Is Theatre A Dying Art Form?

Written by Sophie Reed

Earlier this week an article written by Stuart Heritage caused anger throughout the musical theatre community. The article was in response to the announcement of the cast of BBC’s 6 Part version of Les Misérables. Heritage said he was thankful for the BBC for the adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel that doesn’t have the ‘annoying singing.’ The most dreaded line was ‘theatre is a dying art form.’ This statement shocked and angered actors and fans alike, even I had a few words to say about it. This is what encouraged me to write this. There is so much you can write about it, you can’t fit it into a single tweet, or a thread.

There was a time, I believe, when it could be argued that theatre was a dying art form. Where musicals on the West End and Broadway were barely lasting a year. If I were to put a date on the most recent decline, it was probably around mid to late 2000’s. Maybe it’s because the shows weren’t good quality, or maybe even that audiences weren’t interested in seeing shows at the time. Right now, the West End is solid. We have shows that are staying because of the popularity with the audience. I can name loads off the top of my head: The Lion King, Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, Thriller, Les Misérables, Kinky Boots.

The dedication of the fans makes all the difference. Especially when the musicals have been on the West End for a long time. I’m taking from my own personal experience here. Although I had seen musicals before then, the musical that made me fall truly and deeply in love with musicals was Phantom of the Opera. My mum is a big fan of the musical and even saw the Original Cast 7 times! Seeing the show justified why she was so captivated by it. Because My Mum was in her late teens/early twenties when these ALW and B&S musicals came out, like so many people, their children grew up with the songs and now we have a whole new generation of fans who have now grown up and now seeing shows.

I really think I can’t do this post without talking about Hamilton. It took the world by storm and interested people that wouldn’t listen to musicals and because they like Hamilton, they listen to other musicals. Hamilton has brought in more people into the community. Also, how can you say Theatre is dead when Hamilton is sold out until May? Like, seriously?!

Original Broadway Cast

Hamilton

It’s not just musicals, The Mousetrap, The Woman in Black, The Play That Goes Wrong. All Plays that have been running on the West End for more than a couple of years. The Mousetrap is the West End’s longest-running show. Yes, plays don’t usually have a long run, but there still are some that stick. Even The Ferryman, which opened last year is doing amazingly well!

Yes, the recorded performances and film adaptations have probably stopped people from seeing the stage show, however, there is nothing like the exhilarating thrill of live theatre. The film sometimes encourages people to see the show live, because the film will always be different to the musical.

I wanted to write a response to this statement because it made me really think about my degree. I’m studying Film and Screen Media. This degree doesn’t just teach me about Film and the Media as a whole, but question it. Even though I’m looking forward to the adaptation of Les Misérables and I do watch live broadcast television, it can be argued that live television is a dying art form. Everything is going online, Netflix, Amazon Prime, IPlayer. People don’t want to sit in front of a television and watch normal TV.

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Why is The Greatest Showman such a hit? 

Written by Charlotte White

Arguably one of the most raved about cinematic experiences of this year (yes I know we’re only in the first month), The Greatest Showman is all people can talk about on social media. So I thought we’d join the bandwagon  and discuss what makes The Greatest Showman so great.

To start with, let’s talk about Hugh Jackman who plays the ‘circus king’ himself P T Barnum. Personally I don’t think anyone else could have portrayed this role quite like him. He truly is a born performer and this comes through during the entirety of the film. He ‘Come[s] Alive’ in every number and exudes showmanship and pizzazz in the classiest way possible.

He’s back! Zac Efron makes his return to Musicals in a big way! With numbers like ‘The Other Side’ and ‘Rewrite the stars’ he reminds us why the world fell in love with him as Troy Bolton all those years ago. However, he shows us even more aspects of his talent as high class socialite Phillip Carlyle with technical choreography and his great partnership with the fabulous Anne Wheeler played beautifully by Zendaya.

Of course the film wouldn’t be the same without the incredible Soundtrack from Pasek and Paul. Each song is beautifully written and relates to the story perfectly. You can’t listen to these songs and not feel something whether makes you want to smile from ear to ear or burst in to tears.

With anthems like ‘This is Me’ (performed by the incredible Keala Settle), it puts across such a positive message saying it’s ok to be different. It inspires us to be more accepting of who we are and I think so many people can relate to that.

Throughout the film you can see there’s a good bond between the cast and this is shown by how well the cast work together. We can see them enjoying themselves and that makes us enjoy watching.

With a combination of all these things, The Greatest Showman has won over the world and gained a special place in our hearts. If you haven’t seen it yet, believe me, you won’t be disappointed.

Sophie’s Top 5 Favourite Shows of 2017

By Sophie Reed

 

5) Legally Blonde

UK Tour

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I went to see this with my best friend, Beth, for her birthday because it is her favourite musical. The musical follows a blonde named Elle Woods, who just got dumped by her ‘perfect’ boyfriend Warner. To win him back she follows him to Harvard Law school and ends up learning, not just a lot of law, but a lot about herself.

I was nervous seeing the UK tour because I am a big lover of Laura Bell Bundy’s version of Elle, but Lucie Jones made the role her own. Her performance acting wise and vocally was outstanding, maybe even surpassing Laura Bell Bundy. They accommodated well the set, baring in mind they are a touring production. I loved it.

4) Dreamgirls

Savoy Theatre

imageThis show is all singing, all dancing, glittering spectacular! Dreamgirls tells the story of 3 girls trying to break it into show business. I was lucky enough to see Amber Riley, who won an Olivier for her role as Effie White, and I’ve never felt more privileged to see a performance in my life. Her ‘And I’m Telling You, I’m Not Going’ left me feeling breathless, a reaction that I have never had to a performance before and then the talented ensemble’s constant energy has made it my number 4.

3) Venus in Fur

Theatre Royal, Haymarket

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The only play I saw this year. This 2-hander play tells the story of a Director, Thomas, played by Victoria’s David Oakes, auditioning women for his play, an adaptation of Venus in Fur. Vanda, played by Game of Throne’s Natalie Dormer believes she’s the one for the role. They perform parts of the play, so it becomes a play within and play and the actors play characters within characters.

This play is so enticing, it plays with the concept of domination and submission and questioning who is the one in control. It may be a difficult play to describe, however, the play itself is simple and easy to follow for the audience. I’m also a big fan of both Dormer and Oakes and it was refreshing to see them in something different to what they usually do. Also, there’s nothing like seeing actors live and it really showed the insane talent they both possess.

Read my full review of the show here!

2) The Woman in White

Charing Cross Theatre

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I was lucky enough to see The Woman in White on its 2nd Preview. The musical is adapted from the novel of the same name. A painter, while travelling to a stately home to tutor two well brought up ladies, is confronted by a woman in white warning him of a man named Percival Graves. After he arrives at the home, he falls in loves with the youngest go the two sisters, later to find out she’s is promised to marry Percival Graves.

The small theatre was fitting to this musical. Its not a big song and dance musical, not showy. It’s simple and intimate with beautiful melodies and songs. It has to be my number two because of the intimacy of it, it struck a chord with me. Though I have never been in a situation like the ones that are shown in the musical, it was personal to me.

1) Half a Sixpence

Noel Coward Theatre

wp-image1560871222.jpgThis has got to be my top show! Half a Sixpence tells the story of young man names Arthur Kipps, who has just come into some money, being stuck between choosing his childhood sweetheart and a new, richer sweetheart. With a crazily talented cast, special shout out to leading man Charlie Stemp, who’s heading to Broadway’s Hello Dolly in the New Year, a brilliant, catchy score and choreography that makes the audience feel tired. This show is one of, if not, the most uplifting, visually beautiful musicals that was on the West End this year.

Charlie’s Top 10 Shows of 2017! 

By Charlie White

So this year I have been lucky enough to see some incredible shows and trying to rank them  has been one of the toughest decisions ever! But here we go, my top 10 shows of this year are…

10: The Wild Party

The Other Palace

A rather adult themed show involving a group of people in the 1920s throwing a party which got a bit out of control (to put it lightly). I think the general concept was good and the people were great, just didn’t really have enough substance for me.

9: Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Courtyard Theatre, Hereford

A fun loving heart warming story which tells the tale of drag queens making there way across australia to perform their act. But for one of them, there’s a slightly more personal motif for heading on the road. Even though this was just an amateur production, the talent was amazing and it was such a fun show with all the cheesy hits you know and love.

8: The Wedding Singer

Touring

I managed to see this on tour with the wonderful Jon Robyns playing ‘casualty of love’ wedding singer Robbie Hart who gets his heart broken on his wedding day. He then meets a certain young woman who might just be able to fix it…whilst helping to plan her wedding! Classic 80s vibes and really enjoyable show (plus Jon Robyns is super talented and hilarious in this role).

 7: Mamma Mia

Novello Theatre

Using the great well known Music of Abba, this show takes us on a journey to a Greek island where a young girl is about to be married, but before she does , she wants her father to walk her down the aisle. The problem is, she has invited all 3 possible dads! Great night out with all the Abba hits and loveable characters with a heart warming story.

 6: Aladdin

Prince Edward Theatre

The classic Disney tale of the diamond in the rough who goes from ‘street rat’ to Prince Ali and shows Princess Jasmine a whole new world whilst trying to stop the evil doings of the royal advisor, Jafar. Great show stopping numbers like Friend Like Me, this is a perfect pick for the younger ones.

 5: 42nd Street 

Theatre Royal Drury Lane

With the biggest cast in the West End, 42nd street is a spectacle of dancing feet as they try to get to Broadway but with the leading lady Injured, can they convince newbie Peggy Saywer to step in and wow the audience. The sheer size of this cast makes it very impressive with toe tapping numbers like lullaby of Broadway, it’s a definite crowd pleaser.

 4: Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour

Duke of York’s theatre

When a group of young Scottish girls go to Edinburgh for a choir competition, they decide to see what sort of trouble they can get up to (the answer is quite a lot). But whilst beautifully singing classic songs from ELO, we see how each of the girls find themselves as we witness this journey of discovery. The music was a great accompaniment to the story and the harmonies were spot on!

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 3: Half A Sixpence 

Noel Coward Theatre 

Years after Arthur Kipps leaves his childhood sweetheart to work selling haberdashery, his life changes when he discovers he’s come in to a large amount of money. Living the life of luxury, he courts a fine young lady from a wealthy family. However, when he is reunited with his childhood sweetheart, he wonders if he’s made a mistake. I actually thoroughly enjoyed this show, Charlie Kemp really does shine and the energy in this show is fabulous!

 2: The Toxic Avenger 

Arts Theatre 

A town called Tromaville in the state of New Jersey has a new smell in town..it’s giant vats of toxic nuclear waste! So who will save New Jersey? Melvin ferd the third! After being tossed in to the nuclear waste, he came out a ‘big green freak’ but luckily he’s in love with a visually impaired librarian (thank God she’s blind!) and he uses his new found powers to save the town from Jersey girl mayor Belgoody and the toxic nuclear waste. This show was so hilarious my cheeks actually ached from smiling and laughing so much and David Bryant did a fantastic job with the soundtrack.  Click here to read our full review of The Toxic Avenger!

 1: Lizzie the Musical

Greenwich Theatre

The infamous story of Lizzie Borden and the unfortunate death of her father and step mother told in unique way. With a cast of just 4 incredibly talented women, a fantastic rock score goes alongside this gothic mystery based on a true case of what might have happened in the House of Borden. I have to admit I was a bit unsure when I first went to see it but by the end I absolutely fell in love with it. The girls rocked it with insane voices,  a unique story and it’s such a shame it didn’t get a longer run. Click here to read our full review of Lizzie The Musical!

Nathan’s TOP 10 SHOWS of 2017!

By Nathan Deane

Ah, yes. The time has come for us to look back on what we saw in 2017 and put together our top 10 of the shows we saw.  I’ve been working on mine for the past week, and now I’ve seen my last new piece of theatre for the year, here’s my top 10!

10: tick, tick…BOOM!

Park Theatre

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“tick, tick…BOOM!” is Johnathan Larson’s autobiographical musical, often overshadowed in the success of his other musical, Rent. The production was directed by Bronagh Lagan, produced by Aria Entertainment and Joe C Brown, and starred Chris Jenkins, Gillian Saker and Jordan Shaw. This production was immersive, minimal and wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

9: Bananaman: The Musical

Southwark Playhouse

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Based on the comic strip and animated TV series, Bananaman tells the story of Eric Wimp, an average schoolboy, who turns into a superhero (the titular Bananaman) whenever he eats a banana. Directed by Mark Perry, produced by Sightline Entertainment and starring a large cast, the show is brand new for 2017 and was an extremely fun, camp and silly night out.

8: Hair

The Vaults

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Back for it’s 50th anniversary, Hair tells the tale of a tribe of hippies in New York’s Central Park. This production was fresh, vibrant and extremely fun. Read my full review of Hair here.

7: Lady Day At Emmerson’s Bar and Grill

Wyndham’s Theatre

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Starring the incomparable Audra McDonald, Lady Day shows us one of Billie Holiday’s very last concerts before her death in the 60’s. The show is painfully beautiful, and Audra’s performance as Billie Holiday was truly spectacular. The play made me cry, laugh and feel many different emotions. I was lucky to have been able to see the show twice.

6: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Apollo Theatre

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One of London’s newest musicals, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie tells the true story of Jamie, a 16 year old boy who wants to be a drag queen and go to prom in a dress. The story was relatable, emotional and often funny. John McCrea is a real star in the making, and Dan Gillespie-Sells’ music is catchy and modern.

5: The Toxic Avenger

The Arts Theatre

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Taking the mick out of superhero movies is a tricky game, but The Toxic Avenger does exactly that. And it’s hilarious. Read my full review of The Toxic Avenger HERE!

4: The Wild Party

The Other Palace

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Gin, skin, sin and fun are four words to describe this devilishly delightful show. This show was sexy, emotional and…wild. The cast were sensational, and Michael John LaChiusa’s music is terrific. It tells the story of Queenie and Burrs, two love-birds stuck in a relationship going nowhere. To spice things up a bit, they throw a party fuelled by bathtub gin, sex, and cocaine. It also features themes like murder, racism, and various other things…some worse than others.

3: Pinocchio

The National Theatre

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Colourful, wonderful, and magical. This show can brighten even the darkest winters. Read my full review of Pinocchio HERE!

2: Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour

Duke of York Theatre

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What happens when 6 Scottish schoolgirls go out on the town in Edinburgh before the nation’s biggest choir competition? Well, that’s what Our Ladies is all about. The fiery cast of 6 girls backed by a 3 piece band, singing songs ranging from Mendelssohn to ELO made hairs stand on end. The story is wonderful, it’s not just about girls getting wasted, it’s about discovering yourself in your teenage years. And that’s a tricky thing to get right, but Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour did it beautifully.

1: Lizzie

Greenwich Theatre

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4 women singing killer rock and roll songs in tight leather whilst telling the story of American murderess Lizzie Borden? Sounds epic. And this show was epic. Only playing 20 performances means only a small handful of people got to experience this fierce production. Let’s hope it gets a revival soon! Read my full review of Lizzie HERE!

REVIEW: Pinocchio @ National Theatre

Reviewed by Nathan Deane

When you hear the name Pinocchio, you’ll probably think of the 1940 Disney movie. A lot of people don’t know, however, that Pinocchio is based on a children’s novel written in 1883 by Carlo Collodi, an Italian writer. So when a lot of families walk into the Lyttleton Theatre at the National Theatre to see the new musical version of Pinocchio by Dennis Kelly, they’re probably not going to realise that this is a combination of the original story and the Disney film. The original story was a much, much darker tale of boyhood and Dennis Kelly went about translating the darkness of the original story onto the stage, with the help of Martin Lowe, who adapted the five original songs from the Disney film to be suited for a full-length musical.

Visually, this show is stunning. The design, by John Tiffany, is the most beautiful set design I’ve seen all year. The use of ladders on wheels to represent faraway houses, a bridge, and cars, for example, is extremely creative. The set was a lot less whimsical than what was happening in the show as if to say that the characters are living in a normal world – not a fantasy world.

The role of Pinocchio is played by Joe Idris-Roberts whos boy-like energy and wonder are spectacular. He really captures the spirit of a boy seeing the world around him for the first time perfectly, and his movement to make him seem wooden is great. But what’s a puppet without his maker?

The role of Gepetto, and all the other adult parts really, are played by large rod-operated puppets, designed by Bob Crowley. This is a unique way to show the size of Pinocchio compared to others, and it works. Each puppet has four or five puppeteers operating it, one of which is the voice actor for the puppet. It took some time to get used to, but it was extremely creative and it fits the story, too!

Audrey Brisson plays the conscience everyone knows and loves, Jiminy Cricket. Jiminy is portrayed by a small puppet, operated by Audrey and another puppeteer, James Charlton. The two worked brilliantly as a team to operate Jiminy, and Audrey’s portrayal of the character is hilarious. In this version of the story, Jiminy is a female hypochondriac who is very easily annoyed by Pinocchio.

Other standout performances for me were by Dawn Sievewright as Lampy, one of the boys from Pleasure Island. Lampy is aggressive and cocky and suffers a horrible fate. Do you remember that scene from the film in which the boys at Pleasure Island are turned into Donkeys? Yeah? Well, imagine that…just in real life. That scene turned dark super quickly, but it helped to keep the atmosphere going. Jack Wolfe played Waxy only briefly but he was a standout performer. His character made me laugh a lot and his interactions with Lampy and the rest of the cast were brilliant. And you can’t forget the story’s villain, The Fox, played by David Langham. David brought a completely new take on the part. In the film, the Fox was a smooth-tongued, persuasive and charming animal. Whilst the Fox, in this version, is persuasive, he looks and feels truly evil, a trait that David plays really well.

The show really only had the five songs from the Disney film in it. I didn’t sense any new original material. Because there were only five songs and various reprises of those songs, I feel this show is more of a play with songs than a musical.

Overall, I really loved this piece. From the set design, to the puppets and to the actors, this show is one not to be missed over the Christmas season!

5stars

 

REVIEW: Venus In Fur @ Theatre Royal Haymarket, London

Reviewed by Sophie Reed

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Don’t mess with a goddess. That’s the tagline of this play. And boy should you take that advice! The play, written by David Ives, tells the story of playwright Thomas and actress Vanda. Vanda comes in late to the audition for Thomas’ new play adapted from the 1870 novel Venus In Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. and this is the man we get the word Masochism from.The play is filled with Marxism, sex and Greek/ Roman mythology.

Natalie Dormer, from Game of Thrones and Hunger Games fame, plays the role of Vanda. As well as being stunningly beautiful, she’s an extremely talented actress. The difference between her Vanda and her acting Vanda (her character had the same name as the character she was auditioning for) was so evident. The way she changed her voice from American, to British, to German so easily requires a lot of skill.

Victoria star, David Oakes, plays opposite her. His commanding stage presence is perfect for the opening show. His fluidity to change between dominating and submissing is so flawless. The two actors have such a good connection and the fight for dominance is so quick and clear. The overall play has an amazing plot and set out beautifully, using such a simple set. In addition, I was glad there was no interval because it was so intense the whole way through it would have broken up the dynamics of the show.

I give this show 5* for a beautiful, sexy, intense night out! You can catch it a the Theatre Royal Haymarket until the 4th of December.

5stars

REVIEW: Mad On Her @ Above The Arts Theatre, London

Reviewed by Rhiannon Templeman-Horton

An 80s Jukebox musical sounded like it would be a great night, so I decided to give ‘Mad On Her’ at the Arts Theatre, a go.

Mad On Her is based on a range of 80s songs, where a man falls desperately in love with a girl on a night out at Lynn’s Bar. His then fiancé Cindi appears to ruin things for Donna, a fashion designer wannabe.

I would say that there are a few tweaks for this show, as it’s their first performance at this location, but after seeing the show, I learnt that they had already done a run on the Fringe and in Manchester, and people have picked up on the same things.

From the very beginning of the show, a lot of things went wrong. A mic was dropped, and although one actor remained in character to pick up the mic and give it back to the one who dropped it, the one who dropped it made it obvious that it was a mistake. The mics were an issue throughout the whole of the first act. I would usually understand this if the actors managed to carry on without the mics and project without breaking character, but this is something they didn’t manage to do. I feel that the mics were an unnecessary prop, and because of the small space, they could have worked without. They relied far too much on having a mic there, that they didn’t have strong enough voices when they weren’t working,

However, Laura Wilson who played Cindi, I would argue, saved the show. After feeling awkward through much of the first act, she came on with a very strong performance. She has an extremely powerful voice, that brought the house down, and although her acting was extremely over the top, it suited the character well and got a lot of laughs from the audience. She played the desperate ex-lover perfectly and added comedy to the show. Phoebe Rose White is also another actress that stood out with her performance. She made some strong acting decisions that made the show feel less awkward and uncomfortable.

The ensemble were all incredible dancers, but a critique I would make against the amount of dance they did is that it drowned out the main characters and made the story within the show a sideline. Also, due to the small space within The Arts Theatre Studio, I was nearly kicked multiple times in the face by one of the dancers, making me feel a little uncomfortable.

Something that added to the uncomfortable feeling I felt during the show, was the performance from James Colebrook as Rikki. He was given some very powerful songs, that he didn’t have a strong enough vocal ability to sing. He also only acted when he had dialogue so that when there was a pause, you are waiting for some action, as you see no response from him. This was similar to Sarah Watson who played the role of Donna, yet she was good at acting when she wasn’t distracted by the mic not working. She has a very strong voice in the higher range, but when she was in the lower end of her range, it sounded like her voice had lost all strength.

The characters were very forgettable, as they didn’t say the character’s names very clearly, so I ended up not knowing who the characters were, and what their relevance was to the show. There was a moment when Phoebe Rose White was singing to comfort Donna, but she was standing on the other side of the stage, barely lit, and this completely took you attention away from her and onto the 3 girls on the other side of the stage that were only sitting on the floor, and trying to comfort Donna. It would’ve been best if she was with the 3 girls on the other side of the stage and lit, to create a connection.

This show is not a show I’d recommend seeing, as I feel like the performances from the main cast were very dead, and the performances from the ensemble were so big that the main cast looked even worse.
3-stars
Mad On Her runs until the 3rd of December at the Above The Arts Theatre, within the Arts Theatre London. Tickets here.

 

 

 

In Conversation With The Toxic Avenger’s OSCAR CONLON-MORREY!

Interview lead by Nathan Deane

Fresh out of Mountview, Oscar Conlon-Morrey has burst onto the West End theatre scene playing multiple roles in David Bryan and Joe DiPietro’s hit comedy musical “The Toxic Avenger“.

Oscar plays multiple roles in the show, including Sal The Cop, Lorenzo The Hairdresser and even a Folk Singer. His whopping 13 characters all fall under the umbrella of the character White Dude. I got the chance to talk to Oscar about Toxie as well as his theatre career in general after a performance of the show. Before you read this, however, be sure to check out my 5-star review of The Toxic Avenger!

How did you get into theatre to begin with?

I always say I wasn’t a particularly courageous child, I suppose I was, but my parents always instilled in me from day one that confidence is the main thing. Nothing else matters as long as you’re confident. When you have self-confidence you can do anything you want to achieve in the world. So they signed me up for some classes, like Saturday school things. I went to one called NITS, Nearly Instant Theatre Sessions, and it was amazing. It transformed my life. I ended up teaching for them when I turned 16 and the actual teaching I found incredibly inspiring and motivating to be able to see them all growing confidence as well. That kind of encouraged me to go into theatre. I did loads of am-dram. People always put am-dram down and I think that’s a really sad outlook to have on amateur dramatics. It’s amazing training and a great stomping ground for people to trial who their performance identity is. We all have different “things,” my casting won’t be the same as your casting, but we all have our “things”. Mine is comedy, I love comedy, so am-dram was a great stomping ground for me to be able to learn how to do that, and what works and what doesn’t. So really am-dram and NITS got me interested in theatre.

In the show you play 13 different characters. What would you say is the funnest character to play?

It’s difficult. That’s difficult…probably Sal The Cop. I love Sal. In rehearsal, I’m a bit naughty because I like to work out backstories for each character and I go a bit over the top. Luckily, we’ve got a great director who knows when to reign me in. But Sal The Cop, the backstory I created for him, was that he’s never been a police officer. He’s not a police officer, and he’s pretending, which is why he has the pink fluffy handcuffs from Ann Summers and a plastic gun that shoots water. He’s so much fun. And the Folk Singer, as well. That’s funny because the costume is based on David Bryan, so when David Bryan came for press night and he was sat front row with his white bushy hair and I was playing the Folk Singer with white bushy hair too it was amazing!

In the show you do multiple costume changes, can you give us a run-down of a typical costume change?

We’ve got two amazing dressers called Kelly and Ella and they are incredible. I describe it like a Formula One pit-stop like I’m the car and I drive into the wing and they’re there and they just swamp me like bees and rip things off, everything’s velcro and magnets and poppers. My quickest change is 20 seconds, maybe less…maybe about 10 seconds. That’s hard. It’s crazy!

In the show there’s a lot of audience interaction, what has been the funniest reaction from an audience member?

We had a guy on the front row. I do a bit in the show where I ask a man on the front row if he’s on Grindr and I went down and I said “what’s your name?” and I don’t know if he’d seen the show before or if this was his actual name but he said “My name is Lorenzo.” and I was like ‘oh god’ because my character is Lorenzo, and my line is “Mi amo Lorenzo, you remember that name” and I had to quickly change it to “Me too! That’s gonna be easy to remember!” It was hard. There have been some funny moments. Some guys came to our hundredth performance and sat front row and when the Folk Singer came out, they put Folk Singer wigs on. It was madness. At the end of the Folk Singer’s song, they lifted up an Oscar as I finished. Bless ’em. That was funny.

What are your two dream roles? One rule: one has to be female and the other has to be male.

Ohhhhh! Okay, dream female role is The Witch in Into The Woods. Dream male role is The Trunchbull in Matilda. I would loooove to play the Trunchbull! But the Trunchbull is also a woman so…maybe I need to see a psychiatrist.

What are your words of advice to people who want to pursue musical theatre?

Do what you love. The first question you’ve got to ask yourself is “do you want to do anything else?” If the answer to that is yes, be it journalism or floristry, if you have another passion then always pursue theatre if you love it but don’t make it your main focus. It’s a really hard industry. It’s a really hard thing to do well and there are lots of people that are out of work and even when you are it’s not easy to line up your next job and we all have kind of jobs throughout the day to subsidize it. But if you are resolute that theatre is what you want to do and you don’t want to do anything else, then throw caution to the wind and go for it. Don’t let anyone stop you. You’ll do it. And for people auditioning, never be discouraged or disheartened if you don’t get in the first time. Or the second time. Or third time. If you want it that much, it will happen. It will. Dame Judy Dench was something like seven times before she got something. She’s incredible, she’s the best. Everyone knows her. It’s not a mark of talent if you are not getting in. It’s simply what they’re looking for at that time. Just seize it, enjoy it, and live your life. Get as much experience as you possibly can! Never turn an opportunity down, whether it’s going to another country, or talking to someone about woodwork. Whoever you meet, people are our craft. People are our bread and butter. Me talking to you now, I’m picking up on your mannerisms that may well materialize into a character a year down the line. That’s the heart of it, people are what we do. Being an empath, being empathetic is kind of our trade so never lose sight of who you are.

 

I’d like to give a special thanks to Oscar Conlon-Morrey for taking time to do this interview with me. You can catch him as White Dude in The Toxic Avenger at the Arts Theatre, London until the 3rd of December. Tickets here!

REVIEW: The Band @ Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

Reviewed by Nathan Deane

Probably the most anticipated theatrical event of 2017, The Band is a new musical written by Tim Firth and with music by Take That. The Band is touring in the UK, opening in Manchester and making its way across the country.

The show tells the story of 1 group of girls 25 years apart, and their devotion to The Band.

So far, reviews from fans and critics alike praised the show for being “hilarious” and also “heartbreaking”. And whilst at times it had moments of hilarity, the book wasn’t the highlight of the show for me. The sadness definitely came through in a few moments, and at some points I did well up, but the book is often joyous and a celebration of life.

The titular Band are made up of five heartthrobs, AJ, Curtis, Sario, Nick and Yazdan. The boys provided immaculate harmonies throughout the show, and there is never a dull moment when they’re performing. They all work together as a veichle, although my eyes were often drawn to Sario Solomon. His vocal ability is angelic and his dancing was spectacular.

Nick Carsberg, despite being the youngest of the group, showed real talent vocally and dance-wise. AJ Bentley was fantastic to watch, his voice is stellar and he can move like no other! Yazdan Qafouri performed brilliantly, his acting skills really shone through even when performing as a part of the boy band. There were a few moments when he made me chuckle. Curtis T. Johns also showed excellent performance skills throughout, never failing to make me or the audience smile.

Another standout performance was Alison Fitzjohn as Claire. Her acting was phenomenal and her act two monologue really got me emotional.

Rachelle Diedricks plays Debbie. Whilst Debbie is a smaller role than the other characters, Rachelle owns the role and rocks every musical number she’s in.

Whilst the plot isn’t the most thrilling, the cast really work their bums off and deserve every standing ovation they get. Take That’s music is iconic, and they do more than justice to it. They slay every note they sing. The cast really appeared to be enjoying themselves – and that really made me happy.  The show is feel-good and a perfect night out.