Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Sharon Sexton. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Sharon Sexton. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, 24 June 2018

In Conversation With... The Cast of Bat Out of Hell | Interview | Stagey Sunday


Welcome to the last week of Bat Out of Hell, Stagey Sunday! We're going out with a bang with TWO new posts. The first is an interview and look at some of the costumes with resident choreographer, Xena Gusthart which you can see here. This post is an interview with a selection of cast members with questions asked by you! Some answers are still coming in so you may just get a bonus Bat post later this week so keep an eye out!


What do you think makes the show appeal you both old and new fans of Jim Steinman/Meatloaf? 
Rob Copeland (BatFish): The beauty of Jim Steinman’s music is that it hits you on the first listen and then has you hooked. So whether you are new to the music, or an old fan, you are almost guaranteed to leave musically satisfied. His music is so diverse and rich that it’s verging on a rock opera, hence him regularly being dubbed the Wagner of rock. For those who love the albums, it’s the beauty of seeing these story heavy songs brought to life on stage that you have been picturing all these years and, let’s face it, we are incredibly lucky to get to do it on an totally epic scale of set and general production. We regularly get spontaneous applause in the middle of the song Bat Out Of Hell and we are only half way through! 

Rob Fowler (Falco): Our show appeals to all generations because there are misunderstood teenagers and dysfunctional marriages in all walks of life therefore I feel that the audiences of our show really identify with our characters. 

Wayne Robinson (Jagwire): The variety in talent, the cast bring so much diversity to the show and there's something for everyone who loves a live show. 

Sharon Sexton (Sloane): People have a huge connection with this music. Jim captures emotions musically like no one else I know. His songs are like rollercoasters that bring you on an epic journey. Just when you think a number is ending there is another twist and a new feeling. Also his lyrics are poetry and often deal with the idea of eternal youth and growing old and trying to hang on to what keeps us human. I think this type of storytelling brings older people back to their youth, giving them that taste of nostalgia and I think it equally appeals to young people who are just starting to get a sense of their own life. Wow. That’s deep. But that’s what makes his music special and makes this show appeal to so many generations. 


What’s your favourite song to sing and what’s your favourite song that you don’t sing? 
Danielle Steers (Zahara): Favourite song to sing aside from the obvious Two Out Of Three, my fave song is actually Rock and Roll Dreams! I get goosebumps every night singing that final chorus out front and seeing the audience, it’s such an incredible feeling! 

Favourite song I don’t sing, would have to be It’s All Coming Back To Me Now, I love the harmonies and sing along backstage all the time! It’s so powerful! 


Can you sum up having Giovanni as a partner every night in 5 words? 
Charlotte Anne Steen (Liebeswooosh): I’d sum Gio up as a dance partner/love interest in 5 words as... reliable, consistent, fun, passionate and caring. We have a lot of fun on stage and I’m very lucky to have him as my partner. 


You’ve recently opened an online store selling your art, do you have any other hidden talents? 
Danielle Steers: Hidden talents? Hmmm, I bake, I play the piano, I sew, I’m good at cleaning.... I’m the perfect housewife really! 


In Batchat you mentioned putting salt in Rob’s mouth on April Fools… can you expand on that story…? 
Sharon Sexton: Um, no. ;-) 

Basically there was a part in Who Needs the Young where I used to place my hand across Rob’s mouth when he sung a big note, and then I’d say my line before taking my hand away. Sometimes if he was feeling cheeky he’d lick my hand while it was there. So on April fools day, in the wings there happened to be some vaseline & some salt sachets ...and well - he got his commupance. But he gave as good as he got. I think in Paradise I ended up with a mouthful of chocolate... 


If you could change one thing about Falco, what would it be? 
Rob Fowler: If I could change one thing about Falco, it would be that the incident with Tink does not occur. 


How is your Jagwire similar/different to others? 
Wayne Robinson: I’ve never seen or heard the previous Jagwires so I can't comment on the finer details of similarity or difference. However we are similar when it comes to the book and score and completely different when it comes to costume who I thank John the designer for.  He's done such an awesome job. 


Do any of you have ideas about the backstory of your characters?
Rob Copeland: Well we sell a beer front of house that The Lost have made to fund their life style. My character (BatFish) is first seen in the on stage Dive Bar so I like the idea that he runs that operation. Essentially he is a party animal who brews his own beer and sells it to support The Lost. 

Rob Fowler: My ideas of the backstory for Falco is as simple as he was once part of The Lost and he had to grow up when his wife fell pregnant with their daughter Raven. 

Wayne Robinson: I'm quite similar to Jag in reality when it comes to his passions and even the way he conducts himself, I pretty much just play a younger version of myself each night, if I had any ideas to share it would be aspects and events from my own past but I won't share those yet. 

Sharon Sexton: I think Sloane has hardened in her ageing and with life. She’s lost a lot of her sparkle when we meet her. In my mind she was a wild free spirited feisty rebel, and we see glimpses of it. I see her having a very tested relationship with her parents, particularly her father which is why seeing Falco and Raven struggle upsets her so much. And is what eventually brings her back home. 


What’s the average number of costume changes per person? 
Rob Copeland: I have seven costume changes in the show, and actually appear in one song twice as two different characters... (I will let the shows super fans work out which one that is), so actually it’s not too bad a show for costume changes for me. I know my mates doing Les Mis round the corner from us have a lot more than that in act 1 alone, so I can’t complain really! Plus we have an amazing team of dressers, wardrobe and wigs who make it all painless and easy. We would be lost without them (no pun intended). 

Rob Fowler: I’m confident in saying I probably have the most challenging costume changes during the show. In total 12. 

Sharon Sexton: Oh gosh no idea. For me 9. 


The show is constantly evolving, how often do you have rehearsals for changes? 
Rob Fowler: Normally changes with the new show will be rehearsed before the opening and during the previews. 

Sharon Sexton: The show has kind of settled now. Usually we don’t ever change anything for the sake of change. Something has to be not working for a long time and discussed and edited and tested before we will even attempt to put anything different in so I think we won’t see any changes for a while. Though we are constantly in rehearsing covers, promos and events. 

Wayne Robinson: There's always some tweaking going on every so often. 


What’s your favourite costume you wear? 
Sharon Sexton: Pencil skirt and red silk blouse and belt. In it she feels strong but still womanly and I adore those power shoes. 


What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you on stage? 
Charlotte Anne Steen: I got hit straight in the stomach by the dolls head that Rob Fowler bats across the stage in Land of the Pig- I turned around and saw everyone trying not to laugh at me as I was lying there pretending to be injured! 


What’s the hardest part of the show for you? 
Sharon Sexton: Vocals. Particularly, All Coming Back to Me Now. Myself and Christina Bennington had to find a key to suit us both that meant the song wasn’t too low for her but not too high for me, so it’s in a key that tests both of us and it’s now higher than the original key - so it’s right at the top of my belt and an extremely long note which myself and rob has to work very hard to sustain matching time, breath, support and emotion. 


If you could swap costumes with anyone, who would you choose? 
Charlotte Anne Steen: I’d swap costumes with Mordema played by Emily Benjamin, I like the silver futuristic look of her costume. 


What’s your funniest stage door experience been? 
Rob Copeland: Well… there are two cast members called Rob... myself and the wonderful actor who plays Falco, Rob Fowler. I understudy Rob and we have similar facial hair/colour etc so I can see why this happened…A few weeks ago I left stage door, turned right immediately and walked briskly as usual to get home (I have a one year old daughter who has me up early so tend to try to get home as quickly as possible after the show ends). 

A woman chased after me shouting: “Rob! Rob! Please will you sign my programme, I have seen the show lots of times now and I never manage to grab you and I think you are brilliant!” 

I blush with a smile agreeing to sign her programme whilst pretending not to love that someone has finally clocked how ruddy brilliant I am as BatFish! It’s a miracle (considering I have no solo lines in the show..) 

She opens it up and points towards Rob Fowler’s photo in the programme. 

I then awkwardly have to explain that my name is Rob but I am not THAT Rob and she then very half-heartedly asked me to sign my biog clearly to make me feel less bad about myself...even though she wasn’t that bothered and was looking over her shoulder for the real Rob Fowler throughout... Excellent! Haha. 

Rob Fowler: Coolest experience at the stage door all the fans singing happy birthday to me! 

Sharon Sexton: Um probably when I’m not recognised at all and I offer to take photos of the others 


What are some of the good and bad traits of your character? 
Rob Fowler: Good and bad traits of my character, would be on one side he’s overprotective and on the other side everything he does is due to the amount of love he has for his family. 

Wayne Robinson: Jag has no bad traits he's pure love 

Sharon Sexton: Good- She has a heart of gold underneath the frosty. She sees the good in everyone. She doesn’t hold a grudge. And she’s a peacemaker. 

Bad - she’s too soft sometimes. She is a little spoilt. She’s a bit vain and material things matter too much to her. 


How do you maintain your vocal health singing the intense Steinman music every night? 
Rob Copeland: Well we have a 15 minute vocal warm up every day which I make sure I do thoroughly and it’s other than that it’s just stamina that we have built up over time. When we first started rehearsals my voice was very tired every evening, but I have a pretty solid vocal technique now so have yet to experience any vocal problems. I also drink what feels like about 400 litres of water during every show and have cut down on alcohol intake as that can dry your voice out. I try and eat fairly well also. If you have a healthy diet it will only have a positive effect on your voice. We also have regular vocal sessions with our shows vocal coach Fiona McDougal and she really is excellent. 

Rob Fowler: To be able to sing Jim Steinman songs in the original key eight shows a week half of the challenge is being born with the ability, the second half of the challenge is taking care, this being as cliche and boring as it comes, steam, drink water, sleep, eat healthy and exercise. The show may only last three hours but the work starts before we get to the theatre 

Wayne Robinson: Careful warm up and not talking just to be talking. 

Sharon Sexton: Warm up is key for me. I can tell everything when I warm up, exactly how I need to pace myself and what I need to do mouth shape wise to get through if I’m tired. Also I drink water and start getting ready at least two hours before the show. Tongue muscle massage and steam only when necessary. Other than its muscle memory. 


Can you sum up your fans in one word? 
Rob Copeland: I have never been in a show with such passionate fans. It’s really amazing to see. There is something about this show that people really feel is personal to them, and I love being part of that. 

Rob Fowler: To sum up the fans in one word we have to be ... outstanding... but aren’t we all :-) 

Wayne Robinson: I'd say the fans are loyal 

Sharon Sexton: Inspiring 

A huge thank you to the cast, crew and everyone at Bat for being part of this episode and the whole series. I hope you've enjoyed Bat Out of Hell Stagey Sunday!

To finish with a bang, we have a giveaway for you to win 2 tickets to Bat Out of Hell* To enter, RT this tweet and send us your best Bat look whether it be a makeover, an Andrew Polec impression, your own Bat choreography... the more creative the better!

Bat Out of Hell is currently at the Dominion Theatre until 27th October 2018

Post by Editor, Olivia Mitchell

Photo credit: Specular

*T&C’s:
1) This entitles the prize winner to two tickets to Bat Out of Hell the Musical at the Dominion Theatre.
2) Prize to be redeemed by Thursday 23rd August 2018.
3) Valid on Monday to Thursday performances only
4) Tickets are subject to availability.
5) No cash alternative.
6) Travel to and from the theatre and any additional expenses incurred are not included within this prize.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Vision of You: Live with Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton, Key Theatre | Review


Vision of You: Live
Key Theatre, Peterborough
Reviewed on Tuesday 19th March 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Since the closing of Bat Out of Hell, fans of the show have been able to keep their love and involvement alive through Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton's album Vision of You which charts the backstory of their characters Falco and Sloane. Accompanying the album, the pair have been on a mini tour around the country where they welcomed fans into the Falco Family and provided some absolutely outstanding vocals while they did it.

The final stop on the tour (for now) took Vision of You back to where Rob first performed, Peterborough where a home crowd joined with those from out of town to create a wonderful atmosphere and a real celebration of the music and the performers. A mixture of a concert and a musical, this version of Vision of You used the basic skeleton of the previous ones and added to it to create a complete extravaganza of a show. Once again, Erin Ong (who travelled from America to be part of the final show!) provided her lovely artwork which was projected above the characters to create an almost comic book feeling and embellish the story that was being told. 

Rob and Sharon performed most of the songs from their album, as well as some extras, with the heart, vocals and chemistry that they are so loved for and took the audience on a journey through the eyes of their characters very well. What made this show extra special, was the involvement of Raven and Strat aka the crazy talented Georgia Carling and Simon Gordon, who performed solos, duets and group numbers to perfection. Also joining the gang were the young KYT performers who gave spirited performances and brought The Lost to life. Accompanied by Steve Corley and his distinguished band, each number was a powerhouse moment and a true celebration of the superbly talented performers on stage. 


Opening with 'Falling Slowly' and closing with 'The Show Must Go On' really sums up how versatile all the performers on stage are; from the hugely upbeat numbers to the more intimate and delicate numbers, there was never a moment which fell flat or felt under emoted. Both Rob and Sharon's voices are raw and expressive but manage to maintain complete control throughout. Especially impressive were Sharon's heartfelt renditions of 'Delight' and 'The Man with the Child in his Eyes' which brought a stillness to the room that was hauntingly beautiful. Rob gave a comedic performance of 'A Miracle Would Happen' as well as his signature rock tones in the epic 'What You Own' where he was also joined by Simon Gordon

Simon's voice is beyond beautiful and he showcased it effortlessly with each number he was a part of. His performance of 'Bat Out of Hell' illustrated exactly why he was cast in the role of Strat and gave us a chance to hear and see him shine without the lighting and effects that were prevalent in Bat Out of Hell. If this evening was anything to go by, I'm convinced Simon could probably make a shopping list sound exquisite. Aside from Simon's performance, this semi stripped back rendition of Bat also highlighted just what a brilliant song it is.


Georgia Carling's voice complemented Simon's fantastically in their duets, 'For Crying Out Loud' and 'High Enough', as well as shining in her solo and group moments. 'Taking Chances' is a belter of a song and Georgia tackled it with ease as she gave a vocally faultless and completely first-rate performance. After gaining many fans from her performances as Raven and Valkyrie in Bat Out of Hell, there's no doubt that Georgia will continue wowing with her superb talents. 

Vision of You was a night of extremely well done storytelling and singing. Seeing how much Bat Out of Hell means to Sharon and Rob is really moving and I'm sure this isn't the last we'll hear of Falco and Sloane. The stellar performances, well done lighting, outstanding band, skillful projections and great atmosphere made this a fabulous night and a perfect farewell-for-now to Vision of You

Follow Sharon and Rob for updates on future performances during their #FindingTheFalcos journey

photo credit: Bat Loaf

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Vision of You: Live with Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton, The Space at Studio 88 | Review


Vision of You: Live 
The Space at Studio 88
Reviewed on Thursday 24th January 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

After releasing their album Vision of You, back in December, Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton have taken their exploration of the backstories of Falco and Sloane (the pair's characters in Bat Out of Hell) to new levels with a series of concerts about how the duo came to be.

Featuring a mixture of the Vision of You album and additional songs, the evening is an entertaining and dramatic look at two well loved Bat characters and is certainly a fitting antidote for the fans still mourning the loss of the show at the Dominion Theatre. Starting from when Falco and Sloane meet with 'Falling Slowly' and ending with a bittersweet duet about the couple's life and romance, 'Always Remember Us This Way', Rob and Sharon do a brilliant job of storytelling and taking the audience on a journey. 

Of course, both Rob and Sharon are vocal powerhouses and they don't fail to deliver top notch performances that are gritty but controlled. Combined with Steve Corley's magical, musical skills and the intimate but booming Space at Studio 88, the couple are able to show various sides of their voices and complement each other remarkably. 


The ups and downs of the Falco Family relationship are brought to life further by Erin Ong's beautiful artwork which is projected between songs to fill in the story gaps. There are a number of aspects of the artwork, staging, lyrics and costumes that directly mirror Bat Out of Hell, and avid fans will have a great time picking out the subtle references to the show.  Fans will also hear some familiar people accompanying the artwork, with Georgia Carling, Katherine Hare, Jordan Luke Gage and Patrick Sullivan lending their voices to dramatic points in the plot and bringing their Bat characters to the screen. 

The love Sharon and Rob have for the characters they have created is evident through their album and live performances, and the work they have put into these concerts is so visible. It's clearly a labour of love for the duo and it's only right that all three performances at The Space have sold out. Bat fans will love this character development, but even if you're not a fan of the show, there's no way you'd be underwhelmed by the incredible talent and dedication the pair exude. 

If you want vocal gymnastics, raw performances, drama, angst and romance, then Vision of You, both live in concert and recorded is for you. 

Follow Sharon and Rob for updates on future performances during their #FindingTheFalcos journey

photo credit: Specular and Olivia Mitchell

Monday, 22 October 2018

In The Studio with Sharon Sexton and Rob Fowler | Vision of You


Stars of Bat Out of Hell the musical Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton are currently in the process of recording their debut duets album, Vision of You. The album is not only a celebration and showcase of their glorious vocals, but tells the back story of Sloane and Falco, the characters they play in the show.

I went along to the recording studio for a sneak peek at the process and to chat to the pair about the album and how the journey has been so far:


Alongside Sharon and Rob is pianist extraordinaire, Steve Corley who provides the beautiful accompaniments for the pieces and brings a warmth and real feel to the music. Sharon describes the album as "a box of chocolates" which has something for everyone and the pair hope it will be a treat for both fans and non-fans of Bat Out of Hell.

Vision of You features music from a number of artists, including The Civil Wars, Lady Gaga, Jim Steinman and Glenn Hansard, all artists whom Sharon and Rob have been inspired by.



From what I've seen so far of Vision of You, I know that it's going to be an incredibly raw, heartfelt and moving piece of work. For updates on the album keep an eye on Rob and Sharon's social media accounts and be sure to pick up your copy, either digitally or at the Dominion Theatre when it's released!

Full video interview and sneak peek at Poison and Wine is available here

Sunday, 8 July 2018

A Stagey Guide to Singing... Sharon Sexton, Danielle Steers, Christina Bennington | Bat Out of Hell | Stagey Sunday

Happy Stagey Sunday everyone! I hope you had a wonderful Pride yesterday and are enjoying the glorious weather. I'm actually on holiday in Corfu but that doesn't stop me from bringing you the newest instalment of this month's Stagey Guide to Singing! Bat Out of Hell month may be over but the Bat fun isn't over as this week we have stories, advice and information from the three leading ladies of the Steinman musical: Sharon Sexton, Christina Bennington and Danielle Steers...



What has your vocal journey been like?
Sharon Sexton (Sloane): I have been singing for as long as I can remember and was always told I had a "good voice" though no one in my family was a performer. I sang in school and my mum enrolled me in a youth music group when I was 5 and I lived for my weekly class. I learned all sorts of material and fell in love with musical theatre. I went to a couple of different local singing teachers and joined the school choir as a 1st soprano, though I always remember being jealous of the altos and wanting to learn their lines, because I thought their lines were more challenging and I found harmonies fascinating. 

There was nowhere in Ireland that taught the musical style I wanted to sing so I studied what video footage I could find of the greats like Bernadette Peters, Doris Day, Elaine Paige and Lea Salonga; studying their mouth shapes and imitating them. The same with Whitney and Mariah. I finessed all the riffs and set myself challenges in completing them. I ended up training classically in the Conservatory of Music in Dublin, which gave me a really solid foundation and understanding of my instrument, but all I wanted to do was sing contemporary musical theatre and belt. So I went through a host of singing teachers and robbed bits from everyone until I developed a technique that worked for me. 

My voice has definitely changed over time. I try and keep my top C soprano in check but like anything- when you don't use it that often, it gets rusty and I've accepted I shall probably now never be Christine in Phantom, I'm much more of a mezzo these days. 

Danielle Steers (Zahara): I've been singing for as long as I can remember. I went to an amateur dramatics group from around the age of 10 and still go back there now to help out and put on shows etc... My voice has definitely changed over the years. I couldn't belt until I went to college at 16 and only learnt how to twang and other techniques from my first few jobs. I have always had a low voice though, people always thought I was a lot older than my years due to the maturity of my voice. 

Christina Bennington (Raven): It’s been a long and exciting one. I began singing at school at the age of 7 and was in very high standard choirs for my entire school life at Methodist College Belfast. We rehearsed every day and it’s where I learnt the disciplines of sight singing, vocal maintenance and musicality. I took classical lessons and was convinced I wanted to be an opera singer until I fell in love with musical theatre. 

I started training in earnest at the Guildford School of Acting with Steven Luke Walker. Together we pushed my voice to extremes in every style so that I felt comfortable approaching anything. He’s a genuine wonder and I owe a lot of my jobs to his skill and teaching. I still see him when I have a new job or auditions because there’s always more to learn. 



What/who got you into music? 
Sharon: I can't ever say I remember my life without being completely obsessed with music. My dad had an amazing vinyl collection and I could sit for hours with headphones just getting lost in the music. 

Danielle: I actually have no idea, I didn't grow up in a particularly musical house. I just loved singing; it was how I expressed my emotions. I remember watching all the old MGM movies on TV and thinking how wonderful they were and wanting to be in them! 

Christina: My house was always filled with music and I still thank my Dad for a lot of my musical taste. He had carefully curated car CDs and amazing records he would play on his HiFi. My family are involved in amateur theatre in Northern Ireland so I got involved in pantomimes as a child. I’ve seen home videos of me imitating rockstars and opera singers from the age of two so I think it was always in me! 


Your voice is so smooth but strong at the same time. What are your tips for conveying the emotion of songs whilst maintaining power? 
Danielle: Why thank you, luckily the songs I sing in the show sit very well with an altos range, meaning I don't need to think too much about technique and I can just let rip with my emotions. 

I think power comes with emotion and even if you don't have the most powerful voice you can still make a song powerful by meaning every single word you sing and telling the story through the song. 


Bat Out Of Hell is a tough sing, during rehearsals how did you adapt to the vocal challenges it presents? 
Sharon: The tricky thing with Steinman's music is that it is so passionate and it reaches such great heights both musically and emotionally. The most difficult thing for me was finding a way to keep the passion and make the rock sound, but finding a technique to do it safely 8 shows a week, without losing that grit. I do a lot of belting and growling in the show, which I had to sing in to muscle memory and which I continuously have to keep in check. 

At the beginning of rehearsals the sing for Sloane seemed almost overwhelming, and I felt I was pushing myself to my limits, especially when we started moving keys up, but I was in rehearsals with Rob Fowler who is a vocal gymnast genius! And just when I felt I was getting to grips with my vocals, we would be working with the musical supervisor and Rob would ask "can I try something here?" and then sing and incredible riff and then go "Shazza could then sing that up a third no? or maybe you could octave that, or you could jump up and do a waaaaah there?" and I would clear my throat and go "uh uh, nope" and he said - "try it and if you can do it once, you'll find a way to do it 8 shows a week". I didn't know him very well at the time - but I was damned if I was going to be shown up! He pushed me to give so much vocally and believed in my ability to match him on stage, more than I ever did. All my numbers are duets with Rob so having that support and belief in a vocal partner on stage really gave me confidence to build the role vocally. And I think when you're on stage, yes technique is important but sometimes a lot of what comes out of your mouth, depends on the belief you have in your head. 


Do you have any personal/random techniques for maintaining vocal health? 
Christina: I’m afraid the secret for me isn’t very rock and roll! Sleep, hydration and avoiding too much stress and tension. Looking after myself is the best way to deliver a consistently strong 8-show week. It’s easy to be focused on that for a job that I love so much. My top tip is not to do a crazy vocal warm up. You don’t need to belt or push yourself there – it should be about activating the right things and setting up your voice for what the show requires – not a singing competition! 


Vocal health is obviously so important but do you have any coping techniques for the mental side of performing such as when you lose your voice or feel unmotivated? 
Danielle: I think a lot of the time when you "lose your voice" it can be a mental state. Sometimes if I know I have a big event coming up or new opening I "lose my voice" but it’s all in my head. You just have to trust that it will work, even maybe change your technique to get out certain notes. 

Steaming is a massive factor, drinking lots of water, I also like to keep my voice lubricated by having two Jakemans per show. When you feel unmotivated it's hard, especially with a show like Bat where you cannot give it any less that 100%! All I try to remember is why I'm doing what I'm doing, that people have paid good money to come see the show; the audiences reaction always helps us perform like it’s the first time every time. 


Steinman’s songs have some crazy belting so vowel modification must be important to make everything clear and safe to sing. Is that something you do naturally when learning music or do you change depending on the mood/style of the piece? 
Christina: Vowel modification is necessary to keep the sound safe and consistent the higher you sing. Steven has always taught me ways to make it subtle and to make the song work for my voice. It comes naturally now but it’s most useful if we have a week with lots of other vocal commitments outside the show. Technique is most useful when you’re tired. It enables you to modify safely and thin the sound down to help get back to full strength without compromising the sound of the show. 


Not only do you sing flawlessly in the show, but you’re also very humorous in the role, how do you bring that humour, comedic timing and lightness to your voice whilst still maintaining its power? 

Sharon: For me if I try and think "I have to be funny here" I will never make you laugh. I just commit 100% to the thought process of the character and believe in the truth of the moment. I find if you hunt for a laugh, you won't get it. So a lot of it is about storytelling and when I am in my head acting wise, the right noises just come out of my mouth... I hope... 


You dance as lot as well as singing in the show, what are your tips for doing both at once? 
Danielle: Gosh this is a hard one, this is something you go through every day at college. It's super hard especially if you're singing a different rhythm to what you're dancing, which happens a lot in Bat. The best thing to do is to sing along from the start of learning the choreography so you can get it into your head right from the go, then you can also work out where is best to breath. It's hard work! 


You’ve been doing the show for a while now so there must be a lot of muscle memory involved but are there any moments which are difficult or that you have to think about whilst performing? 

Sharon: My body is well oiled in the machine of the show now and my chords know what is expected of them, so yes it is actually getting easier to sing the role, the longer I play it, but on tired or ill days I do completely rely on my technique and have to step out of my character's head. ‘All Coming Back To Me’ can be tricky because of the blocking, I'm walking, in heels, on a raked stage, filled with track marks that like to eat my stiletto heels and it is highly emotional, so I have to play the feelings but I sometimes have to really concentrate on my breath and placement of that long "Now" note for 14 counts. I have to move the placement around to sustain it sometimes. There is no greater feeling that the days where my voice is on top form and I can just get lost in the emotion in that song. 

I also ironically find the last three lines of the show that I sing, really sneak up on me sometimes. It’s the very end of Anything For Love. Myself, Danielle (Zahara) and Christina (Raven) sing a little trio "I would do anything for love" to close the show and I have done a huge amount of belting and growling and crying and think it's all over and then go "oh gosh, this bit" and I have to take the high harmony in a very soft angelic voice which is very unlike any other part of the show for me, so I suddenly have to replace everything into my mix! 

Danielle: Sometimes you can go into auto pilot, it does happen, but I always have to be careful during "two out of three" it’s such an exposing song and everyone knows the words so I feel I really have to concentrate, also if you don't you end up not putting the emotion across. I also have to think about Tinks death scene, again, if you just go into auto pilot there’s no emotion there. ONE MORE.... DANCING DEAD RINGER IN THOSE HEELS!! Really have to concentrate in those haha! 

Christina: There’s definitely a degree of muscle memory but I’m never happy with what I’m doing. There’s always more to learn. I concentrate on different parts of the score for every week and explore making them bigger, stronger or smoothing transitions. The most difficult section for me is the ‘tuck jump chorus’ of For Crying Out Loud. Belting on almost one note as I jump with Andrew across the stage takes a lot of physical energy which needs to be balanced with not throwing too much breath at the sound. 


We know by now that I’m your breath control’s number one fan. Are there any particular exercises you do/have done to help with supporting? 
Christina: Haha thank you! You’re too kind. Breath control is an interesting one. I think a lot of people assume you need a big breath for a long phrase. As with a lot of singing, the rules aren’t one size fits all. In this style of music it’s often not the case. For a clear belt, I take a small high breath and support by resisting the breath in my rib cage. This can often lasts me many lines eg. the passage in Heaven Can Wait that I know you’re a fan of! 

For me, a lot of ‘breath control’ throughout the show is really about recovery breathing and fitness. I do as much interval sprinting and high intensity training as I can to ensure that I have the stamina for songs like ‘For Crying Out Loud’. If your body is strong and ready your voice will be too. 


Who would your dream duet partner be? 
Sharon: Male - I'm already singing with him 8 shows a week…. 

Female - Stevie Nicks 

Danielle: In terms of the show I’d have to say Rob Fowler, but in life Shirley Bassey 100% 

Christina: Andrew Polec of course! I’m beyond lucky to get to duet with him every night. Our voices fit well together. He is so resonant with so much weight in the sound which really gives me permission to use the full depth of mine. 

There are a lot of women I would love to duet with who I admire greatly. Hmmm. Amy Lee from Evanescence, Louise Dearman, Gina Beck, Laura Michelle Kelly, Rosalie Craig. I guess I’ve been inspired by all of them in different ways. Actually I did sing ‘At the Ballet’ in a concert with Louise so I suppose that’s sort of one already achieved!


What is your pre-show warm up like? 
Sharon: So important to me. I think it's important mentally and physically as when I start I can feel my brain sending all the signals to my voice going "ok, it’s that time of the day again" and it begins to anticipate what is expected of it. It's like starting the engine of a car before a long journey. I try not to use an awful lot of vocal energy during warm up. I keep it very light and subtle. A lot of closed mouth sirens, quiet humming, lip trills, slowly and focused so that I can just check in gently on every note. I'll also do a neck massage and loosen up my tongue muscles. I always do some amount of physical warm up but on days where my voice feels dry or tired I will really push myself with the dancers warm up, just to get my blood pumping in my muscles, which is so important to make my voice work. 

Danielle: We start with a physical warm up so I like to make sure my back and legs are super warm because of what is required of me, also the neck for head banging purposes! Then we do a vocal warm up which is super important as we sing loads! Then we do fight call which is so everyone can make sure their fights are all good and safe before the show. 

Christina: I love our full company physical with our dance captain Courtney. It gets my body woken up and prepped for the marathon that is Bat Out Of Hell. Then I take it easy in the company vocal. It depends what I need each day. 


What’s your top piece of advice for aspiring performers in terms of finding and maintaining your voice? 
Sharon: Know your limits. Accept them. 

Slowly and carefully continue to try work around them but remember your voice is unique, so embrace what you can do and let go of what you can't. 

If it hurts, stop. It should never be painful. 

Sometimes less is more - in terms of effort and support. A lot of people have the misconception that you must support and push and be tense on the big high belt notes when in fact the opposite can be so much more effective. 

Listen to your body when it's telling you that you need a rest. You only have one voice and if you are a performer - it is your life insurance, so never compromise it for anyone or anything or any production. It needs you to be smart to take care of it. When you need a show off, take it, because if you sing on a tired voice in a long run, it always, always catches up on you. Vocal massages are little gifts from heaven! Find a good therapist! 

Danielle: Always try new things, I didn't find my voice until I was about 18. Before then I had a very limited range and wouldn't have even dreamed of being able to sing the songs I can now. I still have a long way to go and I'm always trying to better my voice. It’s a case of playing around with different genres as well to see what fits well, rock, pop, jazz, musical theatre, legit? So much to choose from. Also.... don't smoke!!! 

Christina: I would say don’t compare your voice to anyone else. Yours is unique and wonderful! Absorb as much knowledge as you can and decide what works for you. Be disciplined in looking after your instrument and practise! 

Sending a massive thank you to Sharon, Christina and Danielle for giving us all their inside information of all things singing! Join us next Sunday for a tips from someone with All That Jazz

Bat Out of Hell is currently at the Dominion Theatre until 27th October 2018

Post by Editor, Olivia Mitchell


Photo credit: Specular, Christina Bennington, Danielle Steers

Friday, 23 November 2018

West End Live Lounge, The Other Palace | Review


West End Live Lounge
The Other Palace 
Reviewed on Sunday 18th November 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

We all know by now that West End Live Lounge concerts are in my top ways to spend a Sunday, and last weeks 90s extravaganza was no different! A host of the West End and theatre in generals finest, took to the stage at The Other Palace to perform some remixed and refreshed versions of 90s classic hits as well as some less remembered tunes.

Ever humourous and energetic, Vikki Stone and Paul Taylor Mills presented the night, which raises funds for a different charity each month, with banter and bounce. Opening the show, Matthew Harvey treated us to a laid back version of the secondary school music class classic, Wonderwall which perfectly set the tone for the night of nostalgia. 


A string of vocally flawless performances followed with Sam Coates' arrangements doing justice to the performers, venue, musicians and audience. As always he breathes fresh life into music and manages to balance warmth and energy in everything he touches. Particular stand outs included Lauren Drew's spine tingling rendition of I'm Your Baby Tonight, Sharon Sexton's All About Soul which had the entire audience bopping along, and Brady Isaacs Pearce's Hallelujah which brought Carrie Manolakos vibes and a whole lot of heart and power. 

The buzz was clear during the interval, from the beaming faces, to bopping heads and general chipper vibes, the anticipation for act two grew and we all knew we were in for another series of musical treats.


Vocal powerhouse and sultry queen Danielle Steers gave ballad realness with Don't Speak whilst Divalution brought their usual sass with their epic 90s mash up. All the ladies have not only voices for days, but for months. Some icy vibes were given to the evening by Jordan Luke Gage's dark and vocally incredible performance of You Oughta Know. 

Sophie Isaacs also performed a lovely mash up, whilst, accompanied by gasps from the audience, Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton joined forces to perform the well loved song which was cut from Bat Out of Hell: It Just Won't Quit. Every single performance of the night had something special and it's really magical to experience such diversity come together to celebrate music and talent.

As always, if you weren't at this West End Live Lounge, you missed a whole lot of brilliance but don't fret because there will be future concerts and it's clear from the Union Theatre to now, that the only way is up for Shaun McCourt and West End Live Lounge!

Keep up to date with West End Live Lounge on twitter

photo credit: Leigh Lothian

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Bat Out of Hell, Dominion Theatre | Review


Bat Out of Hell
Dominion Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 4th October 2018 by Becca Cromwell
★★★★★

All Revved Up with somewhere to go, I was excited as I made my way to the Dominion Theatre to see one of my favourite musicals, Bat Out of Hell.

Bat Out of Hell is a jukebox musical based on the music made famous by the beloved Meatloaf, written by Jim Steinman. Featuring hits such as Two Out of Three Ain't Bad, Paradise by the Dashboard Light and its namesake Bat Out of Hell, it's a larger than life extravaganza, perfect for fans of Steinman/Meatloaf.

The electric Bat Out of Hell burst onto the theatre scene in early 2017 when it opened in Manchester. Since then it has been through a number of iterations, making its West End debut at the London Coliseum last summer, performing a run in Toronto and returning to London at its current home, the Dominion Theatre. The show is also set to take off on a US tour as well as other productions worldwide.

The story (or lack of) is set in Obsidian; a post-apocalyptic version of Manhattan, which has been ravaged by chemical wars. These caused a group of teens (the Lost) to become frozen at the age of 18. The main story focuses on Strat, the leader of the Lost and Raven, the daughter of Falco, the tyrannical leader of the city. The two fall in love a la Romeo and Juliet, and the rest is history. 

The plot is based on both Romeo and Juliet and Peter Pan, but the whole thing is very thin. If you go to this show wanting a proper story, you will be let down, but if you go into it for the spectacular aspects of amazing performances and unreal special effects then you'll love it.



Christina Bennington leads the stellar cast as the rebellious teen Raven, alongside Jordan Luke Gage who recently took over the role of the blond haired, blue eyed, black hearted, Strat. Both give wonderful performances and have great chemistry with one another. Like the entire company, Jordan and Christina both have exceptional vocal skill. On this particular performance, Zahara was played by Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky, who was astounding, and Ledoux was played by Sam Toland, who gave a fantastic performance. As Raven’s parents Falco and Sloane are Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton, who both give outstanding performances, and add comedic elements which are highly entertaining.

The ensemble really bring the show together with pitch perfect harmonies and notes to die for. My personal favourite part of the show is Objects In The Rearview Mirror, where the ensemble bring me to tears with their heartfelt performances.

During this performance there appeared to be some microphone issues but these were only minor and did not distract much from the fantastic performances.

From start to finish this show is a hit. The vocals are flawless and Emma Portner's choreography (as wacky as some of it is) is phenomenal. Each and every person in this show is a superstar. The lack of story is certainly made up for by the intensity and emotion with which the full cast perform.

With the show remaining in London until January 2019, and a major US tour about to begin, I thoroughly recommend Bat Out of Hell for an entertaining night out.

For tickets and information about the show, visit https://www.londonboxoffice.co.uk

photo credit: Specular