Fidel the musical: a musical by the people for the people

A project by: Denise Baden


WE RAISED £2,348

from 51 donors

This project received pledges on Sun 01 Nov 2015
To fund workshops to develop Fidel the Musical at the Mayflower Theatre and perform show highlights

Brief summary  - a musical by the people for the people.

I’m raising money to develop ‘Fidel’ a musical about Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution. The aim is that the development of the musical from start to finish will reflect the Cuban values of inclusion, education, culture, community and creativity. This is why we involved students across the UK in writing the songs and are involving community groups in developing the musical as much as possible. We want this to be a fun and exciting journey for all involved. We mean this to be a charitable and educational project rather than a commercial venture and if it does make it all the way to the West End, royalties from the songs will be donated to charity.

We have the songs and the script, now we need £10,000 from you - £5,000 to fund a development workshop run by the Mayflower Theatre (spring 2016). This will culminate in a show back performance of extracts from the musical in July 2016. Plus £5,000 for a second workshop (autumn 2016) to take the show to the next level. 

Who am I?

I’m Denise Baden, Associate Professor in Business Ethics at the University of Southampton. The idea for this musical came from my research in Cuba and my amazement at the incredible story of the Cuban revolution – a story I thought need to be told by someone who would tell it honestly and without political bias. In developing this project I’ve had lots of help and advice from colleagues in the University of Southampton music department such as Dr Andy Fisher, Dr Thomas Seltz and Dan Mar-Molinero and am grateful for the help of the university’s IT team and legal team to develop the website and the terms and conditions.

The Story

There is nowhere more interesting, controversial, inspiring and cool than Cuba. It is one of the only countries in the world that has developed free from the influence of multinational corporations and Western financial institutions, due to the US embargo and so is a unique example of a market socialist economy.

Fidel Castro was the world’s longest standing political leader, and no one has divided opinion more. Fidel Castro has been portrayed as a dictator, most of the Cuban exiles hate him, but yet unlike any other dictator, Fidel has retired with the love of his people.

In the 1950s, with his trusted gang of revolutionaries including the handsome Argentinian doctor Ernesto Che Guevara, and the amazing Celia Sanchez, Fidel Castro vowed to liberate Cuba from the dictator Batista. With just a few hundred soldiers and limited weapons they took on Batista’s army of thousands, with its tanks, aircraft and US-backed weapons and won. Their secret was their bravery, dedication, and the support of the Cuban people who desperately longed for social justice and an independent Cuba.

To fulfill his promises of equality and independence Fidel Castro nationalised US property in Cuba and gave it to the people. The people loved him for it but the Americans never forgave him, and thus started the US embargo against Cuba which lasted over fifty years and kept Cuba in poverty.

The tale of Fidel and the Cuban revolution is a tale of sacrifice, love, heroism, bravery and repeated victories against incredible odds. How did a tiny island hold off an unexpected invasion by its massive American neighbour in 1961? How did Fidel survive an estimated 638 attempts on his life? How did an island so poor manage to out-perform the rest of the world in terms of medical advances, health care, literacy and sustainability? Was Fidel the world’s greatest leader or a brutal dictator?

Cuba has a lot to teach us, from their vibrant music, dance and culture, to their historical and political role as a small island caught up in Cold War politics, as well as the ethical dilemmas of leadership and impressive record as the only sustainable country

This musical aims to go beyond the propaganda, misinformation and ideology to present an honest portrait of this fascinating island and its leader. Drawing on the Cuban values of education and inclusion, musical numbers have been adapted from the best of the songs submitted by music students across the UK who were challenged by researchers at the University of Southampton to write songs for Fidel the musical.

 Where will the money go?

Newly written musicals need several workshops to refine the songs and script and develop the choreography before they are ready to be produced as a professional production. The money raised will fund a workshop being hosted by the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton to develop the musical. We need to take the raw script and songs, and with the help of a musical director, a choreographer, some musicians and Mayflower Musical Youth Theatre group, turn it into a kicking musical. The Mayflower Theatre has agreed to run this as a series of 10 workshops at a reduced cost between April and July 2016. Then mid-July we will put on a show in the Southampton area to showcase some of the highlights of the musical.

What we will do if we raise more than £10,000?

Our ultimate aim is to take this all the way to the West End. But that takes serious money. Once the musical has been work-shopped, the next step is to put it on from start to finish (we hope with an amateur local musical society), refine it in light of how it looks and then seek funding for a tour with a professional production company. Any money in excess of what we need for the workshop will be put towards this professional tour. This usually requires at least £100,000 and we will apply for Arts Council funding to help meet this figure. The Arts Council require at least 10% of the money to have been raised already, so the more we have already, the more we can raise from the Arts Council. If the tour goes well then it is easier to attract investors to take it to the West End. Your contributions are valuable not just for the money, but to show interest, so the more who donate, regardless of the sum, the more we can demonstrate to the Arts Council and to other investors that it is likely to be a successful and popular production.

We will update donors at least once or twice a fortnight on progress.

The breakdown of costs per workshop is as follows:

Staff costs: musical director, assistant, choreographer £2,000

Musicians and band: £1,000

Rehearsal venue £5,00

Costumes, materials, props, set, sundries, expenses for showback: £1,500

Total: £5,000 per workshop



All those who donated £5 or more will have the option to be listed as a minor (< £100), medium (< £500) or major (£500+) donator on the Fidel the Musical website if they wish.

We have some great rewards from free tickets, to t-shirts and even a set of toy revolutionary soldiers.

Glass  given to Tony Philips by Che Guevara                                                                

and Fidel Castro in 1959                                                                                                 


Plastic toy soldier set: the top 10 commanders of the Cuban revolutionary army

Pair of lead toy solders (54mm), Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. Can be painted or unpainted

Posters: You help choose which will be the poster for the musical

Find out more about the project!

Check out our website: where we provided the source material for the songwriters.

You can also follow us on social media!


Help us succeed!

Even if you just donate a pound, it helps us beyond the financial value, as future investors will be looking at how much interest is generated at this stage. So please help to spread the word through your networks and ask your friends/colleagues even hairdresser to contribute! 

I’m hoping to take this all the way to the West End, and the more people know about it, the more likely we are to make it happen.

Spin off project: the film

If you're interested in plans for the screenplay, which again will involve the public in its development, see