Tag Archives: Interview

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: Sara Pascoe talks about her new show LadsLadsLads

Award-winning comedian Sara Pascoe talks to Glasgow Theatre Blog about her smash hit Edinburgh Fringe and sell-out West End show, LadsLadsLads.

• What is your show LadsLadsLads about? Why is it described as a ‘thinking person’s stag-do?

It’s sometimes hard to summarise what a show is about- but I wanted to give people the sense that it is fun and celebratory- but rather than about being about to get married- the exact opposite. Having fun, trying new things in a way of being braver and more self-reliant. Some of my shows in the past have had serious aspects, theories and research and this one is lighter. It’s like a party, except only I get to talk and you have to sit there watching me.

• Are you excited or daunted by going back on tour?

I love going on tour. I love our nation, I love rainy days up north and cold evenings by the seaside. It’s a luxury to get to travel for ones job and it’s still a novelty for me. Ask me again in twenty years!

• You’re touring from September to end of November. Do you see the show developing throughout the tour?

As my comedy is personal there are always updates, this show develops with recent escapades – my friends can persuade me to do anything by saying “you’ll get 5 minutes out of it”. That’s who I was recently tricked into watching a West Ham football match and seeing the film IT. They were both equally scary and I got exactly zero minutes out of them.

• Tell us about your new book Sex Power Money out next spring.

It’s about porn and sex work from a historical and evolutionary perspective. I am taking biology and the plasticity of human sexuality into account, and also laying out the whole spectrum of arguments in the debate about these aspects of our society. I’m also trying to explore power dynamics in sexual exchanges which are not as clearly defined as paying for sex- things like men paying for dinner, the abuse by powerful, rich men such as Weinstein and Trump. But with jokes as with my last book, Animal. Talking about serious, important stuff- but keeping it accessible and stimulating rather than hectoring.

• Did the experience of writing a book change the way you approach comedy?

Writing a book has changed my stand up, I think I’m funnier now because I can spend more time with ideas for the books, after a day’s writing doing a gig is a release. I only want to be silly, and it doesn’t feel as selfish if that makes sense? Comedy feels like a child’s job, you can’t believe you’re getting paid to do it. But there are huge things going on in the world and sometimes you feel a responsibility- because you’ve a mic in your hand. But now my responsible side who cares about the state of the world can go into book writing and stand up can be a distraction from that.

• Tell us about your recent Radio 4 series Modern Monkey where you explore our modern social world, did you enjoy the research involved?

Yes. I wish it had been more scientific and I could’ve done more research- but I kept being reminded it was supposed to be a comedy show and I had to write jokes about things. We recorded the show at several museums and I was so interested to visit and learn- especially the Foundling Museum- something I knew nothing about. Such a tragic thing- mothers giving away their children because they cannot afford to support them.

• Do you think the world of comedy has changed much since you started?

I think audiences are changing and that directly influences the acts. Comedy used to be a crueller place, and while there is still lots of that kind of stuff (and lots of people who love it) there is a lot more diversity now. And I hope that continues, live comedy is flourishing within an economic downturn and that is because the people making jokes are from a much wider spectrum. Their experiences are fresh and exciting and audiences want that. It’s not the individual cis, white, able bodied man’s fault that historically, comedy clubs were so reliant on stereotype and tropes, but only one type of person’s reality was being reflected and I’m glad that’s improving.

• Do you have a career highlight? Is there a moment you stopped and thought, wow, this is just incredible?

To write books is a massive privilege. Whenever I do a book signing, that for me is a “pinch myself” moment. Also selling out a West End run- those theatres are an absolute joy to play and it felt like a victory lap. I felt so much love for every person in the audience and wanted to kiss and hug everyone. I am a failed actor, didn’t get into drama school all of that malarkey. So getting to be in the West End was so special to me, a validation.

• What’s next for you following the tour?

I’d like to go do some stand up in America, and hopefully do some writing for TV. And another play. And I want to get a dog. And then more adventures so I can write another show

Sara Pascoe is touring LadsLadsLads Sunday 16th September – Wednesday 28th November 2018
http://www.sarapascoe.com

INTERVIEW: Scottish star Jayne McKenna talks The Band and coming home to Glasgow

Jayne McKenna trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and has an enviable CV in theatre, TV, radio and film. She returns home to Glasgow to star in the much-anticipated The Band, when it come to The King’s in Glasgow from 26 June to 7 July 2018. I had a chance to catch up with Jayne before she arrives in town.

How does it feel coming home to Glasgow with such a hugely anticipated show?

Thrilling. I trained there so for me it’s full circle. And I’ve never played The Kings so that’s another treat.

Tell us a bit about your role in The Band.

It’s about a group of girls you meet when they’re young and then again as women, and about the changes and surprises life springs, so, while the younger me thinks her life is going to be all books and study, I turn out quite differently, but no spoilers.

What can the audience expect from the show?

Bring tissues, it gets emotional – laughing one minute and crying the next. And our musicians are stunning, not to mention the ‘boyband’ Five to Five – brilliant all-rounders a joy to work with.

Do you have any favourite moments, scenes or songs from the show that we should look out for?

The song ‘Get Ready For It’. I hadn’t heard it before and it’s become favourite. Incredibly uplifting.

The show has had an enviable amount of publicity, the main male roles being cast on the show Let It Shine, how have audiences received the production as it’s toured the country.

Tremendously. Every night on their feet. Apparently 62% of our audience have never been to the theatre before, and some have now seen it 14 times. People identify with the characters – they tell us at stage door all the time: “Thanks for being me up there”.

What’s life like on the road with a show like The Band?

Tough, especially as a mum. I’m very lucky I have my husband. FaceTiming home is a vital part of my day.

You have an impressive (and if I may say heavy weight) theatrical CV, what have been your favourite roles so far?

The show where I met my husband, of course. Playing Goneril in King Lear with Nicol Williamson is up there. We had an incredible connection as fellow Scots. I stayed in touch with him and even had the honour of singing jazz with his band.

Is there any Play/Musical you’d love to be in?

More Shakespeare would be nice: I’ve tuned into him more as I’ve got older. Not just the language, the thoughts, and being able to express things that in life only occur to us (if they do) in hindsight when the moment has passed! But more singing too: this is my first musical and I’m loving rocking it out!

Tell us a bit more about your career path from Glasgow to touring the country singing the songs of Take That to thousands of adoring fans.

I moved to London after a stint at The Lyceum with the late greats Kenny Ireland and Gerard Murphy and continued mainly in theatre. For example, Macbeth in the West End, the Peter Hall Company, National Theatre, but, TV and radio as well and even a Bollywood film in India. Now I live in Brighton with my family.

Finally, why should we come along to see the show?

Because it might change your life. The characters are real. Their journeys are your journeys and what they survive you can survive. It’s about friendship and looking forward. Plus it’s fabulously well written and produced and the music will ‘Take you back’… and the acting’s not bad either!

Catch Jayne in The Band at the King’s Theatre from 26 June to 7 July 2018

Images: Matt Crockett

INTERVIEW: Jonny Quinn on Snow Patrol’s Return

After seven years out in the pop wilderness, Snow Patrol are set to make triumphant return with their brand-new album, Wildness. Drummer Jonny Quinn talks chaos, the joy of live performance, and reveals just why it’s taken then so darn long.

In life, there are several milestones that swirl up an array of complex and conflicting emotions. Your first day at school, your wedding day, or the birth of your first child, and, if you’re a musician, the release of every single record throughout your career. “It’s a combination of trepidation, excitement and relief,” says Snow Patrol’s drummer Jonny Quinn, of the impending release of Wildness, the band’s seventh studio album.

Adding: “People as what you hope for the record, but the truth is that you just down know. It’s mostly just a relief to be back at it and playing gigs after five-and-a-half years. And so far, everyone seems to be really happy that we’re back.”

You might wonder why artists of such esteem would be feeling any doubts given their triumphant track record. This is the band whose major label debut, Final Straw, was certified five-time platinum in the UK and eventually sold over three million copies worldwide. Whose anthemic hits, Chasing Cars and Run, were the antidote to a generation’s glorious melancholy. Who have successfully held their own for over two decades in industry which has slowly been coming apart at the seams around them.

Inherently humble, it’s not surprising that the Northern Irish rockers haven’t ridden back into the music scene on a gold chariot fuelled by hype and braggadocio, however much of their introspection seems to be down to the sheer amount of time that has passed since Fallen Empires (their last album). Seven years in the music industry is a long time, particularly when those years have been some of the most turbulent for labels and artists alike. However, if there was ever a time the world needed a Snow Patrol album to galvanise and uplift our spirits, it’s now, and fortunately, Wildness is fits the bill perfectly.

Emotionally complex, intelligent and bruisingly honest, the album skimps on none of Lighbody’s soaring melodies. The lead single Don’t Give Up is a straightforward call-to-arms for the lost and weary, Life on Earth is an existential triumph, and the entire record vibrates with an earnest, open rawness. “‘Wildness’ being that the world feels wilder. There feels like there is more chaos than there used to be,” explains Quinn. “A lot of the songs are also about Gary’s own depression and frustration about not being able to write songs and that fear that hits everybody at some point, in a creative sense.”

For lead singer Lightbody, the last few years have been particularly brutal as his ongoing battle with alcohol abuse and depression manifested itself in crippling writers block. Quinn reveals that the band actually were in the studio around two years ago with most of the musical aspects of the album in place, but Lightbody simply couldn’t verbalise his experience. “Maybe he was trying to write songs without having a reason to, and he’s not that kind of writer. So, there was a big gap. But it had to be right; the songs couldn’t be forced,” concludes Quinn.

Certainly, Wildness wouldn’t be the record it is had Lighbody not dug so deep, for that kind of vulnerable grace and candour cannot be faked. In his own words, the 41-year-old frontman says it is the first record he has written where he didn’t just ‘ask a bunch of questions’, adding: “I actually tried to figure out why I was unhappy, why I feel out of place, why I’m afraid.”

Now fully recovered, Lighbody and co. are eager to release the record and crack on with what is arguably the most rewarding part of the process, touring. “That’s what we’ve been doing for 20 years and we’ve all missed that part of it. We like the studio but getting to go out and play all over the world is the most thrilling part,” says Quinn.

“We also put a lot into the live aspect of it, and I want people to walk out of shows feeling like it changed their life a little bit, and they forgot about everything that was bad that day… playing live and having that experience is really special.”

But before the band leave us to traverse the world, there is one burning question that needs to be asked: Are Snow Patrol back for good this time? “Yes,” replies Quinn emphatically. “We won’t have another seven-year break this time.”

SNOW PATROL RETURN WITH THEIR NEW ALBUM WILDNESS ON MAY 25TH VIA POLYDOR RECORDS

INTERVIEW: Kieran Brown, Scottish star of Titanic the Musical

Scottish actor Kieran Brown has an enviable theatrical CV, having appeared in Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies, Les Mis, Wicked and our own Glasgow King’s Theatre pantomime, to name just a few. He’s a member of the hugely successful Barricade Boys and a concert star in his own right. Kieran from Larbert, returns home to Scotland this week to appear in Titanic – The Musical at Glasgow King’s and at Edinburgh Playhouse from June 12th – 16th. I had a chance to catch up with him about life onboard the world’s most famous ship before it sets sail in Glasgow!

Can you tell us a bit about what we can expect in Titanic the Musical?

It is a multiple Tony award winning musical written by American composer Maury Yeston with book by the late Peter Stone. It tells the tale of some of the real life passengers and crew onboard the ill fated ship. It was first produced by Danielle Tarento with direction from Thomas Sutherland and musical staging by Cressida Carre at the Southwark Playhouse in London, before transferring to the Charing Cross Theatre, and then crossing the Atlantic to Canada. This is the first major professional production of the show in the UK. I should state, it has absolutely NOTHING to do with the 1997 James Cameron movie…! It has a stunning score with not a hint of Celine Dion..!
What about your role?

I play First Officer William McMaster Murdoch, who was essentially second in command of the ship, and was in charge at the time it hit the iceberg. He was Scottish, from Dalbeattie. He was treated quite unfairly in the film (which Cameron apologised for), but this is a much more sensitive treatment of his character. He very much blamed himself for the tragedy that unfolded. In actual fact, there were a great number of factors which led inevitably towards the sinking. It’s fascinating to learn throughout the show exactly what went on, but without ever placing judgement on anyone…

What songs or scenes should we particularly look out for?

The opening is really pretty epic..! It’s about 20 minutes long, and doesn’t pause for breath..! To be honest, it is such a stunning score and the sound of our 25 strong ensemble make accompanied by our 6 piece orchestra under direction of musical wizard Mark Aspinall is incredible! The audience are frequently blown away by the wall of sound that washes over them. It’s so humbling to be part of it!

How has the show been received as it’s toured around the country?

Phenomenally. Instant standing ovations practically every show. There’s the odd grumble about people expecting the film onstage, but those who have either informed themselves or allow our beautiful touching story to be told are usually left very affected by it. It’s a very emotional night at the theatre – because it’s not just a film – it’s true – I often wonder if people have forgotten that! We all know the ending of course but the final scene features direct quotes from the survivors – It’s very touching, but ultimately uplifting.

What’s life like on tour/backstage with such a large cast?

It’s been a while since I’ve toured and I actually enjoy it. We have a very mixed company age wise, but we do genuinely all get on great, and organise nights out, day trips to the countryside castle hunting etc. It’s a very supportive company onstage and off, and it’s a real joy to share this experience with them all.

Why should we come along to see the show?

It’s a story we all think we know, especially those who have seen the film (much of which was fiction), so I think it’s important to retell the story with tremendous respect and honour those who died (and survived). It’s not tap dancing and feathers, there are no hydraulic lifts and razzle dazzle spectacle, but there is a poignant layered story, accompanied by a beautiful, beautiful score, told by one of the most talented bunch of actors and musicians I’ve had the honour to work with. I think of all of the jobs I’ve done, this really ranks as one of those I’m most proud of. I love it. And I am particularly proud to be telling this story at the Kings in Glasgow. Last time I was here I was riding a magic carpet as Aladdin! I love the city (I lived and studied here at the RCS) and it feels very much like home. I’m curious to see how Scottish audiences respond to it…

Any roles you’d love to perform/shows you’d like to be in that you haven’t yet?

To be honest I’m keen to do a play – it’s been 7 years since I last did a play (The Woman In Black in Vienna). I love singing and musicals, but I’d love to do something where I don’t have to worry about my singing voice for a while..!

What’s been your favourite role to date?

I think playing the Phantom probably ranks as a major career tick and I was lucky that I managed to get on a lot during my two years at Her Majesty’s. The feeling I had inside when I stepped on to take my bow at the end of my first show was something I can’t really describe..!

What’s next after Titanic?

Who knows! The life of a jobbing actor..! TBH we are all loving this Titanic experience so much we are all hoping it may not be ending mid August in Hamburg! Crossing everything there is another life, whether continuing the tour or sailing into the west end, who knows…!
You can catch Kieran in Titanic – The Musical at Glasgow King’s Theatre from Monday 28 May until Saturday 2 June 2018 – tickets here
Edinburgh Playhouse from Tuesday 12 June until Saturday 16th June 2018 – tickets here.
Titanic photography: Scott Rylander
Kieran Brown headshot in article: Kate Scott

INTERVIEW: Rebecca Norris, actor and co-deviser of The Wedding Reception coming to Eastwood Park Theatre’s Carmichael Hall in May.

Glasgow Theatre Blog had the chance to talk to Rebecca Norris, co-creator of The Wedding Reception coming to Eastwood Park Theatre this May.

Tell us a little bit about the play.

The Wedding Reception is a unique immersive theatrical dining experience. It invites you to be a guest at a surprise wedding reception for newlyweds William and Kate. You join the family (and a few uninvited guests) through two hours of a muddled attempt at traditional wedding celebration rites where nothing seems to go as planned. They cry, laugh and dance, and hopefully you will too! (maybe not the cry bit).

And your role…

Four actors play nine roles in The Wedding Reception. I play two roles: Lynn (the mother of the bride) and Marge (the groom’s aunt). Lynn is a great role to play She’s a wonderful and warm northern lady. A bit of a mum to everyone and will talk about anything. Nothing is off limits with Lynn. Aunt Marge is much colder. A stuck up ‘wanna-be’ who’s faked most things in her life to get her where she is today.

 

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

The Wedding Reception has been performed all over the UK, including Scotland and Wales – although this is our first time in Glasgow. We have even been lucky enough to do tours across Australia and a show in Singapore. Depending on the location, we change a few references in the show for audiences to relate to but on the whole we’ve found wherever we are the universal truth is that everyone loves a good wedding so everyone always has a great time.

What is life like backstage on tour?

Backstage on tour can be a bit crazy, really. We have a lot of quick costume changes throughout the show so backstage can be manic. Especially when we are out and about on tour and the size of our changing area can vary quite some bit. We’ve all been very close together in some shows.

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?

Keeping this show fresh isn’t so much of a challenge, as it’s very different to traditional theatre shows. The audience members are not just watching a show, they become an integral part of it so with their input we never perform never same show twice. It certainly keeps us all on our toes. Good planning and keeping it all in good fun is key to staying healthy and fighting fatigue on the road. We spend a lot of time in each other’s company so trying find ways of making long journeys and mundane jobs fun is really important.

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 didn’t get into acting until quite late – I was 30 before I’d even considered it. Although I remember having a love of theatre when I was younger, I never considered it to be an option. It was only by chance that I did a workshop in Brighton which actually changed everything. Suddenly my sole focus and drive was on acting. I went to drama school and worked full-time while attending to fund myself. Once I graduated I tried to make sure each job I got would lead to another until it became my full-time job and I’ve never looked back.

Any advice for aspiring performers?

It’s never too late! If it’s something you have a passion for then go get involved. Maybe do some courses and see where it takes you.

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

Everyone should come to see this play! – though it’s PG, because of some sexual innuendo and partial nudity. That aside, each show is truly different as audiences react in various ways to being swept up in the raucous action. Whatever happens though, one thing’s for sure – it will be an unforgettable experience.
You are all invited to the most madcap marital celebration of them all and get to eat a 3-course meal as well.

We are playing at Carmichael Hall in Eastwood Park Theatre on Saturday 12 May at 7:30pm.

We’re also visiting:

Birmingham REP (10-11 May)

Greshams in Ipswich (18 May)

Bedford Swan Hotel (also 18 May)

Hadley Park House in Telford (19 May)

AFC Portchester Club House (22 June)

Nottingham Theatre Royal (6 July)

– and Edinburgh Fringe 2-27 August.

INTERVIEW: Paul Beeson on playing Robert Burns in Ae Fond Kiss at Eastwood Park

The first tour of new Robert Burns show Ae Fond Kiss, is touring around Scotland this February. Featuring many of Burns’ famous poems and songs, including Red, Red Rose, Ae Fond Kiss and Auld Lang Syne, it will be a show to remember whether you love literature or just want to find out a bit more about the Bard.

Rabbie Burns is played by Paul Beeson who will guide you through the show with amusing and poignant interactions with key characters, played by cast members Gilchrist Muir, Shawney Henderson and Zoe Halliday. Glasgow Theatre Blog had the chance to catch up with Paul to answer some quick questions about the show.

Tell us a little bit about the play.

Ae Fond Kiss is a play with songs that tells the fascinating story of the life of Robert Burns. It does this using modern original verse, interspersed with Burns’ traditional writing and songs; a Burns’ Greatest Hits if you will! We get to meet the family, friends and (many) women who shaped his life and work along the way.

And your role…

I play Robert Burns himself, at various ages and stages of his life… it is a challenging role but one I am relishing playing!

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

The last time the play was produced was nine years ago during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it was performed at the Mining Museum in Newtongrange. It was received extremely well then; however being outside the city centre meant it did not get the audience it truly deserved. This newly staged version boasts a completely new set and directorial approach, and will touring in major venues across the country.

What is life like backstage on tour?

Being part of a small-scale touring company is incredibly rewarding and so much fun – if a little challenging at times! The cast and stage manager are responsible for driving the tour vans between venues, unloading and building the set before a performance and loading the set back in the vans afterwards… oh, and performing of course! It’s a valuable experience, as everyone involved takes ownership of the production to make it the best it can be and becomes completely invested in it. You do feel like you are in a little tour bubble at times, as you are living the show (and in each other’s pockets) almost 24 hours a day… but that’s why we love it so! Your cast mates become like family and some of my greatest friendships have been made this way.

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?

Every audience is different and responds in different ways… some are incredibly noisy and responsive, some are absolutely silent! As performers, we respond to the energy the audience creates and feed off it, so every performance is fresh in that respect. Also, when you get on the road after the rehearsal process, you start to find the moments that the audience really love and perhaps moments that pass them by. We have to tweak moments like these to ensure we are doing the piece justice and that can keep us on our toes!

As for looking after yourself, it’s finding a balance in your touring life… Eating healthily can be tough when the only eatery near your hotel is a fast food joint! I try to make sure I get enough sleep, drink lots of water, eat a banana for energy and regularly steam the vocal chords… and you just have to be careful that the post-show socialising doesn’t get too out of hand!

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 chose to do Higher Drama when I was in 6th year at high school. I had no aspirations, needed another subject to study and thought Drama would be fun (and if I’m completely honest, a bit of a skive!) After the first few lessons, I realised how much fun it was and it was far from being easy… it was also the first time in my life I found something I felt I was really good at and capable of taking further. A good friend of mine had left school a couple of years before and done a Year Out Drama course in Stratford-Upon-Avon. So, after I left school, I applied and was accepted, then progressed to Drama college the following year.

I became a Drama teacher a few years after graduating, as I struggled to find work and decided to get a full time job where I could use my skills. I taught for ten years before getting back into performing. Towards the end of my teaching career, I began dabbling in amateur theatre and remembered my love of performing… the pull was too much for me!

Any advice for aspiring performers?

It may be a cliché, but never give up, believe in yourself and be prepared to work extremely hard! When I first left college, I think I was too lazy to truly pursue a career in performing… you have to be proactive, the work won’t come to you! Every performer is unique, so play to your strengths. Do not shy away from what makes you ‘you’. Take risks when you can… Despite my performing experience, I had a fear of singing in front of an audience until very recently… and I am 38! I have had to work very hard to get past that and I am all the better for it.

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

Ae Fond Kiss has everything; it’s entertaining, heartfelt, funny, sentimental, sad, exciting… it is crammed full of facts about Burns’ life, so everyone will learn something they never knew before… some of the poems and songs will be familiar to the audience and participation is encouraged… and everyone loves a bit of Burns don’t they!

Ae Fond Kiss is touring around Scotland this February and comes to Eastwood Park Theatre on Tuesday 13 February. Tickets cost £15 standard and £12 for concessions and are available to book now: www.eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk/boxoffice.

INTERVIEW: Phil Hardie circus performer & entertainer on his original take on the Frankenstein tale

I had the chance this week to catch up with renowned circus performer Phil Hardie just as he embarks on a tour with his original take on the Frankenstein story: Welcome My Son.

Frankenstein is one of the best-known works in the literary world, tell us about your approach to telling this story in a new way in Welcome My Son.

The Frankenstein story is timeless. The moral and ethical issues it brings up surrounding humans playing God have not only remained relevant but have in many ways become more acute. With Welcome my Son I wanted to focus on the issue of neglect and how it destroys both parties in the relationship. How in the absence of love a human will turn to hate perhaps as the only possible alternative, but also how our apparent obsession to master control over the natural world can lead to our own isolation and ultimately our demise.

Tell us about your role…

I play both Frankenstein and his Creature. I wanted to give the Creature and the neglect he suffers real substance and ultimately I have sought to cast Frankenstein as the true ‘monster’ as it is his selfish neglect that creates a cycle of destruction.

How much preparation and rehearsal time did you get before the tour started?

The final rehearsal period has felt very short. I developed the show throughout June working over three weeks with my creative team. However, before the tour we have had just three days to re-rehears the piece and get it tour ready.

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

I have performed the first development/version of the show in three different locations, Edinburgh, Banchory and Dumfries. Generally, I think it has been very well received every time. However, my use of dialogue and more traditional theatre acting in such a physically driven piece has had a mixed response. Some people would like to keep these elements separate from one another it would appear while, gladly for me, some are happy to see the genres mixed together. As we set off on the first dates of the tour, I hope that the show is well received but that is still to be discovered.

The amount of physicality in your work is astonishing, and I can image it makes huge demands on your body, 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 physical demands of the show are punishing. Eating well and keeping well hydrated are key. For years now, I have started every day with a pint of warm water with half a lemon squeezed into it. It really helps to wake up all your systems. Of course coffee comes immediately afterwards. Obviously it’s critical that I warm up and stretch well before and after each performance. On tour I have a fantastic technical team to support me and they help to minimise the amount of physical work I do with regards to load in, rigging the equipment and setting up the stage in order that I am physically ‘fresh’ for the performance.

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

I have a very profound and clear memory of going to see a traditional ‘Big Top’ circus when I was about four or five years old. It included animals, tigers, zebras, etc. I had no interest in any of this but the clowns that segued each performance captivated me and the acrobats; both aerial and floor simply blew my mind. I remember saying to my parents as we left that I wanted to be an acrobat and I made them hang around just to see if we could catch a glimpse of the performers back stage…we didn’t. In honesty it’s not that I obsessed over this but I have always loved testing myself physically and throughout my life I’ve pursued street skating, skiing, climbing, basically any sport that you’re competing against yourself. I began performing professionally using circus arts in my first year of art school and have continued ever since. I’ve used juggling, balance art, clowning and character acting and acrobatics to create performances and shows since the year 2000. In the end I felt I needed to push myself to try and create a full-length show which brings all this experience together.

Any advice for aspiring performers?

My advice for aspiring performers is deliver your performance with uncompromising conviction and your audience will be drawn in.

Finally, why should people come along to see the work? 

Come and see my show because it is a new approach to creating theatre which draws on circus techniques as heavily as it does physical and traditional theatre. It is, I hope, a true collaboration of the performing arts. You can see it at Platform in Glasgow on Monday (9 October 2017) and the rest of the tour dates can be found below:

INTERVIEW: LOCAL TALENT CHRISTOPHER JORDAN-MARSHALL MAKES WEST END DEBUT IN MAMMA MIA!

It seems like a short while ago I saw you as a student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland starring as the Emcee in Cabaret. Tell us what happened between then and starring in the West End.

Ahhhh amazing, you got to see Cabaret! Definitely one of my favourite parts I ever got to play. So, round about that same time I also signed with a London agent and started to get auditions coming through, including auditions for Mamma Mia! in London and for the tour. I didn’t get past the first round and just kind of forgot about it. I graduated in July 2016, and almost immediately booked my first professional job in London, Floyd Collins at the Wiltons Music Hall. Once that finished, I was back in Scotland at the Tron Theatre for Christmas, in the The Snaw Queen, followed immediately after by Still Game:Live at The SSE Hydro. Luckily, I hadn’t really stopped, and so made the move back to London to start auditioning again. Cut to two months later, and a few rounds of auditions for Mamma Mia! again, and suddenly I was going to be Sky in the West End!

Georgina Castle & Christopher Jordan-Marshall as Sophie and Sky
London Cast 2017/2018

Tell us how you felt when you got the call to say you’d be making your professional West End debut.

Well it was about a week after the finals for Mamma Mia!, and I was sort of waiting to hear about a couple of things. When my agent phoned, she said ‘So, do you want some good news?’ and I’m pretty sure I swore at her down the phone and yelled a bit. I was honestly jumping about my house, totally ecstatic. Cliché as it is, this was something I had been wanting and dreaming of ever since I was little and so for that dream to become a reality at the age of 22 is just really special for me. I’m grateful every day.

How are you enjoying playing Sky?

It’s bloody brilliant! I’m honestly having such a good time. Everyone that works at the Novello, the cast, creatives and crew are an absolute joy to work with, and there is a total family vibe amongst us all. We get such amazing audiences every night, and even though it’s been running in the West End for 18 years, there is still something really fresh and new about our cast which is so exciting. When we first took over in June, we performed a slot at West End Live, which is sort of a concert weekend in Trafalgar Square where musicals all around the UK and in central London perform. That was a pretty special moment, singing and dancing an Abba megamix to thousands of people.

Christopher Jordan-Marshall as Sky (front centre)

What do you think makes Mamma Mia! so enduringly popular?

There are so many elements I think. The songs come first obviously. You get the sexiness of things like Gimme Gimme! and Voulez Vous, and then also the heart from songs like Slipping Through My Fingers and The Winner Takes It All. Then you have the story which interweaves these songs seamlessly in a way that lots of jukebox musicals are unable to do. It’s a story about mothers and daughters, about strong female friendship, and about empowerment of women. Certainly back when it was first conceived, there wouldn’t have been many stories like it, and only really now is that starting to change. It’s just such an awesomely feel good show, which makes every audience member leave with a huge grin on their face. They get to escape to a beautiful Greek island for two and half hours, what’s not to love?! People need escape like that more than ever these days, so I’m glad I can contribute to that.

What is life like backstage at the Novello?

Well I’m lucky enough to get a dressing room to myself next to the stage on the ground floor. It’s not a huge room, so I tend to keep the door wedged open and slowly over time it has sort of changed into a mini green room for the other company members to chill in when they aren’t needed on stage. I have a bit of time in between the things I’m involved in on stage so I’m happy for the chat. Usually backstage totally runs like clockwork, everyone knows exactly where they are supposed to be but every so often it becomes a bit hectic. We have two large set pieces that are moved around on stage with handles to create different scenes and environments. One Saturday one of the handles broke off and the pieces couldn’t move. We had to completely make up the rest of the show without them working or moving, which was fun!

MAMMA MIA!
London Cast 2017/2018

How do you keep your performance fresh when you’re on stage eight times a week?

Good question. This is first contract I’ve had which is a year long, so I’m still finding that out to be honest. Something I try to do before going on every night is remind myself that all the events that happen during the show are happening for the first time, so I don’t pre-empt anything, and that usually makes me present. That, and just constantly being open to reacting to whatever Sophie or whoever I’m with and what they’re giving me. That makes it fun every night because you don’t know what you are going to get. And if something is a bit rubbish one night, or something goes wrong, you get to try again tomorrow and be better!

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

I don’t know if anything particularly inspired me to become an actor, I think I was always pretty sure that was what I wanted to do since I was a little guy. I was put into local amateur shows and went to youth drama groups/theatre schools. Music and drama was something I always kind of excelled in at school, so it started to become obvious what path I was going down. It was a way to express myself whilst growing up, when I didn’t particularly know how to yet. If I didn’t have those groups and shows, I think being a teenager would have been a lot harder. I guess the teachers and friends that were in my life during that time inspired me to pursue it professionally. Oh and my uncle Alan. He was the one who introduced me to a lot of theatre and has always been my biggest fan. He’s a big inspiration for all this.

Do you have any advice for kids back home who aspire to become a performer?

If you love it, pursue it. There are so many ways to become part of theatre and the arts professionally, which many kids aren’t made aware of in schools. Actors, musicians, hair and makeup, production, agents, casting, it’s all out there. Do not let your parents try and choose your pathways for you, and make you do something you don’t want to; you’ll be unhappy. I was lucky enough to be fully supported by my family in all my endeavours but sometimes that doesn’t happen. I remember my guidance teacher told me that I shouldn’t do music AND drama at the same time in school, and made it out that it was practically impossible to pursue a career in it. Needless to say, I didn’t listen to her. Even if you aren’t the best at everything to begin with, keep learning and growing and trying, because you eventually start to get somewhere. Don’t settle, and go chase your dreams; it can happen!

Christopher Jordan-Marshall (front centre) Mamma Mia! 2017/2018 Cast

Finally, why should people come along to see you in Mamma Mia!?

Our cast is amazing, there’s topless boys, and the tunes are amazing obviously. I also keep my Scottish accent so SCOTLAND REPRESENT. Come get drunk (if you’re over 18) and dance!!

You can see Christopher at the Novello Theatre – more information here

Image credit: Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

 

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