This week, to celebrate the holidays, I thought I would bring you one of my favourite Christmas stories. I have had the pleasure of reading an adaptation this story on BBC radio a few years back and, in my opinion, this sums up everything that we should all be, not only at this time of year but all year round. Selfless, giving, loving and grateful.
So sit back and please enjoy the timeless tale, “The Gift of the Magi” written in 1905 by American author, O. Henry
Currently running at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Sir Trevor Nunn’s production of Fiddler left its audience in both stitches and tears. We absolutely loved it. It was so refreshing to see a grounded, measured, sober and thoughtful production of this fantastic show.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Andy before a show to talk about his journey to Anatevka, the setting of Fiddler, the importance of the story (and not just to the Jewish population) and his personal emotional investment into this production. We were also joined by Paul Bogaev, the Emmy and Grammy winning musical director of Fiddler, who just happened to be walking through the foyer. We think you’ll agree he had some fascinating insights into this production.
Just a warning...there is some swearing in this episode.
Way back when Curtain Call was in its infancy, we got to see Showstoppers when they were in the West End at the Apollo Theatre and I was floored by their improvisational skills and their absolute genius at making a musical out of a few suggestions from the audience. We were in stitches in the auditorium. Even the ushers were weeping with laughter… It was something to behold.
So I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to bring you a little chat with the co-founders of Showstoppers Dylan Emery and Adam Meggido, as well as the musical director, Duncan Walsh Atkins...who’s job is to keep up with the lightning fast improv taking place on stage and to somehow come up with any number of musical styles from across the ages at the drop of a hat…
Showstoppers - The Improvised Musical runs from the 22nd of January to 16th March 2019
Last week we brought you the first part of a two-part episode with Polly Bennett, the movement director behind Rami Malek’s breathtaking transformation into Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury for the hit film Bohemian Rhapsody.
And although Polly chats just a little bit more about how anyone can use techniques employed on the film, we really wanted to delve deep into her passion project and full time job as creator of The Monobox. The Monobox is one of the best resources around for “emerged” actors, a word that Polly is owning...and to be honest, I love!
In the first part of a two-part discussion, we speak to Polly Bennett - a woman who has taken the idea and profession of Movement Director to new heights.
You may have heard Polly a few times in our podcasts before when we brought you podcasts from the company she co-founded, Monobox. In addition to being a superwoman running a business that supports artists, she worked with the RSC before going on to work at multiple Olympics ceremonies and top notch cross-over directors like Sam Mendes, who she worked with directly after Bohemian Rhapsody on the absolutely thrilling “Lehman Trilogy” at the National Theatre.
Curtain Call’s Theo Bosanquet and Curtain Call co-founder Matt Humphrey sat down (in a sometimes noisy Above the Arts Club) to talk to Polly about how she found herself as the go to movement director. Now, as this chat was nearly an hour, we are going to make this one a two-parter. In this episode, Polly brings us the story of her journey from the National Youth Theatre to being on set every day with the spitting image of Freddie Mercury.
This week, we sit down with the writer of the world premiere of "Omish" - written and co-devised by former Curtain Call employee Sophie Soanes and directed by Ewa Dina, as well of two of its cast members Joyce Omotola and Naomi Emanuelle at Above the Arts Club last week. We were super impressed by the enthusiasm at which this group of women was attacking the problems of not only putting on a play in London, but also starting a production company. All the while keeping their day jobs...and their sanity…
To commemorate the final week of what has been a tremendous run, I thought I would bring you the rest of the company of King Lear that we didn’t get to hear from in episode 97. Their run has been a sold out success and it has truly been one of the highlights of my theatre outings this year.
I managed to grab the guys and chat to most of them in the interval about what it was like having nearly 50% of the cast join them in the West End from Chichester Festival Theatre’s transfer of Jonathan Munby’s production of Lear. It’s always an interesting topic to chat about, and I think that this cast and company gelled extremely quickly and sound like their have had a blast…
You will hear (in order of 'appearance') Michael Matus, James Corrigan, Richard Clews, Anthony Howell, John Hastings, John Vernon, Scott Sparrow, James Millard, Caleb Roberts, Jake Mann, Johanne Murdock and Jessica Murrain.
Michael Matus, James Corrigan, Richard Clews, Anthony Howell, John Hastings, John Vernon, Scott Sparrow, James Millard, Caleb Roberts, Jake Mann, Johanne Murdock and Jessica Murrain.
We are taking you on a slightly different journey this week. We had the pleasure of meeting Carys Williams at the Professional Lighting and Sound Association show in London last month. We started talking about the theatre where she works - The John Lyons Theatre. We were amazed that we had never heard of that theatre before, so we knew we just had to sit down to talk to Carys about it.
The John Lyons Theatre is located in Covent Garden within the CityLit building on Keeley Street between Holborn and Covent Garden tube stations. This is the ideal venue to host plays, theatre events, musical workshops...you name it.
I sat down with Carys and asked her speak about what’s on offer there, both in continuing professional development opportunities for the theatre professional, but also about the history of the theatre, their recent productions and just how you can use this facility for a upcoming project yourself.
If anything you heard today has piqued your interest, and perhaps you would like to take a look at their course book and offerings, head over to https://www.citylit.ac.uk/courses. They have loads of possibilities for theatre professionals to brush up on their skills like Stage management and technical theatre production or Prop Making for TV, Film and Theatre. There are plenty of acting, voice and directing courses too. And if you are thinking of looking at using the John Lyons theatre go to
https://www.citylit.ac.uk/venue-hire-john-lyons-theatre or get in touch with Carys at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7492 2615. CityLit are celebrating their Centenary and would love to see you at their celebratory events - check out https://www.citylit.ac.uk/our-centenary for all information.
Milly Thomas doesn’t pull any punches in either her acting or her writing, and her latest play "Dust" tackles the issue of depression and suicide head on with no apologies.
The issue of mental health and the stigmas surrounding it have been brought to the fore by the news of the suicides of prominent musicians such as Dolores O'Riordan from The Cranberries, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden or Avicii and the highly public suicide of Robin Williams was just as shocking to those who knew him well as to all of us who were just fans of a man who we all remember as someone who made us do nothing but laugh.
And watching a play about suicide, where a young girl takes her own life (no spoiler alerts, it starts the play)...you wouldn’t expect to laugh. But you do. Straight away. And that is the genius of Dust, currently running at The Trafalgar Studios.
This is a play that challenges you to keep watching, even though what you are watching is so painful that it brings you to tears. And why shouldn’t you cry as well as laugh? Well, you should, in my opinion. And that’s why you need to go see this show.
In one of our most honest chats to date, I sat down with Milly Thomas to talk to her about the genesis of her show, its journey to the West End, and all of the emotions contained therein.
Samaritans Phone Number: 116 123 (UK & ROI)
Jonathan Munby’s production of King Lear, currently running at the Duke of York’s Theatre having transferred from Chichester and starring Sir Ian McKellan, feels astonishingly apt for today’s climate of geo-political posturing, with a map of Europe being ripped apart by Lear at one point.
We sat down and talked to some of the women in the cast about a number of unique aspects to this production, including the gender-swapping of the role of Kent played by Sinead Cusack.
Kirsty Bushell, Claire Price and Anita-Joy Uwajeh, who play Lear's daughters had more to offer including a number of cast changes. Nearly half of the company are new to the production which can be tricky. We also touched upon the political aspects of the play - something which Sinead Cusack also had a bit to say about.
This week, I had the privilege of sharing the platform with Cherrelle Skeete (actress and found of Blacktress.co.uk), long-time RSC stalwart actor Sam Marks and director Zoé Ford, currently Associate Director for Sam Mendes on the Lehman Trilogy at the National Theatre.
Curated by The Mono Box's Polly Bennett, the panel's discussion were kicked off by two questions about mental health and issues of self-worth. Those two questions took half an hour to address, and I thought I would let you listen to how the conversation unfolded. I found it fascinating, and hopefully you will, too. It is apparent that we, in this industry, find it very hard to talk about how we are feeling, and yet we are expected to bare our souls in front of a camera or audience.
This week, Matt Humphrey and I sat down to talk with Vicki Mortimer, multi-award-winning designer...and just all round fantastic theatre professional.
Vicki’s career is so full and varied, it’s one to be envied for anyone considering a career in theatre design. And not just theatre as we speak about it on day to day, but any production in a theatre. Musicals, drama, dance, opera, ballet...you name it, she has designed it.
Just some of the theatres she has designed for include the National Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre, ENO, Royal Opera House, The Young Vic, Glyndebourne, Scottish National Ballet, Shakespeare's Globe... the list goes on.
This week is our first ever podcast brought to you specifically to celebrate an NT Live broadcast. We are bringing you some backstage chats with the cast of the National’s Lyttelton Theatre’s current production of “Julie” including “The Crown’s” Vanessa Kirby and Eric Kofi-Abrefa, recently seen onstage at the National in “The Amen Corner”.
The company talk about how exciting it is bringing this 19th Century Swedish classic to the 21st Century London and being able to share it beyond the walls of the National Theatre's home on the South Bank to cinemas around the globe.
This week, Curtain Call’s Theo Bosanquet chats with George Richmond Scott, the director of “Blood Wedding” - the inaugural production in Omnibus Theatre’s autumn season.
Theo talked to George about his career as a vocal coach, how that role has helped him develop as a director, his time at the Sheffield Crucible, assisting on “Everybody’s Talking about Jamie”, why he chose “Blood Wedding” as his next project and why he set it in London in this reimagining of the piece.
Bring It On was a cult hit movie, loosely translated for the stage with one of the show's composers someone you may have heard of...Lin Manuel Miranda. Set in two competing high schools (hence to two different composers with two completely different sounds), the musical is a camp exposé of the “bitchiness” (in air quotes) that can exist in the world of cheerleading and the rollercoaster ride that is life in an American high school, with it’s cliques of jocks, geeks and everybody in between.
We got to chat to company members from the British Theatre Academy's production including Robin McIntyre (who plays super-earnest Campbell) and Isabella Pappas (who plays super-bitchy Skylar) along with musical director Chris Ma before the show at the Southwark Playhouse.
This week, I talk to the company of the latest revival of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice which begins playing at The Park Theatre later this month, where the director Tom Latter believes that, despite being nearly 30 years old, the play absolutely stands up in today’s fame-crazed social media driven world. Also, this production boasts a real mother and daughter team in Sally George and Rafaella Hutchinson taking on the roles of Mari and LV. They also had a bit to say about what it’s like in the rehearsal room watching their family member being spoken to like they’ve never heard before...
During the hottest stretch of hot summer weather we can remember in years here in the UK, we are bringing you some of our favourite chats from that last few years of the coolest Americans that have come over to play on the London stage - with each of the following three making their London theatrical debuts, and all of them known for their star turns on screen. Listen to John Goodman, Uzo Aduba and Michael C Hall share their experiences from the London stage.
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Rafe Spall can currently be seen in the latest blockbuster from the Jurassic stable playing Eli MIlls, a scheming businessman trying to bend his immediate world to his doing. And the same can be said about his role in Hedda Gabler, playing the unnerving puppet master Judge Brack, orchestrating the downfall of pretty much everyone else in the Ibsen’s classic, and with Ivo van Hove pulling out every bit of charismatic suave machismo from Spall.
We sat down with Rafe and talked about Ivo van Hove’s rehearsal process, the intricacies of trying to look cool at all times on stage, avoiding slip ups on rose petals (you’ll have to listen to see what I mean) and just what it takes to come back to the stage as not only a theatre professional, but a theatre professional with a young family.
For the last 30 years, the Stage Management Association (SMA)has been presenting awards to the Stage Managers - students and professionals alike - with awards that recognise their hard work through hardship, misstep and mishap, hard work that ensured that the shows would go on.
We attended the ABTT Theatre Show in Alexandra Palace a couple of weeks ago and had the pleasure of attending the awards ceremony. Curtain Call thought we would shine a light on the proceedings.
I sat down with one of the founders of The Stable Musicals, Neil Marcus, a theatre producer with a distinguished history of developing new musicals and a massive supporter of emerging British musical theatre talent to discuss the growth of The Stable Musicals, their slate of new musicals and just how far they have come in the last four years.
Alex Hassell is a veteran of the London stage. Curtain Call have covered two shows with him in the shape of Henry V at The Barbican and Death of a Salesman at the Noel Coward Theatre. But before that, Alex’s career and the people he has worked with is like a “who’s who” of the industry including directors John Dove, Tim Caroll and Gregory Doran and on stage talent such as Dame Harriet Walter, Antony Sher and Mark Rylance.
But there’s a project that Alex has been involved with for the last 10 years, and one that he is intensely proud of (as you can tell when you’re listening to him). The Factory is a theatre company like no other. No sets, no props, no blocking, no set cast, no auditions, open rehearsals...you name the theatrical convention and they are tearing it down.
I went to go see a show, as they say in the business. And that show was “Building The Wall” at The Park Theatre. Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Robert Schenkkan’s hard-hitting piece, imagining a world where, after a terrorist attack set in the very near future, President Trump imposes martial law with all immigrants “legal or otherwise” rounded up and put into internment camps.
This play is exactly the kind of play that I love to watch. Vital and current and one that needed to be written. I got to speak to Angela and Trevor about their thoughts on the play at the Park Theatre, performing in front of major theatre stars, the immediacy of this new piece and what keeps bringing them back to the theatre.
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Earlier in the year, we had the pleasure to visit the incredible show An American in Paris. I don’t think we have covered a show that was so full of triple threats… and maybe even quadruple threats - singing, acting, dancing, and stage management / technicians. There was so little in the way of automation of set pieces coming on, it was dazzling to see so much movement from the company, pushing and pulling, in between incredibly complicated singing and even more complicated dance numbers….
The EU are bringing in regulations that will stop theatres from using bulbs and fixtures that don’t comply with new regulations that is being brought into law in September of this year. And I’m not just talking London and regional theatres, but sports halls, community theatres, lecture halls and more…
Curtain Call co-founder, Matt Humphrey, sat down with multiple award-winning lighting designer Paule Constable to talk about the proposed regulations and explain in simple terms what it means for the industry here in the UK and across Europe.
Read more about the proposals here.
We had the pleasure of making a show visit to The Grinning Man, currently playing at The Trafalgar Studios. Based on the novel ‘The Man Who Laughs” by Victor Hugo, the musical was created by War Horse director Tom Morris at the Bristol Old Vic. He brought together Tim Philips and Mark Teitler, a book by Carl Grose and all four of them collaborated on the lyrics.
We sat down with Sean Kingsley, Sanne Den Besten and Louis Maskell about how hard it is to place and describe The Grinning Man, the transfer from The Bristol Old Vic, working with puppets and keeping the voice in fine working order in one of toughest sings on stage at the moment.