Spotlight On… Blast From The Past Star, Anthony Kavanagh

Blast From The Past is written  and directed by Anna-Lisa Maree. It is part of Camden Fringe and will be staged at Upstairs At The Gatehouse 16th – 19th August 2016.

Book tickets here:

Perhaps best known s 90’s Pop sensation, Kavana – Anthony Kavanagh is throwing down his mic in favour of treading the boards. He’s starring in Blast From The Past, in the role of Danny Tate. I had a chat with the man himself to find out about his new role.

Thank you for talking to Break A Leg, you’re going to be appearing as Danny Tate in Blast From The Past as part of Camden Fringe, tell me about the play and how you came to be involved in it.

Blast From The Past, well, I wouldn’t call it a comedy as such although it’s got moments of comedy in it. It’s based around the real life Nail bombings that took place at the Admiral Duncan Pub in Soho, the gay pub. I’ve worked with the writer and director before and she got in touch to say I’ve got a part called Danny that I think you could play. He’s from the north, he’s a bit of a bad lad but we’re going to find out more about him as the story goes on. I read the script and thought I fancy having a go at this. I’m really looking forward to it and particularly looking forward to performing at the Camden Fringe. I love fringe stuff, it’s slightly more edgy and can cover more subjects.

When you first saw the script what was your first impression of it?

I thought it was a bit Coronation Street meets Shameless, being a northern lad myself it appealed to me. I loved the whole 90’s nostalgia part of it, I was a 90’s kid, that was my era. Obviously in the 90’s I was doing the Pop stuff, everything that the writer has put into the script the writer has got spot on. I remember the old FHM posters in my bedroom and the Spice Girls dolls that came out, all of that is incorporated into this piece.

Have you appeared at Upstairs at the Gatehouse theatre, before?

I haven’t, I’ve heard it’s a really cool little venue and I can’t wait to see what it’s like. Have you been there before?

Yes, I have, I went to see Blast From The Past in the London Short Play Festival, last year too.

Did you? I’ve come at it with fresh eyes, I know Anna-Lisa’s lengthened the script and made changes to it, but it’s quite good that I haven’t seen it because I can come into it and give something different to it.

How do you find acting on stage compares to singing on stage?

I started out always being in the Drama class at school and I had a friend called Suranne Jones who has gone on to do Coronation Street and Dr Foster, we were the boy and girl in school who would always be in the plays. I didn’t really discover my musical talent until after that, although I was exposed to the music business from very early on, the age of17. I really love acting, it’s a different discipline to singing, but learning your lines is not much different to learning lyrics. I’ve done musicals before but this is my first play, and it’s good to be playing a naughty character, there’s an edge to him which I like.

Finally, what would you say to encourage people to come and see the piece?

It’s a great night out, it’s a great show, there’s lots of laughs. Please come, but don’t thrown any eggs at me for my first experience treading the boards as an actor in a play!

Sending huge thanks to Anthony for his time, I can’t wait to see him storm the stage.


Spotlight On… Star of Blast From The Past, Judy Buxton

Blast From The Past is written  and directed by Anna-Lisa Maree. It is part of Camden Fringe and will be staged at Upstairs At The Gatehouse 16th – 19th August 2016.

Book tickets here:

Judy Buxton is reprising her role of Julie Tate in Blast From The Past, she’s also taking on some extra characters due to this being an extended version of the show. I caught up with Judy (who is a Patron of Break A Leg!) to find out all about her new characters and how she feels about returning to the leopard print.

Hi Judy, thank you for chatting to Break A Leg, first of all, you originated the role of Julie in Blast From The Past at the London Short Play Festival last year – what has inspired you to want to revisit the character?

Well, I wanted to re-visit the character because last year’s piece was a very short version of the play, so it’s going to be interesting to play her in the hour long version. I am also keen to revisit the character because it’s a part that I wouldn’t normally be cast in. I am being cast fairly regularly as older character parts, but this is something completely different, for a start she’s a tarty character from the north which I’m certainly not normally cast as. I enjoyed the experience at the London Short Play Festival and that’s the main reason why I want to repeat it. It’s a fun character to play, but as you know, the play is poignant as well. Julie’s a tart with a heart, really and had a difficult life. She’s had to look after her children by herself after her husband left, but she’s struggled through and got on with it. Overall, I think she’s quite a likeable character.

Have you considered playing any aspect of the role differently, this time?

I think because it plays as it’s written, when you read the script you can hear what the character is like, so I don’t think I’ll change anything unless Anna-Lisa changes anything. In this longer version I’ve also got three other characters to play. There won’t be time to change make up, but costume, yes. Not only will I play Julie Tate as the younger and older, I also play Mrs Grimshaw the cleaner, Mystical Maureen and Beverley Scanton, who was Danny’s teacher.

This time around as well as the additional characters you are playing, there are some other extra parts which means the cast has grown. How do you think that will change the dynamics?

It’s difficult to say until we start, but I still think it will work very well. I’m looking forward to seeing how it pans out. I think that even though the piece is longer and there are more characters, none of the poignancy is lost, which is lovely.

This year, I believe you attended the memorial for the Nail bombing victims?

Yes,  Jeff (Jeffrey Holland, Judy’s husband) and I went down to the memorial that takes place every April, we went into the Admiral Duncan Pub and it was incredibly moving, there was a little procession down the street. It was so poignant and I’m very glad that I did that, because the piece will mean much more to me than the first time around when I hadn’t attended a memorial. It will mean so much more to me when I’m in the memorial scene at the end of the show.

What do you think the audience will get from the show?

Hopefully they’ll laugh and maybe have a bit of a cry as well. I think because it was a real event there will be some people that remember it. Then there will be people who have never even heard of the Nail bombing in 1999, but maybe they’ll want to know more. There’s certainly something for everyone.

Finally, what would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

As I said, there’s going to be something for everyone, there will be a lot of laughs and costume-wise, Anna-Lisa has done a great job. It’s about a true event but with fictional characters who are larger than life, plus there’s the Drag element as well.

I’d like to thank Judy for her time and wish her a successful show, next week!

Spotlight On… Star of Blast From The Past, Felicity Dean

Blast From The Past is written  and directed by Anna-Lisa Maree. It is part of Camden Fringe and will be staged at Upstairs At The Gatehouse 16th – 19th August 2016.

Book tickets here:

Felicity Dean has joined the cast of Blast From The Past to play three brand new characters, Lola Playfoot, Caz and Melanie. I was delighted to catch up with one of Break A Leg’s Patrons to find out who these mad-cap characters are and what attracts her to new writing.

Thank you for talking to Break A Leg, Felicity. Tell me about your characters in Blast From The Past and what did you think of he script when you first saw it?

First of all, when I read the script I laughed out loud, it was a really interesting read and I thought the writer had a great sense of character.

I play three different woman, which is interesting in itself. The first one is Melanie, she’s 21 years old (at this point the Editor points out that Felicity is a little older than 21…). She’s marvellous and she’s engaged to Mark. The second character, who I adore is Lola, I’ve decided she’s got a very deep voice, sounds a bit like Jane McDonald! Lola’s a good time girl, flat on her back most of the time. She rocks up to the party dressed like Ginger Spice, she’s a self-confessed drag-hag with a heart of gold. She’s the sort of girl who believes you’ve got to make of life what you can. Then there’s Caz, she’s Owner of Out and Proud, a gay magazine. She is  stereotypical gay woman in the 90’s.

What’s interesting to me about this play is it’s got the comedy and it’s relevant. There’s a poignancy to this piece.

Have you a favourite line or scene in the script, yet?

I think my favourite will change as we get into rehearsals, but there is a great scene between Nathan and Lola when they come back drunk after a night out. I think it will be really funny.

What do you remember most from the 90’s?

My memories are of becoming a mum, my Son, Paris was born in 1993. It was a life changing time. Paris being born was the greatest time of my life. I also first appeared at the National Theatre in the 90’s, there were lots of other good times as well. Becoming a mum was my defining moment during that time.

What can the audience expect from the play?

Of course, this is based around the nail bombing which took place at the Admiral Duncan Pub. However they can expect a funny play, it’s a comedy which will have you laughing and then they will realise that there is a serious side. There is such great poignancy to this story.

What would you say to encourage potential audience members to buy a ticket?

Come and see a great cast playing some fabulous characters, it’s going to be great fun and we’d love for you to join us at Upstairs at the Gatehouse. And we’ve got a real 90’s Pop star, Kavana!

I’d like to thank lovely Felicity for chatting to me and wish her all the best with this production.


Spotlight On… Blast From The Past Star, Richard Rhodes

Blast From The Past is written  and directed by Anna-Lisa Maree. It is part of Camden Fringe and will be staged at Upstairs At The Gatehouse 16th – 19th August 2016.

Book tickets here:

Richard Rhodes stars as one of the central characters, Nathan (90s Pop star, Kavana playing his brother!). Richard is a popular Drag Artiste whose aliases include Sheila Simmonds and Cookie MonStar. I caught up with the him to talk about what Blast From The Past means to him.  

Hi Richard, thank you so much for chatting to Break A Leg. Tell me about Blast From The Past and what the show means to you.
Blast from the Past is a roller coaster ride about a northern family and how they are affected by the horrific nail bomb attack at The Admiral Duncan in the 90’s.  It’s an important piece of theatre.  What happened on that day was a horrific homophobic attack – and all over the world these attacks still happen.  This play shows how it doesn’t just affect the people that were actually there, but their families and communities… has a knock on effect……..  it affects me as I am a gay man but also I’m a human being…..any attack on a person regardless of their sexuality, race, etc is an attack on humanity.
What did you think of the script when you first saw it?
First and foremost the script is fantastic, I loved it as soon as I read it.  I’m a big fan of the northern humour and it delivers this big time, what is also great and what i love about the north is the way that even in tragedy there is still some light and humour to be found and it also delivers that.
What are the key elements of Nathan’s character?
Nathans journey is one of figuring out who he is and where his place in society is – what his self-worth is, he’s discovering himself as a person, he has taken on various drag personas to give him confidence and a voice but is now also discovering himself as a person away from all these personas. He has his own internal battles going on…….and being a drag queen i can totally relate to all that.
How are rehearsals going so far?
Rehearsals are going really well, it’s all coming together nicely and we’re remembering our words which is always a bonus!  It’s a great cast and we’re all very open to throwing in ideas as we go along the rehearsal process.  The show is feeling great already so I’m really excited to see how it’ll be when we open.
What do you think the audience will take away from the show?
I hope they will have enjoyed a great piece of theatre – to me seeing a good piece of theatre should evoke something inside of you, hopefully you’ll laugh, cry and learn.  As I said in my answer to the first question these attacks are still happening, hopefully it’ll make people wake up, which I think we are doing and say enough is enough, all this violence has to stop.
What would you say to encourage potential audience members to come along?
Just come!  It really is a piece of great theatre, and you get to see Kav!
A pleasure to chat to Richard, Break A Leg and Snap A Lash!

Spotlight On… Writer, Director and Star of Blast From The Past, Anna-Lisa Maree

Blast From The Past is written  and directed by Anna-Lisa Maree. It is part of Camden Fringe and will be staged at Upstairs At The Gatehouse 16th – 19th August 2016.

Book tickets here:

Anna-Lisa is a talented Writer, Director and an absolutely stunning actress. This is the hat-trick ‘Spotlight On…’ feature for this hard-working girl, and it’s my pleasure to bring you her latest interview to promote her stellar show, Blast From The Past.

Thank you for joining Break A Leg for another interview, Anna-Lisa. So, Blast From The Past is back, with its own run as part of Camden Fringe, what will be different this time in comparison to its maiden voyage at the London Short Play Festival, last year?

The storyline remains the same aside from the fact that the older brother, Nathan now impersonates Cher instead of Alanis Morisette!

I also had to extend the show by half an hour so there are a number of new characters including Lola Playfoot, proprietor of Blackpool’s leading swinger’s hotel, Melanie Cropper, the ultimate Bridezilla and the infamous Mystical Maureen (who used to have a booth on the South Shore until the police shut her down) finally appears in the flesh!

Are there any cast changes?

To quote one of my favourite song lyrics ‘Everything has its season, everything has its time’ – yes there have been cast changes but that is the nature of the business. Judy Buxton will be reprising her role as Julie Tate and I am delighted to welcome on board Anthony Kavanagh, Felicity Dean, Richard Rhodes and Andrew Irvine.

I also have a wonderful multi-talented creative team, Luke Johnson, Charlotte Gorton and Georgia-May Matthews.

You’re making an appearance in it as well as having written it and you’re also the director, do you differentiate between these roles or do they all mingle together?

As a writer I try to give each character naturalistic dialogue with a definite rhythm and tone. However I am always open to other people’s opinions of how improvements can be made. The one aspect of this production that I am truly precious over is the final scene as it is imperative that all tenses used are correct. It is vital for the storytelling that past and present is clearly defined. Although the roles I play are key to the structure of the play they are intentionally small so I can focus on directing. I am also blessed to have an amazing Wingman (Luke Johnson) not only is he a Technical and Stage Management Whizz but he also serves as my third eye in the rehearsal room.

Tell me about the role(s) that you play.

I play two characters Nicole Cox and Kelly-Louise Tate; Nicole is a Liverpudlian beautician who (in 1999) rents one of Julie’s holiday flats and works at Nathan’s salon. She’s not the brightest bulb in the chandelier but many of her innocent comments provide much food for thought. Kelly-Lou makes an appearance in the penultimate scene when the action returns to 30th April 2016. She’s the little sister of Nathan and Danny who is constantly referred to but never seen in the flashbacks. We finally get to see her all grown up but there’s definitely no mistaking that she’s a Tate and plays a key role in establishing the progression of time.

Finally, sell the show to me, why should theatre-goers buy a ticket and come to see Blast From The Past?

With a cast that includes a genuine 90s Popstar, a sensational drag artiste and two critically acclaimed actresses need I say more? Well okay – just a little bit!  It’s a chance to re-live (or learn about) all that was lovely and all that was loathsome about the late 90s and it is also a huge education into many areas of people’s everyday life that so many people live in blissful ignorance of. However, it is ultimately a reminder not to judge others until you have walked a mile in their stilettos and to live the life you love because after all none of us are going to get out of this crazy world alive!

Break A Leg wish the whole cast of Blast From The Past a blast of a time and all the luck in the world to Anna-Lisa, you need to see her work to believe her capabilities.


Photo credit: Simon Annand.

Spotlight On… Blast From The Past Star, Andrew Irvine

Blast From The Past is written and directed by Anna-Lisa Maree. It is part of Camden Fringe and will be staged at Upstairs At The Gatehouse 16th – 19th August 2016.

Book tickets here:

Andrew Irvine is appearing as Mark Harrington in Blast From The Past at Upstairs At The Gatehouse, next week. I caught up with Andrew to ask him all about this exciting step back into the 90’s.

Hi Andrew, thanks for talking to Break A Leg. Tell me about Blast From The Past, what can the audience expect?

The audience can expect a very funny and touching comedy/drama set in the late Nineties about a dysfunctional Northern family and their hilarious struggles since moving to Blackpool. However it could shock some people when it revisits a certain event of that era.

Tell me about your character in Blast From The Past, what’s his relationship to the other characters in the show and what’s your impression of him?

My character Mark is best friends with Danny (who famously appeared on Kilroy for being one of the first people in Manchester to be electronically tagged) and is the ‘sensible’ member of the group. He is a bit of a geek who is trying to finish his teacher training while dealing with the madness around him. He is also going through massive problems with his fiancé Melanie.

What was your first reaction to the script?

It’s a very witty and realistic piece of writing (albeit with larger than life characters) that delves into many difficult areas of relationships and family. Anna-Lisa Maree has a great sense of comic timing and understanding of her characters.

I realise you’ve yet to go into rehearsals, but at the moment, have you got a favourite scene or line you can share with me?

There is a scene with Danny’s brother Nathan which suddenly calls into question everything that Mark thought he knew about himself. It contains some great visual comedy and is very touching as well.

Finally, sell the show to me, what would you say to encourage potential audience members to come along?

How far have we come since the late Nineties? It wasn’t that long ago but seems a world away. Come and experience big characters and even bigger situations. Blast From The Past is a Northern comedy that’ll leave you laughing, crying and reaching for your old Spice Girls CDs.

Thanks to Andrew for a great interview, wishing you all the best with the show!

Photo credit: Simon Annand.

Blast From The Past ~ Press Release

*** Blast From The Past is BACK! Following great critical acclaim at The London Short Play Festival, last year! A link to my review of the shorter version can be found here… ***



Life is far from grim ‘Up North’, Danny’s a Bad Lad, his Mam’s a tart and his brother dresses in women’s clothes; but life is a roller coaster and all of their lives are about to change forever.

It’s April 1999 and London is calling, so fasten your seat-belts and prepare for fashion faux pas, Brit Pop, the Vegas of The North and London’s West End.

Hold on tight and enjoy the ride, because after all none of us are going to get out of this crazy world alive!

This production sensitively tackles the real life event of the nail bomb attack at the ‘Admiral Duncan’ Pub in Soho.

“..the casting was perfect, a definite triumph, and I’m keen to see more of Anna-Lisa Maree’s work…”

Helen McWilliams – Break A Leg Review

“…the overall design is evocative and engaging with some truly spectacular costumes…”

LGBTQ Arts Review

Written & Directed By: ANNA-LISA MAREE


Smash Hits Award Winner

ANTHONY KAVANAGH (Celebrity Big Brother, The Big Reunion)

Critically acclaimed stage & screen actresses JUDY BUXTON & FELICITY DEAN

Drag Artiste: Richard Rhodes ‘aka Sheila Simmonds


Having premiered at the London Short Play Festival in 2015, BLAST FROM THE PAST is back as an hour long production; introducing brand new characters and a stellar cast!

Show taking place at: Upstairs At The Gatehouse, Highgate Village, LONDON, N6 4DB.

Date Time Ticket Price Concessions

Tuesday 16th August 2016 7.30pm £12 £10

Wednesday 17th August 2016 9.15pm £12 £10

Thursday 18th August 2016 7.30pm £12 £10

Friday 19th August 2016 9.15pm £12 £10

Book Tickets via:

020 8340 3488


Blast From The Past ~ London Short Play Festival 2015

Last year I went to the London Short Play Festival where among others, I had the great pleasure of reviewing Blast From The Past by Anna-Lisa Maree. This year, Anna-Lisa has expanded on the script, added new characters and brings her master-piece to Camden Fringe. Details of how to book tickets and the press release can be found here:

In the meantime, here is the brief review from last year’s shorter version.

Blast from the Past written and directed by Anna-Lisa Maree opened the event, starring ex-Coronation Street star Scott Wright, seasoned television and theatre star Judy Buxton, Anthony Poore and Matthew Jordan Wright. The story centres around the dysfunctional Tate family who are ensconced in their own Blackpool B&B business. With monologues which drew me in and enhanced the story, together with the sensitive tackling of real-life event, the 1999 nail bombing at the Admiral Duncan, this piece could easily work as a full length play. The attention to detail down to the costumes all helped to create the correct atmosphere and tone. The set was simple and effective, the casting was perfect, a definite triumph, and I’m keen to see more of Anna-Lisa Maree’s work.


Spotlight On… Anna-Lisa Maree


*** Spotlight On… Anna-Lisa Maree ***

She’s a multi-talented ‘Theatre Fairy’ and also known as Twinkle 🙂 – Anna-Lisa Maree filled me in on her hopes, dreams and what led her into her varied career.

You’re experienced as an actress, a writer and company stage manager, which one came first and do you have a favourite of the three ‘jobs’?

I performed in my first professional production when I was 8 years old, it was Oliver at York Theatre Royal and little did I know then that Bill Sykes (Andy Serkis) would go onto be a Hollywood superstar! I’m pretty sure that he can’t believe that the youngest girl in the workhouse has become a Company Stage Manager, but as the saying goes ‘that’s showbiz’! My first insight into the world of Stage Management was in the Summer of 1995 when I spent a season in London with the National Youth Theatre.
I then studied for a BA Hons Degree in Stage Management at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, back in the days before it became ‘Royal’ and that was my spring board into the professional backstage world.
In truth I’m a bit of an ‘All Round Theatre Fairy’ as I’ve also worked extensively as a Head of Wardrobe in the West End, and toured nationally and internationally.
As a writer I have written comedy for numerous artistes, as well as having two of my own plays ‘`Casting The Villain Aside’ and ‘Blast From the Past’ in the London Short Play festivals. I was also the first person to ever put an original full scale musical into the Paradise room on Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
Ultimately I am so appreciative that I am able have such a diverse career in the industry I love and in the words of Mary Poppins, “In every job that must be done there is an element of fun!”

What are your most memorable moments as an actress, as a writer and as a company stage manager?

As an 8 year old in Oliver I used to insist that before rehearsals or going to the theatre that my Mum made my hair look like Nancy’s. In 1988 having a hairdo that made your head look like a pineapple was the height of cool in my opinion! Ten years later I crossed paths with Nancy once again on a work placement at the New Theatre in Cardiff and confessed all. Linda Dobell was a wonderful actress, director and choreographer. Sadly she is no longer with us but to me she will always remain a childhood inspiration as ‘ the lady who I wanted to be like when I grew up’.

Writing-wise I have written several pieces that I have been proud of my most recent short play Blast From The Past was perhaps the piece that is my personal favourite. It was a pleasure to give a well established actress the opportunity to play a part that she would never ‘normally’ have been considered to play. Transforming the lovely Judy Buxton into a Northern single mother who would not have been out of place as a guest on Jeremy Kyle was perhaps one of the greatest highlights of my career to date!

Finally as a Company Stage Manager it would have to be the rapport I have with younger company members I have so many treasured memories from shows gone by. Currently I am CSM on Panto at the Towngate Theatre in Basildon and I asked our wonderful ‘Twinkle’ and ‘Sparkle’ teams to create their own individual dressing room door signs. I mean, doesn’t every door deserve to be adorned with a sparkly star with the occupants name on it? Well it certainly does ‘on my watch!’

Any particular theatres that you favour and why?

I have toured the UK for so long now that there are numerous theatres that I enjoy returning to time and time again, although if pushed it would have to be the Grand Theatre in Blackpool. On my last visit I happened to mention in passing during Act 1 that I was a bit hungry. I really didn’t expect a crew member to go out in the interval and bring me back a pizza, but they did and for that reason alone the Grand wins first place on my most favourite theatre poll! Oh and incidentally that theatre has a pineapple on the very top of it ….just saying!

Who inspires you as an actress and as a writer?

Without hesitation, on both count it’s Derren Litten (Creator and writer of ITV’s Benidorm) I am truly in awe on his ability to write wonderful comedy and balance it so beautifully with just the right amount of empathy. I have been lucky enough to meet him twice this year and he is such a lovely man . . . . I’m now just waiting for my cameo in the show!

If you weren’t working in ‘show business’ (for want of a better phrase) what do you think you’d be doing?

 I would be a teacher at a Steiner School, it’s an occupation I have seriously considered.

What are your future aspirations?

I tend not to look to far into the future as I like to appreciate the ‘Here and Now’. I would however like to see the shows I have written travel further on their journeys and also create new vehicles for some of my immensely talented friends in the industry.

If you could host a dinner party and invite five guests (alive or dead) who would they be and why?

Heston Blumenthal: having spent all day in the kitchen creating the evening’s wonderful concoctions it would only be fair that he should stay for the party!
Bobby Crush: no one tinkles the ivories quite like Bobby, so that’s the evening’s entertainment taken care of!
Jon Curry: he was a ‘Borrowed Angel’ who returned home far too soon, so any opportunity to see him again would be grasped immediately!
Con O’Neil: I have yet to see him do anything where he isn’t utterly brilliant and what a gorgeous voice, he could make any topic of conversation sound wonderful.
Su Pollard : absolutely no explanation necessary.

Favourite things (give me your first reaction to these questions):

Favourite food?
A black forest Hot Chocolate from Costa – more commonly known in my world as a Panto breakfast!

Favourite play?
Absurd Person Singular

Favourite pantomime?
My life! 

Favourite actor or actress?
I couldn’t possibly answer this question without offending a multitude of incredibly talented people in my life!

Favourite landmark?
Little Marton Mill in Blackpool, everytime I see that windmill I smile because I know I’m only moments away from my ‘spiritual home’.


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