Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Vikki Stone. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Vikki Stone. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, 4 April 2023

Vikki Stone on her Olivier Award Win | Hey Duggee Live | Interview

Vikki Stone is a British composer, comedian, actress and musician who has had huge success in tv, radio and theatre. She recently won an Oliver Award for her adaptation of the popular children's TV show, Hey Duggee. Vicki sat down to talk to us about her process when taking something from screen to stage, and how important it is for young people to experience theatre...

Firstly, congratulations on being an Olivier Winner 2023! Where were you when you found out you were nominated?
I was at the gym. (I didn’t share my excitement with anyone around me, as I’m not sure they’d have fully understood what I was excited about.)

You won for Hey Duggee which is a show that entices young audiences/families to the theatre, perhaps for the first time. What was the process like for creating a show, made to entertain and engage children?
Hey Duggee is a well loved kids TV programme, and there are 300+ episodes, so the very first thing myself and co-adaptor Matthew Xia did was sit down in a room with a massive whiteboard and write down all the things that audiences would expect to be in the show. We also wanted to surprise audiences, and deliver an experience that lifts the 2D cartoon into a 3D theatre world. We were also aware that this show would be many people’s first time in the theatre, so we wanted to make it magical and memorable too. We kept that list of audience expectations in our minds throughout the whole process and I think it paid off.

Why do you think it’s so important to involve people of all ages in theatre?
Family co-viewing, which is where Hey Duggee Live sits, is such an important genre of theatre. Those shows where 3 year olds can sit* down with parents, and grandparents and everyone has a good time.

*In Hey Duggee Live there’s no pressure that the under fives have to sit. There’s probably more bouncing around with joy, than sitting.

Within theatre you’ve had a pretty diverse career, what draws you to a project?
When I first started writing theatre it was whoever would pay me! There’s an advantage in the arts for those that can write without the pressure of needing to earn a living, and they can afford to be more choosy, I was not one of those people. I don’t think we talk about that enough in the arts. I wrote anything and everything. These days I do have passion projects that I’m working on that don’t have any finance attached, and you have to believe in those much more, and hope that at some point in the process someone will come along and help get it off the ground.

If you could create your next dream job, what would it include?
I’ve got something “in development” that is pretty much my dream job. I’d really like to work on an on-screen musical theatre show next! Watch this space.

What advice would you give to other female writers who want to break into the industry and forge out a path like yourself?
My advice would be to keep pushing and pivot if necessary. My whole career has been formed out of pivoting, and all the skills I gathered along the way - classical music, stand-up, composing - all form part of who I am as a writer now.

Thank you so much, congratulations on the award!

Monday, 14 May 2018

West End Live Lounge: Number 1, The Other Palace | Review

West End Live Lounge: One
The Other Palace
Reviewed on Sunday 13th May 2018 by Olivia Mitchell

The email telling me about an upcoming West End Live Lounge concert is one I look forward to with excitement and anticipation as the night always proves to be a joyous, talent-filled one. Last night's concert was exactly that, a celebration of Number 1 music, performed by a stellar line up, in aid of Centrepoint, a charity which supports homeless young people.

Opening the show with a gloriously haunting version of Sia's Titanium, were the ever stunning Kelly Agbowu and Natalie Green. Both performers have beautifully smooth vocals and they complement one another perfectly. 

From here on, act one of the concert raced by with vocal brilliance after vocal brilliance. Lisa Marie Holmes and Zoe Birkett gave heartfelt performances whilst, Jodie Jacobs gave an energetic performance of Jerry Lee Lewis' rock classic Great Balls of Fire. Rock numbers proved to be an audience favourite with Andrew Polec earning rapturous applause and cheers after his performance of Living on a Prayer.

Adam Bailey's haunting interpretation of Run was a sure stand out and Moya Angela closed act one with a spine-tingling, note perfect performance of Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You.

Hosting the night were the hilarious Vikki Stone and The Other Palace producer, Paul Taylor-Mills. The pair bounced off each other naturally with their wit and banter providing fantastic transitions between songs.

Vikki took a break from hosting to open act two with her comical, stripped back performance of Cotton Eyed Joe. The great thing about West End Live Lounge is that although it's for a serious cause and a celebration of immense talent, at it's heart it's about love and humour. The whole night is set out to be a joyous night of fun and that's exactly what it is. You can feel the love in the room and it's truly heartwarming to be a part of.

Act two was a maelstrom of talent with 1/3 of Divalution: Sejal Keshwala involving the audience in her spirited version of Aretha Franklin's Think. Joel Harper Jackson and Andrew Bateup both brought chills with their performances of Lay Me Down and Georgia on my Mind. Their voices are smooth as butter and they are mesmerising performers to watch.

Natalie and Kelly returned with the wonderful Impossible and Liisi LaFontaine, on her fleeting visit to London, treated us to a seamless performance of Grenade. The song selection of this concert was top notch, with song after song fulfilling my emotive ballad craving. Christina Modestou's performance of If I Were a Boy was vocally flawless as was Liam Tamne's rendition of Diamonds.

Musical director extraordinaire Sam Coates and his incredible band did an outstanding job of accompanying the performers and creating their own musical magic. American singer Stacey Francis brought gospel to The Other Palace, whilst Divalution (formerly Sapphire Soul) brought their usual sass and killer belt with an epic 23 song mash up.

Bat Out of Hell stars Andrew Polec and Christina Bennington concluded the night with an acrobatic, dynamic performance of Evanescence's hit, Bring Me To Life. The pair have enough sparks to power all the lights in The Other Palace and it's clear why audience's are loving them over at the Dominion theatre.

Although the performers were amazing, the real star of West End Live Lounge is Shaun McCourt who set up the concerts. Shaun puts so much work into them and it's clear that his passion and drive are infectious throughout the entire West End Live Lounge family. There's so much joy evident and each concert provides a perfect, musical night out. Don't miss the next one... you'll regret it!

photo credit: Nick Brittain

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

The Barn Theatre announce outdoor festival: BarnFest

The Barn Theatre in Cirencester has announced the launch of their first Summer outdoor theatre festival, BarnFest – Outdoor Theatre Festival, which will run from 25 July until 5 September.

The outdoor festival, which will be held within the grounds of Ingleside House adjacent to the theatre, will bring the award-winning theatre outdoors with entertaining productions catered towards the whole family ranging from children’s entertainment to re-imagined Shakespeare.

Giffords Circus star Tweedy the Clown will launch the inaugural BarnFest season with his new family entertainment extravaganza Tweedy: Al Fresco!

The season will be followed by Natasha Barnes and Vikki Stone in their musical mashup Funny Gals: A History of Women Being Hilarious In Musicals. The show explores the comedy music written for women in musical theatre.

Outdoor theatre company Illyria Theatre will be bringing three of their acclaimed productions to the festival: The Wind in the WillowsThe Emperor’s New Clothes and The Adventures of Doctor Dolittle.

Rosie Day, will star in her play Instructions For A Teenage Armageddon. The production, directed by Georgie Staight and featuring the voice of Maxine Peake as Sensible Scout Leader Susan, previously had a successful run at The Old Red Lion Theatre in London. Instructions For A Teenage Armageddon is co-produced by Studio POW and the Barn Theatre.

New theatre company SCOOT Theatre will bring their re-imagined production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a 60-minute retelling set within the world of cricket, to the festival. The production, directed by Joseph O’Malley, features a cast including past Barn Theatre actors Aaron Sidwell and Max Hutchinson.

The season will also feature two brand new co-productions from the Barn Theatre. The first will be a new production of Simon Reade’s play adaptation of Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo, directed by Alexander Knott, will run at BarnFest from 17th to 22nd August. The show is co-produced by Take Two TheatricalsBoxLess Theatre and the Barn Theatre.

A new production of the Kander & Ebb musical revue The World Goes ‘Round will complete the run as part of BarnFest. The production will be directed by Kirk Jameson with musical direction by Nick Barstow.

Iwan Lewis, Artistic Director said: “We’re back! I am absolutely delighted to announce that the Barn Theatre, under unprecedented circumstances, is launching its very first outdoor theatre festival, BarnFest. Since the government statement allowing outdoor theatre to take place just over a week ago, the team have worked tirelessly to bring together a month-long programme of events featuring everything from children’s entertainment to Shakespeare. So, there’s something for all the family. I’d like to assure everyone thinking of attending that your safety has been paramount in planning this event. All precautions have been taken to ensure you enjoy a safe and friendly festival environment and we cannot wait to have our audiences back at the Barn.”

The theatre will be adhering stringently to all government guidelines during the festival and have released further details and information regarding the venue and procedures to keep audiences, staff and performers safe on their website here:

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Girlfriends, Bishopsgate Institute (LMTO) | Review

Bishopsgate Institute
Reviewed on Friday 2nd November 2018 by Olivia Mitchell

The London Musical Theatre Orchestra are taking a short residency at the Bishopsgate Institute whilst they perform a concert version of Howard Goodall's Girlfriends which follows a group of women as they join the Women's Auxiliary Airforce during World War Two.

Complete with new orchestrations specifically for the LMTO, Girlfriends has some beautiful virtuosic moments which are wonderfully showcased by the orchestra, led by Freddie Tapner. As always, the orchestra give a sleek performance, however, compared to previous concerts where the LMTO have had solo showcase moments playing musical interludes such as the police scene in Mack and Mabel, there weren't any moments where we could purely appreciate the orchestra. These concerts always tend to provide a platform to appreciate stripped back music which of course we could still do, but this particular production lacked some of the "wow" orchestral moments previously experienced.

Whilst the orchestrations are lovely, a lot of the music feels similar and there are a lot of songs which are repetitive. Many of the melodies are catchy but when heard time are time again, become ineffective in conveying the mood/drama they intend to and I believe the whole piece would be much more moving emotionally and technically sleek if it was cut down and smoothed out. That's not to say that there weren't some outstanding moments, especially when the women join together for tight choral moments of chromatic harmony which effectively push the pain and confusion felt by everyone during the war.

The cast are the best of the best who work well as a team and individually. As best friends leaving their "ordinary" lives to join the WAAF, Lucie Jones and Lauren Samuels show off their divine vocals and natural chemistry with effortless talent. Natasha Barnes is vocally stunning, whilst Vikki Stone gives both a humourous and heartbreaking performance and BrontĂ© BarbĂ© gives a memorable performance of The Chances Are. Rob Houchen and Chris McGuigan both give strong performances which showcase their talents whilst perfectly framing the women, as they should in a show focussed on female strength.  

Despite the dramatic content, the show itself never reaches a boiling point and somewhat lacks intensity. During act one, I couldn't help but think the show was romanticising war with the various love affairs that formed; however, a moment of text in act two changed that view and brought the stark reality of war back to the heart. Victoria Gosling MBE explains that she was born in a free world and grew up hearing "All You Need is Love" whilst for her grandparents, "All They Had is Love". This reminds us the importance of relationships both romantic and non-romantic as well as how lucky we all are to be able to watch this show without having experienced the pain and turmoil that accompanied the women featured.

Despite this not being my favourite production form the LMTO, there is no denying that the wealth of talent on offer gave remarkable performances. The melodic, complex music does provide moments of power and if anything, this show serves as a fantastic celebration of women and the crucial roles they had in the Second World War. 

photo credit: Nick Rutter

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