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Showing posts with label in conversation with. Show all posts

In Conversation With... Emma Kingston | Interview

In Conversation With... Emma Kingston | Interview

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In my opinion, Emma Kingston has one of the absolute best voices on the West End. I've been fortunate enough to see her in a number of shows and concerts, including Les Miserables, In The Heights and most recently, the stunning Fiddler on the Roof at the Chichester Festival theatre. Emma was kind enough to sit down and discuss Fiddler, After Anatevka, her hidden passion and more...




Have you always aspired to be a performer or did you have a different dream when you were younger?

I've always wanted to be a performer. I used to sing Les Mis and Anything Goes with my dad all the time. 



Have you got any hidden passions you’d like to pursue?

I love Psychology! As an actor I love getting inside a characters brain. I studied Psychology at A Level and I would love to further my understanding of why people are the way they are. Furthering my study's would interest me as well as it being useful as an actor.



What drew you to the role of Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof- are the two of you alike in any ways?

I'm jewish, so growing up Fiddler was always being quoted around the house. I used to watch the film with my grandma. Also, ‘Far from the Home I Love’ was the first song I ever sang in a singing lesson when I was 11.



How is this production bringing something new to the well-loved musical?

We are so lucky that our production in Chichester has amazing new orchestrations by David White and new choreography by Alistair David, bringing a fresh take on the brilliant musical.

Sam MacKay (Usnavi) and Emma Kingston (Vanessa) in In The Heights

Do you feel any extra responsibility or pressure playing one of the few explicitly Jewish female characters in musical theatre?

I feel a responsibility to show the traditions in a way that people of other cultures can relate to. I want to show people that Judaism is a way of life as well as a religion. The community aspect for me is so important.



What’s your research process like for each role you take on, has After Anatevka helped add a new dimension to your portrayal?

For Fiddler I dived into researching about Russia pre 1905 and Russian attitudes towards jewish people. Also looking at Jewish culture in shetles in Russia. My paternal grandparents were children of immigrants from Lithuania and Oddessa, so I had lots of family history to draw on.

After Anatevka I am enjoying so much, especially now I understand so much more about Hodel. I’m loving reading her journey after she leaves home, and how Alexandra has filled in the parts of Fiddler that we don't see in the musical. 



If you’d written After Anatevka would you have given Hodel the same after story? 

Alexandra's story has portrayed so many aspects of Hodel's life during the Fiddler story and after that I thought about a lot. Especially the way she highlights her relationship with her sisters and Perchik. As I'm reading, I feel that the story all completely slots into place and I can't imagine her next journey any other way.



Tradition is obviously the central theme in Fiddler. Do you have any family traditions?

My family traditions are the Fiddler traditions! Every Friday night my family and I get together for a shabbat meal. We celebrate Jewish festivals like Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement), Passover and many others.

Emma Kingston (Hodel), Simbi Akande (Tzeitel) , Rose Shalloo (Chava) in Fiddler on the Roof

How do you keep your voice healthy? Do you have any vocal rituals?

Drink endless amounts of water and concentrate on centring your breathing.  



If you had a magic wand, which show would you do next?

After Fiddler, I'm playing Eva Peron in the Hal Prince production of Evita, international tour and I can't wait! My mum is Argentine, so it's a huge bucket list role, much like Hodel in Fiddler is! 



Whats a fun fact people might not know about you?

One of my first words was Archemeaies (the owl from sword in the stone) my parents were so proud haha! 



What’s your best piece of advice for an aspiring performer?


Don't compare your journey to anybody else's. Be original. I read a quote by Steve Martin "Be so good they can't ignore you”, to me that means work as hard as you can on being the best you can be.



Thank you so much Emma for taking the time for this interview. Fiddler on the Roof runs until September 2nd. 

Read my review of After Anatevka here and keep an eye out for an interview with Alexandra Silber and a giveaway!

In Conversation With... Kirsty MacLaren | Interview

In Conversation With... Kirsty MacLaren | Interview

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I'm back with another Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour post (see my recent interview with Karen here)! Today I bring you a chat about all things Our Ladies with the lovely Kirsty MacLaren who plays Manda!



For anyone that doesn’t know, can you explain a little about your career and what your highlights have been so far?

Well, for me, doing Our Ladies has been the highlight. I’ve covered so many career goals on this job, from working with National Theatre of Scotland, performing at the National Theatre, touring internationally and now working in the West End. Plus originating a role is a pretty special experience. It’s been the job that has kept on giving, to be honest.

Before I started Our Ladies, and during the breaks we’ve had, I’ve been lucky to do some really diverse work where I’ve learned so much. I’ve worked at Pitlochry Festival Theatre for a year, played Lulu in a series of radio dramas and performed with companies like the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh. These experiences give you the chance to really learn what it is to be an actor.


Were you born wanting to be a performer or did you have another career path in mind when you were younger?

I always has lots of energy as a child and was sent to dance lessons to tire me out. I come from a musical family so was always exposed to different types of music, although I didn't really know anyone who had acted professionally. I loved doing amateur dramatics and going to acting classes when I was little, but I had always wanted to be a lawyer until I sort of fell into doing the arts. I went to a Knightswood Secondary, which has a performing arts school attached, and knew then that I had to go down that path.


Our Ladies is just epically brilliant. When you first started working on it did you know it was something special?

I think that we were all so excited with this piece we had made that we weren’t really thinking about how much of a hit it might be. We certainly couldn't have imagined the success that we have had over the 2 years of doing it. The team that are on it are amazing and we were having such a good time creating this piece of theatre that was totally different to anything anyone had done before. But the reception that we got on our first night at the Traverse is something I’ll never forget.




I saw the show at both The National and at the Duke of York and it didn’t lose any of it’s intimate feel or charm. Does the way you work and rehearse change for different venues?

The show relies so much on story telling so whether you are in a small 100 seat venue or an 800 seat venue, that principle stays the same. What changes is how much you have to project in each venue, but as long as you think about telling the story to the person at the very back or top of the theatre, you can’t go wrong.


There are so many styles of music in the show. Does this come naturally or did you have to learn to sing different styles?

I’m trained in different vocal styles, but rarely do you have to mash them together in one show. It’s tiring on the voice, but once you build up the stamina, it becomes much easier.


How do you keep your voice healthy? Do you have any vocal rituals?

We always do a big group warm up together before the show which gets you ready. It’s really important to rest when you can. I’ve also got a vocal steamer helps stop your voice drying out.


Besides yourself, who would you like to see play your role?

I’m a big fan of Morven Christie. She’s seen the show and tweets about it a lot. I think she’d fit right in with us girls.


Can you sum up Our Ladies in five words?

Bold; life-affirming; hilarious; heartbreaking; female



Have you had any funny onstage or offstage mishaps in the show?

Often! We are always laughing at each other on stage. I remember going on with my mic on the outside of my clothes. The other girls didn't tell me until quite a bit through the show. I didn't know what they were laughing at until I eventually realised, and by that point, it was too late.


Is there a musical or play you’ve seen recently that you loved?

I’ve been able to see quite a lot of theatre this summer while I’ve been in London. I loved The Glass Menagerie and Half a Sixpence - both very different, but both brilliant.


Whats a fun fact people might not know about you?

I work as a fitness instructor in my spare time. Its a great job when I’m not acting as its flexible, plus I can fit classes in during the day when I’m working in a show.


What’s your best piece of advice for an aspiring performer?

Every opportunity is a good opportunity. Whether you're at youth theatre, am-dram, drama school or a professional show, you can learn from every experience. Listen to any advice you can get and never be scared to ask for help.



A huge thank you to Kirsty for doing this interview! 
Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour runs at the Duke of York's until September 2nd 2017

In Conversation With... Karen Fishwick | Interview

In Conversation With... Karen Fishwick | Interview

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I am an absolutely massive fan of Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour (it was number 5 in my Top 10 Shows of 2016) and its incredible cast. One of its members is Karen Fishwick who plays the role of Kay spectacularly. She embodies various other characters brilliantly and is just a fantastic performer. Karen was lovely enough to sit down and answer some questions and the show, the music and advice for aspiring performers.


For anyone that doesn’t know, can you explain a little about your career and what your highlights have been so far?

I went straight from high school to Motherwell College where I did two years of Musical Theatre (HND) and rounding off my BAhons on the Acting course. Before that, all through high school my summers were filled with any creative short courses I could possibly apply for - acting, opera, contemporary dance, circus. I wanted to do it all. I think these were valuable training without noticing it at the time.


Were you born wanting to be a performer or did you have another career path in mind when you were younger?

It was always there though I do remember a brief spell of hoping to become a zoo keeper. I remember playing defense on the school football team; everyone chased the ball to the other end of the pitch while I'd stand there on my own and sing. And thus my dazzling football career came to an end.


Our Ladies is just epically brilliant. When you first started working on it did you know it was something special?

Thanks, that's kind. No, I mean, you never know do you? You, of course, always hope a piece will be received well but if you go in thinking "this could be the next big hit" you're kinda focussing on the wrong thing. When I first read it, I was amazed at how different it was to anything else I'd ever auditioned for and that was thrilling. That made it stand out for me. I don't remember rehearsing and thinking oh wow, this is going to be nuts. It was really hard work, that's all we were thinking. Gotta nail this bit, then this bit. When the first audience response came at the Traverse in 2015, that was the moment. I'll never forget it.


I saw the show both at The National and at the Duke of York and it didn’t lose any of it’s intimate feel or charm. Does the way you work at rehearse change at different venues? 

Absolutely. With every single new venue we played, as soon as we got onto the stage it was "ok, what are we dealing with here". We need to know there isn't one corner we'll miss flinging this story at. Eye-balling the audience is one of my favourite parts of the show. The sound would feel different depending on how big or small and venue was. The huge rock moments or intimate confessions need to carry the same wether we're at the brilliantly close Live Theatre in Newcastle or the Theatre Royal in Brighton. Vicky always made sure it was the first thing we'd address.


There are so many styles of music in the show. Does this come naturally or did you have to learn to sing different styles?

A mixture, I think. The classical to rock stuff has different demands. Even within the ELO numbers themselves, they're songs are eclectic! Martin Lowe, our beyond wonderful MD leaves no stone unturned there and we worked hard with him on each sound. His attention to detail for each different style is what makes the show so successful. 


How do you keep your voice healthy? Do you have any vocal rituals?

I didn't sing in the play I did before this so a few weeks before we started rehearsal, I made sure I was strengthening it up. I found YouTube videos for that (thank you Verba Vocal Technique). I drinks tonnes of water and try to keep on top of tension in my neck and shoulders. Steaming is good. And not being hungover.


Besides yourself, who would you like to see play your role?

Can I pick anyone? Christopher Walken.


Can you sum up Our Ladies in five words?

Messy. Honest. Loud. Touching. Empowering.


Have you had any funny onstage or offstage mishaps in the show?

For sure. I panicked and took off one shoe once. Did a couple scenes without it. I really didn't know when I'd be able to put it back on. Another time, I accidentally threw a box of candy sticks straight into the face of a girl sitting on stage. Other venues didn't have a chair there, it was muscle memory gone daft! She lived.

Karen Fishwick (Kay), Caroline Deyga (Chell), Melissa Allan (Orla), Frances Maylie McCann (Kylah), Kirsty MacLaren (Manda), Dawn Sievewright (Fionnula)

Is there a musical or play you’ve seen recently that you loved?

I freaking loved Book of Mormon! I thought it was so funny and done so well. There's so such much I wanted to see but can't make; Angels in America, Hamlet


What’s a fun fact people might not know about you?

My great, great, great, great grandfather was a tiny little mushroom.


What’s your best piece of advice for an aspiring performer?

If you work as hard as you possibly can, you will not fail. You will not. What about luck? Work hard to generate it. Nothing will happen if you don't work for it.


A huge thank you to Karen for doing this interview! Keep your eyes peeled for another Our Ladies interview coming soon!
Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour runs at the Duke of York's until September 2nd 2017

In Conversation With... Rufus Hound | Interview

In Conversation With... Rufus Hound | Interview

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Rufus Hound started out his career as a comedian but over the last few years has been a frequent star of the stage and is currently making audiences laugh starring as Mr. Toad in The Wind in the Willows at the London Palladium. He was lovely enough to do an interview with me where he talks about his transition from comedy to theatre and much more...



For anyone that doesn't know, could you explain a little about your career and highlights so far?

Sure. I started off as a stand-up comedian having grown up as a kid always wanting to be a stage actor and when the opportunity to do actual stage acting arose, I couldn't quite believe it. Jumped at it with both hands and that's really what I've concentrated on doing even since. It's been how I've earns a living I think for the last sort or four years, five years. Starting with Utopia at the Soho theatre, then One Man, Two Guvnors, then Neville's Island for Chichester and then Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at The Savoy, then War of the Roses and the Kingston Rose and Don Quixote for the RSC and I'm currently in The Wind in the Willows. So there are my career and highlights so far.

I read that it was during a summer job with a PR agency that you decided to go into comedy. Had you always wanted to perform or did you have other career paths in mind when you were younger?

I guess I've sort of already answered this but from about the age of three I watched The Muppet Show and thought "that's what I wanna do, I wanna do theatre". And the lovely thing about theatre, well one of the lovely things about being a kid is that your opportunities to show off are largely limited to school plays and the like. So yeah, from about three to seventeen I was like "that's all I wanna do". Then as eighteen dawned on me and nineteen dawned on me I realised that that was something that was going to cost a lot of money to train to do and the likelihood was that I wouldn't you know, succeed in trying to do it. So, I put that dream in a drawer.

I decided to go into comedy because I always liked standing up, I liked showing off, I like making people laugh. So I started going out with a woman who was a judge at a lot of new act competitions, saw what people were doing and thought: "I could do that". But as I say, once the opportunity to do more acting came up, that was what I did!


Was the transition from comedy to presenting to tv and eventually theatre a difficult one or was it a natural transition?


It wasn't really natural, it's just that in life you get somebody saying "do you wanna give that a go?" and then if you're smart you can kind of have a look round, work out what other people are doing and how you could best do it, and hopefully don't muck it up so badly that that you never get another chance. Each job you learn on and you grow in each way. But yeah, I've never learnt how to do comedy or presenting or radio or theatre. No one's ever taught me how to do those things, you just give them a go, keep your ears pinned back, keep your eyes open and try and work out how the best people people bring about their best.



What keeps you motivated to keep working even when you get knock backs?

I have a mortgage and I have two children!

Do you have any hidden passions that you'd like to pursue?

Yes. They're not really so hidden but I really enjoy woodwork and currently where I live there's no space to have a kind of workshop or anything like that in order to do woodwork. But yeah maybe in the next couple of years we'll move somewhere with a bit more space and yeah, you'll largely find me under a pile of wood shavings.


The Wind in the Willows is a wonderful family show. What attracted you to the show in the first place?

When I was working on One Man, Two Guvnors, Pete Caulfied out of the blue, said to me "If you ever get the chance to play Toad, take it you'd be brilliant." A couple of years later, out of the blue, Matt  Kingsley in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels says to me "you know, if you ever get the chance to play Toad, you should take it" and I went: "you're the second person to say that to me". And because both of these were really out of the blue, it just totally stuck in my mind that I was, in the esteem of people that I respected, a good person to take on this role. So when the opportunity to play it came up, I jumped at it with both hands!


What do you think people will be saying on the train on their way home from the show?

Poop poop probably! We now live in the age of social media where people tweet you what they're talking about on the way home from the show. By and large it seems to be that anyone with kids is having to deal with and overexcited young person who is shouting to them about the flying, the sets, the mice, the weasels are very popular, the weasels and stoats! So yeah, people just come away from it knowing it was a big, warm hug of a show really.


Besides yourself, who else would you like to see play Mr Toad?

Crumbs. That's literally the last thing in the world I've thought about! I've been so focussed on doing it myself that I would never really deign to think of how somebody else might do it. Who would I like to see play it? Er...... I really don't know, I'm really struggling on that!



Can you sum up The Wind in he Willows in five words?

Yes! Big, warm, family, massive... hug!


What are some of your dream roles in theatre?

I'd really like to play Thenadier in Les Mis for a short run just because nothing would make my mum happier. I'd also really like to be in anything Tim Minchin has ever done.


What's a fun fact people might not know about you?

Ahhhh, I dunno. I think in this day and age everyone knows everything about everyone pretty much! But.... I was a Klansman in the first production of Jerry Springer: The Opera. There were some photographs taken and the protagonist is there surrounded by Klansmen and I was one of those. I was also a hillbilly having the tar knocked out of him on the floor. So if anyone has got any connection to Jerry Springer: The Opera then I was in it at about the age of twenty, in a very minor way.


Whats your number one piece for can aspiring performer?

Don't give up. The only thing that stops you from being a performer is stopping!


A huge thank you to Rufus for taking the time to do this interview. The Wind in the Willows is at the London Palladium until September 9th.

In Conversation With... Tyrone Huntley | Interview

In Conversation With... Tyrone Huntley | Interview

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Tyrone Huntley has the voice of an angel and supreme acting skills. He's just finished starring as CC in Dreamgirls and is currently in rehearsals to reprise the role of Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar at the Regent's Park Open Air theatre later this summer. He's already a star but he deserves even more praise for his outstanding performances and I can't wait to see what more he does!


For anyone that doesn’t know, can you explain a little about your career and highlights so far?

I graduated from Mountview in 2011 and got my first job in the U.K. Tour of Sister Act. My West End debut came straight after that in The Book of Mormon and since then I've been fortunate enough to work on other incredible shows including the Original London Casts of Memphis and Dreamgirls.


I read that you studied law and completed a degree in it whilst you were starring in The Book of Mormon and Memphis, how was it juggling the two?

It was difficult and extremely time consuming but ever so rewarding. I learned a lot and when I graduated I felt such a sense of pride and achievement. 


Tyrone in rehearsals for the concert of The Colour Purple
Do you have any other hidden passions that you’d like to pursue?

I'd love to learn to play the piano proficiently and I really want to learn a language but a real aspiration of mine is to hone my writing skills. I write songs but I'm in awe of playwrights and novelists and those who have the imagination to create entire worlds out of nothing.


You’ve just finished playing CC in the epic, Dreamgirls. Is CC anything like you?

CC has some really enviable qualities that don't sit naturally with me. Where CC is optimistic and positive thinking, I generally think the worst and I'm not surprised when things don't necessarily go my way!! That said, I like to think I can relate to his ambitiousness, his caring nature and desire to make people happy.


Have you had any funny onstage or offstage mishaps whilst you’ve been in the show? Or any other shows?

I did Porgy and Bess at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre a couple of years ago which meant, like Jesus Christ Superstar, we were obviously performing outside. In the show I had a little featured singing bit - my big moment. One evening I was just about to sing my part but as I breathed in I inhaled a massive fly so instead of singing my one little solo song, I had a beautifully underscored coughing fit! 


It’s so exciting that you’ll be returning to play Judas again at the open air theatre. What are the hardest and most exciting parts about playing the iconic role?

I'm very excited. It's a great role in a great show and I get to perform at Regent's Park again! The music is amazing and I'm looking forward to sinking my teeth back into it. That said, it's very challenging vocally which means, more than usual, I have to look after myself and make sure I stay as fit and healthy as possible which means my already limited social life will have to take even more of a back seat!!


Besides yourself, who else would you like to see tackle the character of Judas?

I'd love to see my old mate Matt Cardle do it, he'd be perfect. Or thinking outside of the box maybe Eva Noblezada... she'd sound amazing. 


What’s the last thing you do before you step out on stage?

I have to go through all of my lines for the next scene. I trust my short term memory way more than my long term memory and it puts me at ease just to check the lines are still there! 

Tyrone and the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar
You have a five minute break in rehearsals, what are you doing?

Eating. 


Is there a musical or play you’ve seen recently that you loved? 

I saw Hamlet at the Harold Pinter a few weeks ago with Andrew Scott and Juliet Stevenson. I was completely blown away by everything about the production! 


What’s a fun fact that people might not know about you?

It's certainly not very fun but it's extremely important to me. I HATE coriander. It's poison!


What’s your best piece of advice for an aspiring performer?

Hard work doesn't always pay off but if you put in the work, no one can ever take that away from you and you can always rest in the knowledge that you did everything you could. Be open - every experience, whether negative or positive, is an opportunity to learn.



A huge thank you to Tyrone for taking the time to do this interview. Make sure you book to see Jesus Christ Superstar at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre this summer.

Keep up with Tyrone via his twitter
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