“OK, but what if ‘Bridgerton’ was a musical?”
That’s the question that Abigail Barlow, who grew up in Birmingham and lives in Los Angeles, posed to her TikTok followers in early January. The post included “Daphne’s Song,” the first song Barlow wrote based on the hit Netflix series about debutantes in Regency-era London. She also posted “I Burn for You,” and after partnering with former child prodigy Emily Bear, has written 10 more songs.
“I’m in absolute awe at the reaction so far,” says Barlow, who worked with Red Mountain Theatre Company when she was in Birmingham. “I’ve been posting my original music on TikTok for years, so this response was more than I could ever ask for as a songwriter.”
Barlow thought about moving to Nashville to pursue songwriting, but she decided on Los Angeles, following in the footsteps of her sister, actress Anna Grace Barlow (“Supernatural,” “Scream Queens,” “The Young and the Restless”).
“She’s my absolute biggest cheerleader, and vice versa,” Abigail Barlow says of her sister. “I’m so grateful that she lives five minutes away from me in Los Angeles. She has absolutely mastered her own art, and she always gives me advice on the best way to master mine. … I owe it all to family.”
Barlow, who is an actress as well as a singer/songwriter, got some notice in 2020 with the release of her song “Heartbreak Hotel,” which some commenters said put off a “Taylor Swift vibe.”
“I was just writing what I was feeling,” she says. “I was very into this boy I was seeing at the time, but I was still so traumatized by the ghosts of boyfriends past. If it gives off Taylor Swift vibes, that’s one heck of a compliment.”
Then came “Bridgerton,” an adaptation of Julia Quinn’s novels, which premiered on Netflix in December 2020. One of its producers is Shonda Rimes, whose TV work includes “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal.”
“I binged the entire series and was in awe of the dialogue and masterful storytelling,” Barlow says. “It’s incredibly poetic. The music basically writes itself. There was one piece of dialogue in specific that inspired me to run to my piano and start writing: ‘You have no idea what it’s like to be in a room with someone you cannot live without and yet still feel like you’re oceans apart.’”
That’s the crux of the faux-turned-real relationship of Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Basset, the lovers at the center of “Bridgerton.”
The excitement that “Bridgerton” created on Netflix translated to TikTok, with Barlow and Bear’s musical work gaining not only attention from fans, but from fans singing the “Bridgerton” songs themselves. They’ve heard from Quinn, the author of the books, as well as “Bridgerton” cast members Phoebe Dynevor (Daphne), Nicola Coughlin (Penelope) and Luke Newton (Colin Bridgerton).
Barlow, 22, says she has enjoyed writing with Bear, a 19-year-old who has worked with Quincy Jones.
“We just click when we write,” Barlow says. “It’s almost like magic.”
The two are self-admitted “fangirls” of “Bridgerton,” which will have a second season on Netflix. “It’s a Regency-era ‘Gossip Girl,’ and what young woman wouldn’t be obsessed with that?” Barlow asks.
The future of the musical “Bridgerton” is unknown, but if it became a full-scale project, Barlow would love to be considered for the role of Daphne.
“She’s headstrong, yet delicate; determined, yet patient,” she says. “She’s everything I love in a leading lady, and with all the music we’re writing for her, she’s slowly becoming a dream role for me.”
Whether that ends up being on stage somewhere is still in the air, but Barlow and Bear are enjoying the ride.
“We’d love for it to be a project that goes the distance, but we’re just so grateful for all of the support, and we’re trying to live in the moment and take each exciting opportunity as it comes,” Barlow says.
(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)