Tori Amos on the Lessons She Learned Composing the ‘Dark’ and ‘Brave’ New Musical The Light Princess

While working on her first musical The Light Princess, singer-songwriter Tori Amos received some important advice from Nicholas Hytner, artistic director of the National Theatre: “Writing a musical is a glorious nightmare.” Amos has now experienced this bittersweet process firsthand, having spent five years writing and rewriting The Light Princess for the London stage, only to have it postponed in April 2012. Now that the musical is finally set to premiere on September 25 at the National’s Lyttelton Theatre, Amos wholeheartedly agrees postponing the show “was the right decision,” she told The Evening Standard.

Although writing her first musical has admittedly been daunting, the Grammy-nominated star now understands why Hytner decided to postpone the production. “Nick said to me, ‘This musical has to be better than good,’” she said. “'I’m not asking you to go away and dumb this down, or make it for every demographic so we can cash in. I’m telling you the opposite. Go darker, be brave. You can say things to teenagers and adults that will resonate with them when they leave the theater.’”

Featuring innovative puppetry, animation and aerial effects, The Light Princess is a whimsical fantasy that tells the story of Althea (played by Rosalie Craig), a princess who is cursed with no gravity. “She has been training for 18 months to play this role,” Amos said. The score is just as challenging—the composer has written particularly ambitious songs for Olivier winner Clive Rowe, who plays Althea’s prince. “[His voice is] almost a three-octave range, which is very rare both sides of the Atlantic,” Amos said.

Directed by Marianne Elliott (War Horse) and featuring a book by Samuel Adamson (Breakfast at Tiffany’s), Amos is ready to see all of her hard work finally pay off when The Light Princess opens in London. “Working with the National has changed me forever,” she said. “When I go back to my own world, I’m taking so much that I’ve learned with me.”