Graham was born in Manchester and began his creative career as an actor and singer. Having completed his training at Rose Bruford College, he appeared in productions across the UK and Europe, including Jesus Christ Superstar, Legally Blonde, The Wind in the Willows & Elf: the Musical.
He began writing in 2015, working on stand alone songs initially, before embarking on his first full musical The Rise, which tells the story of two families facing the challenges of life in 1890s Manchester. The show was workshopped in London in 2018, before receiving its premiere at the Royal Northern College of Music in January 2020.
During lockdown, The Rise was chosen as one of six new musicals to be featured in the online series In The Wings. An interview with Graham about his writing process and the development of the show was streamed globally; it also featured performances of three of the songs from the show.
Following The Rise, Graham began work on his first song cycle Climb Way Up, exploring the hearts and minds of four people who have fallen through the cracks and as a result, are contemplating whether they should go on living. The show had two sold out performances at Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester in October 2022 and the incredible audience reaction led Graham to begin crowdfunding with the intention of recording a cast album. The original company reunited at Green Velvet Studios in June 2023 and spent three days laying down the show in its entirety. It was released on 1st October 2023.
In January 2021, Graham was asked to present a cabaret at 53Two and jumped at the chance. This opportunity to guide an audience through the history of his songwriting experiences allowed him to revisit old favourites and premiere work that had never been heard before. He also wrote some new material specifically for the show – But Whose Heart? was born and was a great success.
Following this, Graham was approached by London based theatre company Storymakers to write some very silly songs for their first musical for children, The Storymaker’s Tale. An angry alien trying to wake up the stars and a farmyard pig falling in love with a duck were just two of the characters Graham helped introduce to a captive audience of kids at Bromley’s Churchill Theatre - and the show’s success led to a second musical the following year. Graham has just started working on the songs for their irreverent retelling of Puss In Boots, which will be performed this Christmas
Other recent work includes new musical Proud, for which Graham has co-written the book with Mark Anderson. Mark has also written the lyrics for the songs with composer Lee Freeman. The first act of the show was presented as part of MTFest 2021 at London’s Turbine Theatre, and the finished piece was one of five new musicals shortlisted for this year’s Stiles & Drewe mentorship award.
Never one to tread water for long, Graham has just embarked on his third musical – Make Room, which he hopes will become a contemporary musical comedy. His commitment and passion for writing is a huge driving force in his life, and Graham attempted to explain the importance of wanting to make a lasting impression through his work in one of the songs he composed specifically for But Whose Heart?
I want to leave a mark.
Don't want to cause commotion,
But just light a spark.
And watch it catching fire with devotion.
Leave a print.
Just a thumbprint on a window with a view.
But with a view to never moving,
But just looking through.
Just to leave a mark.
One little mark,
And little meaning good,
Sufficient, understated and discreet.
A glowing in the dark...
I want to leave a glowing mark.
I think that some of us should be prepared to fill the cracks,
Pick up the pieces for the ones who move.
Make room for people who have things they need to prove.
We fight to stay in quiet support
In spite of those who think we might be falling short.
When we're not falling short at all,
But standing tall...
Just to leave a mark.
I want to leave a dent.
Just make a slight impression in the way I meant.
My own imperfect pattern of expression.
Just a little speck.
A little simple speck of me.
A little mark.
Just a thumbprint on a window with a view...
© Graham Lappin 2023