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Tuesday, 22 August 2017

In Conversation With... Alexandra Silber | After Anatevka | Interview

If you've been on the tube in the last few months I'm sure you'll have spotted the marvellous Alexandra Silber's face plastered over the walls for Today Tix. Whilst Al's face is up there for her performances both on the West End and Broadway, she is also a beautifully eloquent lady and recently published her debut novel, After Anatevka, which tells the story of Hodel after Fiddler on the Roof

Alexandra was lovely enough to talk to Rewrite This Story about her writing process, After Anatevka, her transition from West End to Broadway and so much more. Make sure you read until the end to find out how you can win a copy of After Anatevka!



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

I went to drama school in Glasgow at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland before living in London and working the West End for several years. 

While I was in my final year at RCS, I was cast as Laura Fairlie in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White opposite Ruthie Henshall, Anthony Andrews and Damian Humbley

Among many other things, I have also played Julie Jordan in Carousel in the West End, made my Broadway debut opposite Tyne Daly in Terrence McNally’s Master Class, and have sung at Carnegie Hall, Disney Hall in Los Angeles, was nominated for a Grammy for singing Maria in a the first ever symphonic recording of West Side Story with the San Francisco Symphony, and of course, at Royal Albert Hall with the John Wilson Orchestra for the BBC Proms as the titular character in their production of Kiss Me Kate

Above all, I have been fortunate enough to play two of Tevye’s daughters, one on each side of the Atlantic— the first was in the West End, portraying After Anatevka’s protagonist Hodel (the second-eldest daughter of Shalom Aleichem’s Tevye the Dairyman who is the star of the 1964 musical Fiddler on the Roof) at the Sheffield Crucible and its West End transfer, and last year, played Tzeitl, Tevye’s eldest daughter on Broadway in the most recent Broadway revival. 

Portraying both characters for such lengths of time, and with such incomparable creative teams and casts, informed, inspired and shaped the writing of After Anatevka: it truly was a journey from stage to page. 




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

I always knew I wanted to be a professional creative— I’m not certain that acting and singing professionally was the epitome of my dream. As a child and teenager I loved the theatre, felt at home and accepted amongst its “creatures” and had an outlet to explore new worlds, research new ways of life, get inside different people’s minds and heart, and to express so many of my deepest emotions. 

I’ve been thinking very deeply about “dreams coming true” recently— possibly because so many people are asking me about it. “Is publishing your novel a dream come true” they will ask, and I don’t entirely know how to answer that. Because of course it is, I have dreamed of sharing my stories with the wider world, to hold a book-shaped book, with actual binding and  I have written in my hands

The voices on Broadway cast recordings were not only my inspirations, but my companions, my teachers; I know many people for whom that is a familiar history. But I felt very much the same about characters in books. I was just as enamored with E.M Forster’s Margaret Schlegel as I was with the book and score of South Pacific. 



Other than writing, have you got any hidden passions you’d like to pursue?

I love the accordion and have taken several lessons, and I passionately want to visit Antarctica. 



What drew you to the roles of Hodel and then Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof— are the three of you alike in any ways?

There are too many to mention. I honestly feel this question is best answered within the pages of After Anatevka— and not only the similarities, but the differences, and the growth every human being hopefully acquires as they age and experience life. I had the uncanny joy of being able to understand each woman more deeply as I embodied the other— much like members of the same family come to more deeply understand their siblings as they all become adults. 

One of my most treasured passages from After Anatevka is from the penultimate chapter, an epistolary exchange from Tzeitel to Hodel:


Home, Hodelleh. That place beyond the place where we rest our heads every night. Where our centerpieces, our sewing, our carefully prepared meals, simply do not matter. Where our petty little differences and competitions with one another do not matter anymore.

And I thought of you.

It is odd, Hodelleh. Because I do not know if you shall ever read this, I feel compelled to tell you more than ever. Home—where love shall reign supreme. The kind of home you always held within your heart, my dear sister, the kind no meaningless skill of mine could ever fully capture. How I love you, Hodel. It aches within me that I failed to show you in so many ways. That I provided you with every comfort but the comfort of my heart.

Yet I know that we shall both, as we always did, return to each other. For the love beneath our struggle is so strong. Perhaps in time, the Lord shall reveal to us why it is so difficult.


My goodness, to embody two such women. What a privilege.  




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

I believe that if you portray any character or story with honesty and vulnerability, the work will resonate. Our only responsibility as artists is to tell the truth. 


After Anatevka tells the story of Hodel after Fiddler. When you research for a role do you think about what happens to the character after the show ends as well as their backstory or was Hodel an exception?

Hodel was absolutely an exception. 

The Broadway community and wider world may know me as the most-recent Tzeitel,  from the 2016 Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof, but from October 2006 to February 2008, I played Tevye's second-eldest daughter, Hodel, in the last West End revival in London. That experience was, without exception, the most immersive and deeply felt of my artistic life thus far. It was like a “first love—” the kind one never forgets, and imprints itself upon you more deeply than any to follow it. Hodel’s strength and sense of purpose, your complex feminine spirit, her wit and determination, her devotion and loving heart. She offered me a chance to find all of these things within myself, and to grow with them. 

While all characters tend to endear themselves to you, Hodel haunted me— remained in my cells like an un-rinseable, inextinguishable fuel. Actors often embody traits of the characters they take on, but few characters weave in and out of the soul until you can scarcely detect the line between the emotional truths of one and the other. 


If you could write a continuation of any other musical theatre character, who would you choose and why?

Tzeitel. I think we can all agree that I’m now intensely involved in this family’s “future story—” I do feel compelled to finish what I’ve started. Additionally, I don’t think I’ve heard the last of Hodel. We leave her at quite a cliffhanger in After Anatevka

You’ve made the transition from West End to Broadway and from acting to writing so well. What would your advice be to people hoping to do similar?

Being a “multi-hyphenate” is simultaneously straightforward, and tremendously complex. 

To “do” something other than what is listed on, say, your tax return, there is very little required other than to just DO it. You want to write? Don’t wait for a permission slip from the Gods of Writing; just write. An essay. A blogpost. A Tweet. It does’t matter what you create as long as you actually create it, and create it from a place of authenticity. 



What’s your writing setup like? Do you have a certain playlist you listen to or a drink you always have?

Yes. I have a beautiful vintage pull-down writing desk! It has been handed down from my mother— she found it on the street when she was in college. When she discovered it, it was covered in layers of paint that she subsequently stripped away, to reveal a beautiful raw wood. The desk has been in my home since childhood, and the handle where you “pull-down” is the face of a lion, that I always thought was the face of Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia

I write for about one hour every day, with a pot of tea poured from my perfect little tea pot (gifted to me by actress Lara Pulver), under the supervision of my cat, Tatiana. 



Whats a fun fact people might not know about you?

I’m an introvert. In fact, according to the Myers Briggs personality test I’m an INFJ (which is a very rare personality type, about 2% of the world’s population). Many people challenge me on this, based on their mis-impressions of not only me, but introverts in general. Introverts are not necessarily aloof, shy, people-hating trolls, we simply recharge our personal batteries in solitude. Despite my highly developed extrovert behavior, I still require (and enjoy!) lots of time alone to process life. 

Also, I have a (fabulous, diva, rescued) cat named Tatiana Angela Lansbury Romanov. She is a star (cue: Mama Rose music)!! She has her own Instagram page, which is: photographs of “Tati” (as I call her) with theatrical captions called @ifeelkitty.…..You’re welcome. 



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


For anyone, really: success is not about what you do, it is about how you feel about what you do. 


A massive thank you to Al for taking the time to do this interview. Read my review of After Anatevka here.

Interview by Olivia Mitchell, Editor

Monday, 21 February 2022

Carrie Hope Fletcher Announces Debut UK Tour


Actress, author, vlogger and award-winning West End sensation Carrie Hope Fletcher is heading out on her first ever UK tour.

Carrie Hope Fletcher - An Open Book will see the musical theatre star play a series of unmissable theatre shows in May and June 2023.

Performing songs from her incredible career expect fan favourites including hits from Heathers, Les Miserables, The Addams Family and many more interspersed with chat about Carrie’s fascinating life and career.

Tickets go on sale at 10am Friday and are available from www.cuffeandtaylor.com

Carrie Hope Fletcher - An Open Book 2023
18-May Bradford, St George's Hall
21-May Southampton, Mayflower Theatre
22-May Norwich, Theatre Royal
25-May London, The London Palladium
27-May Llandudno, Venue Cymru
28-May Salford, The Lowry
29-May Birmingham, Symphony Hall
31-May Sheffield, City Hall
02-Jun Nottingham, Royal Concert Hall
03-Jun Newcastle, O2 City Hall
04-Jun Edinburgh, Festival Theatre

Speaking about Carrie Hope Fletcher - An Open Book, Carrie said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be taking on my first ever UK tour.

“This is something I have wanted to do for some time and next year presents the perfect opportunity.

I absolutely adore being on stage and am fortunate to have performed across the West End and overseas, but there’s something very special about theatres around the UK so I can’t wait to get out on the road and visit these absolutely fantastic and beautiful venues.”

Currently wowing West End audiences in the title role of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella, Carrie - who has an impressive three WhatsOnStage Awards - has enjoyed a breath-taking career since her West End debut at the age of nine playing Young Éponine in Les Misérables. Since then Carrie’s theatre credits include Fantine in Les Miserables: The Concert, Veronica in Heathers, Wednesday in The Addams Family, Eponine in Les Misérables, both Truly Scrumptious and Jemima in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Beth in Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds and Jane Banks in Mary Poppins.

And when she’s not treading the boards of the West End’s biggest stages Carrie is also a best-selling novelist, Top 20 recording artist and respected vlogger with her popular self-titled music and vlog channel attracting more than a million views a month.

Carrie Hope Fletcher - An Open Book is presented by Lambert Jackson, Live Nation and Cuffe and Taylor.

Jamie Lambert, of Lambert Jackson, said: “Carrie Hope Fletcher - An Open Book presents an opportunity to take one of the West End’s most celebrated and successful leading stars to theatres across the UK.

“Not only will audiences be wowed by the stunning voice of Carrie, they will also get an insight into her incredible career and that is not to be missed.”

Cuffe and Taylor Director of Theatre Touring Ben Hatton added: “We are very excited to be presenting Carrie’s debut UK tour.

“She is the most wonderful musical theatre talent and so much more. Audiences will absolutely love this show.”

For more information about Carrie Hope Fletcher - An Open Book and to secure tickets head to www.cuffeandtaylor.com

photo credit: Michael Wharley

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Evita (UK Tour), Palace Theatre Manchester | Review


Evita (UK Tour) 
Palace Theatre, Manchester 
Reviewed on Thursday 7th December 2017 by Jeni Skirrow 
★★★★


Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber have written some truly captivating, catchy musicals and Evita is of course iconic and no exception to this. An ever popular rags-to-riches type of story based on the life and demise of Eva Peron, wife of Argentine president, Juan Peron. The plot follows her rise to iconic status heralding her as the ‘spiritual leader of the nation’, heroine of the Argentine people, and of course her untimely premature demise.

Straight from the West End, Manchester was privileged to be the first stop in the new twelve month tour of Bill Kenwright’s production. Eva Peron’s role is a demanding performance and Madalena Alberto is mesmerisingly magnificent, with not just unfalteringly consistent vocals, but how beautifully she captures the fledgling radio star’s glamour, seduction, hope and steely desperation. 'Don’t Cry For Me Argentina' is undoubtedly the most highly anticipated song in the show and Madalena’s performance did not fail to give me goose bumps- exquisite. “As for fortune and for fame, I never invited them in”... until the final curtain there’s something very dubious about this statement.

The narrator Che deserves a mention, heroic Gian Marco Schiaretti’s presence (and biceps) were suitably foreshadowing- he is perfect for the role. His strong and versatile performance was a joy to watch.

Each scene was beautifully realised through expert choreography, cleverly slick staging and continual costume changes for Eva, telling a story within itself. This production was everything I hoped it would be and more. Emotional, beautiful and inspiring it was an ideal theatrical experience.

Evita is a moving story, with a mixture of up-beat, high intensity numbers as well as slower, more emotionally moving pieces. This balance and contrast makes it flow smoothly and provides a wonderful night out at the theatre. With beautiful music, great staging and fabulous performances all round, I implore you to get along to this show if you can.

Photo credit: Keith Pattison

Friday, 5 January 2018

The Wizard of Oz, Capitol Theatre | Review


The Wizard of Oz 
Capitol Theatre, Sydney
Reviewed on Thursday 4th January 2017 by Faiza Rahman
★★★★★

Andrew Lloyd Webber would have been over the rainbow with the Sydney premier of The Wizard of Oz. From the moment the stage curtains opened, the audience were captivated. Personally, just for a moment, I forgot whether I was watching a movie or a show because of the pure essence of the way that the stage was set and the way digital media was used to give the audience a feeling of inclusion in the story and world of Oz.

Samantha Dodemaide does a whimsical job of taking us into the land of fantasy (apart from Dorothy’s red shoe coming off her foot when it was supposed to be stuck!) This slip up was ignored with grace from Samantha as the audience giggled and quickly forgot, whilst she continued to perfectly capture the golden-age naivety. Lucy Durack as Glinda won me over with her witty one-liners and effervescent outfit. Eli Cooper’s Scarecrow act was certainly not spineless – his bendy limbs wrapped us in admiration; alongside John Xintavelonis’ Cowardly Lion’s witty and ‘scary’ roar and Tin Man’s (Alex Rathgeber) heartless love and robotic movements. The Wicked Witch of the West (Jemma Rix) – well, that laugh explains why she was the perfect person to embody her character, for not one moment did I not adore her evilness, as weird as that may sound- she was brilliant! 


The star of the show was the costume and set design by Robert Jones, supported by Jon Driscoll and Daniel Brodie’s engrossing video and projection work. Vorticist projections were used to evoke the Kansas cyclone that took Dorothy into the dreamworld and took us there too. The lighting and effects used on the walls of the theatre enhanced the experience and created an ethereal atmosphere that delved us straight onto the yellow brick road and at times I really felt like I was a part of the show. 

The costumes were visually appeasing – what particularly impressed the audience was when Dorothy’s dress changed colour as she conducted a twirl across the stage from her regular dress to a sparkly green version as she entered Emerald City. The screens used to create the feeling of depth were perfectly controlled and used well to create the feeling of distance to emerald city. My highlight was when Dorothy, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion & Scarecrow were put in the dome by the Wizard – it looked so 3D and realistic, everyone was astounded. 


I was taken back to my childhood through the music. Samantha Dodemaide’s voice projects an innocence yet heart wrenching power, like a force leading her back home to Kansas. Although since 1939, The Wizard of Oz has taken on many variations, this one stays grounded in the characters and echoes that there is no place like home, even with its modern twist.

The Wizard of Oz runs at the Capitol Theatre until 4th February 2018

photo credit: Jeff Busby

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Son of a Preacher Man (UK Tour), Storyhouse | Review


Son of a Preacher Man (UK Tour) 
Storyhouse 
Reviewed on Tuesday 27th March 2018 by Becca Cromwell
★★

Set in modern day Soho, Son of a Preacher Man focuses on the lives of three people dealing with loss and heartbreak who turn to the past to find answers. All three of them end up at a record shop named the Preacher Man, which got its name from the man who ran it. In the 60s, all your troubles would be solved through music and advice from the shop’s owner, making it one of the most popular places of its time.

The story focuses on Kat, who recently lost her grandmother, Alison, who realises she’s in love with someone she can’t have and Paul, who still pines over a man he first fell in love with 40 years ago. The three of them venture to where the shop used to be in a search for advice and closure, only to find it no longer exists. Distraught, they meet the son of the shop’s owner Simon, who is the son of a preacher man. Simon takes it upon himself to help them, and with a little help from his deceased father, does just that.

The storyline is rather cheesy, which is to be expected from a jukebox musical, and features plenty of Dusty Springfield’s hits including The Look of Love, I Only Want To Be With You and of course, Son Of A Preacher Man. There are also plenty of other sixties hits thrown in for good measure, such as Cilla Black’s You’re My World.


Kat, played by Alice Barlow, is a young girl suffering the loss of her grandmother, who turns to her grandmothers’ favourite place, which just so happens to be the Preacher Man, for comfort. Alice is known for playing Rae Wilson on Hollyoaks, and being a previous contestant on The Voice. Alice delivered solid vocals and gave a good performance as Kat, and impressed many of the audience with the sheer quality of her voice.

Alison, played by Michelle Gayle, is a teacher turned tutor who recently lost her Husband, Jim. Alison turns to the Preacher Man for advice on her new love, and learns a lot from it. Michelle Gayle is known for playing Hattie Tavernier in Eastenders, signing a record contract and releasing two albums with BMG and starring on Grange Hill as a child. Michelle gave a good, believable performance, with impressive vocals to match.

Simon is played by Nigel Richards who has had an extensive and impressive career in musical theatre, including Enjrolas and Grantaire in Les Miserables, and the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. Nigel gave a convincing performance as the shy but loveable Simon and I was suitably impressed.


Paul, a man who is still lusting after his first love, is played by Nigel Howe. Nigel has had an affluent career in theatre, TV and Film, with over 40 acting credits to his name on IMDB and almost as many theatre credits. Nigel gave a decent performance as Paul, making the audience really feel for him in the process.

With Craig Revel Horwood choreographing the show, I expected more in terms of choreography, which left me a little disappointed. However, the lack of choreography was made up for by most of the cast members occasionally playing instruments on stage.

Son of a Preacher Man continues its UK tour until July.



Monday, 31 October 2022

New dates added to Carrie Hope Fletcher's debut tour


More dates have been added to award-winning stage sensation Carrie Hope Fletcher’s debut solo tour due to phenomenal demand.

 

Carrie Hope Fletcher - An Open Book will see the musical theatre star, author and vlogger play a series of unmissable theatre shows in May and June 2023, with new shows added in Oxford, Liverpool, Leicester, Milton Keynes, Southend, Bath and Glasgow.

 

Performing songs from her incredible West End and touring career, fans can look forward to hits from HeathersLes MisérablesThe Addams Family and many more, interspersed with chat about Carrie’s fascinating life and career.

 

Tickets for the new dates are on general sale from 10am, on Friday, November 4 from www.cuffeandtaylor.com

 

Carrie Hope Fletcher - An Open Book 2023


18-May Bradford, St George’s Hall

19-May Oxford, New Theatre

21-May Southampton, Mayflower Theatre

22-May Norwich, Theatre Royal

25-May London, The London Palladium

27-May Llandudno, Venue Cymru

28-May Salford, The Lowry

29-May Birmingham, Symphony Hall

21-May Sheffield, City Hall

01-June  Liverpool, Empire Theatre

02-June Nottingham, Royal Concert Hall

03-June Newcastle, O2 City Hall

04-June Edinburgh, Festival Theatre

06-June  Leicester, De Montfort Hall

07-June  Milton Keynes, Milton Keynes Theatre

09-June  Southend, Cliffs Pavilion

10-June  Bath, The Forum

11-June  Glasgow, Theatre Royal


 

Speaking about Carrie Hope Fletcher - An Open Book, Carrie said


“I am so excited to be preparing for my first ever solo tour – and to be adding new dates is absolutely fantastic.


“A solo concert tour is something I have wanted to do for some time, and it’s great to be able to visit even more places and meet even more fans.

 

“I adore being on stage and am fortunate to have performed in so many theatres, but there’s something very special about being able to get out on the road and visit some beautiful theatres around the UK.”

 

Earlier this year, Carrie was named best performer in a female identifying role in a musical as the title role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella. Most recently, she has wowed critics in a new revival of Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle and is now preparing for her pantomime debut as the villain Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty at The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury.

 

Carrie, who has an impressive three WhatsOnStage Awards to her name, has enjoyed a breath-taking career since her West End debut at the age of nine playing Young Éponine in Les Misérables.

 

Since then, Carrie’s theatre credits include Fantine in Les Misérables: The Concert, Veronica in Heathers, Wednesday in The Addams FamilyÉponine in Les Misérables, both Truly Scrumptious and Jemima in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Beth in Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds and Jane Banks in Mary Poppins.

 

When she’s not treading the boards of the West End’s biggest stages, Carrie is also a best-selling novelist, Top 20 recording artist and respected vlogger with her popular self-titled music and vlog channel attracting more than a million views a month.

 

Carrie Hope Fletcher - An Open Book is presented by Lambert Jackson, Live Nation and Cuffe and Taylor.

 

Jamie Lambert, of Lambert Jackson, said: 

Carrie Hope Fletcher - An Open Book presents an opportunity to take one of the West End’s most celebrated and successful leading stars to theatres across the UK.

 

“There has been a phenomenal demand for the tour so we are delighted to be adding extra dates so even more people will be wowed by the stunning voice of Carrie, while also getting an insight into her incredible career.”

 

Cuffe and Taylor Director of Theatre Touring Ben Hatton added: 

“We are very excited to be presenting Carrie’s debut UK tour, and it is testament to her great popularity that we’re adding these dates. Carrie is the most wonderful musical theatre talent and audiences will absolutely love this show.”

 

For more information about Carrie Hope Fletcher - An Open Book and to secure tickets head to www.cuffeandtaylor.com