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NEWS: Underbelly returns to McEwan Hall, first tickets now on sale for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

After a gap of three years, Underbelly returns to McEwan Hall for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018. To celebrate the spectacular renovation undertaken by the University of Edinburgh, Underbelly has put together its strongest programme yet which will be revealed over the next three months.

Five spaces will be Underbelly auditoria for the duration of the Fringe, the main McEwan Hall auditorium (capacity c.900), and four smaller spaces ranging in capacity from 60 to 145.

A new show from Foil Arms and Hog, Craicling, brings their Irish banter – potato, potato, potato, potato, potato, potato, potato, potato ….you racist, to Edinburgh for their 10th Fringe. With over a 100 million You-Tube hits, and 9 years of sold-out shows in Edinburgh their sensational, fast-paced, inventive gag-tastic show will come to Underbelly’s McEwan Hall from 1 – 26 August (9pm).

Following the sell-out success of In Your Face and its two West End runs, three UK tours and three sell-out Edinburgh seasons, British Comedy Award Winner and BAFTA-Nominated Live At the Apollo star Nina Conti returns to Edinburgh with her brand new show at Underbelly’s McEwan Hall.

Side-splitting Edinburgh Fringe favourite, Nina Conti’s new show joins Foil Arms and Hog in the main auditorium at McEwan Hall from 1st to 27th August (7pm).

Twice raucous sold-out family favourite at Underbelly’s Circus Hub the Trash Test Dummies bring a brand new, wet and wild show to the Lafayette tent at Circus Hub for Fringe 2018, Splash Test Dummies. Running from 4 – 25 August at 1pm.

A new production of oceanic proportions, Splash Test Dummies roll out their beach towels and spring into a brand new hour of circus-filled hilarity with a brilliant array of catch-your-breath stunt work, acrobatics, juggling and the side-splitting, slapstick comedy for which the dummies are famous.

Tucked in to graze at Underbelly Bristo Square, Ermintrude hosts the incredibly popular The Thinking Drinkers: Pub Crawl. Running from 1 to 26 August at 8.35pm this seven year on the trot sell-out show, The Thinking Drinkers returns with its hilarious, intoxicating bar-hop through history from the symposiums of Ancient Greece to the classic British boozer.

Spank! is back for its 15th year with incredible hosts, awesome comedians and hilarious stunts. One of the best and wildest nights out on the Edinburgh Fringe it returns to Underbelly’s Cowgate from 3 to 26 August at 11.55pm.

Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, directors of Underbelly said, “We are delighted to be returning to McEwan Hall in 2018. We are bringing together a fantastic programme of entertainment for the five beautifully refurbished spaces and are thrilled to announce the first shows as Nina Conti and Foil Arms and Hog. Putting our first shows of the Fringe season on sale is always exciting and this year is no exception with five of the most popular shows and artists on the Fringe.”

BEHIND THE SCENES WITH MAD PROPS: Soho Cinders cast spotlight interviews – Millie Tigwell playing Velcro

Tell us about your role.

I have the pleasure of playing the role of Velcro – typically the Buttons character in the pantomime version of Cinderella. Velcro is a single mum and best friend to Robbie, the lead character. Velcro works in the laundrette, dreaming of settling down with someone special and maybe even owning a goldfish.

How are rehearsals going?

Rehearsals have been so much fun and very productive. This is all thanks to our amazing production team and fabulous cast. Everyone involved is lovely and a joy to work with! This is not something you always find with large theatre companies. Due to the small size of Mad Props Theatre and the many social activities they provide, everyone is included and you get to know and spend time with everyone involved.

Do you have a background in performance?

Yes, I’ve been on the stage since the age of 4. I started with my local theatre company, performing in numerous pantomimes and short plays. It wasn’t until my last couple of years of high school that I discovered my love for musical theatre and performed in my first musical – Guys and Dolls. Since then I studied at Glasgow University and performed in many shows with the Cecilian society before joining Mad Props Theatre.

How did you get involved with Mad Props?

In 2016, I joined Mad Props Theatre for their annual Big Fat Musical Quiz and Concert of the Year. It was so much fun and a unique way of performing, I was keen to do more productions with Mad Props. This brought me to audition for their Scottish premier of Carrie the musical and this year become a member of their board. Also, Mad Props Theatre support and donate to Bloodwise – a charity dedicated to leukaemia and lymphoma research, alongside the many events they put on. This was an additional factor that drew me to this amazing company.

Why should people come along to see the show?

This show is nothing like you’ve seen before! The playful twist on your classic Cinderella story is refreshing and modern. It’ll be an extremely fun theatre experience for all, and the catchy numbers will be stuck in your head for days!

 

BEHIND THE SCENES WITH MAD PROPS: Soho Cinders cast spotlight interviews: Stuart Taylor playing James Prince

Firstly, tell us about Soho Cinders and what people can expect.

All the bustle of the capital explodes through hugely energetic songs; hearts melt and ache at the most exclusive party in town – luckily we can get you on the guest list.

Tell us about your role.

James Prince is running for mayor on a campaign of honesty, but this Charming politician has a secret that begins to spin out of control.

How are rehearsals going?

Really well! A phenomenal cast and crew makes the hard work a lot of fun.

Do you have a background in performance?

My background is mainly choral – from classical opera in the national youth choir to contemporary pop in Glasgow’s Connect Choir.

How did you get involved with Mad Props?

I came to their Scottish Premiere production of Carrie and was blown away by the performance: especially of Sissy Spacek (aka Louise Creechan) who persauded me to audition.

Why should people come along to see the show?

One word: speedos…

BEHIND THE SCENES WITH MAD PROPS: Soho Cinders cast spotlight interviews: Jon Cuthbertson playing William George

Firstly, tell us about Soho Cinders and what people can expect.

Soho Cinders is a fabulously fun show. It has brilliant music and very quirky take on the original Cinderella story. Set in the vibrant Soho area of London, it covers many aspects of life, from Lap Dancing Ugly Sisters, a gay male Cinderella (Robbie), his married politician lover and a whole host of colourful characters with a brilliantly witty score which has some fantastic tunes in it too.

Tell us about your role.

I play William who is actually a bit of a nasty character. He’s a political advisor who is basically out for his own gain – think Cyrus Beene from Scandal, except with less morals! It’s a great part as I basically just get to sneer at everyone and stride about. He also has some brilliant songs in the show which are great fun.

How are rehearsals going?

Rehearsals are great fun – as it’s such a small cast everyone mucks in to help out, so if anyone is missing during choreography rehearsals someone always steps up to stand in (including our rather mad director Sarah!). The production team are really supportive and have such passion that it really does motivate everyone to do their best

Do you have a background in performance?

I’ve been performing since a very young age (not that I’m actually that old!) however the last few years I’ve been directing and not really been on the stage much. It takes an interesting project to draw me back on to the stage and this show definitely appealed to my sense of humour.

How did you get involved with Mad Props?

I had been aware of the company as I am friendly with someone who had been in their cast before, so had come along to their fabulous Musical Theatre Quiz. I was really impressed with the performances on the night too and the parodies they had created had me in fits of laughter. My friend had auditioned for the show and they hadn’t managed to cast the role of William so she messaged me to say I should audition for it – and here I am, absolutely loving the experience

Why should people come along to see the show?

The show is one that is very rarely performed and is one that really deserves to be seen. The music is great (Stiles and Drewe) and the script is really witty. It’s a modern show and the laughs just from the topical stuff have had the cast in stitches! The production team are also trying to wangle a surprise in the cast too….so if you don’t get along, you’ll never know what you’ve missed!

BEHIND THE SCENES WITH MAD PROPS: Soho Cinders cast spotlight interviews: Julie Martis playing Sasha

Firstly, tell us about Soho Cinders and what people can expect.

Soho Cinders is really good fun. The songs are infectious, it’s energetic and upbeat, but it also has a thoughtful side – with all the progress we’ve made so far, how far do we still have to travel for truly equal rights? Overall, it’s bloody funny and hopefully you’ll be smiling throughout.

Tell us about your role.

I play Sasha, William’s put-upon assistant. We really see his character in how her treats her. But she’s no passive plot device; she has a backbone and a limit to what she’ll put up with for the sake of her career. You’ll have to come and see the show to find out if she gets her revenge…

How are rehearsals going?

Rehearsals have been fun. There’s a warm atmosphere in the rehearsal room. It’s a really enjoyable show to work on, the cast are brilliant, and the music’s pretty special too.

Do you have a background in performance?

I’ve been working as an actor for a number of years; this is my first musical theatre show and I’m really excited about it. I’ve worked on classical and contemporary theatre, lots of short films, and recently I’ve been filming the new feature film by a wonderful, BAFTA-nominated director. So, watch this space…

How did you get involved with Mad Props?

I first discovered Mad Props as an audience member. I’d been to see their previous shows and the Big Fat Musical Quizzes, and had a lot of fun every time. I knew they were a company I’d love to be involved with. The cast are so talented, the shows are fresh and exciting, and I’d met a number of Mad Props members at social events, and they’re all lovely people!

Why should people come along to see the show?

Speaking from experience, Mad Props shows are always incredibly fun to watch. The music is great, and there’s a lot of humour here too. With all that’s going on in the world, it’s nice to escape into something so wonderfully fun and full of love, with such a positive and inclusive message. And don’t forget – brilliant songs and music.

 

BEHIND THE SCENES WITH MAD PROPS: Soho Cinders cast spotlight interviews: Joe Smyth playing Lord Bellingham

Firstly, tell us about Soho Cinders and what people can expect.

A classic tale showcased with modern themes. It’s all singing, all dancing and as boisterous as you’d expect from Soho!

Tell us about your role.

Lord Bellingham isn’t one of the good guys, that’s for sure.  He has his own personal agenda and will do what it takes to get his own way both personally and professionally.

How are rehearsals going?

Rehearsals are honestly a right good laugh! The songs are sounding great with all the harmonies and the dancing is sure giving me a workout. Everything is slotting together just nicely.

Do you have a background in performance?

I was performed in some shows whilst at school but this is my first acting performance since then. Usually I tend to be on the production team so this certainly has been quite an experience for me.

How did you get involved with Mad Props?

I attended the very first Mad Props show which was Spelling Bee – one of my favourites. Since then, I’ve attended most of their shows and quiz nights and just had to be part of Soho Cinders when I knew it was the next project.

Why should people come along to see the show?

The show highlights some key LGBT issues in ways that are more relatable to a wider audience. The songs are catchy with a great cast and team behind it!

BEST OF BROADWAY: Brian d’Arcy James

Since taking over as the Scotland Editor at The Public Reviews, time to update the blog has been rare. Looking after a large team of writers and theatres covering the whole of Scotland is hugely rewarding, sometimes frustrating, utterly time-consuming but down right fabulous all the same.

Hopefully as theatres head towards pantomime season things will slow down a little and normal service here at my theatre home, can resume.

Previous series such as Musical Theatre Madness have had many thousand hits, as have the interviews and features on classic musicals and theatre DVDs, so, with the intention of getting back to what the blog was intended to be: a celebration of theatre, today is the first in a series of posts featuring the very best (and my personal favourite) performers.

First up is the truly brilliant Brian d’Arcy James, with a Broadway resume that would make most performers green. A gifted actor with a voice that manages to marry astonishing power, pure emotion and the most beautiful tone, here are a few treats for your ears. (And also to make up for the fact that one of Broadway’s most celebrated stars doesn’t get a chance to sing in the TV show about Broadway he appears in!)

The original HD version of this song and the sublime Marvin Hamlisch Live at the Lincoln Centre tribute concert, featuring the very best of Broadway: Raúl Esparza, Audra MacDonald, Kelly O’Hara and Josh Groban, can be found here: http://video.pbs.org/video/2322359038/

Original YouTube clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4th-n2gd7Ps

Original YouTube clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqgRNr6Z_08

Original YouTube clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbVIDRKIkA0

Broadway

 BrianDarcyJames

Off-Broadway

Brian-D-Arcy-James-at-Juilliard

Discography

  • Shrek the Musical [Original Broadway Cast]
  • White Christmas [Original Broadway Cast]
  • The Man Who Would Be King
  • From Christmas Eve to Christmas Morn [Solo CD]
  • Michigan Christmas [Solo CD Single]
  • Sweet Smell of Success [Original Broadway Cast]
  • The Wild Party [Original Off-Broadway Cast]
  • Titanic [Original Broadway Cast]
  • Dream True World Premiere Recording
  • Brownstone [Studio Cast]
  • The Maury Yeston Compilation
  • Jonathan Franzen’s How to Be Alone
  • Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens New York
  • The Stephen Schwartz Album [Studio Cast]
  • Myths and Hymns [Off-Broadway Original Cast]
  • Violet [Off-Broadway Original Cast]
  • Far From the Madding Crowd [Studio Cast]
  • The Civil War [Studio Concept Cast]
  • The Stephen Sondheim Album [Studio Cast]
  • Floyd Collins [Original Cast]
  • Carousel [Revival Cast]

He will star in the Lincoln Center Theater production of Macbeth, which will begin previews in October 2013 and officially open at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre in November 2013

bvgfd

Details here: http://www.lct.org/showMain.htm?id=223

BEST OF BROADWAY: Raúl Esparza

Since coming to prominence on Broadway in Cabaret and The Rocky Horror Show (for which he won a Theatre World Award), Esparza has won plaudits for his roles in: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Normal Heart, Dessa Rose, Comedians, The Green Violin (Barrymore Award win) Merrily We Roll Along and Sunday in the Park With George (Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration, Helen Hayes nomination), tick, tick…BOOM! (Obie Award, Drama Desk nomination) The Good Person of New Haven; Evita (Jefferson nomination) and has received Tony nominations in all four acting categories, for which an actor is eligible: Taboo, The Boy George musical as Philip Salon (for which he won the Drama Desk Award), as Bobby in Stephen Sondheim’s Company, for  David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow and for Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming. Recent Broadway credits include Arcadia and the razzle dazzle con-man in the 2012 musical Leap of Faith. He is widely and highly regarded for his versatility on stage.