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Showing posts with label london palladium. Show all posts

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.

The Wind in the Willows, London Palladium | Review

The Wind in the Willows, London Palladium | Review

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The Wind in the Willows
London Palladium
Reviewed on Thursday June 29th 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★★

The Wind in the Willows is a perfectly fun, family show. It's not a theatrical masterpiece but it's a cute, heartwarming fable that's sweet enough for both children and adults to enjoy.

Adapted by Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey) with music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe (Half a Sixpence), The Wind in the Willows is an old school tale given a modern twist. We follow Ratty and his new friend Mole as they venture around the countryside trying to hide from the evil of the Wild Wood and help their friend Mr. Toad curve his need for speed. It's a show which is quintessentially British:lazing by the river, watching the swallows returning home for summer, seeing animals foraging in the woods, each scene conjures up the good old English countryside.

The pastoral feel of the production is guided by the sets and costumes by Peter McKintosh, with each area and animal having its own unique "style" and each set piece combining perfectly to create the world of human-like animals which is both distinctive and mystical. Each animal is instantly recognisable without being too in your face animal. The set also strikes a good balance between being enough of a spectacle whilst still leaving enough room for your imagination to roam a little wild. 



Simon Lipkin's Ratty is suitably funny and stern and despite not being a huge belting role, he really shows off his voice and beautiful tone. Craig Mather has wonderful chemistry with Lipkin as Ratty's partner in crime, Mole. He is the perfect mix of innocence and strength and is pretty perfect in the role. Another sweet and funny character is Mrs Otter played by Denise Welch although we never do find out what happened to her husband! Thankfully some contrast to the sweetness is brought with the baddie of the show, Chief Weasel played by Neill McDermott who is very reminiscent of Rooster in Annie. The Weasel scenes are my personal favourites and add a nice sharpness to the otherwise same level show. The ensemble are tight and bring a lot to the show. An audience favourite seemed to be the adorable hedgehog family who sing a lovely little ditty about the trouble of crossing the road. 

Aletta Collins' choreography fits exactly, adding not only dimension but humour to the show. Especially so with the tap dancing horse!

Of course I have to mention Mr Toad played by Rufus Hound who is great in the role. He is over the top and dramatic but actually very good. I was surprised at how good his voice is and really do think he's the perfect choice for the role.

The Wind in the Willows is good family fun which is certain to leave a smile on your face and at least one song in your head. It's simple, charming and exactly what it says on the tin, what more could you ask for for a family theatre trip? 

The Wind in the Willows runs at the London Palladium until September 9th

Honeymoon in Vegas, London Palladium | Review

Honeymoon in Vegas, London Palladium | Review

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Honeymoon in Vegas
London Palladium
Reviewed on Sunday 12th March 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★★

Founded in June 2015, the London Musical Theatre Orchestra (LMTO) prides itself on giving beautiful music a place to be heard and showcasing lesser known talent and works. On March 12th 2016 the orchestra accompanied a stellar cast who performed Jason Robert Brown's short lived 2015 Broadway musical, Honeymoon in Vegas

Samantha Barks and Arthur Darvill led the cast as the engaged Betsy and Jack who are on their way to finally getting married. They've been a couple for five years but Jack is afraid to commit to marriage as he believes he's under a curse from his dead mother. Her dying wish was for him never to marry and he's taking any measure he can to ensure this is kept, despite this, he suggests an elopement to Vegas. Once again he gets cold feet and makes his way to a poker game organised by Tommy Korman. Unbeknownst to him, Korman wants Betsy (a dead ringer for his late wife) for himself and is ready to offer Jack an ultimatum.

The story is bizarre but that's what makes it exciting. The absurdity allows all kinds of craziness to take place on stage and makes the production truly hilarious and impressive. The LMTO's musical director, Freddie Tapner introduced the performance, stating that the music and score would be telling the story and that it was up to the audience to imagine dances, costumes, set changes and a herd of parachuting Elvis'! This worked wonderfully and it was surprising how little was lost by this being a concert rather than a full blown glitz and glam production.  

BWW Review: HONEYMOON IN VEGAS, London Palladium
Each member of the cast, chorus and orchestra worked harmoniously together to pull of an effortless performance. Simon Lipkin is a brilliant performer and he stole the show each time he appeared on stage, leaving us all laughing and feeling thoroughly entertained. Maisey Bawden was hilarious as the Hawaiian Mahi and had the audience in the palm or her hand as she caused everyone to laugh out loud.


Samantha Barks and Arthur Darvill's chemistry was evident throughout and they seemed to really enjoy performing together, bringing the loved-up couple to life charmingly. Barks' voice seems to get better and better and after her success in The Last Five Years it was an absolute joy to see her perform another of Jason's scores which suit her voice so perfectly.  She gave a truly stellar performance. Darvill's voice was a surprise to me, it's effortlessly smooth and fits the easy swing feel of Honeymoon in Vegas to a tee, he gave a brilliant heartfelt and comedic performance.

If the outstanding performances weren't enough, this production was made even better by the fact that it was conducted by Jason Robert Brown himself as the LMTO's first ever guest conductor. Brown is funny, witty and animated and brought a wonderful sense of style to the whole performance. He even stepped down from his podium and played the ukulele at one point which was a real treat.  

The various standing ovations were a sign of how well done this production was and how much the audience loved this rarely performed piece. I don't think anyone would be complaining if it made a return to the West End stage and I hope we can keep Brown and his brilliant writing on this side of the pond!
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