Category Archives: INTERVIEWS

INTERVIEW: Peppa Pig talks ahead of ‘Peppa Pig: My First Concert’ UK Tour

Peppa Pig: My First Concert is a fun and interactive introduction to a live orchestra will take Peppa Pig fans on a magical musical journey. Peppa visits Glasgow on the 9th and 10th of February.

This production is based on Entertainment One’s popular animated television series, Peppa Pig, and gives children a chance to experience their first concert in a way that is truly meaningful to them. Specially designed for the youngest audience members, this allows them, together with Peppa, to discover an orchestra for the first time. Perfect for little ones, to capture their imagination and introduce them to a whole new world of music.

We talk to our favourite little piggy, Peppa Pig, before she goes back on the road with the second leg of her first ever concert.

My First Concert opens in February – for all tour dates, visit: https://www.peppapiglive.com/my-first-concert.php

So Peppa, are you excited to be going to a concert with your family this summer, and of course to see an orchestra for the first time?

Yes. Oink! Oink! Hee Hee Hee! I’m very excited to visit all these new places and I hope I get to make some more nice friends.

Have you been to a real-life concert before?

This is my first one! I can’t wait to see all the instruments being played on stage and hear all the different sounds they make.

Who are you going to the concert with?

Mummy, Daddy and George will also be there with me. I think we might even get to join in!

What are you looking forward to the most about the concert?

Listening to all the lovely music and joining in on all the songs I already know, like my favourite, the ‘Bing Bong Song’!

What’s your favourite instrument?

My favourite instrument is the French horn. It looks so fun to play and the noise it makes is so loud! I think George is probably going to like the drums the best.

 

  • 9 – 10 February 2020
  • GLASGOW
    Royal Concert Hall
  • 0141 353 8000
  • BOOK NOW

 

INTERVIEW: Scottish comedy legend Janey Godley

She’s been dubbed the ‘godmother of Scottish comedy’ and numbers Billy Connolly among her fans. Now, Janey Godley is set to spread her appeal across the nation as this quintessentially Glaswegian comic takes the Soup Pot Tour over the border and down south. “There will be a different demographic politically at these shows, but remember Nicola Sturgeon gets it in the neck from me as well. I will have to speak slower and make sure that it’s not all about just hating the Tories, though that will be difficult. But by and large, people who come to stand-up are open-minded people, they tend not to be died-in-the-wool Brexiteers who hate the Scottish.”

This tour has Janey wielding a variety of talents, as she delivers the kind of forthright stand-up which has earned her a strong reputation on the comedy circuit and a loyal band of followers. But she will also be displaying her skills at improv, as she stands by a screen and narrates adlibbed voiceovers of people (many of whom are today’s crop of politicians), giving them a heavy Scottish accent and inventing a story, many of which involve making soup for the community.

“The soup pot is very universal: if you’re in Australia, America, Brazil, France Germany or Alaska, and someone dies or gets married, people will make soup. The soup pot is the hub of the community. When somebody died near us when I was a kid, somebody would make the big soup pot so all the visitors had something warm to drink and eat. It’s part of us all being in it together. Of course, that was before people discovered they were gluten free and worried about being allergic to lentils.”

Janey first discovered that she could develop this new strand of her career on the night of the Scottish Independence vote in 2014. “I first did the voiceovers live at the Wild Cabaret club in Glasgow where the big screens were up. When the news came through and it was all looking a bit bleak, we turned the volume down and I started talking over the top of people. The audience loved it and I realised this was something I could do really well.”

 

She then poked fun online at the likes of Theresa May, Ruth Davidson and Nicola Sturgeon, replacing their talk of policy and elections with chat about big Isa and her soup pots. A recent piece she did on Kim Kardashian (largely mocking her for walking backwards) also went down spectacularly well, while clips of supermodels, Pathé newsreels and Fanny Craddock (the original celebrity chef) are given the Godley treatment. “I started off doing it for me, really. I liked the fact that I could give those politicians a whole new background persona and the idea that they might have these ordinary conversations; I love the idea of that normalcy which cuts through all that bulls**t. The ones that are the hardest to do are of Katie Hopkins, because the audience just boo like they’re at a pantomime.”

Since the voiceovers took off, an unusual trend started which reminded Janey of the halcyon days of Spitting Image when politicians would tune in avidly on a Sunday night, desperate to see if they had been captured in wax and caricatured in song. “MPs will say ‘are you going to do me?’ I’d like to do some international ones; I do Trump but I want to do Australian and Canadian politicians. There’s a lot of fodder to go on.”

When she started performing comedy in the mid-90s, there were very few female acts kicking about, but Janey Godley has now become a standard bearer in Scotland for young women who might fancy a career in stand-up. “I did Have I Got News For You and I was the first working-class Scottish female comic to do that: the first and last. There are girls from Glasgow who saw comedy and it would be Kevin Bridges and Frankie Boyle, so they all thought ‘that’s not our job, that’s for Scottish men’. But when they see me and they see someone like Fern Brady, they think ‘yeah, that’s also a woman’s job.’”

Recently, Janey has ramped up her acting CV, appearing in Wild Rose (staring Jessie Buckley, Julie Walters and Sophie Okonedo) about a young woman trying to make her way in the world of Country music, and has written and directed a short film entitled The Last Mermaid. She’s also had a one-woman play run Off-Broadway, and will be on TV screens soon playing the lawyer of Martin Compston’s character in Traces, a crime drama from an original idea by Val McDermid.

But for now, she’s enjoying making people laugh all over the country with both her no-holds barred stand-up and the unique nature of these new voiceovers. “The most important thing is that this has never been done before, no other comic in the world is doing this. I’ve been doing stand-up for over 20 years but it took a Tory called Theresa to make me famous.” Mrs May might now be virtually out of the public eye, but the moment has surely arrived for Janey Godley to take centre stage.

Contributed by Brian Donaldson

Images: Murdo Macleod

INTERVIEW: Foil Arms & Hog

Foil Arms and Hog will be heading to the  King’s Theatre, Glasgow on Sunday, 23rd February 2020.  Here they talk about their new show Swines.

Sean Finegan, as befits his status as the straight man in the Irish sketch group Foil Arms and Hog, is the spokesman for the trio off stage. It makes life easier for us to speak directly, he says, adding drily: “Otherwise I might say something witty and you’d attribute it to one of the other guys.”

We chat about their latest show, Swines, which is touring the UK after a sell-out season at the Edinburgh Fringe, but first Finegan explains how the trio met and got their distinctive name.

Finegan (Foil), Conor McKenna (Arms) and Sean Flanagan (Hog) were studying at University College Dublin (reading architecture, engineering and genetics respectively) 12 years ago, when they met through their shared love of performing.

“We were friends through the drama society but it was Sean Flanagan writing a play based on Father Ted that led to us forming the group,” says Finegan. “He was Dougal, I was Bishop Brennan and Conor was Father Ted. We had permission to tour round Ireland from [Father Ted’s creators] Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews, and when the play finished we decided we should do a sketch show together.”

And the memorable name for the trio came out of good-humoured banter. “We came up with loads of naff names that punned on the word ‘sketch’ and rejected them. And then we were at a party one night and we were slagging each other off and came up with them.

“I’m the straight man, so I’m the foil; Conor is all arms and legs and very clumsy on stage; and Sean always hogs the limelight and steals all the laughs. They’re roles that we very easily fall into on stage.”

Finegan admits that some of the sketches they wrote and performed back then “we wouldn’t get away with now, they were quite insulting to all sorts of people”, but that over the years the humour has become more sophisticated.

That’s probably down to their work ethic; they write separately and then meet almost daily to develop the ideas. “Ideas get torn to shreds in the process and then we jump on to the idea and add more jokes and develop them. It sometimes takes months to nail a sketch.” Do they ever argue? “Well there are three of us, so it usually works out as two-to-one. No one has ever stormed out, put it that way,” Finegan laughs.

Finegan recalls when the group started out. “In the UK there’s a big sketch comedy scene but in Ireland that doesn’t exist. In our early days a lot of people would see three guys come on stage looking like Boyzone or something and they’d be instantly against us. But performing on the same bill with stand-up comics, we learnt so much about audience interaction. As any stand-up comic will tell you, you need to engage with the audience quickly and get them on your side.

“So we learnt pretty quickly and our comedy has become a sort of weird hybrid of sketch and messing with the crowd.”

But Foil Arms and Hog’s audience interaction is not cruel or humiliating. “I hope we’re not,” says Finegan, “because the intention is to bring everyone on board as it can be terrifying for some people [to be picked on]. But we love doing it because you never know what the audience may do, and we get a bit of a buzz from it. It’s the element that makes every show unique.”

In their second year at the Fringe they saw Edinburgh Comedy Awards winner Dr Brown (clown performer Phil Burgers). “I think we had thought clowning was the ‘honk honk’ kind of thing but then we realised that it’s about going with the flow. A couple of years later we attended one of his courses and it’s one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. It was brilliant stuff.

“It helped us so much on stage, particularly when things go wrong, as we might get to a funnier place with those skills we learned.”

Foil Arms and Hog have a dedicated following that they have built up over 11 Edinburgh Fringe shows, and for the past six years have posted short films on YouTube – they have clocked up an astonishing one million hits and have nearly 950,000 followers on Facebook. They have a broad demographic and, as Finegan says: “When we look out into the audience and see people from eight to 80 it gives us such a buzz. We have people tell us after a show that their son or daughter has found us online and introduced them to our comedy, and they come to see us together. It’s great.”

Thanks to YouTube, the group’s reach is global – and sometimes unexpected, says Finegan. “We were worried that one recent sketch – about Irish people not really being able to speak Irish – may not necessarily appeal to non-Irish people. But then we got an email from a fan in Sri Lanka saying he loved it because, ‘We’re all forced to learn Tamil when we go to school, it’s exactly like this’.”

But Swines – like all Foil Arms and Hog’s live shows – doesn’t contain any sketches fans may have seen online. “Some people may think they’re going to see the YouTube videos performed live on stage, but absolutely not. We make a point of never performing the online videos live. What works online usually doesn’t work on stage. It’s a very different kind of comedy, and much more surreal live.”

They also have more songs in their shows now than when they started. “They crept in,” Finegan jokes. “My singing’s certainly improved – the lads were carrying me in the beginning – but Conor is a very good singer and Sean knows all about harmonies because he’s been in choirs and stuff. The songs help the flow of the show and we like doing them. Who knows, in 10 years’ time we may be topping the charts.”

Contributed by Veronica Lee

 

INTERVIEW: John Barrowman talks about his festive show coming to Glasgow this December

It’s the most FABULOUS time of the year – and entertainer extraordinaire John Barrowman will be celebrating the festive season with fans as he returns to the UK with a dazzling new Christmas tour.

The eight-date JOHN BARROWMAN – A FABULOUS CHRISTMAS  tour in November and December follows the success of his sell-out summer shows, celebrating his 30 years on stage and screen, and will coincide with the release of his new album of the same name.

Barrowman is a singer, actor, dancer, presenter, judge and author. Last year, UK audiences delighted in supporting him as he made the final three in ITV’s I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here 2018. And he’s recently been announced as the new judge for ITV’s Dancing On Ice, having competed on the show’s first series in 2006.

Speaking about the tour and new album, John said: “I am so looking forward to starting everyone’s Christmas off with a festive bang.

“It’s been great to get back into the studio recording new Christmas tracks. I love this time of the year, but this is the first time I’ve put together a full album of Christmas and festive music for the most FABULOUS time of the year.

We caught up with John for a festive chat as he prepares for a truly FABULOUS Christmas…

What is Christmas all about to you?

“It’s about family, friends, celebrating the birth of a child, and basically coming together and enjoying people’s company. Everybody talks about presents, but my favourite time is Christmas morning after all the presents have been opened, having brunch, relaxing, playing games, all that stuff.

“Of course, I have to fit music into Christmas, and that starts on Christmas Eve. We have all the Christmas songs on, line up bottles of Champagne – from the most expensive to the cheapest… And by the time we get to the cheap ones, they all taste exactly the same anyway.”

Home is obviously Palm Springs, but you’re still very much attached to your Scottish roots. Where do you spend Christmas?

“Prior to last year, Christmas has always been spent at my cousin’s in Dunblaine, as when I’ve been working in panto, you only really get Christmas day off, so not much chance to travel too far. So last year was the first time in many years where I’ve actually been at home with family, in the States, for Christmas, and that’s where we’ll be this year too.”

Do we assume your house looks fabulous at Christmas?

“Absolutely. My house gets decorated to the hilt; pilots could mistake our house for a runway! That said, by the time I’ve actually finished the tour and other work I’ve got on, there’s only going to be about five days to do all the decorating and shopping.

“We have two trees. One is decorated in a Scottish-American-Welsh-British traditional style, recognising all the places I’ve lived in. The other is more glitzy and sparkly, with a dash of Star Wars – we have a Star Wars tree topper.

“All the trees outside have huge baubles on and we really go all out.”

Who will you spend Christmas with and what’s the plan?

“Mum and dad are just down the road, so they’ll be with us, and my aunt and uncle and Scott and mine’s best friends – just the eight of us.

“Everyone shares the jobs, although one day I’ve got a chef booked so no one will have to cook at all. But we’re a diverse family, so we really try to include lots of different elements.

“Mum will make shortbread, obviously – being Scottish, my aunt is from Belgium and she does the hors d’ouvres. Then it’s a traditional turkey dinner with everybody pitching in to help.

“One rule though, whoever cooks does not clean up – so I make sure I get really stuck into the cooking, and make a mess…”

Are you a gift giver, or receiver?

“I like to give more than receive, for sure. But I do absolutely love to receive gifts which are made personally, crafty gifts. There’s so much more heart to those things.”

What’s the best present you’ve ever had?

“I remember one year as a kid, all I wanted was a silver flute. I’d come down, opened all my presents from Santa and I didn’t get it. Mum and dad asked me to get something out of the drawer in the other room where they kept the silverware, and there among it all was this very particular flute.

“I like to make gift giving an event like that – it really adds to the occasion.”

The tour is coming to Glasgow, obviously, how could you not include your home city, especially at Christmas?

“It really will be the homecoming show, and home is so important at that time of year. The audiences really know what to expect, are always totally fabulous and get right behind me.

“I always go a little bit further there than anywhere else, as I know I can get away with it. It’ll be like an early Hogmanay.

And lastly, what can fans expect from John Barrowman – A Fabulous Christmas Tour? The summer tour was truly fabulous, and your mum, dad and Scott almost managed to steal the show on those dates… Will we be seeing them again?

“It’s going to be totally Christmassy… I’ve written a letter to Santa to see if ‘Mr and Mrs Claus’ are able to come along. Scott will be there again, on the merchandise stall, and on stage at some point. I hope to integrate mum and dad into it – which will be quite exciting, I hope.

“Like the summer shows, there will be music, stories and photos, but this time sharing all my favourite moments from Christmas through the years.”

Tickets are on sale now from www.cuffeandtaylor.com

John Barrowman ‘A Fabulous Christmas’ is out 6th Dec on Decca Records

See JOHN BARROWMAN – A FABULOUS CHRISTMAS at:

  • SUN DEC 1 GLASGOW, SEC

INTERVIEW: Kaaren Ragland of The Supremes coming to Falkirk in November

As soul songstress Kaaren Ragland kicks back in her Los Angeles home, she reflects on a career that has seen her star as one of The Supremes with Mary Wilson and tour every corner of the world with her own successful productions.

The former theatre actress as well as vocalist would appear to have it all. However, Kaaren admits there is a certain something missing from her life.

The singer says that, as well as looking forward to performing before thousands of adoring Supremes fans when her Sounds of the Supremes show comes to the UK in November, she will also be very happy to re-acquaint herself with a Great British tradition. . .

“When the Supremes came to tour the UK in the late Seventies,” she says, “we were taken to the pub for lunch before a show. It was a concert in South Wales and the place filled up with miners and the atmosphere was like nothing I’d ever experienced.

There’s nothing that compares to it in The States and a relaxing pub lunch is something I’ll definitely be looking forward to when The Sounds of the Supremes visits the UK.”

Kaaren’s introduction to singing was playing the clubs in her home city.

“I was lucky enough to perform at weekends for over a year at The Improvisation – an LA comedy club,” she says.

Kaaren’s vocal arranger was famous jazz pianist and band leader Phil Moore – whose own stellar career took off when famed American singer, dancer and actress Lena Horne brought a very young Phil with her to MGM Studios. “Phil also arranged for The Supremes and when the opportunity to tour with the group arose he put me forward.”

Performing with The Supremes throughout the Eighties, Kaaren regularly toured the UK. And when the band hung up their microphones, she went on to travel the world with her own Sounds of the Supremes production.

Over the years the hit show has visited 70 different countries, bringing the authentic sounds of the Supremes to the stage.

“It’s fully choreographed – we can all move about a bit,“ laughs Kaaren. “And the show’s not a tribute, we like to think of it is an authentic experience for all Supremes fans.”

More than 20 top-ten Supremes hits feature.

“Theatregoers certainly get more for their money in the UK,” continues Kaaren. “You see, though The Supremes were huge in the Sixties on both sides of the Atlantic, they were far more successful in Britain than they were at home during the Seventies.

“So, as well as number ones like Baby Love, Stop in the Name of Love, Where Did Our Love Go and You Can’t Hurry Love, we also include hits like Up the Ladder to the Roof, Stoned Love and Nathan Jones on our UK dates.

“We get to fully enjoy ourselves performing all The Supremes hits.”

The trio – Kathy Merrick, Althea Burkhalter and Kaaren – are fully aware of the original group’s incredible trailblazing reputation.

“When I was growing up, The Supremes were icons to little black girls like me. They were the first group to fully cross over and become famous. They paved the way for so many other talented bands and singers.”

Several bands in particular – The Jacksons, Sister Sledge, Kool and the Gang and the Pointer Sisters – recently had The Sounds of the Supremes join them on their international tour dates.

With a select number of solo shows scheduled for the UK on the group’s next overseas excursion, Kaaren is looking forward to reviving her love affair with the Great British boozer.

Oh, and if you come across the star at your local pub, hers is a nicely-chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

THE SOUNDS OF THE SUPREMES

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2019

FTH THEATRE

Falkirk FK1 5RS   7.30pm

01324 506850  falkirkcommunitytrust.org/whats-on/the-sounds-of-the-supremes

INTERVIEW: Rona Munro on adapting Frankenstein for the stage.

ACCLAIMED SCOTTISH PLAYWRIGHT RONA MUNRO TALKS ABOUT ADAPTING MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN FOR THE STAGE

Frankenstein will be touring the UK this year.

What can audiences expect from your version of Frankenstein?

They’ll be seeing a theatrical version of the book as Mary Shelley intended it to affect an audience. She was only 18 when she wrote it and she wasn’t trying to corner a market or to write a well-behaved novel of her time. She was actually trying to shake things up a bit. Both her and the people she hung out with were social revolutionaries so there’s a lot of anger in it and there’s also a desire to change the world in the way we rely on the young to bring that fire to things. There’s a lot of that in Frankenstein and I hope it comes over in the play. Also, she was kind of breaking the model because no-one had ever written a book quite like this before so I hope the originality of it also comes over.

How does Shelley herself feature in the play?

She’s a character in it. If I said she was a narrator it would give the impression that it’s about storytelling but it’s a much more active role than that. The book is all her voice, when you think about it. I’ve just put that voice on stage with her as a character so you see the story but you also see some of the emotional journey she went through to create it.

What was the inspiration behind that idea?

Every version I’ve seen of Frankenstein becomes about Victor Frankenstein and the Creature so you have these two very iconic male protagonists. It’s been done as a metaphor for fathers and sons, everyone talks about Prometheus and the patriarchal God, Adam the man… The thing that seems to get completely obliterated is that this came from the mind of an 18-year-old woman and a very intelligent and talented one at that. She went on to be a successful writer and she was probably responsible for preserving and even framing and amending the whole body of her husband Shelley’s work so that we’ve got that too. She’s become completely invisible in the narrative of Frankenstein and even when she is credited with its creation it’s almost as if she did it organically or spontaneously, as if she didn’t know what she was doing and it was just a mad dream. As a writer, when you look at the book you go ‘That is a very solid piece of storytelling by someone who is really skilled in structuring the narrative and putting it all together’. That’s not to say it isn’t without its faults but then nothing is and when you think it was written by someone who was 18 it’s extraordinary. I just wanted to make that visible because I don’t think it usually is.

Do you feel as a female writer, like Mary Shelley herself, that you bring a different take to the material?

I think it’s probably easier for me to imagine what it’s like to be an 18-year-old woman trying to write your first novel. I didn’t do it as well as Mary Shelley when I attempted things like that and back when I started out things were considerably easier for women writers than they were for her. But I certainly think it helps to have that memory of attempting similar things myself – and also being that little bit older and remembering when things were tougher for women writers, even if they weren’t as tough as they were for Mary.

You’ve described the story as “the dark and rebellious roar of its adolescent author”. Can you elaborate on that?

She came from a group of people who were consciously thinking about how they could change the world in revolutionary ways and challenge the status quo. It was partly out of the Romantic movement, which was a reaction to industrialisation and capitalism, and partly out of her own experience. She was the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, who is pretty well regarded as being the first conscious feminist in as much as she articulated a lot of what has become contemporary feminism. She wrote a book called A Vindication Of The Rights Of Woman and she was an active participant in the French Revolution, up until the point where that took a turn into violence and then she moved away from that. And Shelley’s father was the political philosopher William Godwin so it was all about ‘Just because the rest of the world does things one way it doesn’t mean that we should do that too’ and constantly challenging the way society was developing. With that behind her and the group of people she was hanging out with, I think she wanted to articulate some of that anger and frustration that the world was unfair – and particularly unfair to the poor and those who didn’t have access to political power or wealth. What’s really interesting when you read the book is that some of it seems so contemporary and those are the bits that people tend to ignore because they don’t fit with the kind of Hammer Horror view of it as just being a horror story about creating this monster. The other sections of the book don’t get a lot of attention but she’s explicitly saying ‘If you ignore the weak and the oppressed and you marginalise them then they will rise up’. There’s a sense in which the monster represents that narrative.

In researching the piece, were there things you were surprised or intrigued to learn?

The thing that surprised me the most – and I’m really ashamed I didn’t know this – is that she lived into her 50s and wrote other novels which we don’t know about, although they sold at the time, and that she sustained her whole family. She lost three children and ended up being a single mother with one child to support. She also supported various dependent relatives and friends and she did so through her writing. She was a professional woman in the early 19th century who made a living out of writing and, as I say, she is also probably the reason that we have a large number of Shelley’s poems because when he died young she inherited the estate. A lot of his poems were just kind of scribbles and doodles so she pulled them together and gave them shape and form. I had this vision of a kind of frightened Goth young woman in a white dress in a thunderstorm at Lake Geneva having hysterical dreams because that’s the way it had always been presented to me. Then when you look into it you go: ‘Blooming heck, this is someone who quite early on went “I’ve got make a living out of this and a good living out of it because I have no other means of making money”.’ She’d been such a social revolutionary because her and Shelley had chosen to live outside society. She wasn’t getting any money from his family and her own family had kind of cast her off when she ran away. She really needed to make a go of it as a writer and for me, knowing how hard that was in the 20th and 21st centuries, to do it back then was quite remarkable. That was something I didn’t know about her and it was quite chastening and also empowering to find that out.

Frankenstein aside, do you think she was underrated as a writer during her lifetime?

I think she was always conscious that people wanted to know about Shelley and Byron and this book. It was her fame and it remained her fame. I think she was quite philosophical about that and used it when she needed to. One of the things I’d like to do now is have a look at some of the other novels she wrote. I suspect they’re not brilliant because otherwise we’d probably know about them but I bet they’re better than we think they are.

Why do you think theatregoers enjoy a good scare?

I think we enjoy it up to a point and where that is depends on the individual – and I’ve got a very low threshold for horror. But why do we like it? I think it’s because life is terrifying, the imminent inevitability of death is terrifying and the fact we have no control over the bulk of what happens to us is terrifying too. If was can find a way of expressing that terror which is manageable and controlled so we can have the sense of looking at it without it being just so gut-wrenchingly ghastly that we can’t bear it, then that is quite cathartic. That’s what I think horror offers people.

The best horror stories tap into universal fears. What are the fears that Frankenstein stirs up?

It’s that thing of not being in control of your own fate. I think not being able to escape the consequences of your own actions is also a biggie. That’s where the horror of the monster comes from because basically at a certain point Frankenstein doesn’t take responsibility for his actions and from that point on there’s no escape. It’s about relentless pursuit and you can have the illusion of escape but it always comes back to you. That’s a trope of so many horror films; just when you think it’s all over the hand bursts out of the ground or the axe comes through the door.

Can you tease anything about how Frankenstein’s monster will be depicted?

What I can tell you is that it won’t be what people expect. After James Whale did the film in the 1930s with Boris Karloff the monster became this kind of sewn-together creature with bolts in his neck. But if you read the description in the book there’s no mention of him being sewn together and there’s no description for how Frankenstein assembles the monster. It suggests something much more chemical, almost as if he was boiling corpses down and reassembling the body matter. It’s really not clear and equally there’s no lightning to animate the monster. Again it suggests a much more chemical process with the implication that maybe electricity was used. Our monster is not going to be sewn together from bits of people, he’s not going to have a bolt in his neck and he’s not going to be animated through lightning. He’ll look utterly terrifying but he won’t look like you expect.

Can you recall when you first encountered the Frankenstein story and the effect it had on you?

I read it when I was quite young and I probably saw the films when I was a teenager. The thing that vividly sticks with me, though, is that my son wasn’t a big reader – which you can imagine being a shock to me as someone who deals in words. I assumed he was going to be a reader but he’s an artist actually. When I was a kid I kept giving him book after book and he’d get into some of them, but he didn’t really want to have his head in a book. Then one day he came home from school and said ‘We’ve got this set text and it’s amazing’. It was Frankenstein and he pretty much read it over three days. You look at how difficult that text is. It’s not easy language and he was about 13 or 14 at the time but he gobbled it up. That really stuck with me – that there’s something in that story, probably because Mary was a teenager herself when she wrote it, that just grabs people of that age. I hope that’s something this production can do as well.

What else do you hope audiences will take away from seeing the play when they leave the theatre?

I hope they’ll realise that Mary Shelley wrote it and that they’ll know a bit more about the person she was. I hope they’ll be satisfyingly terrified. And I hope people who have loved the story in other incarnations will think this is a great version to add to that canon.

TOUR DATES 2019

 

5 – 21 September (performances vary)                                                 Box Office: 01738 621031

Perth Theatre, Perth                                                                                Website: horsecross.co.uk

 

24 – 28 September                                                                                   Box Office: 01227 787787

Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury                                                                 Website: marlowetheatre.com

 

– 12 October                                                                                            Box Office: 024 7655 3055

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry                                                                    Website: belgrade.co.uk

 

14 – 19 October                                                                                         Box Office: 0844 871 7650

Brighton Theatre Royal, Brighton                                                           Website: atgtickets.com

 

28 October – 2 November                                                                       Box Office: 029 2087 8889

New Theatre, Cardiff                                                                               Website: newtheatrecardiff.co.uk

 

4 – 9 November                                                                                        Box Office: 01483 440 000

Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford                                                         Website: yvonne-arnaud.co.uk

 

11 – 16 November                                                                                    Box Office: 0151 709 4776

Liverpool Playhouse, Liverpool                                                               Website: everymanplayhouse.com

 

25 – 30 November                                                                                     Box Office: 0844 871 7647

Theatre Royal Glasgow, Glasgow                                                            Website: atgtickets.com

INTERVIEW: Duncan James on stepping into Frank-N-Furter’s platforms this month in Glasgow

What made you say yes to playing Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show?

It’s been a dream role of mine for a long time. I heard they were doing The Rocky Horror Show and I think Frank-N-Furter is one of the best roles you can play in musical theatre. It’s such an iconic role and the show has such a loyal following. It’s such a wonderfully written show and I thought ‘Wouldn’t it be great to play Frank?’ I rang my agent and said: ‘I hear they’re casting The Rocky Horror Show can you get me an audition?’ He did and so I went in, did the audition and got a recall. When I went back, I said to myself ‘I’m gonna get this’ and I did. I was really lucky because I fought off lots of competition from other well-known actors who were up for the part. I was like ‘No, no, no, this is my part!’ so when I got it, I was really proud of myself.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show
©The Other Richard

What are most enjoying about playing Frank?

Everything! And of course, he has one of the best entrances in musical theatre. The reaction you get from his opening number Sweet Transvestite is amazing because it’s such a great song and you come out in a cloak, then take the cloak off to reveal his really out-there outfit. It’s a great moment.

Can you relate to him in any way?

For me it’s more about having fun rather than relatability. The part of Frank-N-Furter is so twisted and so dark and that’s such fun to play. I mean, he’s essentially a psychopathic doctor who wants to create a man for his own pleasure and he’ll kill whoever gets in his way. Coming from Hollyoaks where I got to play a serial killer I thought it’d be great to then go and play Frank – to explore that dark, twisted mind again of someone who is living on the edge, someone who isn’t afraid to do what he has to do to get what he wants. That kind of character is really fun to play.

Credit : Johan Persson

Presumably with this role you’re very comfortable in heels?

I am, yes, and I love getting dressed up every night, putting on the corset, the fishnets and heels. It’s such an empowering moment because when I walk out on that stage, I feel huge compared to the other cast members. I feel like I’m towering above everybody and instantly I get that sense of command that Frank has. [Laughs] And of course I’m not shy so I love strutting round. I’m really embracing it. Also, I have a bit of a fascination with drag queens and drag artists. I’ve become a huge fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s like my number one guilty pleasure. I cannot miss an episode of any of RuPaul’s stuff.

Do you do much ad-libbing in response to the audience shout-outs?

There’s none of that from me. The only person who’s allowed to do that is The Narrator. They are the only ones who get to heckle back. I can do an eyebrow raise or a little smirk because, apart from The Narrator, Frank is the only one who’s allowed to acknowledge the audience.

What sort of shout-outs have you had so far?

There’s a lot of rude stuff and I got to do a scene in bed with Ben Adams from A1 when he was in the show. So it’s two boyband members in a bed, which is quite funny and prompts quite a few amusing shout-outs.

Why do you think The Rocky Horror Show has endured?

I think it’s down to the genius of Richard O’Brien. He created The Rocky Horror Show back in the 70s when it was really taboo to talk about certain subjects and having a man dressed up as a transvestite was unheard of. It was like ‘What on earth is this Tim Curry guy doing?’ It was banned in some countries because they thought it was completely wrong and it had a tough start because a lot of people didn’t know how to take it. A lot of people found it in bad taste but that was a sign of the times, of course. As attitudes towards sexuality, sex and transgender issues have changed we’ve become a lot more open-minded and liberal, haven’t we? It’s fantastic that we now embrace shows like The Rocky Horror Show. It’s great that this show in particular has stood the test of time. It seems to be getting bigger and bigger, with more and more people getting dressed up to come see it as well as knowing the story and shout-outs. The show gains more and more fans every time it goes out on tour.

When it comes to musical theatre, what have been your favourite roles?

I’m really lucky that I’ve gotten to do so many great shows. I loved playing Billy Flynn in Chicago. That’s a great role and I was lucky enough to play him again in the West End revival last year. I got to work with Alexandra Burke, who I adore, and we had great chemistry together. I loved playing Tick in Priscilla because it’s one of the most incredible, most liberating roles. Me having a child and being a gay man, I really related to the character. And The Rocky Horror Show is really good fun. It’s one of those shows where you get on stage every night and just have a really good time. It doesn’t feel like having to go to work and the audiences love it. The music is great, Frank’s words are so delicious and the way the story is told is just brilliant. I’m living my best life right now.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show
©The Other Richard

Do you have any plans to work with Blue again?

Definitely. As long as people want to come see us there’ll always be Blue. We’re very lucky that we get to travel all over the world. We get to play sold-out arenas wherever we go and we get to have these amazing trips away. We were in Bahrain recently then we went to Singapore and Malaysia, which was wonderful – to be able to travel to these countries with my friends and get up on stage and sing songs that everybody knows.

When it comes to theatre, do you have any pre- or post-show rituals?

This show consumes quite a lot of preparation with the make-up, the wig and everything. I have my little routine of doing my make-up, getting the wig put on, getting into the costume and then I’m on stage. There’s not a lot of time to think or prepare. After a show I take it all off then spend up to an hour at the stage door signing stuff and having pictures with everybody. There are always so many people at the stage door, which is lovely and I always want to make sure to give time to everybody. By the time I get home after that it’s like 11.30pm and I’m knackered.

What’s the one thing you couldn’t be on tour without?

My pillow goes everywhere with me. I cannot sleep in a hotel room without it because I can’t stand those horrible synthetic pillows you usually get. I have a proper old-school, feathered, heavy pillow which goes with me everywhere.

You’re bringing the show to the King’s Theatre, Glasgow. Does it have any significance for you?

Me and the Blue boys performed in Glasgow when we were on tour with Wet Wet Wet and we were the first act to ever play in their brand-new arena, which was great. The audiences were great too. I do find that the further north you go the rowdier they get.

The Rocky Horror show is coming to the Kings Theatre August 12 – August 17 2019 starring Duncan James (Blue) and Joanne Clifton (Strictly Come Dancing).

INTERVIEW: Karen Gibson, the conductor/musical director of The Kingdom Choir who found global fame at Royal Wedding last year

Global audience of two billion watched The Kingdom Choir perform Stand By Me at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. 25 years after she founded the choir, Karen and her singers are preparing for their first UK tour. The tour will visit 18 towns and cities, with the choir sharing the experience with young choirs in each destination. Karen answers some question ahead of their appearance in Glasgow on the 22nd of May.

Twelve months ago, Karen Gibson was travelling around London giving workshops in gospel music, when she received a phone call which was to change her life – and the lives of her closest friends, the members of The Kingdom Choir.

And in May, as HRH Prince Harry and the Duchess Of Sussex prepare to celebrate their first wedding anniversary – while adjusting to life as first-time parents – Karen and the choir will be embarking on their debut tour.

The Kingdom Choir’s stunning version of Stand By Me was a standout moment during the Royal wedding. The performance has been an internet sensation with more than 10 million views on YouTube.

A former IT worker and music teacher, Karen Gibson formed the choir 25 years ago, drawing together singers from in and around London, from various Christian traditions. For their first two years together, the choir didn’t even have a name – it was only an invite to appear on the BBC’s Songs Of Praise which saw Karen decide on The Kingdom Choir. Karen has worked around the world as a gospel choir conductor, travelling as far a-field as Japan, Nigeria and the USA.

2018 was a whirlwind year for the choir, with TV performances on shows such as Good Morning Britain and alongside Madness for the BBC1 New Year’s Eve concert, releasing their debut album Stand By Me after signing to Sony, and closing the Invictus Games in Sydney.

Now they’re preparing to take their musical message of ‘love, hope and inspiration’ on the road. We spoke to Karen Gibson about how life has changed and what’s next for the choir.



Looking back, to this time last year – can you believe everything that’s happened?

This time last year, I had absolutely no clue what was going to come. I was living my ordinary life; giving gospel workshops, teaching in schools, travelling to do those things. I was jumping on public transport, missing busses and trains, all just going about my life.

There were some lovely things going on – a few of us had just filmed with Call The Midwife, which had been a lot of fun… Little did they know what was going to then happen to the singers they booked.

It has been all change, and not without challenges, but it’s been a brilliant, wonderful blessing of a time.

So how did it all start……..

I had been told I would get a phone call, that it would be something big, but I had no clue at all what it was about. The person who initially told me said ‘I can’t tell you what it is, but it’s going to be big’…

That call didn’t come for a few days, and I’d put it out of my head. I was on a number 87 bus and a very posh voice came through on a call and said: “We would like to invite you to sing at the Royal Wedding”. I was so shocked I just said: “You’re joking.” They said absolutely nothing, so I knew it wasn’t a joke at all.

It was so exciting to call all the choir members, even though I wasn’t allowed to say anything. I just had to make sure they were available on that certain date, and that maybe the date might ring a bell with them. One gentleman said he wasn’t available, and yes, I’m pretty sure he kicked himself when it emerged what was happening.

Has the Royal Wedding experience changed the way The Kingdom Choir works?

Oh, yes, it definitely has. When we went into the studio [to record the album] I realised we couldn’t do what we were used to doing; presenting gospel in that very full-on, in-your-face way. God showed me that you can bless people without being in your face, and that stripping it back can be very meaningful – it must be, people are still talking about that performance all these months on.

I’ve realised we can reach more people by also take a different approach to our music. The couple’s [The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s] version of Stand By Me was the one which caused our website to crash, for our Instagram following to go from 700 to 35,000 in one weekend. That taught me something; maybe it’s not always about doing what you do in the way you do it. In faith terms, that’s a huge lesson.

How did you bring together the choir’s original approach with the new outlook to create the album?

We chose songs we had previously performed, like Something Inside So Strong, a self-penned song from one of the members Chases, Amazing Grace and Hark The Herald Angels Sing. But then we also looked to songs we like, not necessarily from the Pentecostal realm, but songs we found inspiring and that carried a positive message.

Golden, has the lyric “Living My Life Like It’s Golden”; I love that. And then something like To Make You Feel My Love, we turned it from being about a relationship love to a faith love.

Now you’re getting ready for a UK-wide tour. How is that going and what can people expect from the tour?

It’s all going very well and we are starting to put the show together. It’s going to feature songs from the album, and of course we’ve got to do Stand By Me. But it’s all very exciting.

You’re going to get a bit more of The Kingdom Choir that people have heard or seen on the TV or radio, but in a more raw state – freedom, and love, hope and inspiration, as the album says. We’re really looking forward to making the connection with people – to see the people who’ve been listening to us, and to introducing gospel to people who maybe hadn’t experienced it before. Our music is powerful, moving and inspiring, people come in with one mindset and leave with another.

The Kingdom Choir has selected local youth and children’s choirs to join them in each town or city they’re visiting on the tour. Are you looking forward to working with them?

The choirs we’ve chosen really are very, very good, and it’s lovely to know there are so many singing communities out there.

Singing is so good for our children – well, for everyone. From personal experience, I know what it can do for a person; it’s a skill for life, it builds confidence and it’s brilliant for them.

I’m very much looking forward to connecting with the children and I hope we will impact on them in some way, through the power of music. It’s going to be really special and I love the idea of us spreading that joy to these groups. A lot of the choir’s members have worked in schools, so we have that connection with young people – some of the choir’s members are people I taught in schools or worked with in youth choirs, so it goes back a long way.

A year on from where it all began, the tour will coincide with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s first wedding anniversary, what happens next for The Kingdom Choir?

We just don’t know how it’s going to pan out – who could have predicted this last year? We are praying for longevity, we just want to impact the world for good. The album strap line is ‘Love Hope and Inspiration’, and I was thinking recently ‘hope’ is in pretty short supply right now, I feel the world is hungry for hope and good news – so we want to bring more of that about; that’s the long vision.

Tickets for the tour are on sale now from www.ticketmaster.co.uk and www.cuffeandtaylor.com

KINGDOM CHOIR UK TOUR 2019 – FULL DATES

APR

Tue 30th SHEFFIELD, CITY HALL

MAY

Thu 2nd SOUTHEND, CLIFFS PAVILION

Sat 4th LEICESTER, DE MONTFORT HALL

Sun 5th NOTTINGHAM, ROYAL CONCERT HALL

Tue 7th MANCHESTER, BRIDGEWATER HALL

Wed 8th YORK, BARBICAN

Thu 9th GATESHEAD, SAGE

Fri 10th BIRMINGHAM, SYMPHONY HALL

Sun 12th IPSWICH, REGENT THEATRE

Mon 13th CAMBRIDGE, CORN EXCHANGE

Thu 16th BATH, THE FORUM

Sun 19th LONDON, ROYAL ALBERT HALL

Tue 21st LIVERPOOL, PHILHARMONIC HALL

Wed 22nd GLASGOW, THEATRE ROYAL

Thu 23rd EDINBURGH, USHER HALL

Mon 27th CANTERBURY, THE MARLOWE THEATRE

Tue 28th BOURNEMOUTH, PAVILION THEATRE

Thu 30th CARDIFF, ST DAVID’S HALL

 

INTERVIEW: Kirsty Eila McIntyre on new show The Arrival

Kirsty Eila McIntyre most recently performed with Tortoise in a Nutshell/Jim Harbourne in their award nominated production of The Myth of the Singular Moment, and in Italy with Charioteer Theatre in their productioon of A Bench on The Road. Her film/TV/Video credits include: It’s Complicated, Benchmark 6 (Short Version), Sacred Birth, Carol of The Bells. Theatre credits include: Glory On Earth and Beauty and the Beast (Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh), InElsWhEre (Martyn Dempsey/TamFest), Scribble (Andy Edwards/Amy McKenzie), The Bruce in Ireland, Miss Julie, and Something Resembling Love (Black Dingo), I Promise I Shall Not Play Billiards (Tightlaced Theatre), Words, Words, Words (Traverse Theatre), The Elephant Man and Frankenstein (Canny Creatures).

Kirsty talks to Glasgow Theatre Blog about her latest role in The Arrival.

Tell us a little bit about the play.

The Arrival is based on the graphic novel by Shaun Tan and tells the story of a man who has to leave his family to seek work in a new land.  It’s about his experiences of adapting to a new place, and how everything can seem strange and intimidating at first.

And your role…?

I have several roles including the daughter, musician, and I’m one of the puppeteers of Diggy.

The play uses different types of languages can you tell us more about that?  

The play mainly tells the story using visual language, but there are some sections that use both English and BSL. We’ve been very conscious not to give one language precedence over the other or that one is translating for the other, they both are totally equal.

Can we go back a bit and talk about what inspired you to become an actor and the path you took to become one?

I’ve loved the theatre and storytelling since I was a child and was always creating wee puppet shows and performances. I have really vivid memories of being taken to promenade shows in gardens when I was young, and to the theatre, and it always seemed really magical, and a lot of fun. I then did some Summer Schools with SYT before doing an HNC in Acting at Telford. Then I worked as a professional actor for a couple of years before going to East 15 Acting School for 3 years.

Any advice for aspiring performers?

Take any opportunity to learn. Watch lots of theatre, film, TV, listen to audio dramas, anything that’s accessible to you, find out what you like and why. Have hobbies and take an interest in the world around you. I was lucky enough to have viola lessons at school, and then piano, then I bought a flute a few years ago and have used these instruments in several shows, as well as being taught new ones (I play the melodica in The Arrival). I’m always keen to learn a new skill, you never know what can give you inspiration and come in useful.

Finally, why should people come along to see the play? and where else can we see it?

The play is visually very beautiful with lots of interesting props and characters. Its themes are universal as we’ve all experienced being new somewhere, whether it’s a new country, city, school or workplace. We’ll be touring around Scotland, starting in Glasgow then heading to Dundee, Inverness, Carlops and Livingston.

Kirsty is performing in Solar Bear Theatre Company’s The Arrival, coming to Eastwood Park Theatre this Friday 28 September at 7.30pm. Book tickets: https://www.eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk/article/9661/The-Arrival

 

 

INTERVIEW: Scottish actor Martin Docherty currently touring Scotland with acclaimed play McLuckie’s Line.

Scottish actor Martin Docherty, who is currently touring Scotland with McLuckie’s Line chatted with Glasgow Theatre Blog about this hugely acclaimed show, coming to Glen Halls in Neilston on Tuesday 25 September and Eastwood Park Theatre on Wednesday 26 September.

Tickets are £9, available from: https://www.eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk/article/9670/McLuckies-Line.

Tell us a little bit about the play.

The play is a funny, sad , raw hard hitting monolougue about Lawrence McLuckie , an out of work actor and compulsive gambler who is waiting in a hospital corridor for his first session of Chemo after being diagnosed with cancer. He is also waiting on a call from his agent about the biggest part he will have ever had. He can’t stand the silence so he begins to talk.

And your role…

McLuckie’s Line is an old fashioned working class tale where I play 32 characters!

McLuckie is a nice guy who has been dealt a bad hand. He’s a great actor but like most actors he struggles to get work. He has always seen life as a bit of a gamble but the stakes are really high. He ponders his life as he faces his mortality.

How has the play been received so far, has it been different in different locations?

The play is very Glaswegian and goes down a storm in Glasgow and the surrounding area but it is also going down well in Inverness, Dundee and Stirling. People no matter where can relate to Mcluckie or other characters in the play.

What is life like backstage on tour?

Life backstage on this show is different from any other I’ve done mainly because I’m on my own. It can get a bit lonely. I have to ensure the lights, sound queues etc are spot on and ensure before I leave the house that I have everything as there is no stage manager. I feel I’m learning all the time though I could do with a chum now and again.

Touring can be demanding, how do you keep your performance fresh/look after yourself when you’re having to travel as well as perform on stage at night?

The travelling and performing is something I’m used to as an actor.  It can be tough and a little stressful relying on Scotrail. I tend to get to the venue around 2.30pm, run the technical stuff then try and relax. Then ensure I have a good meal and get home asap to get enough sleep. It’s tricky trying to peak at 7.30pm but like I say I’ve been acting for 21 years so my body is used to it, I guess.

Can we go back a bit and talk about what inspired you to become an actor and the path you took to become one?

I started acting when I was 10 years old thanks to my sister who was in an amateur company. My first part was the Artful Dodger in Oliver. I auditioned for the RSAMD when I was 20, was accepted and I loved it. It truly is my dream job and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.

Any advice for aspiring performers?

Advice for actors…..I would say only do it if it really is your dream. Be prepared to take rejection and have periods without work and constantly work at your craft.  When not working spend at least an hour doing something, your voice, your physicality, sight read the newspaper. You must always be trying to improve.

Finally, why should people come along to see the play? and where else can we see it?

People should come and see McLuckie’s Line as it deals with many issues that can affect us all . You’ll laugh, you may cry. It’s just me, three chairs and some props . There is no fancy set or costumes . It’s theatre stripped back to pure storytelling. Most importantly I think you’ll have a good night out at the Theatre. There is something for everyone I’m McLuckie’s Line. Writer Martin (Traverse) and I are very proud of it.

Glen Halls in Neilston on Tuesday 25 September and Eastwood Park Theatre on Wednesday 26 September.

Tickets are £9, available from: https://www.eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk/article/9670/McLuckies-Line.

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