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Director & Screenwriter
Cinematographer & Editor

Ian Woodard appeared regularly on the BBC as presenter of Radio 2’s Jazz in Britain from the stage of London’s Camden Theatre, BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and other BBC shows. The English filmmaker is author of more than 30 books including The Story of Clowns, Dance, Ring Out Wild Bells (poetry), the best-seller Poems for Christmas, and acclaimed biographies of two Hollywood stars: Audrey Hepburn: Fair Lady of the Screen and Glenda Jackson: A Study in Fire and Ice, published in French, German, Dutch, Arabic, Japanese and, of course, English.

Audrey Hepburn: Fair Lady of the Screen has never been out of print since first published in 1984. It is also available worldwide on Amazon as an eBook. His Hepburn biography inspired the musical Fair Lady of the Screen, composed by Rudi Dobson, one-time globe-trotting keyboardist with the legendary Bee Gees band. The musical was released on CD by President Records. (Rudi later presented the filmmaker’s daughter Stefanie with a guitar and gave her her first lessons on the instrument.)


The filmmaker’s best-selling book The Werewolf Delusion formed the basis of the film An American Werewolf in London. At the start of filming, Hollywood director John Landis (Twilight Zone, Spies Like Us, Michael Jackson Thriller video) presented each cast and crew member – and the studio marketing department – with a copy of Ian Woodward’s book.

Ian Woodward’s interests outside filmmaking include Tudor and Elizabethan history, Egyptology, the Roman and Greek Empires, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, the life of Jesus Christ, poetry, music (Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Austro-Hungarian operetta especially), the thrilling voice of Mario Lanza, the lives of patriot martyrs Joan of Arc and Sir Thomas More, and wildlife in general and ornithology in particular. For his scientific work he was made a FZS – Fellow of the Zoological Society of London. 

His last four films – The Red Rose, Too Many Ghosts, Silly Robin, From Bohemia’s Woods and Fields – have won major awards at international film festivals and been screened worldwide, from the United Kingdom to the United States, from Australia (Best Film of the Festival at the Melbourne International Movie Festival), South Korea and Europe across Russia, Hungary, Poland, the Ukraine, Italy, Armenia, Macedonia, Estonia, Malta, Croatia, Greece and the Czech Republic. His films have been awarded three UNICA Gold Medals (Union Internationale du Cinéma).

He completed work on the biopic Love Song: The Triumph and Tragedy of Tchaikovsky in February 2014 and the wildlife docudrama Adoration: A Natural History in January 2015, both based on his own screenplays. He is currently at work on the contemporary musical romance I’ll Walk with God, produced from an original story created from and written by the filmmaker. This will be followed in 2016 by the modern-day horror film, The Werewolf Delusion, based on Ian Woodward’s international best-selling book of the same name.

He is married, with two children, Philip and Stefanie, and three grandchildren, Eva, Anna and Joe. Eva appears briefly as the Child of Hope in Too Many Ghosts. 

He lives with wife Zenka near London in the historical village of Kings Langley, birthplace of England’s only Pope and former seat of the Plantagenet kings of England (hence “Kings” in the village’s name). Richard II was buried in the village in 1400 before Henry V had his remains moved to Westminster Abbey. Both monarchs are the subject of two of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays: The Tragedy of King Richard the Second and The Life of Henry the Fifth


Love Song: The Triumph and Tragedy of Tchaikovsky

Behind the Scenes during the Making of Love Song

The Red Rose

The Red Rose Unzipped

Silly Robin

Too Many Ghosts

From Bohemia’s Woods and Fields

Family Ties

Bohemian Memories

Another Year in the Life of an English Country Garden

The Man Who Immortalised a River

Colours, Glorious Colours!

A Year in the Life of an English Country Garden


Costume Designer

Andrea Gambell has been involved in drama most of her adult life. She was trained in acting, mime and improvisation by Joan and Harold Reese at the BBC Drama Repertory Company. She later became interested in costumes and costume design after joining the Bromley Little Theatre in Kent, now part of Greater London.

From this interest grew her now-famous Larger Than Life Stagewear company which stocks an amazing collection of fashion clothes ranging from Medieval and Renaissance, and 17 to late 20-century costumes for adults and children, and all sorts of military uniforms.

Over the years she has designed and created period and contemporary costumes for a wide array of stage, television and film productions including A Christmas Carol, An Ideal Husband, The Cherry Orchard, ‘Allo, ‘Allo!, A Journey to London, Cold Comfort Farm and Calamity Jane.

Andrea says she is passionate about making people feel comfortable when wearing a costume. “As an ex-performer”, she explains, “I know just how important it is for an actor to feel relaxed and confident in all aspects of a role being played. This was uppermost in my mind during the whole design process of Love Song…the film, set in mid- and late-Victorian Russia where clothes were often tight-fitting, presented me with many ‘comfort’ challenges.”


Key Hair & Make-up Artist

Ann-Marie Mays is an acclaimed London-based hair and makeup artist with vast experience working on feature films, music videos, live events and theatre productions in all aspects of hair styling, makeup, wig and postiche construction, and prosthetic design and application.

She graduated with a first class BA (Hons) degree in Hair and Makeup for Film and TV from University of the Arts (London College of Fashion). Having worked for many years in the corporate sector, she complements her creative talent with expert organisational and budgeting skills. This proved invaluable on more than one occasion when, in charge of a five-strong team, she was compelled to maintain a tight hair-and-makeup budget on Love Song.

Comfortable at working closely with clients at all levels, and in teams of all sizes, Ann-Marie is a confident, experienced individual, with a youthful, vibrant approach to life. She is determined, focused, and strives to produce exemplary and professional work at all times.

Outside work, Ann-Marie constantly keeps abreast of the latest advances and techniques in makeup, as well as visiting exhibitions, museums, theatre, cinema and trade fairs.



Yat-Sen Chang is a Chinese, Cuba-born former principal dancer with English National Ballet. He began dance lessons at the Cuban National Ballet School at the age of nine and, after graduating, entered the Cuban National Ballet. He later joined London’s English National Ballet as principal dancer. Many new roles were especially choreographed for him including The White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, The Jumping Bean in Melody on the Move and The Orphan in The Snow Queen

Interestingly, as the inspired choreographer of the Romeo and Juliet Love Theme ballet sequence in Love Song, his acclaimed roles with the ENB included both Romeo and Mercutio in Rudolf Nureyev’s production of Romeo and Juliet. “I felt, when choreographing the Love Song’s Romeo and Juliet Love Theme, I’d been there before!” he smiles.

In recent years he has choreographed many traditional and neo-classical works. He continued this course early in 2012 when he became Artistic Director of the Espinosa Dance Project company in Berkhamsted, just outside London. It was at the theatre of the company’s affiliated Espinosa Chute Academy and Arts Centre that his ballet featuring Tchaikovsky and Eduard Zak was filmed. The Love Song Love Theme pas de deux is one of his latest creations.

It was given its world stage premiere on 17 August 2013 at the Espinosa Theatre in Berkhamsted. Billed in the show as Tchaikovsky’s Love Theme, it formed part of a mixed-bill programme which was repeated on 18 August. Starring in the two theatre performances, as in the film itself, was the acclaimed Serbian National Ballet soloist Lloyd Petchey as Tchaikovsky with the Tring Park School for the Performing Arts’ much-in-demand Rowen Shone as Eduard Zak.

Yat-Sen, who has performed internationally as a guest star with the world’s leading ballet companies, is the Guinness World Record holder of the fastest turns within 30 seconds. In September 2013 he launched the Yat-Sen Chang Dance Company, which tours Britain and abroad, offering talented, recently-graduated dancers (he says) “the opportunity to develop their skills and career.” It has been well received by the world of classical ballet.


Dance Sequence Director

Corinna Chute masterminded the creative input and technical logistics of both Love Song’s pivotal Love Theme duet featuring the young Tchaikovsky and his muse Eduard Zak, and Love Song’s Apotheosis Scene towards the end of the film where the 53-year-old Russian composer is surrounded just before his death by a vision of the young and older incarnations of his famous ballets. 

Corinna is Director of The Espinosa Chute Centre in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, near London, where she oversees a large roster of teachers and admin staff. She started dancing at the age of three with the daughter of the legendary Dame Marie Rambert (whose UK company still bears her name) while her family were stationed in Bangkok. She later joined the Royal Ballet School at 16. 

She went on to launch her professional career with an Italian touring operetta company before, at 19,joining the hit Italian musical Felicitumta at Rome’s famous Teatro Sistina. Along with summer seasons at Teatro Verde in Trieste, Corinna performed in classical ballets, tap, jazz, and musical theatre. At 21, she became a soloist soubrette on Italy’s national broadcasting station, RAI. 

She later moved to Holland and formed the dance company “Serein” which toured Europe and the UK. She also collaborated with projects under many dance legends including Merce Cunningham and began an association with the Cuban National Ballet School as European Promoter of its prestigious international dance courses Cuballet. 

Today, with over 30 years of teaching and choreographic experience behind her, Corinna is a registered teacher with the Royal Academy of Dance, for whom she acts as mentor for the training of young RAD teachers.


Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Simon Alexander brings a wealth of stage and screen experience to the role of Tchaikovsky in Love Song. Although still a relatively young actor, he already has ten very different films to his name. Following close on the heels of his role as Russia’s greatest composer, he will be seen as American paratrooper Private Robert Gates in Seventh Soldier, a World War Two supernatural thriller set in Normandy in 1944. 

“Each of my films has had very little in common, one with the other, in terms of style, period and genre – and that’s just how I like it,” reflects Simon. “What motivates me and thrills me about acting is the challenges it can throw at you on a daily basis, especially when filming. This was certainly the case during the shoot of Love Song. As soon as I’d read the script, I knew I had to do it.”

Hugely impressive is Simon’s ability to become the character the instant “Action!” is called. During the crucial scene at the end of the film, where Tchaikovsky grieves and breaks down, sobbing, as he holds the limp body of Eduard Zak, had fellow actors and crew deeply moved. One tearful production runner was so affected by the filming that, quite literally, she couldn’t bear to watch many of the takes.

The film’s story is told through the voice of Tchaikovsky as he looks back on his life in “old age” – the composer of Swan Lake and the “1812” Overture died aged 53 but, with his grey hair and haunted appearance, looked much older. The scenes are enacted against the voice-over of Tchaikovsky, combined with spoken dialogue to camera, and accompanying music by the composer that underscores a scene’s atmosphere. 

“I play Tchaikovsky at two crucial periods in his life: at the age of 29 at the start of his relationship with his pupil and muse Eduard Zak and at 53 as he looks back on his life,” Simon explains. “But I’m also involved in some key scenes when he is 33 and, crucially, a 37-year-old on his disastrous wedding day. 

“Thinking myself into these very different ages was exciting and yet also daunting, though in a good way. The thought process was an intriguing one. When I was made up and in costume as the young composer of the Romeo and Juliet Love Theme, I was basically playing my own age and it was obviously easier for me to relate to the character in terms of emotional and physical energy

“But much more challenging was getting under the skin of Tchaikovsky at 53 when, as Russia’s celebrated and much-feted composer, he was also inexplicably rather jaded and depressed and generally weary of life. The challenge was not simply finding that tired, worn-out ‘look’ but actually holding on to it throughout what turned out to be a surprisingly long shoot. 

“Some days, availability reasons, it was necessary to play the ‘old’ Tchaikovsky in the morning and the ‘young’ Tchaikovsky in the afternoon, often at locations 30 miles or so apart. That was a challenge for me personally as much as a continuity challenge for the production people in general and the key hair and makeup artist Ann-Marie Mays and her team in particular. But I think everyone would agree: it was a lot of fun to pull it off – and with such aplomb!”


Eduard Zak

Lee Farrell is an up and coming actor with passion, drive and determination. Since graduating in drama from the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David (Chancellor: Prince Charles), Lee has worked non-stop in film and theatre. He is an exciting new talent and Encore Films (UK) were thrilled when he joined the cast of Love Song to play the pivotal role of Eduard Zak, the music student at the Moscow Conservatory who fired Tchaikovsky’s imagination while engaged as a professor at the Conservatory and composing the fantasy overture Romeo and Juliet.

With ambitions to work in America, Lee always pushes and creates opportunities for himself. He takes risks, constantly challenges himself, which makes him an interesting and spontaneous actor and an engaging talent to work with. When director-producer Ian Woodward was interviewing him for an entirely different role in Love Song, he knew that, after months of fruitless searching, he had at last found his Eduard Zak. “Lee has a calm yet powerful screen presence that will take him far,” asserts the filmmaker. “He literally lights up the screen. It’s a cliché: the camera loves him. He has charisma.”

Lee hails from Coventry, an ancient city in the West Midlands that was the world’s first twin city when it formed a twinning relationship with the Russian city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd) during World War Two. And it was in Coventry, at its famous Belgrade Theatre, that Lee made his professional stage debut in his early teens.

“I’ve wanted to be an actor all my life and I’m driven and determined to make it happen,” he insists. “I’ve had the most amazing opportunity to study in America where I got a chance to see at first hand what the industry is like ‘across the pond’. I want to dabble in all areas of stage and screen and achieve my life-long goal. I’m quirky, free-spirited, independent. I love edgy, original things. I’m attracted to the supernatural and anything out of the ordinary.” 

His theatre credits include Ensemble in Junie B Jingle Bells Batman Smells at the Taylor Theatre, Greensboro, in North Carolina (USA); Dancer in Man Made 1,2,3 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival; and Ghost Child in Diablo and Gargoyle in Blood, both in Coventry. Immediately after completing work on Love Song Lee embarked on a UK tour of the popular stage adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s fantasy novel, Wyrd Sisters, playing the bewildered actor-turned-would-be king, Tomjon. 

Lee, soon to be seen in the film Hanging in the Balance, is experienced in physical and absurd theatre. With a warm and down-to-earth personality, he is carving a niche for himself in an exciting and unpredictable industry. He is destined for the heights. Love Song is just the beginning.


Antonina Milyukova

Aimee Craft, who plays the former Moscow Conservatory music student who marries Tchaikovsky, has a particular affinity for the role: she teaches music and drama when not treading the boards or appearing in front of the camera as an actress. She’s also a qualified zumba dance-fitness instructor.

Hailing from Hull, in East Yorkshire, Aimee trained for three years in Music Theatre at Bretton Hall (part of Leeds University) and in acting for two years at London’s famed Bridge Theatre Training Company. Not surprisingly, with such an in-depth background in theatre arts, she’s an incredibly versatile and gifted talent who can convey a feeling with the slightest tilt of her head or movement of her eyes.

Tchaikovsky and Antonina Milyukova (who came from impoverished local gentry) were married at the Church of Saint George in Moscow just four month after the Bolshoi Theatre premiere of his ballet Swan Lake and they celebrated with a dinner at the Hermitage Restaurant. The marriage was disastrous; the inherently gay husband attempted suicide because of it. A permanent separation followed after only six weeks of them being together. They never lived under the same roof again nor had any children.

“As soon as I read the script for Love Song and did some quick research on the character, I knew I wanted to play Antonina,” says Aimee. “She was a major player in Tchaikovsky’s life and I just feel she’s received an undeservedly ‘bad press’ over the years. Her memoirs, published after Tchaikovsky’s death, reveal a woman devoted to the memory of her husband, an appreciation of his greatness and the vague feeling of an enormous misunderstanding having taken place between them.”

She adds: “They were never divorced – she kept her married name of Antonina Tchaikovskaya – and I still find it sad that, although she outlived her husband by 24 years, she spent the last 20 of them in an insane asylum.”

Aimee also believes that responsibility for the failure of the Tchaikovsky’s marriage may actually lie more with Antonina’s husband than with the husbansd’s wife. “It has been said that Antonina was as much the right woman for Tchaikovsky as any other…it was marriage which was the wrong institution for Tchaikovsky.”


Désirée Artôt

Vicky Album is an accomplished actress who was able to bring her experience as a mezzo-soprano to the pivotal role of Tchaikovsky’s Belgian opera-diva fiancée Désirée Artôt. Off-camera, too, she entertained fellow cast members and crew with her skills on the flute…Danny Boy never sounded sweeter or more poignant!

But then Vicky, who trained at Drama Studio London, has many surprising strings to her bow. As well as speaking French and Spanish, she is a qualified massage therapist who is currently studying puppetry at the Little Angel Theatre. Oh, and she has a PhD degree in Applied Social Science.

She made her professional theatre debut as a child at the London Coliseum in the English National Opera’s production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. Later roles included Olivia in Twelfth Night, Lady Macduff in Macbeth and the discontented Mrs Sullen in The Beaux Stratagem.

More recently on the stage Vicky has won rave reviews for her playing of both Mrs Bennet and her daughter Mary in Pride and Prejudice. And in Emma, another Jane Austen adaptation, her portrayal of the “sweet, generous, kind, and thoughtful” Miss Bates brought her much praise from the critics. “Vicky Album,” said one, “stole the show in her gloriously over-the-top portrayal of Miss Bates”.


The Priest

Joe Shefer puts it like this: “I am, in no particular order, an actor, singer, inspired poet, entertainer, producer, delusional idealist. I also add up numbers.” In fact, when playing the Priest in Love Song, he brings to the role a vast amount of experience gained over the years spent in the theatre and on the small and big screens. 

Standing at an imposing 6ft 2in (1.880m), and seen recently in the British horror film Tales of the Supernatural, he is one of those fortunate, gifted actors who seems to attract plaudits like flickering candles attract moths. 

“Shefer’s cleverly-played Antonio is unrelenting and vicious in exacting Shylock’s punishment” observed one critic of Joe’s playing of Antonio in the 2014 London production of The Trial of the Jew Shylock. “Joe Shefer is gentle and touching in his love for Bassanio and also in his attitude when facing death,” noted another critic. “He manages to convince us that his fear is real without any false heroics.”

More glittering reviews poured in for his role in the Pam Gems play, Piaf, about the world-famous chanteuse known as “the Little Sparrow”: “Joe Shefer brings warmth and reality to the part of Louis Leplee, the man who gave her the name Piaf when he discovered her singing in the street and made her into a star.”

After playing Octavius, father of the Emperor Augustus, in Albert Camus’ Caligula, he received further laurels (again on the London stage) for his charismatic performance in Flora the Red Menace, the smash-hit musical from the Kander-Ebb duo behind Cabaret and Chicago. In fact, without ever planning it, Joe has carved out a name for himself in musical theatre including Company, Desire, The Last Maharajah, State Fair, That’s Showbiz!, Return to the Forbidden Planet and the Stephen Sondheim revue Something’s Coming, most of them in London.

Joe’s other theatre work has embraced The Dresser, Hay Fever, The Lion in Winter, The Importance of being Earnest, The Woman in White, Arms and the Man and A Christmas Carol. Along the way, as the presenter in the mockumentary Who the Hell Is Not George Clooney?, he has shown his forte for deadpan comedy. “And now in Love Song,” he grins, “I’m playing the Priest who marries Tchaikovsky. I’m a big fan of Tchaikovsky’s music, so it can’t get better than that!”


Vera Zakova

Annika Álofti is a wanderer who, depending on when or where her fancy takes her, can be found working in Reykjavík, Bergen, Málaga, New York, Berlin, Copenhagen, London or her native Faroe Islands. It helps, of course, that she speaks effortless Danish, English, German, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish. 

When it came to finding an actress to play the emotionally-charged Vera, mother of Eduard Zak, filmmaker Ian Woodward knew before he had even met her – that is, based on what he had seen of her previous work – that she was probably going to be his first and only choice for the role. And so it turned out. 

“She’s incredibly focused on set,” says Woodward. “During filming she was ‘in’ the role from the moment she got into and then climbed out of her period costume. Watching her as she inwardly prepared for the moment when she was going to have to cry uncontrollably over the body of Vera’s dead son was an eye-opener. Take after take, when ‘Cut!’ was called, she always kept her role’s ‘distraught’ persona. Marlon Brando, although of an earlier era and of the opposite sex, was like that.”

Annika, who is known for Mist (which she starred in and co-directed) and Eina, is also a professional horseback rider and a renowned painter and photographer whose works have been widely exhibited and praised. Earlier this year she completed work on the feature film Elusive Horizons and later in 2014 she embarks on the Bollywood movie 3 Illegals which is being shot in London. 

She is soon to be seen in the films Two Very Long Days, The Attachment, Act/or (with Jonathan Hyde), and the psychological thriller Black Awakening. She also plays a significant role in Invasion 1897, an historical Nigerian epic to be screened in over 30 countries after the UK premiere in August at London’s British Museum and the US premiere in September at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC.


Andrei Zak

Alex Mott, who plays Eduard Zak’s top-hatted father in Love Song, can justifiably claim to be the film’s most versatile and multi-faceted cast member. Although becoming an actor relatively late in life – he has a Masters degree in Engineering & Management from the University of Portsmouth – his CV as a performer is very long. He has starred in two episodes of the popular TV series Fred Dinenage’s Murder Casebook and his feature films include Fratton, Showcas, Life For Rent, October 31st: Don’t Fear The Reaper and the new hit Bollywood comedy Humshakals.

But appearing in front of the camera occupies only a fraction of his professional life. He is also a composer and multi-instrumentalist musician who runs his own hi-tech recording studio. This is the nerve centre of his “other life” as a much-in-demand film and television narrator and corporate voice-over artist.

A published author and scriptwriter, he is currently writing a novel, finalising a library of drum-kit rhythms, and studying for a PhD. Along the way he has received training in juggling and the martial arts including kung fu, qigong, eskrima and tai-chi.

He recalls that, aged ten, after being mesmerized by the Kings of the Wild Frontier album from Adam and the Ants, he began “playing drums with bags of enthusiasm and a good supply of Tupperware tubs and wooden spoons”. He joined his first semi-professional band aged 15. Other bands and groups followed until he hooked up with his university’s Big Band and played to the tunes of Stan Kenton and Count Basie, eventually becoming the band’s manager and overseeing the busiest period of bookings it had ever known. 

Later, still in demand as a drummer, Alex played for sessions, theatre and television projects and eventually became involved in regular gigs around the UK and Europe with the tribute bands Sultans of Swing and The Cream of Clapton. “I’ve never known or understood the concept of boredom,” says Alex. “I tend to have my finger in so many pies that I don’t know which way to turn half the time. I can’t imagine it any other way.”


Alexie Sofronov

Jed Perez was born in New Zealand and raised in London where he gained a BA (Hons) degree at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. Since then the 6ft-tall dancer has worked with internationally renowned choreographers  Ross McKim and Douglas Thorpe and danced the lead male role of Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake with the Dulwich Ballet.

“I’ve always been passionate about the arts,” he says, “and I began my training in all three disciplines at a very young age. I’ve specialised in dance but I’ve also maintained a close relationship with acting because I believe the two go hand-in-hand.”

Jed, whose interests include history, costume, fashion, literature and film, explains: 

“Although I have a non-speaking role in Love Song, the opportunity to play Alexei, Tchaikovsky’s manservant, was something I absolutely jumped at because the combination of acting and filming was very much new territory for me.”


Young Lover & Young Society Lady

Jennifer Oliver, very early on in her career, played Young Angela in BBC Television’s French and Saunders comedy caper Wild West. Since then, her films have embraced Like Daughter, Blaze, and Peppermint. 

She is a versatile actress with a background in dance. She trained at the Drama Centre London and later studied for an MA in Broadcast Journalism at the University of Westminster. Her ability as an actress to improvise a scene is impressive and Encore Films benefited enormously from this skill in her portrayal of the Young Lover in Love Song.

Jennifer, who hails from the cathedral city of St Albans, is a member of London’s celebrated Clerkenwell Actors Studio, led by Miriam Lucia. Additionally, she has worked as a radio presenter for the BBC and a number of local stations. 

She is one of those rare, lucky beings who lights up the screen with charisma. And luck is exactly what it is because charisma is not something you learn about: you are born with it. There is a quality about her of Hollywood’s Katharine Hepburn in the way that she brings to the screen the same impression of hidden vulnerability.

Off screen, Jennifer’s many stage appearances include Three Sisters, Hamlet, Oliver!, The Man Who Lost His Mind, Barefoot In The Park, Woyzeck, Husbands and Lovers, The Devil Wears Prada and Boys Don’t Make Passes at Girls Who Wear Glasses


Young Lover

Vilius Tumalavičius, the Lithuanian-born actor who plays the Young Lover in Love Song, got into acting almost by chance. “My educational background is basically musical,” he explains. “I’m a graduate of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theater, the best school in Lithuania for the performing arts. It was where I learned to sing, play the piano, harmonise, etc. 

“I returned to the Academy after graduating for a semester to study cinema acting. And then soon after I was given the opportunity to play Gagarin, one of the main roles in Gabriele Salvatores’ big-screen adaptation of Nicolai Lilin‘s novel Siberian Education with John Malkovich. That was a defining moment for me as a person. It made me rethink my professional plans and to choose acting as my path.” 

His interest in the performing arts began in his teens at school where he shone in productions of My Fair Lady, A Night at the Opera and Jesus Christ Superstar. Later, at music school, he joined both the Vilnius Vocal Ensemble Balsai and Lithuania’s renowned Aidija Chamber Choir – and he still sings with the Ensemble when time permits.

Now, in the 2014 movie The Invisible Boy, a family film shot in Ireland and Germany and revolving around a teenage superhero, Vilius is reunited with Gabriele Salvatores, the great Italian director who propelled him to fame in Siberian Education. He was also seen recently in the feature film Redirected, with Vinnie Jones.

“I speak Lithuanian, English, a bit of Russian and Italian,” he tells you. “I have had a driving license for five years now. I have some skills in fighting and swimming and some personal experience with stunts. I’m interested in swordsmanship, handling a gun and hunting. I love the great outdoors.”

Being a music graduate, he plays the clarinet, guitar and piano and professes to a profound love of Celtic and Renaissance music. “Singing – my love of singing both as a listener and as a performer – enriches me and says something about the person I am. Singing must come from the heart and from the soul, or it is nothing. I have a big heart and a deep soul.”


Tsar Alexander III

Stephen Carroll was born in the late 1950s in war-torn Coventry – a shared birthplace with Love Song actor Lee Farrell – in England’s West Midlands. He moved to London aged 20 and has lived in the capital city ever since. Here, he has carved out a busy career in films and television, including his role as Dr Lumbard in last year’s internet comedy series Bleakford.

He has appeared in two episodes of the worldwide hit television drama Mr Selfridge and played the gamekeeper in two episodes of the popular period costume series Downton Abbey. Upcoming films include Pride, Better Than Tomorrow, Tocks, and the Hammer-genre horror film The Attachment in which he plays a mature student.

The actor, who is married with two children, Sebastian, 23, and Lauren, 20, has also been involved this year in the big-budget feature film, Girls’ Night Out, a fairytale reimagining of VE Day in 1945 when Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were allowed out from Buckingham Palace to join in the celebrations marking the end of the Second World War. Rupert Everett plays the role of King George VI. Stephen has also worked on the upcoming Brad Pitt film Fury, another feature set in the last months of World War Two.

Stephen, whose interests embrace music, art and sailing, is one of Britain’s busiest actors. Last year he lent his talents to a wide variety of film shorts and features including The Truth That Killed, In Vivo, Barred, My Resignation (“it was great fun playing the lead role of a ruthless Cockney gangster”), and the Ealing Studios production Small Step For A Man (“about a boy who dreams of becoming an astronaut”). Added to these credits is the role of the Northern father of a wayward young daughter in the feature film Whiplash Dreams, set to a music album by singer-songwriter Jason Bavanandan.

“I’m a keen painter – but my passion is acting,” he says simply. “Playing Tsar Alexander III in such a grand setting, in Love Song, was an absolute treat – and a great challenge. The tsar was more than six feet tall (about 1.9m) and noted for his immense physical strength, but he was also an enthusiastic amateur musician and patron of the ballet, and so I tried to convey these very different qualities.”

Few will dispute that he has succeeded in abundance in doing the tsar justice.


Nadezhda von Meck

Véronique Sevegrand explains her background like this: “I was born in Paris, brought up in Barcelona, lived in Italy and established in the UK…I am a European actress fluent in English.” In fact, her language skills and immersion in European dramatic arts has been a major asset for her in the film and theatre industry in the UK as it gives her a range and an understanding of a variety of characters from many different nationalities.

Encore Films were thrilled when she walked through the door at the interview stage. It was immediately obvious to everyone present that, with careful work from the film’s key hair and makeup artist, Ann-Marie Mays, Veronica could become the very image of Tchaikovsky’s well-off patroness, Nadezhda von Meck – and that is how it turned out. Comparing the on-screen image of Mme von Meck with the real-life photos of her, Véronique is the affluent Russian widow.

Her appetite for drama was whetted in Spain. As a four-times National Windsurfing Champion and member of the 1992 Spanish Olympics team, Véronique quickly became a recognisable figurehead in commercials across the Iberian Peninsula and France. Since then, after raising a family in England, she made the life-changing decision to work fulltime in short films, feature films and corporate productions and says she enjoys the eclectic range of acting opportunities on offer. 

The feature film Pulp, in which Véronique plays an eccentric French lady named Flav, was shortlisted for the London Comedy Film Awards and was a finalist at the Las Vegas Film Festival. Her other film include The Attachment, Gift from God, Pulp, Melt Into the Sun, Favourite, Is This Free?, Dead Hearts and Alice Does Not See Trevor. “I love what I do and I very much live for acting now,” she says. “I’m hooked for life!”


Tchaikovsky in dance duet

Lloyd Petchey is a graduate of one of Britain’s premier dance-theatre academies, the Tring Park School for Performing Arts, whose alumni include singer Sarah Brightman and Hollywood stars Julie Andrews, Jane Seymour and Thandie Newton. During his time at the school, based in a mansion designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1685, Lloyd was surrounded by history: the Mansion and the surrounding Park in Hertfordshire, near London, was formerly owned by ancestors of America’s first president, George Washington.

Born on 2 September 1993, Lloyd was ear-marked from an early age for stardom in the world of classical ballet, winning many awards along the way. “I’ve always wanted to be a dancer,” enthuses the lithe six-footer (182.9cm). “Not many boys want to do it, but it requires great skill and agility and is great for your body.”

At 17 he was awarded a scholarship to attend the Australian Ballet School’s summer school. Later, at the Cecchetti Classical Ballet Awards in 2013, held at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Lloyd was honoured with the Jennifer Morgan Award for Musicality. “This award was deservedly won by Lloyd Petchey,” declared the judging panel, “for his outstanding musicality and strong sense of performance, both in the unset class and in his splendid solo from The Talisman.”

“Portraying Tchaikovsky in Love Song was like a dream come true,” he confesses. In fact, his romantic portrayal of the great Russian composer in the film’s dance sequence has brought him to the attention of theatre big-wigs and of ballet lovers around the world who have bolstered his swelling ranks of fans. “It’s all been very exciting,” he says modestly.


Eduard Zak in dance duet

Rowen Shone is one of six children who all began ballet at the age of six at the Sally Stanyard School of Dance in their native Winchester, in Hampshire. His 18-year-old sister, Lowri Shone (born 5 April 1996), trained at the famed Tring Park School for Performing Arts in Hertfordshire where Rowen himself, now 16, is still a boarder. 

Lowri, who has danced with the American Ballet Theatre, the Northern Ballet and the English National Ballet, played the role of Young Clara with the ENB in the 2010 premiere of Wayne Eagling’s new version of The Nutcracker at the London Coliseum. She repeated the role in the same production the following year alongside Rowan as Freddie (Fritz) – the first real-life brother and sister in living memory to take on the roles of Clara and Freddie in the company’s traditional Christmas show in London. 

“They are both wonderful actors,” said one critic, “producing witty mock arguments and dancing well too.” The Independent newspaper noted: “Lowri Shone dances with bright personality as the young heroine Clara, delighted at the party and squabbling believably with her brother, danced by Rowan Shone.” The Guardian declared: “Siblings Lowri and Rowan Shone perform Clara and her brother Fritz with a funny and affectionate rapport that lights up the party scene.”

Rowan, a football fan who supports Manchester United, admits that watching Lowri in the limelight while he was in a smaller role prompted him to raise his game. “The year before I appeared with her on the London stage I stood there watching her doing all the stuff. I really wanted to play Freddie, so I knew I needed to work very hard. I was so excited when I got it. Freddie is a naughty child who likes to disobey the rules a bit, so it’s fun to play him.”

Lowri says that working together was “cool” and Rowen adds: “You have someone to talk to if you have any problems.” But ask whether they were amicable on stage and he will only say, with a grin: “Most of the time!”

In April 2014 he appeared with the London Children’s Ballet in Nanny McPhee, a new ballet based on the blockbuster family film. Emma Thompson, who wrote and starred in the film, attended the premiere at London’s Peacock Theatre.

Rowen’s mother, Davina, who teaches psychology, was a Scottish ballroom dancing champion in her youth but had to give up because of family circumstances. Now she and husband Martin do everything they can to support their ballet brood. While she admits that nurturing their talents was a “manic existence”, she confesses: “It’s all been worthwhile, seeing their faces light up on stage”.


Anatoly Tchaikovsky

Marcus Payne has been acting from a very young age and, although he only completed his MA Acting degree at the Guildford School of Acting (University of Surrey), he already has a wealth of experience on stage and screen behind him and has worked with Ridley Scott. He also works as a model. 

He is a skilled dancer, musician (saxophonist), singer and martial artist who speaks fluent French and Spanish. He is yet to be seen in the films Red Sky, Abduction, Somewhere in the Universe and Guardians of the Galaxy. In October 2015 he will be seen in 20th Century Fox’s Frankenstein, starring Daniel Radcliffe, James McAvoy and Jessica Brown Findlay.


Josef Kotek

Courtney Harrison is a graduate in Musical Theatre of London’s Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, which is one of the world’s oldest theatre-arts training school. It opened in 1911. Its alumni include Noel Coward, Gertrude Lawrence, Bonnie Langford  and the model Naomi Campbell.

He is highly skilled in ballet, jazz, contemporary and commercial dance and was featured in the official video of singer Vince Kidd’s EP The Zoo. The role of the violinist Josef Kotek, who was a composition student under Tchaikovsky at the Moscow Conservatory and a witness at the composer’s wedding, was Courtney’s first non-dancing role.


The Watford Symphony Orchestra is one of Hertfordshire’s premier orchestras, performing large-scale classical works at the town’s state-of-the-art Clarendon Muse concert hall, where the orchestral scenes for Love Song were filmed. 

The WSO has close links with the Watford School of Music and the Purcell School for Young Musicians – the oldest specialist music school in the UK – giving the area’s most gifted young musicians a platform to showcase their talents to the wider community. 

The WSO’s conductor, Edward Kay, studied music at Durham University, Trinity College and at the Guildhall College of Music and Drama. After working in the north of England where his conducting work included the Musical Directorship of the North East Symphony Orchestra and the Durham Chamber Ensemble, he has since worked in London with the Kensington Chamber Orchestra, the London Light Opera,  the Stravinsky Players and Figaro Opera.

Rebecca Boyle, the WSO’s leader, studied music at Cambridge University, during which time she performed, among others, Tchaikovsky’s and Prokofiev’s 2nd violin concertos. She later studied as a postgraduate under Yossi Zivoni at the Royal Northern College of Music. Since graduating in 1992, Rebecca has pursued a hectic teaching and freelance career. She has also established her own Music Kindergarten in Northwood, south-east London, where she lives with her husband and two children. 

In 2010 the WSO was awarded the prestigious Making Music Lady Hilary Groves Award for its outstanding contribution to promoting music within the local community. 


Love Song is not just a film – the story it tells is an exclusive disclosure.

The artistic and historical revelations the film makes have never previously been disclosed on the printed page, on the theatre stage, or on the small or big screens. 

The film is as much about the disclosure of the newly-revealed gay content in a musical masterpiece – its source known in literature as a classic male-female romance – as it is about the world’s most popular love theme.

Ian Woodward – author of the acclaimed two-volume Lives of the Great Composers (published in English, Dutch, German and Arabic) – has lovingly and obsessively studied Russia’s greatest composer, Tchaikovsky, since his music-school days. He owns every book ever published about the composer, in every language. His CD library contains recordings of every work ever composed by Tchaikovsky

The filmmaker’s detective work into Tchaikovsky’s fantasy overture Romeo and Juliet meant that for many years he held a secret bombshell…that although the world’s most famous Love Theme has been used in hundreds of films, TV shows and commercials, usually during that moment when one character first spots their true love, it is NOT about Verona’s star-cross’d lovers as immortalised by Shakespeare. It is not even about an Italian boy and girl in love…and it is certainly not about a girl.

Love Song, exclusively, for the first time, tells all.


Love Song is based on life-long, ground-breaking research by filmmaker Ian Woodward who reveals for the first time the heart-breaking true story behind the creation of Tchaikovsky’s fantasy overture Romeo and Juliet which gave the world one of the most famous love themes ever written. 

The facts are presented in biopic form. All the characters depicted in the film actually existed, although some moments have been fictionalised to fill-in gaps where details are scant or non-existent. The result is Love Song: The Triumph and Tragedy of Tchaikovsky

A cinematic first that will rock the classical-music Establishment

Sensational biopic revealing for the first time that Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Love Theme is NOT about a boy and girl in love…not even about a girl.

Docudrama biopic

30 minutes

2:48 minutes

Available, with time codes

February 2014

(private view for cast and crew, family and friends)
The Espinosa Theatre, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England, 16 February 2014


Ian Woodward was privileged to know – for five years before her death in 1985 – Galina von Meck, the great-grandniece of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and the granddaughter of his patron Nadezhda von Meck, to whom the composer dedicated his 4th Symphony.

Galina was aged two when Tchaikovsky held her in his arms. “My mother said Uncle Peter breathed spirituality through every pore in his skin.” Tchaikovsky was a deeply religious man, as Love Song reveals. He drew great solace from praying in churches, alone, at the altar.

As a young man, the filmmaker was also friends for many years with the Russian composer Alexander Tcherepnin, whose father, Nikolai Tcherepnin (pupil of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and acquaintance of Tchaikovsky) was also a composer and music director of Diaghilev’s legendary Ballets Russes.

Ian Woodward listened, enthralled at one of Alexander Tcherepnin’s famous soirées, as Alexander told him stories about Tchaikovsky told to him by his father Nicholas.

It was famously at one these soirées that Ian Woodward, on being introduced to a sculptor named Oleg Prokofiev, asked “Any relation to the composer of the ballet Romeo and Juliet?” He replied: “Yes, he was my dad!”

Much of what the film-maker learned from Galina von Meck and Alexander Tcherepnin – not least that which is pertinent to the film’s revelations – appears in Love Song.


Tchaikovsky has been described as the original gay romantic.

Some people may already know that a big-budget feature film about Tchaikovsky is currently under way in Russia, partly funded by the Russian government.

But the film’s finance was only forthcoming after five script rewrites were demanded in which all references to the composer’s homosexuality were ordered to be removed.

The orders were complied with.

It is often said that the gay community have taken to their hearts Tchaikovsky’s music as it is perceived to contain all the longing and despair of homosexual angst in a homophobic world. 

There is a possibility that Love Song: The Triumph and Tragedy of Tchaikovsky will be shown at a St Petersburg film festival in December – a Russian festival, it should be stressed, organised in Finland.

“Whatever happens,” asserts Ian Woodward, “homophobic Russia is not going to like Love Song!” 


Love Song genre:
It is not a Documentary.
It is not Fiction.
It is a true story.
The filmmaker
classifies Love Song as a



Love Song is based on extensive original research by the film-maker which he believes reveals for the first time on film the real story behind the creation of Tchaikovsky’s fantasy overture Romeo and Juliet which gave the world one of the most famous love themes ever written. The facts are presented in biopic form. All the characters depicted in the film actually existed, although some moments have been fictionalised to fill-in gaps where details are scant or non-existent. The scenarist therefore set himself a rule at the outset which he has not knowingly broken: there is nothing in the film which could not have happened. The intention has been to weave together the known facts and the scenarist’s imagination, the latter filling in the gaps left by the former. The result is Love Song: The Triumph and Tragedy of Tchaikovsky.


The film’s story is told through the voice of Tchaikovsky as he looks back on his life in “old age”. (He died aged 53 but, with his pale-grey hair, looked much older). The scenes are enacted against the voice-over of Tchaikovsky, combined with spoken dialogue to camera, and accompanying music by the composer that underscores a scene’s atmosphere. Tchaikovsky is depicted in two crucial periods: 1. at the age of 29 at the start of his relationship with Eduard Zak, and 2. at 53 as he looks back on his life. But there are also some key scenes when he is aged 33.


In 1869, while employed as a professor at the Moscow Conservatory, Tchaikovsky wrote Romeo and Juliet which he based on Shakespeare’s play of the same name. Although described by the composer as a Fantasy Overture, the overall design is that of a symphonic poem. It is based on three main strands of the Shakespeare story. The first strand represents the saintly Friar Laurence. This is followed by the warring Capulets and Montagues. Finally, in the third strand, is the “love theme” representing two lovers. The music for this episode is passionate and yearning but always with an underlying current of anxiety. It is the most famous and well-loved section of the piece and shows how the protagonists’ forbidden love affair grows against all odds, even after death.


Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was the first Russian composer whose music made a lasting impression internationally. He wrote many works which are popular with the music public today including, in addition to his Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, the “1812” Overture, his ballets The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, and Marche Slave. These, along with his First Piano Concerto and his Violin Concerto, the last three of his six numbered symphonies and his operas The Queen of Spades and Eugene Onegin, are among his most familiar works.


NADEZHDA VON MECK, the wealthy widow of a railway tycoon, became Tchaikovsky’s patroness in 1877. She provided him with an annual subsidy that enabled him to concentrate on composition. She was an important friend and emotional support for the next 13 years.


TSAR ALEXANDER III was among Tchaikovsky’s greatest admirers. He conferred upon him the Order of St. Vladimir, which carried with it hereditary nobility and won Tchaikovsky personal audiences with the Tsar. He was later awarded a lifetime annual pension of 3,000 rubles from the Tsar. On the composer’s death, Alexander III ordered that Tchaikovsky should be given a State funeral, for which he paid the costs.  Moreover, Alexander III gave special permission for Tchaikovsky’s memorial service to be held at Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg. The funeral itself was the most attended funeral Russia had ever known. Kazan Cathedral holds 6000 people, but 60,000 people applied for tickets to attend the service. Finally, 8000 people were crammed in.


Tchaikovsky’s life was punctuated by personal crises and depression. His same-sex orientation, which he kept private, has traditionally been considered a major factor behind these crises. His sudden death at the age of 53 is generally ascribed to cholera; there is an ongoing debate as to whether it was accidental or self-inflicted. Tchaikovsky spent the final period of his life at a charming house on the edge of Klin, 50 miles north-west of Moscow. Following his death in 1893 the estate was converted into the Tchaikovsky House-Museum which is maintained just as it was when Tchaikovsky lived there.


Some of the composer’s closest relationships were with men. He sought out the company of other same-sex attracted men in his circle for extended periods, associating openly and establishing professional connections with them. One group of musicologists insist that Tchaikovsky felt tainted because of his sexual nature. Another group of scholars suggest that he eventually came to see his sexuality as an insurmountable and even natural part of his personality from which he did not experience any serious psychological damage. Nevertheless, Tchaikovsky was torn by ambivalent feelings on the subject of sexuality and marriage.


Désirée Artôt, a Belgian soprano, was the Maria Callas of her day. In 1868 she visited Russia with a touring Italian company and met Tchaikovsky. She bombarded him with invitations on a daily basis, and he became accustomed to visiting her in the evenings. This was Tchaikovsky’s first serious attempt to conquer his homosexuality. They became engaged but Artôt was not prepared to abandon her career to support a struggling composer, and Tchaikovsky for his part was not prepared to become merely a prima donna’s husband. Artôt then secretly and suddenly married a Spanish baritone. Tchaikovsky was distraught when he heard the news.


In July 1877, aged 37, Tchaikovsky married 29-year-old former music student Antonina Milyukova after receiving a series of impassioned letters from her. After the marriage in Moscow she was known as Antonina Tchaikovskaya. Her family belonged to the local gentry but lived in poverty. They were married at the Church of Saint George in Moscow and held their wedding dinner at the Hermitage Restaurant. The marriage was disastrous. A permanent separation followed after only six weeks of them being together. They never lived under the same roof again nor had any children. They never divorced. Tchaikovsky would sometimes confess that the episode left him with a deep sense of shame and guilt and an apprehension that Antonina might publicize his sexual orientation. Although she outlived Tchaikovsky by 24 years, she spent the last 20 of them in an insane asylum.


Tchaikovsky had a series of male lovers beginning in his student days and continuing through the rest of his life. Allied with this is the fact that stories of doomed love always resonated deeply with the composer. Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet was no exception. When, aged 29, Tchaikovsky took up the play as a musical subject, he was deeply in love with Eduard Zak, a 15-year-old student at the Moscow Conservatory. Later, at 37, after the collapse of his marriage, he wrote: “Only now have I finally begun to understand that there is nothing more fruitless than not wanting to be that which I am by nature”. At the end of his life he was still pining over the loss of Eduard Zak.


Tchaikovsky was a sociable, amiable, friendly and well-balanced individual. Despite this, he was also by nature a pessimist, fueled by emotional intensity and relentless depression. And yet Tchaikovsky’s personality was the impetus behind what made his music his. Orchestras he conducted talked of his modest, unassuming personality, devoid of ego. He was a well-rounded individual, having experienced life’s triumphs and disappointments, and, while showing a wariness of strangers, possessed a great affection for his family and friends. He was humorous and playful by nature. He had a regal, aristocratic, upright bearing. His movement when walking was leisurely, measured and confident. He was socially adept and, at a gathering where he knew no-one – but where everyone knew him – he would be the first to engage in conversation. Although shy by nature, he easily put people at ease. A lifelong vice was nicotine – he smoked like a chimney – and he had a fondness for alcohol.


For those who enjoy the music of Tchaikovsky, the score for Love Song 
amounts to a banquet. The soundtrack incorporates extracts from a 
tantalizingly wide selection of the Russian composer’s works, including –

Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty

 Eugene Onegin, The Queen of Spades, Iolanta
Cherevichki, The Maid of Orleans

 The Snow Maiden

 No 2 (“Little Russian”), No 3 (“Polish”), “Manfred” Symphony

 Souvenir de Florence, Fantasy Overture Romeo and Juliet
“1812” Overture, Coronation March for Tsar Alexander III

 Romance in F minor, Piano Concerto No 1 in B-flat minor

 String Quartet No 1 in D

 The Liturgy of St John Chrysostom



Directed and Produced



Hair and Make-up Artist

Costume Designer



Cinematographer and Editor

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Eduard Zak

Antonina Milyukova

Désirée Artôt

The Priest

Vera Zakova

Andrei Zak

Nadezhda von Meck

Young Lover

Young Lover

Tsar Alexander III

Young Society Lady

Alexie Sofronov

Anatoly Tchaikovsky

Josef Kotek

Drinking Companion 1

Drinking Companion 2

Funeral Cortège Attendants



Equine Consultant

choreographed exclusively for Love Song

Dance Sequence Director

former principal dancer
English National Ballet

Serbian National Ballet

Eduard Zak
Tring Park School for the Performing Art

Apotheosis sequence
Polly Almond
Bethany Brown
Lily English
Lyn Fear
Roseanna Fear
Erina Forde
Tiana Kirkby
Bethany Freeman
Eliza Freeman
Justine Freeman
Joseph Howse
Gwen Morgan
Hannah O’Dair
Anna Perry
Madeleine Phillips
Honor Rooke
Kerry Rhodes
Rebecca Rumble
Tia Slade
who appear by kind permission of
The Espinosa Chute Centre

Lighting Designer
Love Theme ballet sequence
Apotheosis sequence
(with assistance on Love Theme by Rob Lindsay)

Leader Edward Kay
Conductor Rebecca Boyle


3rd Assistant Directors

Production Runners


Assistants to Key Hair and Make-up Specialist Ann-Marie Mays

Make-up Artists

Trainee Make-up Artists

Sound Assistants



Director: Corinna Chute
Artistic Director: Yat-Sen Chang

Director: Corinna Chute




Great Berkhamsted






St Albans


Special thanks to
Robert Fortey
Nico Fortuna
Swee-Lan Miller
for outstanding assistance
during the making of this film