REVIEW: Soho at the Peacock Theatre

Reviewed by Zoe Rogers

On Wednesday May 10th I attended the press night of Soho at the Peacock Theatre in London. Soho is a mix of dance, gymnastics, and circus skills following a character through a day and night in Soho. The show features iconic areas and places such as Soho Square and China Town. The show was open to the general public as well as press and so mostly felt like attending a show as normal, with an added official photographer wandering around and a backdrop for photos to be taken against.

I had no idea what to expect from the show before it started, but as we entered the auditorium the sound of a tube creaking along was played, setting the audience up for the first scene. I thought this was a good introduction to the show, instead of having generic music playing. The first part of the show was set on a tube and as soon as it began I realised this was not your typical show. A hugely diverse cast with people from the UK to Australia graced the stage covered head to toe in colourful and exciting outfits. It was immediate to me that this show would be full of life, talent, and pizzazz.

Each performer had a specialist skill to add to the performance such as handstands, martial arts, and trapeze skills which meant that nothing seemed too similar to another part of the show. A highlight for me was Leah Wolff from Canada who’s talent was the aerial hoop. Whilst she performed in most of the other scenes, the scene in Madame Jojo’s where she was the focus point was absolutely astounding. All throughout the show I was wowed by the ability each performer had not only in their skill but in the other areas they featured in, and the way they brought their talent to the stage and made it theatrical and engaging to watch.

The two acts of the show were broken down into day time and night time, with each act being split further into certain activities for that time of day. During the show I realised that all the performers were taking on different roles within each section other than Alessio Motta who’s character stayed the same throughout as we followed him through 24 hours in Soho. Whilst I enjoyed the narrative and thought it was done in a clever way, it took me a few scenes to realise we were following him instead of each scene being unrelated. Each scene was really different and I found some more interesting than others based on the content of each one and the skills that were used. I really felt engaged in the Soho Streets scene in act 1 with all the different characters and their interactions with each other, however the following scene in the Gym was much less interesting for me as I felt it seemed much more simple and less vibrant than the previous scene.

Each scene was full of music, some specially composed by Peter Coyte for the show, and other music by popular artists. I thought this worked well as it meant every now and then you would recognise the song but it wasn’t so frequent that it was distracting. The coreography along to the music had been carefully planned out and to great success.

Overall, although I found some parts of the show less engaging than others, I thought it was a very clever, talented, and enjoyable show with a round narrative starting and ending on the tube. It was a very welcome change from my typical theatre visits and a great introduction to the world or circus skills and gymnastics on stage.

4stars

 

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Aria Entertainment’s FROM PAGE TO STAGE Festival Listing Announced!

Aria Entertainment’s From Page To Stage (FPTS) are delighted to announce their exciting musical concerts and the eleven new musicals selected to be showcased during their Summer Festival at The Other Palace (Monday 14 August – Sunday 3 September 2017) including: musical royalty with Tony and Grammy Award winning writer Steven Sater (Spring Awakening) and Academy Award, Grammy Award winning pop legend Burt Bacharach’s new musical Some Lovers – a fully produced main house production; and titular royalty on stage in the studio, with the coming of age new family musical The Queen’s Nose by Charles Miller and Tim Sanders, adapted from the right royal author Dick King-Smith’s delightfully funny children’s book.

Fast becoming the world’s leading new musical theatre Summer Festival FPTS moves into The Other Palace, where night and day over the three weeks, the sound of music from new musicals from across the globe will be brought to life; both in the theatre and studio – and even the bar. From a record breaking 302 submissions from 15 countries, the selected new musicals will be showcased and performed by top West End performers, directors, choreographers, musicians and musical directors – showing each step of a new musical, with workshops, readings, showcases (25 minute tasters of musicals) and fully staged productions.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, owner The Other Palace says: “I am thrilled that Katy Lipson is bringing From Page to Stage to The Other Palace, in August. It buoys my hope that The Other Palace will become a breeding ground for new musicals and a genuine hub for anyone interested in musical theatre.”

The Festival will open with the slick cutting-edge Song Writers Showcase (14 Aug), giving a professional platform for some awesome new musical songs from a plethora of musical genres, very clearly showing the calibre of shows on tap for three weeks at The Other Palace.

Creating a perfect FPTS mini Family Festival in the studio (28 Aug-02 Sept), The Queen’s Nose will be one of three family shows alongside the infectious tale of Chicken Little by Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary; and the first musical where the world of carnivores and herbivores clash in Dinostory by Luke Di Somma, Mark Anderson and Erin Carter.

The Festival includes darker musicals XY (15 – 17 Aug) by Oliver Houser: “whilst studying on my undergraduate psychology course, I learnt about the psychologically harmful, non-consensual corrective surgeries still performed regularly on intersex infants. It’s been percolating in me for 5 years….” – Christopher Dickens and Tom Wright’s Rebel Song (21 – 23 Aug), a topical love story adapted from the award-winning novel At Swim, Two Boys…… – and One Way (24 – 26 Aug), in which an astrophysicist is selected to go on the first one-way trip to Mars by Ben Bonnema and Christopher Staskel.

Other exciting musicals being premiered at FPTS include: The Edinburgh 7 (24 – 26 Aug) by young bloods Christina Tweeddale & Catherine Myers (from the band Honeyblood), the Kielty Brothers and Jordanna O’Neill – their musical of women’s suffrage and their fight to study medicine in 1866…. – The comedy musical by Chris Burgess, The Girls of Downey Hall (24 – 26 Aug) based on Jenny Colgan’s best-selling novel Class …. – Tasha Taylor Johnson (Feed Your Ego) and musical director Phil Cornwell’s Cult! (24 – 26 Aug) a comedy tale of an unlikely group of Doomsday Seekers…. – and One Day (28 – 30 Aug) by Ben Toth, Todd Almond and Anil Baral set in 1972 Northern Ireland: Catholic against Protestant, Irish against British, neighbour against neighbour….

And the headline show: Some Lovers (24 Aug – 02 Sept) – Bacharach’s first new score for the theatre since 1968s Promises Promises. Steven Sater says: “Love songs, that’s what I write. Burt and I had just written our first song together; and some months and any number of songs later I came to recognise how distinct our songs were from those ubiquitous pop anthems of young love. Ours seemed invariably to express a sort of disaffection, a disappointment, a dark joy, or the renewed determination of a more mature, mid-relationship romance. One day, in the heat of July in Los Angeles, as Burt and I laboured away on a Christmas song, I thought: what if we revisited that Depression-Era classic story, The Gift of the Magi? What became of those young Christmas lovers, twenty years after their happily ever after? And that was the beginning of Some Lovers.”

Burth

The first weekend of FPTS sees two special evenings in the Studio, with British composer Charles Miller in You Know How To Love Me (18 – 19 Aug). Joining him will be a host of West End artistes singing from his wonderfully surprising shows including: Brenda Bly: Teen Detective, When Midnight Strikes and The Return Of The Soldier – and Charles will be sharing his favourite behind-the-scenes stories.

And then the Closing Gala (03 Sept) and the icing on the cake of Aria Entertainment’s From Page To Stage Summer Festival is an evening with America’s finest: An Evening Of Songs From Spring Awakening Creators Duncan Sheik And Steven Sater. An extraordinary concert performance of Steven and Duncan’s many musical collaborations including: Spring Awakening, Phantom Moon, Nero, Alice By Heart, Umbrage, The Nightingale and A Home At The End Of The World – and maybe a sneak preview of their latest projects….. a unique ending to the world renowned festival From Page To Stage……

FPTS – From Page to Stage Summer Festival
:

Monday 14 August – Sunday 3 September 2017

The Other Palace – 12 Palace Street, Westminster, London SW1E 5JA.

Ticket prices from £7.50 – £20.

Box Office: theotherpalace.co.uk  // 020 7087 7900

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In Conversation with circus performer DANIEL ASH about his upcoming show “SOHO”

Interview lead by Charlie White

On Friday 5th May we were lucky enough to be able to get an interview with a cast member from the innovative new show Soho (at the Peacock Theatre until 20th May), Daniel Ash. In the show Daniel’s main number is a drag aerial act.

So how did you get involved with the show?

” I was doing a circus degree at the National Centre for Circus Arts. This time last year Stufish came to the school and worked with us in our second year to do a Workshop of the show. This is where we made the first version of the show which was 40 minutes then over the last six weeks we’ve been in France turning it in to an hour and half long show. I came in to circus quite late, I actually did a science degree first.”

So what got you in to the Circus then?

“Well I’ve always loved acting growing up but I always thought I should try and get a proper job. When I left Sheffield University and finished the degree I just wanted to follow my passion so I became an actor and I did a lord of the flies tour. Then I did a cabaret course at the Roundhouse for 18-25 year olds where I worked with Marisa Carneski. I also, in Soho did a stripper competition, so the combination of these two things got me in to cabaret and stripping so the last four years I’ve been on the cabaret scene with loads of different acts. I do quite a bit of drag as well, but then I saw circus cabaret show Limbo at London Wonderground and I watched the circus artists and I thought I want to do that so I started doing evening classes. Six months after that I auditioned for circus school and got in.”

So what is the main number that you’re involved with in the show?

“Throughout the show I’m a gym boy in the Gym scene and I’m in the Berwick Street Market scene but my main number is in Madam JoJo’s in the second half. It’s a really famous cabaret club that’s been going for years with Burlesque Dancers and it got closed recently because of gentrification. Quite a lot of gay places are being closed as well for the sake of building high rise flats or something. So yeah in Madam JoJo’s I play a drag queen and I do an aerial silks number to Etta James ‘I wanna make to love to you’. The training has been quite intense with the heals on the equipment it’s very tiring and the outfit is very elaborate. I have feathers on the shoulders and big blonde wig, and I have to do my make up in twenty minutes which is quite scary.”

Where do you see this show going in the future?

“I think Stufish are hoping to take this on a world tour, which will be amazing. I’ve always been really passionate about the show, like when Stufish came to the school it was obviously right up my street with the whole drag act.”

Did they scout you or did you have to audition?

“They held auditions recently but when they came to the school, they worked with our year for the workshop, but with this version they had to do auditions. So I was in the original but with this version I had to audition. It’s a really important show, though, because a lot of places like Soho and Hackney Wick, where I live, there’s a lot of stuff being knocked down, lots of flats, lots of clubs and places where I used to perform, a really iconic gay club in Vauxhall that shut down. Someone recently said to me “Soho used to be a real hub for the gay community” but it almost feels like the gays are less visible, if you know what I mean, because places are being shut down…I feel like this show is really important and a really important celebration of Soho. I worked with someone who told me that Soho was a great community for the gays, but Soho is a great mismatch of gays, straights, lesbians and queers so the show is a celebration and warning of “try not to kill off the culture” or “don’t get too much into capitalism”. We need to protect and celebrate districts like Soho.”

What, roughly, is the story of the show?

“The story follows a “Lost Man”, he’s from abroad and come to London and he gets lost in Soho. The beginning it’s this really big, spectacular opening. The audience is presented with a train heading towards them and there’s a big commuting scene with people flying through the air and it’s pretty mad.”

Why do you think people should come and see Soho?

“I think people should come and see Soho because there aren’t that many shows out there that will blow you away ten times in the space of an hour. Every scene, there’s a spectacle. There’s an amazing trapeze couple from Montreal. There’s me, a drag queen on silks. You’ll see things that are really amazing. It’ll blow your mind. It’s a wow a minute show. It’s like a cabaret, as well. There are so many acts in the space of an hour so it’s totally worth the money. The projections are amazing, also. It’s a beautiful piece to watch.”

Any words of advice for aspiring performers?

“Never give up on your dream. It’s never too late. People will tell you it’s too late, it’s not! I was sat in my sister’s car, age 24, I actually cried because I just started doing acrobatics and I couldn’t do a cartwheel. I thought “If I can’t do a cartwheel now, it’s too late.” I can do a cartwheel now! I can climb the silks! I can do flips and dangerous stuff. With the right training, you can do anything. I know someone who started circus aged 28 and they’re still going aged 45. Never give up! It’s a long road but i’ve been doing it for five years now and a lot of it is not a lot of money or long hours but it’s all worth it when it pays off. It’s better to be happy and have less money, definitely.”

The world premiere of SOHO – it’s not just a place, it’s a state of mind…..

SOHO – a thrill ride of circus, street and theatre performance re-creating the exciting, edgy and voyeuristic world of London’s Soho!

Saturday 6 May – Saturday 20 May 2017

THE PEACOCK Portugal St, London WC2A 2HT

Performances: Tuesday – Saturday at 7.30pm (no performances on a Monday)

Saturday matinee at 2.30pm (no matinee on 06/05/17)

Sunday performances at 2pm and 6pm

Tickets: £25 – £35

Ticket Office: 020 7863 8222 or www.peacocktheatre.com

MISS HOPE SPRINGS London Concert Followed by UK Tour!

MISS HOPE SPRINGS PUTS THE WIG BACK IN WIGMORE HALL: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT

Experiencing the whirlwind of overnight success, numerous decades after she started her career, this summer will see the West End’s most unique entertainer, the eternally youthful Miss Hope Springs, make her debut at the Wigmore Hall, one of the world’s top classical music venues – which may never be the same once Hope’s sprung there on Friday 16th June 2017 at 10.00pm, followed by UK tour.

The towering blonde ex-Vegas never-say-die show-business trouper Hope brings to the stage a pantechnicon of career wrong turnings and disastrous love affairs. A truly gifted songwriter and captivating performer, Hope will be playing the piano and singing her self-penned all original songs from her brand new LP The Devil Made Me Do It. In a virtuoso performance Hope heartbreakingly moves her audience to tears and then exquisitely makes them laugh out loud. Her new LP is “really a look back over what I call my ‘Ritz to the pits’ life. It’s a trip down memory lane and a bit like that long winter I spent in Copenhagen, back in the day making ‘art films’ it’s not always a pretty sight.”

One of the new album tracks is the previously unreleased Please Don’t Desert Us at Dessert which Hope recently found in ‘her archive’ (an old shoe box under the bottom bunk of the camper-van she shares with her husband Irving and his hairdresser pal Carlos.) “It was written especially for me by Sir Noel Coward over lunch at The Pink Pelican Casino where I was a showgirl in the early sixt – I mean seventies.” Also included in her concert will be firm favourites such as Seedy Little Nightclub in Pigalle, the riotous Zodiac Lover and the truly heart-breaking Queen of Fools.

Hope is cut from the same fabulous sequinned cloth as Dame Edna, Lilly Savage and Danny La Rue, but she responds dismissively “That’s simply a bitchy rumour put about by Goldie Hawn. She’s a nice girl – but can be a little jealous… Listen, I’ve always been tall for my height – end of story!” Hope‘s celebrity fans are as glittering as her stage wear including: Marc Almond, Julian Clary, Rula Lenska, Jonathan Ross, Fenella Fielding, The Beverley Sisters and Lady Helen Windsor.

Still wearing the sequins she left the USA with in 1972, Hope tours her remarkable new show to very selective venues around the UK from June. “I’ve played in the world’s premier rooms from The Dew Drop Inn to the Cucaracha Club, but the Wigmore Hall? My mother Rusty would have been so proud (she’s not dead – we just don’t talk anymore.) Someone said I’m putting the wig back in Wigmore, I don’t know what they’re trying to insinuate, my hair is purely a reflection of my Irish/Lithuanian/Eskimo heritage – just like my double layers of thick black eyelashes…It’s all down to good genes.”

Miss Hope Springs is a truly gifted performer and songwriter, and an accomplished entertainer in the best vaudeville tradition! – Liza Minnelli’s Musical Director Billy Stritch

Wigmore Hall – Friday 16th June at 10.00 pm

Address: 36 Wigmore St, Marylebone, London W1U 2BP.

Phone: 020 7935 2141.

Tickets: £15

Website: wigmore-hall.org.uk

Chapel Arts – Friday 23rd and Saturdat 24th June at 8.00pm

Address: St. James’s Memorial Hall, Lower Borough Walls, Bath BA1 1QR.

Phone: 01225. 461700

Tickets: £20 in advance / £22 on the night

Website http://www.chapelarts.org

Astor Theatre – Saturday 8th July at 8.00pm

Address: Stanhope Rd, Deal Kent CT14 6AB.

Phone: 01304 370220.

Tickets: £20 Website: theastor.org

Wilton’s Music Hall – Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th July at 7.00pm

Address: 1 Graces Alley, Whitechapel, London E1 8JB.

Phone: 020 7702 2789.

Tickets: from £20.

Website: http://www.wiltons.org.uk

The Stables – Friday 14th July at 8.45pm

Address: Stockwell Ln, Wavendon, Milton Keynes MK17 8LU Milton Keynes.

Tickets: £20

Phone: 01908 280800.

Website: http://www.stables.org

Komedia – Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd July at 8.00pm

44-47 Gardner St, Brighton BN1 1UN.

Tickets £15 / £12.50 cons.

Phone: 0845 293 8480.

Website: http://www.komedia.co.uk

Miss Hope Springs is the creation of composer, lyricist, pianist and comic actor Ty Jeffries son of the late British screen legend Lionel Jeffries who starred in many films including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and wrote and directed The Railway Children. Ty’s formative years living in Tinsel Town lend authenticity to his multi-layered portrayal of fading glamour-puss Hope.
Ty is a classically trained pianist (Purcell School) and for the last 5 years his glittering alter ego has been starring in London’s West End top cabaret rooms and in the cabaret rooms and theatres of New York, LA and San Francisco.