholas
Willams' production Lonely Heart
Acouple of infamous serial killers
are about to hit the stage in Wel-
Wellington composer Michael Nicho-
las Williams' musical Lonely Heart is
based on the true story of Martha Beck
and Raymond Fernandez, who
murdered at least 12 women in the
1940s. It starts at Bats on January 13.
Williams wrote the musical for his
wife, Emma Kinane, after seeing 1970s
film The Honeymoon Killers, which tells
the story of Fernandez and Beck.
My wife had been rejected at an aud-
ition for a play for being too fat. She had
just had a baby,'' said Williams.
I was so angry and told her the next
thing I saw that had a fat person in it,
I would turn into a musical so she could
star in it. The Honeymoon Killers was
the next thing I saw.''
The film was banned in Australia for
18 years, but was screened in New Zea-
land. Williams saw it in 1993 at the
Dunedin Film Festival.
He researched material for Lonely
Heart while on tour with productions he
composed the music for.
This was before internet, so I would
have to go to the library. I would be in
Dunedin and go to the library there and
look up books on serial killers and I'd do
that in every town I went to.
It was incredibly interesting.
Fernandez and Beck were a textbook
folie a deux' [shared psychosis] case.
Individually they were fine, but it
was being [in a] relationship with each
other that made that them do all that
Lonely Heart was loosely based on the
film and original story, Williams said.
It's not as graphic as the film, but it's
not the Sound of Music or Mary Pop-
pins. It's definitely not for children.''
Williams completed a draft of the
musical about 18 years ago, but said no-
one wanted to stage it because a musical
about serial killers was a hard sell.
But it's such a good story to tell. Now
everyone seems to be interested in
creepy things,'' he said.
A chance to revive the musical came
when Williams met singer Bryony
Skillington and Bats programme man-
ager Martyn Wood at a charity concert
Skillington plays one of the serial
killers. Williams said his wife was now
too old for the role, but would be playing
He wrote the entire script, music and
lyrics for Lonely Heart, and said he
turned to old movies for inspiration.
I love movies and there are a lot of
references in the musical to 1940s
movies, gangster flicks and films like
Gone With the Wind.
Scarlett O'Hara is a dreadful charac-
ter who does dreadful things, but she
doesn't think she's dreadful.''
Lonely Heart is the first play to be
staged at Bats this year. Williams said
it was especially exciting because the
theatre was now assured a permanent
home thanks to Peter Jackson and Fran
Walsh, who bought it late last year.
I would love for him to come and see
it. If he's a cult movie fan, he definitely
Williams has always been interested
in music and film, and has written
scores for Roger Hall's pantomimes and
some of New Zealand's biggest shows,
including Starlight Express.
I was born the day the first shot of
the film The Sound of Music was taken
and that was the first film I went to,
when I was two. I sat on my mother's
lap for the whole thing. It's still my
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