Leonardo the Musical: A Portrait of Love is a musical with music and lyrics by Russell Dunlop, Duke Minks, Greg Moeller and Tommy Moeller and a book by John Kane. The 1993 West End production is considered one of the biggest disasters in the history of London theatre but had rave reviews in Oxford. The management changed the original music and scripts after Oxford shows.
The project, a highly fictionalized account of Leonardo da Vinci's creation of the Mona Lisa, was the brainchild of Duke Minks, an advisor to the Republic of Nauru and former road manager for the 1960s pop group, Unit 4 + 2. He convinced government officials to invest £2 million — derived from profits earned from their major export, marine deposits rich in phosphates — in the production, a fact later gleefully exploited by the critics in their scathing reviews.
The rambling plot — which started and ended with its protagonist on his deathbed, his completed masterpiece at his side — centered on the struggling artist Leonardo's commission to paint a young woman named Lisa, betrothed to nobleman Francesco Del Giocondo. The artist and his model engage in a passionate affair resulting in her pregnancy, and she returns to her fiancé, pretending the child is his to avoid public scandal and his private wrath. Eventually she returns to beg for forgiveness from the now successful Leonardo, who accidentally is murdered by her husband when he confronts the two in a jealous rage. A subplot hinting at Leonardo's homosexuality involved his close friendship with his young assistant, a painter named Melzi.
The production, plagued by problems with sets, costumes, and —most significantly— the script throughout its development, opened at the Strand Theatre on June 3, 1993. By the time the performance ended, nearly four hours after the curtain first rose, most of the audience had departed. A victim of critical disdain and audience indifference, the show closed five weeks later on July 10. The cast included Paul Collis, Jane Arden, James Barron, Hal Fowler and Rebecca Pearce.
Partial song list
- "Who The Hell Are You?"
- "Firenza Mia"
- "Part Of Your Life"
- "Just A Dream Away"
- "Her Heart Beats"
- "Endless As My Love"
- "Just One More Time"
- "Goodbye And No One Said A Word"
- "Forever Child"
- "Portrait Of Love"
- "She Lives With Me"
- ^ Bineth, Jessica; Shannon, Selena (June 13, 2016). "Boy bands and musicals: The secret history of Nauru and its lost wealth". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved June 14, 2018.