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Fidel - A musical by the people for the people

Slideshow image
Fidel – A musical
Slideshow image
Fidel – A musical

‘A musical by the people for the people’, a community driven project to create an educational, emotional, provocative musical of Fidel Castro’s life – first a freedom fighter/revolutionary and later in life infamous benign dictator.


Ongoing since Jan 2015

The team

Lead Dr Denise Baden, Associate Professor, Southampton Business School, university of Southampton

Collaborators Maria Haik Eskudero, Musical Arranger; Oliver Lewis, Musical Arranger

Partner Organisations Mayflower Theatre engage team – youth theatre

Participants 750+ schools and colleges nationally

Funders University of Southampton Public Engagement with Research grant and Crowd-Funding via Hubbub

The project

This work is primarily aimed at schools/students with an ultimate audience of anyone who enjoys musical theatre!

Project context and aims

The University’s remit is to make the world a better place, and key to that is engaging with the community and society at large. The project team were keen to find ways for our academics to share their research with the wider community, and not just those who read academic journals. This project connects to Denise’s research on the leadership styles of Fidel and Raul Castro and new Cuban business models.

Educationally the story of Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution has a lot to teach us. Cuba is on record as being the only sustainable country with high achievements in education, health, culture, equality and diversity and thus can serve as good role model for how to achieve high well-being scores with a minimum of resources.

Ideological conflicts

Cuba’s role in the ideological conflicts of the Cold war also highlights issues relating to the trade-offs different countries have made with respect to values relating to human rights and individual freedoms versus values of equity, solidarity and social justice.

Unfortunately, the demonisation of Fidel Castro by America has hindered any rational discussion about these issues, and the musical aims to address this by providing a more balanced view. The dramatic ingredients of the Cuban tale, the larger than life characters and the unique Cuban culture and music involved also means it is good material for a musical.

Education through music

Thus the first objective is educational. A second objective is to provide opportunities for aspiring songwriters. The idea was that teachers/lecturers could run this competition as an extra-curricular activity. ‘Fidel’ started as a fun educational project, engaging students in an exciting part of history and giving them the chance to see their creative efforts realized on stage.

High aspirations

‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ began as an educational show touring schools and became a musical on Broadway and the West End. The team aim to have this musical follow this trajectory.

600+ schools

The first round had over 600 schools involved and the top songs were performed at a successful Gala Event in January 2016. A second round opened the competition to composers of any age and profession in July 2016.

Musical arrangers Maria Haik Eskudero and Oliver Lewis, together with the scriptwriter Denise Baden, arranged the music instrumental parts, ensured the songs met the needs of specific scenes and worked on any musical and historical discrepancies.

Crowdfunding success

£2500 was raised via crowdfunding to workshop the musical. The Mayflower Theatre used their youth theatre, bringing in a choreographer and musical director, and workshopped the first quarter of the show. There is hope to continue working with local theatre groups, to workshop the rest of the musical, getting the show ready for a professional production.


Maria Haïk Escudero is a composer and lyricist based in London and is resident composer at Theatre6. She completed the MA at Goldsmith in Musical Theatre (composition) and is currently developing two musicals.

Olly Lewis is a Composer, Singer/Songwriter and Teacher and recent graduate from University of Southampton.

For more information


Fidel the musical website

Facebook /fidelthemusical

Twitter @FidelTheMusical


Instagram fidelthemusical

Film spin off (on hold)

Fidel Castro, My new boyfriend website

Facebook /IfIwereawellmeaningdictatorIwould

Twitter @GoodTyrant

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