Category Archives: INTERVIEWS

INTERVIEW: Star of Taskmaster, Derek and Afterlife, Kerry Godliman

Kerry Godliman is a woman who gets things done, as anybody who saw the comic win series seven of Taskmaster in 2018 knows. And now she is touring her new stand-up show, BOSH, the title of which is inspired by that experience.

She explains: “Greg Davies [Taskmaster’s presenter] used to say, ‘Here comes Godliman, boshing along’. I wouldn’t describe myself as intellectual but I am quite a rational person and don’t over-complicate things. I work out what’s useful and then crack on, and that seemed to work on the show.”

She stops and recalls with a laugh: “I certainly didn’t overthink it, and one time Greg said I was like Phil Mitchell, which wasn’t very complimentary.”

She describes BOSH: “It’s just me talking about the last year or two, observations I’ve made and experiences I’ve had. I suppose it’s essentially about being in your mid-forties and being a parent and trying to be a good human being.

“One of the themes of the show is about what it is like living in 2020, trying to manage modern life, my slight bewilderment at consumerism and trying to be ethical.”

Much of Godliman’s material comes from her own life – “a cartoonish, exaggerated version of it” or “sometimes a line might come from something I’ve said on Twitter and it’s caused a response that I find interesting”. But she’s not the kind of comic who listens to other people’s conversations in cafes or on buses for material. “Oh no, I don’t do that,” she says, laughing. “People can chat away with no fear of turning up in my show.”

Godliman admits she can be a bit of a worrier, and reads a lot of lifestyle books and articles, taking “positives from some and discarding others that are less helpful. The trick is in knowing which is which, of course”.

She reserves scorn for the modern profusion of parenting books, many of which she finds judgmental or downright unhelpful. “There used to be just one parenting book and now there are whole sections of bookshops with them.

“I talk a lot about parenting in the show, although it’s not specifically about my kids [a son and daughter aged 12 and nine] because they didn’t ask to be on stage.

“It’s more about my failings as a parent, of always trying to do the right thing. I read a lot of parenting books and I always seem to fall short of what they expect – I think for a lot of people parenting is just managing guilt to varying degrees.”

Aside from her stand-up, many will know Godliman through her extensive acting CV, including starring in two of Ricky Gervais’s comedy dramas, Derek and After Life. “I had met Ricky at gigs and had bit parts in his other shows before he asked me to appear in Derek,” she says.

“I’ve been lucky that I’ve always done both acting and comedy, and I love what I do so none of it is arduous or a pain. But the work-life balance is something I always have to keep an eye on, and I’m getting better at saying no to some work.”

That means Godliman can spend more time at home with her husband and children in south London. She’s a homebody nowadays, she says. “When I was younger I went travelling and was out all the time and did a lot of partying, but now I want to be at home as much as I can. I miss the kids and try not to be away for more than a couple of nights.”

She did have to be away for a few weeks last year [2019] to film Treadstone, a US television series based on the Jason Bourne films. She loved the experience.

“It was so out of my comfort zone,” she says, “but that was good. For a start I was playing an American, the first time I’d done that. It was a big, high-production-values, flashy US TV series. It was unlike anything else I have ever done.”

She adds drily: “Most parts I’ve played as an actress have involved a tabard, and here I was on set watching this amazing fight scene being put together. It was a like a dance – the choreography was extraordinary – and it was amazing being part of this world.

“I love acting because I get to work with other people, it’s storytelling and I can play a character I’ve never played before. But in a big Hollywood production like Treadstone you are a small cog in a very big machine. I had something like 20 recalls before I got the part and although I loved it, it made me grateful that I do stand-up as well.”

Stand-up brings different rewards, Godliman says, and she made her debut in the Royal Variety Show in December [2019]. “I enjoyed it. It’s a long day doing teching and so on but it’s fun. It’s always difficult to find some appropriate material, but I did some stuff about parenting because the Cambridges can relate to it. They seem nice people, it was a nice gig and it’s for a good charity.”

We get back to BOSH. “I’m bringing my kids up in the 21st century and we have to wrestle with social media and smart phones,” the comic says. “But I was brought up in the 20th century, when I was allowed to be bored, and kids now don’t get much opportunity for that. It feels now that you have to be engaging with your children all time, which is ludicrous.”

One of the ways she would like to engage more with her children, though, is camping, which they now think is boring. But Godliman loves it and is sad they have already outgrown it. “My parents used to take me and I suppose it’s in my bones,” she says. “I have a bizarre love of camping; it starts with concertina’d colanders and goes from there.”

Veronica Lee

Kerry Godliman’s new show  BOSH  reaches  The Stand, Glasgow  on  Wednesday, 25th March.

INTERVIEW: Susie McCabe coming to the King’s this month

Susie McCabe needed to have a strong word with herself as she set out on writing her new show, Born Believer. This rising star of the UK stand-up scene, who has supported the likes of Jason Manford, Zoe Lyons and Stewart Francis along the way and has been the fastest-selling act at the Glasgow International Comedy Festival for three years in succession, is not a natural optimist. But she was determined to prove that she could change her disposition from cynical to positive.

“It’s very difficult when you’ve spent 40 years living in the west coast of Scotland because optimism does not come naturally to us,” Susie insists. “I did a show before called There Is More To Life Than Happiness which asked whether happiness is over-rated; I think there is an element of that in the Scottish psyche. I’m going to try and be positive, though it’s going to be a struggle. The British in general are pretty miserable. I spent two months in Australia and they’re so happy. The world is upside down just now, but this show is about why I think that everything is going to be alright.”

While Susie has somehow managed to convince herself that ultimately things will turn out just fine, she still feels for a certain group of people who have been stuck with a mess that’s been landed in their laps. “We need to apologise to millennials because we made this mess and they’re our children. Maybe they’ll forgive us? But then I see their fashion and I think they probably can’t be trusted anyway.”

While Susie is reaching for as many positive aspects about modern life as she can, she has found it almost impossible to nail down anything good to say about the B word. “I’ve written a show’s worth of material about Brexit, about the silliness of it, about how we got to that point, and then the absolute shambles of it. But because it changes almost every day, I could no longer find a way of doing it. I try to avoid it now because you can’t pin it down and anything you do pin down is purely historic and so anything you’ve written is inconsequential.”

Susie McCabe has joined the ranks of those people who found themselves on an all-too safe and comfortable career path, but who had eventually realised that they needed to do something else with their life. That something else for many has been comedy, with the likes of Frank Skinner, John Bishop, Micky Flanagan and Jimmy Carr among those who became successful stand-ups later in life. For Susie, her decision to try comedy came about after a stark realisation.

“I only really did this for a dare,” she recalls. “My mate and I were sat at my house after a curry and a few drinks. I was 30 and one of our mates had just been diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. We both agreed that you just don’t know how lucky you are or know what’s around the corner.” Susie’s pal suggested that they both do something to scare themselves and after insisting that she would not be jumping out of a plane, a stand-up comedy course was mentioned.

“It all spiralled from there. It was 18 months before I got my first ever gig at The Stand and I only got it because Janey Godley sent an email saying ‘would you please book this lassie?’ And from that I was getting on weekend bills which then grew to headlining nights.”

Now almost a decade on from that first life-changing discussion, Susie has no regrets having seen her career move ever upwards to the point where she has supported some top household names, played festivals in Australia, and is embarking on this new solo tour. She has seen the levels of fame attained by other comics and has a fairly solid idea of what she wants from comedy.

“My ultimate goal is to have a career where I can still walk down the street without wearing a baseball hat and a set of headphones. I’d like to play theatres. I supported Jason Manford at His Majesty’s in Aberdeen and supported Stewart Francis at many a gig and they were brilliant shows. I would like some TV to build up my profile, to tour the country and Europe, and have that nice life where you are still be able to walk your dog in the park.”

For now, Susie feels a strong responsibility towards her audience and knows her job description inside out. “People sit in the house five or six nights a week and they come out to have a good time. We’re just going to have a laugh.”

Susie McCabe  BORN BELIEVER, Saturday, 28th March at the King’s Theatre.

Brian Donaldson

INTERVIEW: The KIDZ BOP UK kids ahead of their first-ever UK headline tour

#KIDZ BOP, the #1 music brand for kids, is bringing the KIDZ BOP World Tour to the UK for eight live concert dates in April 2020.

This marks the first-ever headlining tour for The British KIDZ BOP kids, who have sold more than 275,000 albums to date.

The tour, which features today’s biggest hits “sung by kids for kids”, will visit iconic venues across the UK during the Easter holidays, opening at the world-famous The London Palladium on Tuesday, April 7. It follows the release of KIDZ BOP’s fifth UK album, KIDZ BOP 2020.

The KIDZ BOP Kids, Ashton, Max, Mia, and Twinkle, will bring the interactive live family-friendly concert experience to the following cities:

  • Tues April 7 – The London Palladium
  • Weds April 8 – The London Palladium
  • Fri April 10 – Liverpool Empire Theatre
  • Sat April 11 – Birmingham Symphony Hall
  • Mon April 13 – Glasgow SEC Armadillo
  • Weds April 15 – Nottingham Royal Concert Hall
  • Thurs April 16 – Cardiff St David’s Hall
  • Fri April 17 – Manchester Bridgewater Hall

The tour will see the KIDZ BOP Kids perform some of today’s biggest global pop hits live on stage. The all-new show features awesome set design, costumes, exciting choreography, and tonnes of cool surprises! Dads even have the chance to show off their best dance moves on stage during the “Daddy Dance Off.”

Tickets are on sale now from www.cuffeandtaylor.com 

 We spoke to Ashton (14), Max (15), Mia (14) and Twinkle (13) as they prepare for the tour.

How long have you been in KIDZ BOP?

MAX (15): Just over three years now for me. I wouldn’t say I’m a veteran, but I am part of the original UK team, and we’ve added a few new people along the way.I’ve seen it grow and it has been so much fun doing all the shows.

I’d seen the American KIDZ BOP Kids and watched their videos loads before I auditioned – and seeing them doing all that and their live shows, I was so excited to be chosen for the UK team.

MIA (14): I’ve been in KIDZ BOP just over a year. It was a bit of a different start for me, as I was filmed during the audition process for a TV show. I was at school with Ashton and Twinkle, so I knew a bit of what KIDZ BOP was all about when I started the audition process which was massive with being on TV too. There were a lot of stages, and the very last one I was performing with the KIDZ BOP Kids, and when we finished, I was told I’d been chosen.

TWINKLE (13): I was 10 when I started, so it’s been over three years now, it’s gone so quickly. I did the same as Max and Ashton, going through a whole big audition process at the very start of it all; lots of rounds of dancing and singing, and I eventually got in. I was at the Sylvia Young Stage School for about a year before auditioning.

ASHTON (14): It’s been about three years since I signed up with KIDZ BOP, and it’s been incredible seeing how much we have grown from just making music videos here in the UK through to travelling to New York last year [2019] to film there on location, and then looking forward to 2020 and having our own tour in the UK.

What’s your favourite thing about being a KIDZ BOP Kid?

MAX: I love performing, I love being on stage – so the tour will be amazing; singing some of my favourite songs with some of my best friends. It’s amazing to think we now have a tour which will be all about us, the UK kids, after having done a big live show alongside the American kids last year.

MIA: It’s like all my dreams come true to be in KIDZ BOP; I get to rehearse songs, travel the world with my best friends, it’s all amazing. Honestly, I do love everything about it, but probably at the moment, I’m super excited for the tour and starting rehearsals to learn the new dances.

I love all the clothes we get to wear too. We have a stylist called Gemma, who brings all the outfits to out shoots, I always look forward to seeing what she’s got for us.

TWINKLE: For me, it’s actually the rehearsals for our live shows and performances – which is a bit different to the others. It’s the time when we get to experiment with new dance moves and our vocals, and we learn so much during the rehearsal sessions. The process of creating the show is hard work but so much fun, and then we get to go out there, perform and see all the reactions from the audience; I love watching out for that too.

ASHTON: I really enjoy the production side of it, making the songs and learning about that technical process. Then, of course, we take it out to the live shows and performances and it’s amazing to see people singing the tracks back to you.

KIDZ BOP is massive in America where it first launched – and it’s growing more and more popular here in the UK now too. What’s the difference between the UK and US KIDZ BOP Kids?

MAX: We usually sing UK chart songs, and the US kids will sing the songs from their charts. But then there are some huge hits, which are big tracks on both sides of the Atlantic and we come together for those.

Last year [2019], we went to New York to film with the US kids – and did Lizzo’s Truth Hurts where we appear in the US kids’ video, and we did Jess Glynne’s One Touch with them in our video. In November 2018, we had our first trip to America with KIDZ BOP, recording One Kiss (Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa) in the studio, but the trip last year was the first time we got out and about filming videos as well as recording in the studio.

ASHTON: Probably my favourite song of all the ones we’ve done so far is Beautiful People (Ed Sheeran), which we filmed on that trip – the video is awesome. We were filming on a beach in front of Coney Island… What’s not to love about that?

Do you enjoy making new friends and all the experiences which KIDZ BOP has brought you?

MAX: It’s been brilliant to meet everyone through this experience and we’ve all become such good friends. We all share the same passion and come together to sing and dance. Then there’s meeting the fans too, and we’re so lucky to have them… It’s like we’re all one big global KIDZ BOP family.

TWINKLE: It was amazing working with the US kids, with different people and on different songs. The trips we get to go on to film abroad are great fun. We’ve been to Germany to film with the German KIDZ BOP kids too, joining in with their videos – so we get to learn songs in other languages too. We might not have spoken the same languages but, like Max said, we share the love of singing and dancing and that’s what brings people together wherever they come from.

ASHTON: The whole experience is a dream come true for each of us. We’d never have imagined a few years ago that we would have achieved all of this; none of us had done anything like it before and we just didn’t realise how many opportunities it would bring us; traveling, meeting so many people, touring the UK. It’s just WOW.

Obviously, life as a KIDZ BOP Kid is limited – you’re only a kid for so long! So what would you like to do in the future?

MAX: Hopefully I’ve still got a little while as a KIDZ BOP kid, especially as I’m still loving it. I would definitely like to stay in music – writing and producing my own songs. I play guitar and a bit of piano, and I have a bit of software on my computer at home.

MIA: I would love to stay doing this forever if I could! But I’d also maybe like to try acting on TV. I had done some bits and pieces of acting before KIDZ BOP and TV adverts, but one of the things which has been really amazing about being in KIDZ BOP is getting to experience lots of different areas of the industry – music, TV, producing, performing. I’ve just learnt so much and it’s really opened my eyes to different things.

TWINKLE: Yes, I’d like to stay in the industry too, making more music and also doing more acting, probably in TV.

ASHTON: Before KIDZ BOP, I just wanted to be an actor, but this has really opened my eyes to so many different things and different opportunities in the music and entertainment business. I would love to work in music, but there are lots of things I want to know more about now too.

What are you looking forward to most with the tour?

MAX: For me, the Palladium dates will be the big ones as I’ve got my family and friends coming along, and it’ll be so good to see them all there in the audience. I’m especially looking forward to performing Uptown Funk, that’s my absolute favourite track at the moment because it gets such a great reaction when we perform it, whether it’s been live or on TV.

MIA: The first songs I did with KIDZ BOP were Rise and One Kiss, so they’re always special for me and I’m looking forward to doing them on the tour. Although, like Max – I also love Uptown Funk, it’s such a great track.

And the Manchester show will be extra special for me, as I come from Lancashire so lots of my family and friends are coming. Every time I speak to them, they’re telling me more people have booked to come and see me there.

ASHTON: I’m excited to perform in Birmingham, because although I live in London I have a lot of family from there who don’t always get to see what KIDZ BOP is all about for me. And of course, who doesn’t want to say they have performed at The London Palladium? That’s going to be special as London is home. But I can honestly say, I really want to see the reactions from everyone right across the country – that’s going to be incredible.

When we did the KIDZ BOP World Tour headline show in London last year, with the US KIDZ BOP Kids, that was great – it was the first time people in the UK had had the chance to come out specially to see KIDZ BOP in a live performance, we’d always been part of other shows… And now, here we are preparing for our very own KIDZ BOP UK tour. We can’t wait.

INTERVIEW: Elesha Paul Moses starring as Tina Turner in What’s Love Got To Do With It? at Glasgow’s King’s Theatre

Elesha Paul Moses has paid her dues in the entertainment world; she’s been striving for success in the music business for 20 years, through sheer hard graft and some TV talent shows. Now she’s taken her singing career to a new level starring in the mammoth tribute show tour What’s Love Got To Do With It?, celebrating the music and life of rock, soul legend Tina Turner.

Elesha, 39, who lives in Hampshire and grew up in Surrey, appeared on The X Factor in 2010, alongside One Direction, winner Matt Cardle and in the same category as the big-haired, bongo playing wild card contestant Wagner. She then reached the battle rounds – twice – on The Voice, with will.i.am in a duo in 2013 and Tom Jones as a solo act a year later. She had previously been mentored by Mathew Knowles – Beyoncé’s dad – on a Channel 4 talent show.

She is also touring the UK, and has performed in Europe and Brazil, as the late, great Whitney Houston in Whitney: Queen Of The Night – including five sell-out shows at the Savoy Theatre in London’s West End.

Brought to you by the award-winning producers behind Whitney: Queen Of The Night, What’s Love Got To Do With It? is the ultimate tribute concert paying homage to one of the most iconic musical artists of the 20th Century.

We spoke to Elesha about her love of performing, and how she loves to party with Tina fans all over the UK.

What’s Love Got To Do With It? launched in 2019, you’ve been on the road for a year now – how has it been, paying homage to a rock and soul legend like Tina Turner?

It has been incredible. Heading into the start of the show, I’d been pretty full on with Whitney: Queen Of The Night so didn’t have too much time to think about it… Then it was full on into touring mode for What’s Love Got To Do With It? and we’ve been up and down the country ever since.

There has been so much love for the show from audiences and on social media – it’s been amazing. I’ve been working hard on the vocals, and the band, backing singers and costumes are fantastic. We love being on the road, meeting all the fantastic fans and that’s made preparing for the 2020 tour even more exciting, as we know what the reactions will be.

Fans have loved the show. What does it feel like to see such brilliant responses from the audience, and to receive the amazing reviews online?

It’s surreal, especially for someone like me as I’m really self critical; I’m always thinking ‘What could I do better?’, even when people are saying the show is fantastic. The comments we get are actually a little overwhelming, and we’re so very grateful for each and every one.

Seeing people in the audience having a brilliant night out, dancing and singing along is what it’s all about.

You perform as both Whitney Houston and Tina Turner – they’re very different artists. What’s it like recreating these iconic female performers live on stage?

It’s been a big learning curve, in the sense of keeping pushing on with everything I do for the two shows.

Doing Whitney as well as Tina, you need a huge amount of stamina – vocally, physically and mentally, but in such different ways for each performance. Tina is much more the physical challenge, Whitney is the vocal challenge. But working hard to be at my best in both areas pays off on both shows.

And it’s funny really. They are such different sounding performers! Each role strengthens my voice in such different ways, but that only helps make me better in each show.

Tina’s not got a growl as such. People think it’s shouting but it’s not, it’s a very particular tone that she has, and she’s so free with her performance.

Then when I’m on stage as Whitney it’s almost the opposite. You’re so exposed and there’s nowhere to hide as it’s a much slower, more mellow pace of show.

Compare that to Tina and What’s Love Got To Do With It?… Once you’re on stage, there’s no letting up from the moment you start. I love that very strong contrast between the two.

You have such a busy schedule with both shows running alongside each other. With two young children, how do you manage that with family life?

Mark, my husband is amazing; I have the best man in the world. I definitely couldn’t do it without him.

My eldest daughter Kookie is turning eight soon, and she’s only ever known me to be a singer. So, in some ways, she’s used to it but occasionally she’ll say something. My little one Teddy doesn’t know any different to the schedule we now have, I’m lucky she’s so young.

For me, I’m able to shut it off to an extent, as I know this is all about building for their future – whatever job you have, you have to balance family life. I also think we’re so lucky to have things like Facetime now so you can catch up easily and see them if you are away for a few days at a time.

What’s your favourite song to perform as Tina Turner?

There are so many I love. Proud Mary is obviously so much fun, but I also love Typical Male and I Can’t Stand The Rain. But for my absolute favourite… I’ll go Proud Mary. It always used to be Simply The Best which people really loved and went mad for – but these days it’s definitely Proud Mary.

Tina Turner is still such a huge name in music, why do you think she’s still so popular?

She is just such a great all-rounder, and she appeals to men as well as women. She’s a great rock and roll artist. Her songs have never gone away. Even youngsters now, they know tracks like Proud Mary. You do those songs and they’re all over it.

Tina’s had difficult times too over the years, but she came through it. I think people like that side of her story too, as well as the brilliant music.

How did you get into singing and performing as a tribute artist?

When I first realised I could properly sing I was about 13 – I was always mimicking others and that’s how I taught myself. But that real big belting voice wouldn’t necessarily come out. Then, listening to people like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, those kind of artists, was when it really came to me. Funnily, I didn’t really listen to Tina Turner when I was younger, my parents played her music in the car, but it wasn’t what I took to at the time.

I was singing in a club and a friend said ‘We should do something different’, I said ‘Shall we try Whitney or something?’. I went home, put down a couple of lines of Whitney and thought ‘Oh, I can sound like her’. It went from there, and a similar thing happened when I started with Tina.

You’ve been working in the music industry for a long time – you started writing with a record company aged just 17 and have been on TV reality talent shows. Can you tell us about the switch to the world of tributes?

I never used to do tributes, I was striving to do my own stuff and put out my own music. Things happened in my life, and I was in between things not really knowing what to do. I didn’t know how to get into the tribute business, but at the same time I felt that by doing that I would miss doing my own thing too.

But I’d done my album and did lots of trying to make it before doing the TV shows. I’d tried the traditional, old fashioned methods to get signed. It was just never meant to be. So, I decided it was time to take it away from being me and into being someone else.

How was your time on The X Factor and The Voice – and what did you learn from the experience?

When I did X Factor – in 2010, 10 years ago, wow – I was in the year of One Direction and Cher Lloyd, and Wagner, he was in Louis Walsh’s Overs category with me, but I went home after judges’ houses.

I was asked to audition for The Voice, and I first went when I was pregnant with Kookie – but I realised the live shows would be on when I was due with her so had to back out. But I auditioned again in 2013 as part of a duo [getting to the battle rounds in Team will.i.am], and again in 2014 [again, getting to the battle rounds with Team Tom].

Doing both of these did give me a boost at the time, even though I got so close but ultimately wasn’t successful. I don’t know what people think of me as an artist having done those shows, but I’m so grateful and glad to have moved on to what I’m doing now.

I’m 99.9per cent – no, make that 100per cent sure I wouldn’t be tempted to do it again.

Forget being mentored by Louis Walsh – tell us about working with Mathew Knowles, Beyoncé’s dad!

So, yes, I did a TV show a long time ago, where I was mentored by Mathew Knowles – Beyoncé’s dad – that was pretty mad. It was Chancers on Channel 4’s T4, and I won the chance from UK auditions to spend a month in Houston, America, where the group of us chosen had various challenges. Mine was to sing at the same studio where Whitney Houston had recorded.

That experience gave me a really tough skin, to know that whatever you do don’t worry about what’s happened in the past; it’s all brought me to where I am now.

Tickets are on sale now from www.cuffeandtaylor.com

 

WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT? TOUR DATES 2020

March

Wed 4th PORTSMOUTH, GUILDHALL

Thu 5th POOLE, LIGHTHOUSE

Fri 6th TUNBRIDGE WELLS, ASSEMBLY HALL

Sat 7th KINGS LYNN, CORN EXCHANGE

Thu 12th LYTHAM, LOWTHER PAVILION

Fri 13th WARRINGTON, PYRAMID & PARR HALL

Sat 14th HALIFAX, VICTORIA THEATRE

Thu 19th BIRMINGHAM, ARENA BIRMINGHAM

Fri 20th LEEDS, FIRST DIRECT ARENA

Sat 21st NEWCASTLE, O2 CITY HALL

Thu 26th ABERDEEN, MUSIC HALL

Fri 27th DUNDEE, CAIRD HALL

Sat 28th EDINBURGH, USHER HALL

Sun 29th GLASGOW, KING’S THEATRE

April

Sat 4th HULL, CITY HALL

Sat 11th LOUGHBOROUGH, TOWN HALL

Sat 18th SHEFFIELD, CITY HALL

Thu 23rd PETERBOROUGH, NEW THEATRE

Sat 25th IPSWICH, REGENT THEATRE

May

Mon 4th MILTON KEYNES, MILTON KEYNES THEATRE

Thu 7th SOUTHEND, CLIFFS PAVILION

Thu 14th HAYES, BECK THEATRE

Sun 31st CROYDON, ASHCROFT PLAYHOUSE

June

Sat 6th CARLISLE, SANDS CENTRE

Wed 17th SUNDERLAND, SUNDERLAND EMPIRE

Thu 18th BRADFORD, ST GEORGE’S HALL

Fri 19th STOCKPORT, PLAZA

Sat 20th MALVERN, MALVERN THEATRE

Fri 26th LONDON, INDIGO AT THE O2

July

Wed 1st EXETER, NORTHCOTT THEATRE

Thu 2nd BARNSTAPLE, QUEENS THEATRE

Fri 3rd CHATHAM, CENTRAL THEATRE

Thu 9th OXFORD, NEW THEATRE

Fri 10th BRIGHTON, THEATRE ROYAL

Sat 11th BASINGSTOKE, ANVIL ARTS

Sun 12th HORNCHURCH, QUEEN’S THEATRE

Thu 16th NEW BRIGHTON, FLORAL PAVILION

Fri 17th ISLE OF MAN, VILLA MARINA

Wed 22th BROMLEY, CHURCHILL THEATRE

Fri 24th DARLINGTON, DARLINGTON HIPPODROME

August  

Sun 9th BRISTOL, HIPPODROME

Fri 28th WEYMOUTH, PAVILION

September  

Thu 17th MANCHESTER, BRIDGEWATER HALL

Sat 19th CARDIFF, ST DAVID’S HALL

Wed 23rd ST HELENS, THEATRE ROYAL

Wed 30th DARTFORD, ORCHARD THEATRE

October  

Fri 2nd DUNSTABLE, GROVE THEATRE

Sat 10th NOTTINGHAM, ROYAL CONCERT HALL

Wed 14th LLANDUDNO, VENUE CYMRU

Fri 16th ST ALBANS, ALBAN ARENA

Fri 30th BATH, FORUM

Sat 31st CHELMSFORD, CIVIC THEATRE

November  

Wed 4th LEICESTER, DE MONTFORT HALL

Sat 7th GRIMSBY, AUDITORIUM

Thu 26th BLACKPOOL, OPERA HOUSE

Fri 27th WYCOMBE, SWAN THEATRE

December

Fri 4th CAMBRIDGE, CORN EXCHANGE

Thu 10th DUDLEY, TOWN HALL

 

INTERVIEW: Stage star Kerry Ellis set for new Queen Machine Symphonic tour

She’s one of the UK’s biggest musical theatre stars – and has forged a career in music with the guidance and mentoring of Queen’s Brian May – and now Kerry Ellis is preparing for a brand-new show which will tour the UK in the spring.

The all-new show Queen Machine Symphonic featuring Kerry Ellis will see Queen’s greatest hits performed by leading European tribute band Queen Machine accompanied by the London Symphonic Rock Orchestra and conducted by Matthew Freeman, creating an unforgettable night of rock anthems.

Kerry Ellis is the UK’s leading lady of musical theatre, who originated the role of Meat, in Queen musical We Will Rock You. Since then, she’s forged a long-standing musical relationship and friendship with Queen guitarist Brian May, who describes the stage star as having “Britain’s most beautiful voice”.

Brian produced Kerry’s debut album Anthems, and they jointly released the follow up Golden Days in 2017, as well as extensively touring the UK and Europe together.

Queen Machine Symphonic received rave reviews when it premiered at Scarborough Open Air Theatre in August ahead of the tour in April 2020.

We caught up with Kerry for a chat about her long-standing relationship with Queen’s music and preparations for the Queen Machine Symphonic tour.

Photo Geoff Ford: Queen Machine Symphonic with Kerry Ellis, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, 31 August 2019

HOW DOES A MUSICAL THEATRE LEADING LADY END UP LINKED TO ONE OF THE GREATEST ROCK BANDS OF ALL TIME?

I met Brian May a long time ago. Before I auditioned for We Will Rock You I was in My Fair Lady and he ask me to audition for the show. I met him and Roger Taylor and worked with them closely, developing the musical. I have gone on to work with Brian for almost 15 years now, touring the UK and Europe, writing songs, putting albums together. I feel comfortable, grateful and special to be singing those songs in that environment, and that I have Brian’s blessing to do it.

SO, TELL US ABOUT QUEEN MACHINE SYMPHONIC…

There are orchestral versions of Queen’s music out there, their music has been translated for an orchestra, and people do concerts celebrating Queen – but this set up hasn’t been done before; an orchestra, the rock band and then me singing. I’m so excited about it.

It’s going to be really unusual. It’s going to be something quite special, and I can’t wait to get started. When the offer came along, it sounded interesting and like a unique experience, and I love singing these songs and in different environments, and with passionate groups of people – which I know the band and orchestra are.

HOW ARE PREPARATIONS GOING FOR THE SHOW?

It’s not easy to put all that together, a band and orchestra will naturally pull in different ways, so it’s challenging but really interesting as we get into rehearsals. And then there’s putting a rehearsal schedule together for everyone to come together… It’s a logistical nightmare, but there’s already a huge amount of work going into everyone’s preparations and pre-production and I can’t wait for it to come together.

Photo Geoff Ford: Queen Machine Symphonic with Kerry Ellis, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, 31 August 2019

YOU PLAYED A PREMIERE PERFORMANCE OF THE QUEEN MACHINE SYMPHONIC SHOW AT SCARBOROUGH OPEN AIR THEATRE IN THE SUMMER. HOW WAS THAT?

Open air shows are such a British thing; we like braving the elements and hoping for the best and this was no different.

Scarborough was a brilliant night, the fans loved it and we all had so much fun on stage. I’d been to Denmark for rehearsals with Queen Machine and had the chance to watch them perform there. To then join them, and have the wonderful musicians from the London Symphonic Rock Orchestra with us, and Matthew Freeman bringing it all together made for a very special night.

We were excited about the tour before doing the Scarborough show, and now we can’t wait to get into a full rehearsal programme ready to travel the UK with the show.

If you’re a fan of Queen’s music it’s going to be a real ‘must-see’.

YOU’VE DONE A LOT OF WORK WITH BRIAN MAY, HOW DOES HE FEEL ABOUT BANDS PAYING TRIBUTE TO QUEEN’S MUSIC? HAVE YOU SPOKEN TO HIM ABOUT THIS SHOW – AND WILL HE BE COMING ALONG TO THE TOUR?

When the Queen Machine Symphonic opportunity came up, I let Brian know about it and asked what he thought. The Queen Machine guys have played for one of the Freddie celebrations and are very much welcomed in the Queen family. They’re very well established, and they are huge in Europe.

Brian enjoys that people play their music still today and embraces that tribute bands are able to take it out there around the world. And that’s another reason why the music is so timeless – that so many people are still performing it and honouring Queen.

I hope Brian will be coming. He does come and support a lot of what I do, whatever he can get to, so I’m sure if the schedule permits he’ll be there, but it’s often a nightmare – with touring the world.

YOU’VE BEEN SINGING QUEEN’S SONGS FOR MANY YEARS NOW. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE?

The song that is very close to my heart is No One But You. I sang that in We Will Rock You way back when and have recorded it and performed it with Brian around the world. We did it on our tour and at one point he said to me ‘It’s your song now, love it and enjoy it’. I’ve just got so many connections with it now – and it works brilliantly with an orchestra, so I’m sure we’ll be creating new memories with it in this show and tour.

WERE YOU A FAN OF QUEEN’S MUSIC BEFORE WE WILL ROCK YOU CAME ALONG?

I grew up with it; my dad was a fan and played a lot of rock music, and I listened to bands and acts like Meat Loaf, Status Quo, Bon Jovi, but also artistes like Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion. I was brought up with it but it became such a part of my life.

But really, everybody knows Queen’s music. The interesting thing today, is there’s a new generation of people interested in the music, because of the Bohemian Rhapsody film, with Queen touring with Adam Lambert, and the music is always used in films and adverts – you’re always hearing it.

I’m very proud that have a very deep connection with the music and the band and I’m very grateful for that. I always feel honoured and privileged to be doing their music with their blessing.

It’s been a big thing for me too; I always had a music career alongside musical theatre, but it probably wouldn’t have happened in the same way without that connection with Brian. He has influenced me in so many ways. Performing together on tour, and in the studio, he has educated me on putting an album together, something I had never done before. He’s been a kind of mentor to me and has helped me use the tools to make my own music.

BESIDES PREPARING FOR QUEEN MACHINE SYMPHONIC, WHAT ELSE ARE YOU WORKING ON?

I’m working on some new music. I’ve not done an album of all originals before, so I’m working with writers again now. And I’m in talks with Brian again about touring or new music. A lot of concerts are in the diary throughout the summer, and I’m off to Japan again next year – I went earlier this year and it was magical, as well as the Queen Machine Symphonic tour.

Photo Geoff Ford: Queen Machine Symphonic with Kerry Ellis, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, 31 August 2019

ALONGSIDE WE WILL ROCK YOU, THE OTHER SHOW YOU’RE BEST KNOWN FOR IS WICKED; AND A FILM IS IN THE MAKING…

Wicked was a huge show for my career. It took me to Broadway – that was on my bucket list but I never thought I would actually get to do it. And to be the first British girl to play Elphaba, amazing. It has been a big part of my life, and it’s a show and role which resonates with fans all over the world, who go on supporting you for years after too; it’s a worldwide phenomenon. I’ll always be grateful to Stephen Schwartz and to director Joe Mantello for that opportunity; people still want me to sing that song [Defying Gravity] even though I left the show years ago.

I would love to get involved with the film! I’m sure it will be cast in America, and of course they are young girls at school – and I’ve just had a big birthday so maybe it’s not going to happen, but maybe a little cameo would be wonderful.

Tickets are on sale now from www.cuffeandtaylor.com / www.ticketmaster.co.uk

QUEEN MACHINE SYMPHONIC FEATURING KERRY ELLIS – 2020 TOUR

April

Wed 15th EDINBURGH, Usher Hall

Thu 16th GLASGOW, Royal Concert Hall

Fri 17th DERBY, Derby Arena

Sun 19th CANTERBURY, The Marlowe Theatre

Tue 21st LONDON, Hammersmith Eventim Apollo

Wed 22nd CARDIFF, St David’s Hall

Thu 23rd NEWCASTLE, O2 City Hall

Sat 25th LEEDS, Leeds Arena

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

« Older Entries