Entertainment Views Interviews: Leo Mercer – Writer and Producer of GUY: A New Musical

The creators of multi-award-winning The Marriage of Kim K, leoe&hyde, return with an uplifting new musical about modern masculinity, body image, and the hook-ups and downs of dating in the 21st century. GUY’s heart-pounding electronic score will reel you in to this FOMO-arousing, catch-he gay rom-com, transferring to the King’s Head Theatre in a revised version after a successful premier and tour, winning multiple awards.

***** “exceptional cast… catchy [music]… a joy to watch” Theatre Box

Guy is a gay millennial looking for love. Guy is fat, nerdy and shy. Guy feels like he doesn’t fit in to the gay community. But when a rejection on Grindr pushes Guy to make terrible life choices, he is forced to confront his inner demons, all the while pushing away everyone close to him. With 12 heart-pounding electronic-pop anthems, this millennial odyssey through bingeing, gyming, prejudice, hook ups, beauty standards, and stolen identity is a much-needed reminder that the only person you can be is yourself.

****½ “[An] irresistible rom-com of the highest order… [this] show has the potential to be very big indeed” The Reviews Hub

Sometimes sexy, always real, GUY is a game-changing gay rom-com for the 2010s: with nakedly honest characters; an unapologetically moving portrayal of the hook-ups and downs of 21st-century dating; and a thought-provoking glimpse behind the veil of modern masculinity, male beauty standards, and unspoken prejudices within marginal communities. Tied together with a pioneering and infectiously catchy electronic score, GUY channels floor-filling EDM anthems, indie electronica, queer hip-hop, and PC Music with the lyrical charm of Sondheim, and the earworm melodies of Schwartz.

**** “A really fresh new musical with fantastic songs and great performances” West End Wilma

Following an acclaimed run at The Bunker, GUY’s tour won the show Best New Writing at the Buxton Fringe 2018, and the show now returns to London. The lead role of Guy is played by Brendan Matthew, who is joined by Seann Miley Moore. Moore first came to the attention of the UK public in The X Factor 2015, where he reached the finals. Since then, he’s toured gay pride internationally and launched a successful solo pop career, releasing his first EP last year. GUY is his UK theatre debut. The show is written and produced by leoe&hyde, following the success of their debut production The Marriage of Kim K (2017). The rising millennial musical theatre company received strong reviews, multiple awards and international attention last summer for the show, and have been called ‘a formidable partnership’ (Review Hub).

************************************************************************************************

Leo Mercer chatted to Entertainment Views about the musical, focusing on the challenges and what the audience can expect. 

Thanks for talking to Entertainment Views, Leo. Tell me about the production, how did the idea form, how long did it take before the script was ready to be read/work-shopped?

After the success of The Marriage of Kim K, Stephen and I wanted to do something a little bit different. Kim K was so ornate, operatic and complex, but we’d really been getting obsessed with electronic-pop. So in October, we just sat down and wrote the pop songs that we were feeling at the time, really raw, honest and emotional, without having to worry about crafting a story.

As it turned out, a few weeks later I had an “aha” moment, when I realised that those songs essentially tell a love story not dissimilar to those that my generation tend to experience, and I drafted a script around them. Some of the songs in the show – Mutual Prostitution, Is Your Body Who You Are – were written then, and as we’ve developed the show, lots of new material has been created to fill in the important moments.

This show really was an accidental baby – WE HAD OTHER PLANS! But once an idea grabs you, you’re grabbed. We then got performance slots at Hope Mill and The Bunker, and rushed through seven drafts of the show to get it ready. We’ve redrafted it again between those performances and the run we’re about to do at The King’s Head.

Did you have a clear ideas of who you wanted to cast?

Not at all: we went into auditions with a mega open mind. It’s always difficult rejecting auditionees – there are so many brilliant people out there deserving of a part, and you just want to send them each huge emails explaining why they’re wonderful too. However, we’ve never once doubted the cast members we ended up choosing: they’re dedicated, hard-working, lovely and absolutely talented. They’ve said they feel like the characters; the audience keep commenting on the fit between cast and character; it’s become a very lovely and collaborative process.


Has your vision for the piece altered during rehearsals?

Not really, but it has deepened. There are things we want to achieve in GUY – for example: a sophisticated, almost filmic show – and the chance to practice means we’re understanding what that actually involves more day by day. It often feels like when you have an idea for a show, and it’s so clear and simple in your mind, that the whole writing and production process is about trying to reach that simple, end point, but you go through lots of complex groundwork to get there.

What can the audience expect from the show?

Someone tweeted after the show saying the show fulfilled their expectations of being unexpected, and I think that sounds about right. Our shows always take a very pop culture matter – Kim Kardashian in The Marriage of Kim K, Grindr in GUY – but approaches them as if they’re something you’d expect from something much more “establishedly cultural”

What do you envisage audience reactions might be?

 Stephen and I always joke that we wish we had a mind-scanner, and as everyone leaves the show could collect all the thoughts that people have. Based on what we’ve heard, I’d imagine that mind-scanner would detect several earworms, an intense sense of connection with Guy, and a sense that they’ve seen some aspect of their own life mirrored back at them.

What do you hope they’ll take away from the piece?

I don’t really know what catharsis is, but I think that’s the aim? 21st century society has made a lot of humans very confused about their bodies and what love should be, and watching a closely observed character deal with this will hopefully let a reader go on their own psychological journey at the same time as Guy does.

Thanks to Leo for an insightful interview, wishing the cast and crew all the best for their run. The show runs until Saturday 1 September 2018. 

Book tickets here: GUY Tickets

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: