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

2 months, 1 week ago

Dear Crowdfunders,

We are finally ready to to formally invite all those who crowdfunded our musical to become a member of our new co-op ‘A Musical by the People’ Ltd which we set up to support our Fidel the musical project. The idea is that all those who helped make it happen are able to share in decisions and share in any success. Membership is free for those who have contributed (e.g. as songwriter, crowd-funder etc.). Details available on

To join, please click on

We have also released our live version of 'Hasta La Victoria' which will be available to buy from online music stores for 99p from 5th June which we hope will also raise money and awareness so please buy yourself and spread the word.


Denise : )

4 months ago

Dear Crowdfunders,

I am thrilled to report that Iris Theatre, Covent Garden have agreed to put on a production of 'Fidel' mid November 2017. It is a 200 seater in the heart of the West End and exactly right for the stage we are at. They are allowing us to have the venue for free and just take 30% of box office which is a fabulous deal. So, thank you, because without your pledges we would not have got this far.

We want to encourage school and college groups to come so are seeking feedback on whether weekday/Saturday  or matinee/ evenings are the best times for school block bookings - so ask around and let us know what you find out! Then we can confirm the dates.

Lastly, thanks to those who gave their views on the name of our new coop - the consensus was 'A Musical by the People'.  Soon we will get in touch to see who would like to join our new coop.



10 months ago


We thought you might be interested to know how Fidel The Musical is coming along.

We recently had a wonderfully successful night showing a work-shopped version of the first part of our musical, performed by the Mayflower Youth Theatre and paid for by your generous donations. Click the following link to watch our promotional video from the event and hear some of the other songs

We are also running a third round of our free competition to write additional songs see

That is just the beginning: we are encouraging schools/colleges to put on the musical as it is free of charge for the next year.  

Please feel free to share across your networks as we need to get wider engagement to source a good producer first and foremost and also performers, investors, theatres, schools, songwriters etc.

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook

All the best


1 year, 1 month ago


Last year you contributed to my crowd-funding campaign to workshop Fidel the Musical with the Mayflower Youth Theatre. Well its all coming together and on Friday 15th July you will have the chance to see the very first public performance of an extract from the musical. We hope to cover the first hour of the musical to see how the dialogue, choreography and songs all work together. This is a developmental process so we are keen for a large audience to give us feedback to help us refine the musical. We want to get it all the way to the West End! It should be great fun so please come along. It starts at 7.30 at Bitterne Park 6th Form Theatre, 1 Copsewood Road, Southampton, SO18 1BU. Suggested on door donation £10 adults, £5 < 18s.

Thank you again for your donation and I really hope you can come along to see what we have achieved so far.  Uber have sponsored us and are offering a free taxi service (up to £15) using the code 'Fidelthemusical'.

Keep up to date with developments by liking us on Facebook  or  

Denise : ) 

Would love to come but it's the night of the visit of two of the current heroes of Cuba, Gerardo Hernandez and Rene Gonzalez to speak in London and I'm gong to be there. Good luck with the performance. Lorraine T

1 year, 8 months ago

Dear all,

Thanks for supporting Fidel the Musical. Just one day left to raise the money we need. Along with donations not listed on the crowdfunding you have helped to raise an amazing £2500 - but I hope to double that so we have enough for the first workshop. If not, we can still go ahead, but possibly not with a professional choreographer and musical director as hoped. Every little helps to maximize what we can achieve. You can pledge more than once, and also pass onto anyone else who may want to support the musical. If you run into any  problems, you can donate via the blue ‘donate now’ button on our website  This doesn’t list the rewards, but if you email me I’ll make sure you get the reward you like.

Latest news is that BBC South have expressed interest in filming an X-factor type event to choose the final songs to be held at the Turner Sims in January. If you 'like' our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter  you will be kept updated of events.

Hasta Luego and watch this space! 


1 year, 9 months ago

I've just realised, my 'thank you' emails haven't worked, so  a belated and heartfelt thanks to all those who have donated. With your help we have raised nearly £2000, this is almost halfway to what is needed for one workshop. I expect to get some publicity soon on BBC South and the Daily Echo which may help.  : ) Denise

Denise Baden

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Only project creators and their sponsors can post comments.

I pledged £25 but didn't get to choose the poster I wanted. I wanted to choose the one with the American flag on. Did I miss something?

Good luck with this excellent project Denise. I was fascinated to hear of it at BAM this year and I look forward to seeing its results. Best Regards Marie Kerr

Let's hope Baden's show is as big as her nose!

Good luck! Yannick, Celeste & Calix

I look forward to seeing it!

Hope you get to 100% funded!

couldn't sign in via facebook

Great project!!! Hasta la victoria siempre

difficult o do when on a mac as didn't get to Paypal account,