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  • Writer's pictureThat Stagey Blog

My Stagey Week 38

On Monday evening I was back at the Bridge House Theatre to watch the brilliant Tick Tick Boom.

‪An poignant and fresh revival of Jonathan Larson’s brilliant work directed by Guy Retallack with MD Jamie Ross and produced by CliMar Productions.

I was incredibly excited to see this show having previously interviewed cast members James Hume, Alexander Lodge and Georgie Ashford.

The interview can be found here:

Tick Tick Boom is a musical written by Jonathan Larson before he went on to write Rent, and was based on his own life at the point where he turned thirty in 1990. Jonathan then passed away six years later in 1996.

In 2001 David Auburn revised and redeveloped the one man show for three actors.

Having last seen the show at the Park Theatre in 2017, I remember his poignant it feels to watch Jonathan’s story knowing that within six years he would be dead.

Whether you watch Tick Tick Boom knowing this, and whether your a fan of Rent or not, doesn’t prevent you from appreciating this show and the themes it conveys as it’s central character navigates his existential crisis at the prospect of turning thirty, the show also accumulates in the character discovering that his best friend has AIDS, an aspect of the story that this production handles incredibly well.

Alexander Lodge brings a fresh new take on the character of Jon, drawing from his own experiences of mental health and anxiety which Alex has talked openly about. Alex commands the complexity of Jon’s character with skill and control whilst bringing out humour and warmth. His voice dominates the rock score whilst his live piano playing also impresses.

It’s also worth noting that, three days before the performance I saw, Alex lost his grandmother whom he was very close to. Added to the complexities of this performance, I was astounded by how Alex held it all together and incredibly impressed.

James Hume and Georgie Ashford are also perfectly cast, covering principally the roles of Jon’s best friend Michael and girlfriend Susan as well assuming all the additional characters. Their performances are sensitive and empathic whilst also light and funny where they need to be.

All three sound superb when their voices come together for the final and most poignant song ‘Louder Than Words’ where Jonathan Larson’s lyrics remain incredibly relevant.

The music, which in some places foreshadows Rent, is just as superb, and all in all this is an accomplished and perfectly formed musical.

The production sits perfectly in the intimate setting of the Bridge House Theatre, with the simple New York skyline painted on the walls that wrap around the set which comprises of a sofa, a couple of chairs and a keyboard.

Tick Tick Boom is on until 27th October

Despite rail disruptions I managed to then make it to Freedom Bar Soho to watch the Kinky Kabaret takeover featuring some of the cast of Brooklyn the Musical.

Led by Kinky Kabaret regular Sabrina Aloueche and joined by Emily-Mae Walker, Jodie Beth Meyer, Andrew Patrick Walker and host Carl Mullaney.

The cast sang three songs from the show before each singing two additional songs including some incredible pop covers.

Andrew Patrick Walker, who I had met in Manchester at the Hope Mill Theatre during the production of Jerry Springer the Opera, sounded incredible. He has undeniable stage presence and a killer voice, which he showcased as he broke from the stage to weave between the audience as he performed Disclosure by Sam Smith.

Brooklyn the Musical runs until 19th October at Greenwich Theatre.

Here are some of the videos from the evening:

‘Heart Behind These Hands’

Emily-Mae Walker performing ‘Raven’

Jodie Beth Meyer performing ‘Once Upon A Time’

Sabrina Aloueche and Andrew Patrick Walker performing ‘Shallow’

Andrew Patrick Walker performing ‘Ain’t Nobody’

Emily-Mae Walker and Carl Mullaney performing ‘Suddenly Seymour’

Andrew Patrick Walker performing ‘Disclosure’ by Sam Smith

On Tuesday morning despite my late night before I was up early to make my way to the Crazy Coq to meet and interview the new line up of the Celtic fusion group The Four Harps.

Founded by Ryan Lynch and Kevin Fagan they brought along their newest member Fergal O’Hanlon, he joins the group after Kian Zomorodian accepted a job performing on a cruise ship.

Fergal joins Ryan, Kevin and existing member Conor O’Kane, in time for their upcoming gig at the Crazy Coq on 4th November at 7pm.

I had first met Ryan when he was in the musical Bathhouse at Above the Stag. Kevin I had met as he regularly sings at Archer Street, abc Fergal I had met when he used to work at the Phoenix Arts Club.

The boys are great craic, as they say, and their arrangements are created by Toby Nelms who also creates arrangements for the Ida Girls.

Here is the interview with the boys:

On Tuesday evening I was at the press night for The Man in the White Suit.

Written and directed by Sean Foley based on the film from 1951.

It stars the hilarious comic actor Stephen Mangan with the gorgeous Strictly Come Dancing winner and theatre star Kara Tointon.

Along with Sue Johnston. Richard Cordery. Richard Durden. Delroy Atkinson. Ben Deery. Matthew Durkan. Rina Fatania. Oliver Kaderbhai.. Elliott Rennie. Katherine Toy.

As well as two friends of mine, Katie Bernstein and Eugene McCoy.

Katie and I met when she understudied Kerry Ellis in the Rent in Concert tour, and Eugene and I both grew up together in the North-East.

I’ll be honest, ordinarily this is perhaps not a show that I would have seen, had it not been for the fact my friends were in it. Having said that, I did actually enjoy it none the less.

It is a traditional, old school farce, which works well enough and is comfortably enjoyable.

What I liked about it, was the use of traditional theatrical techniques, models and quick changes aid the slap stick comedy.

The original music by Charlie Fink is also very good, echoing One Man Two Guvnors, Matthew Durkan is adorable as he leads the on stage band.

There’s nothing ground breaking about this production but it is a good old frolic, with Stephen Mangan’s comic delivery perfect at every point.

Kara Tointon has an accomplished grasp of her accent and performance and is utilised well, incorporating a brilliant dance sequence in which she looks simply stunning.

Although based on source material that is nearly 70 years old, the writing and political references are incredibly timely, and there are some very sharp one liners sprinkled throughout the show that are brilliant.

It is booking straight through until 11th January

At the after party I got the chance to catch up with the fabulous Brenda Edwards who looked impeccable in a white suit, she can soon be seen in the new production of White Christmas.

I also chatted to Katie and caught up with Eugene as well as his sister, TV actress Maimie McCoy and the gorgeous Kaisa Hammarlund who was in Violet and Fun Home.

On Wednesday I caught up for lunch with my friend Ben, a former actor who appeared in Queer As Folk. Ben now manages the Cahoots bar, and wanted to chat to me about some exciting plans he has for the venue, which I’m looking forward to.

After this I went to watch the new movie Judy starring Renee Zellweger. It’s based on the play End of the Rainbow and focuses on Judy Garland and the months leading up to her death in 1969, during which she gave her last performances in London at the Talk of The Town theatre which is now the Hippodrome casino.

It is a beautiful film and a terrific insight into Judy Garlands life. I also got to spot Gillian Parkhouse, Matt Nalton and Luke Fertherston who all worked on the movie.

On Wednesday evening I attended the press night for new play Mites at the Tristan Bates Theatre.

Written by James Mannion and directed by Marcus Marsh through his company Blueleaf Theatre.

They describe Mites as a new darkly absurdist play that explores manipulating in relationships, and warns that it depicts themes of mental illness and paranoia.

Performed by Claire Marie Hall, Richard Henderson and George Howard who as well as playing human characters, also play household mites and a cat.

It is very bizarre and surreal yet performed exceptionally, and the message is conveyed very well.

It was a refreshingly different piece of theatre which worked well and is a good indication of the work that Blueleaf are setting out to produce.

It is on until 26th October

After this I went to watch Black Girl Magic featuring Coco Vadose aka Sean Perkins with Grant Thresh and Ian Oswald from last night at Freedom Bar Soho.

Sean Perkins is an incredible performer who spent six years in Wicked before moving on to Dreamgirls and is now in the Book of Mormon. Throughout this he developed his drag persona Coco Vadose and was part of the team who created the Mad Drag charity evenings.

His shows are always exceptional, and his dancing prowess is exemplary.

On Thursday I was filming a scene for the EastEnders New Year episode, which was fun.

It was also World Mental Health Day and I acknowledged this by reposting a selection of interviews which tackle mental health.

In each they talk openly about mental health and the industry.

Alexander Lodge

Ryan Anderson

Alex Gwyther

On Friday I was invited to interview the notorious judge from All Together Now, Paulus.

I was a little apprehensive, as I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect, I was however intrigued to find out whether Paulus who came across as a “panto villain” in the TV show was just playing up to the cameras and what he was really about.

I had looked at some other videos that Paulus had begun to upload since achieving notoriety from the BBC series.

Paul welcome me to his home, where he poured us each a glass of wine as I set up my camera. He seemed friendly and charming and very engaging.

I felt comfortable probing Paulus about his career and experience with reality TV, and found him to be very interesting and insightful, we chatted for nearly an hour about the industry and how he has watched it evolve during his 30 year career. Paulus also talked about the evolution of cabaret and how he is having to adapt his act to keep with the times and the influence of YouTube and social media.

From listening to Paulus and watching some of his videos, he is a very experienced and passionate artist, and is definitely someone I will continue to follow and champion.

His interview can be found here:

After this, I had afternoon tea with Andrew Keates as we filmed a special interview for a project I am developing.

We then went to the Two Brewers where Bagga Chips from Ru Paul’s Drag Race was performing. It was nice to let my hair done.

On Saturday the weather was miserable so I decided to just stay in and watch TV. It was nice just to relax at home for a change.

Then on Sunday I was at the Showtime Challenge 48-hour Musicals presentation of Singin’ In The Rain.

Hosted by Julian Clary in aid of The Lewy Body Society, and led by Alyn Hawke. Maria Coyne and Sam Peggs.

The supporting cast included Ann-Marie Craine. R.F. Simpson. Adam Scott Pringle. Suanne Braun and Kate Playdon.

And an incredible ensemble including,

Francesca Pim. Alex White. Patrick Lewin. Samuel Bailey. Chris Draper. Ciaran Walshe. Jordan Harrington. Matt Faull. Elize Layton. Scott Topping. Joey Warne. Ryan Alexander Full. Alex McDonald-Smith. Beth Lyons. Charlotte George. Leanne Coupland. Danny Whelan. Lucy Beresford. Annabel Edwards. Ben Hutt. Chris Gannon. Daniel Philipson. Ella-Jane Thomas. Ellie Van Gele. Josephine Ssemuyaba. Kaitlin Reynell. Kathryn Sinclair. Laura Hyde. Katie Porter. Lauren Shields. Laurel Dougall. Simon Thompson. Jack Donald. Alice Mills. Chloe Wigmore. Lauren Edwards. Alvin Zapata. Emily Kate Bowers. Emma Howell. Honor O’Neill. Mia Papadopoulou. Norah ‘Norealle’ Opara. Rebecca Thomas. Sophie Clarke. Elizabeth Bewley. Ellie Green. Ciara Power. Aisling Turner. Alexis Canning. Amy Guppy. Angus Jacobs. Anna Murray. Anna Robertson. Aoife Hosford. Ashley Johnson. Ben Rawlings. Caitlin Brown. Carrie-Louise Knight. Charlotte Wood. Claire Lander. Clare McCreadie. Courtney Hows. Daphne Genee. Lizzie Brown. Elizabeth Bright. Elli Hosier. Hannah Pask. Ewan Hawkins. Georgia O’Reilly. Hannah Lowther. Hannah Victoria-Bennett. Hettie Pearson. Mikayla Jade. Jennifer Rosalyn. Lizzie Treece. Maddie Daley-Brown. Meg McCarthy. Morgen Scott. Natasha Goodman. Nicole Norman. Priscilla Binnersley. Rebecca Kate. Robbie Fell. Rosanna High. Sam Carlyle. Samantha Richards. Sarah Spence. Shelby Speed. Skye Adams. Sophie Allen-Murray. Tom Hayden. Victoria Gardner. Will Emery. Zara Naeem. Zoe Pembroke. Alexia Collard. Samuel O’Shea. Alfie Hall. Ljay Yarroll. Joseph J Perry. Matthew Warwick. Jonny Gilbey. John Heaney. Aaron Wood. Elliott Evans. Ethan Vijn. Oliver Tafe. Matthew Bourne. Adam Richards.

The teams incredibly put together this whole show in just two days, and it was honestly remarkable.

I had forgotten how much I enjoy the show in itself, and I was blown away by how much they achieved.

Alyn Hawke who has spent most of his career as an understudy is an exceptional leading man, his voice and movements are second only to his brilliance as an actor. It was honestly a joy to watch him command the stage in a role which he was made to play.

Opposite him Maria Coyne looked and sounded stunning, with Sam Peggs delivering a brilliant and captivating comic performance.

I have to give a special mention to Samuel Bailey who played young Don who managed to overcome his mic pack dropping out. Rushing in to the wings to have it removed before returning to the stage to complete his dance, he was met with a rapturous applause from the incredibly supportive and understanding audience.

The entire evening was brilliant, as I joined the cast for an after party, with friends who also watched the show.

Singin’ In The Rain unfortunately clashed with West End Bares which was also on that evening. At one point I did consider trying to see half of each show, but ultimately decided to support my friends in Singin’ In The Rain.

West End Bares has been running for ten years now, and I have attended most of those, as has Darren Bell who I was surprised to see also miss this years show in favour of Singin’ In The Rain.

Both shows undoubtedly were brilliant achievements and testament to everyone who generously gave up their own time for free to take part.

The accompanying video for this week’s journal can be found on my YouTube channel here:

And the audio version can be found as a podcast here:

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