Two county composers have written a sell-out musical in collaboration with NHS professionals to warn the public about the dangers of the hidden pandemic of antibiotic resistance (AMR).

‘The Mould That Changed The World’ was written by former Gullane Primary School pupils Robin Hiley, 34, and James Ross, 35, and tells the story of Alexander Fleming’s world changing discovery of penicillin – and is now getting ready to tour the USA after two successful stints at the Edinburgh Fringe.

The musical also warns the public about antimicrobial resistance, which was recently named one of the top 10 global public health threats in the world by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The show has already proven a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe and is now set to tour the USA with a cast of West End actors and a chorus of NHS medical professionals and scientists.

Robin, who grew up at Myreton, by Aberlady, and James, who moved to Gullane when he was a young child, met in primary two at Gullane Primary School before both moving to North Berwick High School (NBHS) where their musical talents flourished.

The two both play major roles in the show, with Robin orchestrating and composing the work and James co-writing many of the melodies and flexing his musical theatre talents on stage.

Robin spoke to the Courier about his delight in taking his musical abroad whilst also being able to convey an important message through entertainment.

He said: “I have had a songwriting history with James for a long time.

“I arranged and orchestrated it all and we have now expanded it to a feature-length piece.

“Since being approached by Dr Meghan Perry of the University of Edinburgh to write the show, I have come to understand how serious the threat of AMR is to us all and how little we as the general public know about it.”

The show incorporates a chorus of local NHS professionals at each venue, providing a platform to those striving to raise awareness and combat the risks of AMR.

Robin added: “I hope the show gives a voice to the NHS doctors and scientists in our chorus who experience the devastating effects of AMR in their everyday jobs and want to communicate it to their friends and family before it’s too late.

“We are now in this exciting position to go to the States – it’s a huge project for me and a great opportunity as a writer.

“It’s incredibly exciting – I am thrilled it is going, not just to perform but also to disseminate an important public health message as well.”

Beyond the two long-time friends, the East Lothian influence is very evident within the show with the book (script) written by former Loretto School pupil Thomas Henderson.

More former NBHS students are also heavily involved, with sisters Sheila and Beverley Grant taking on roles as choreographer and movement artist respectively while Chris Rawson plays as a drummer in the band.

To Robin this came as no surprise adding that “lots of us were inspired by the music department at the high school”.

Making its first return this year to the Fringe stage since 2018, the show is getting ready to tour the US with support of the UK Government, WHO, the CDC Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation.

The show has also been championed by Dame Sally Davies, the UK’s Special Envoy on AMR and ambassador for the project, who believes its resonance with the audience will make a lasting impact on people’s behaviour.

She said: “It is up to all of us to be leaders and activists on AMR. Educating ourselves and each other is the most effective route out of the AMR pandemic, and ‘The Mould’ resonates with audiences to have a lasting impact on their behaviour.

“I dare anyone to see this musical and not feel compelled to act.”