Spotlight On… Cabaret Legend, Adele Anderson

Adele Anderson is well known as one of the glorious trio that are Fascinating Aida. The girls have all worked on solo performances this year and I was delighted to hear that Adele is also giving the opportunity for us to see her in a few solo engagements. I chatted to Adele about her forthcoming appearances:

Thank you for talking to Break A Leg, tell me about your forthcoming solo performances.

I am appearing at The Phoenix Arts Club, Charing Cross Road, on Sunday 16 October, to talk to Sarah-Jane Weston about my show at The Pheasantry. Jessica Martin will be a fellow guest. Then, on 20, 21 & 22 October, I shall be performing my show Gloomy Sunday at The Pheasantry, with West End MD Dean Austin on piano. The show features songs of disappointment, depression and death, but it’s still an amusing show. There are two Fascinating Aida numbers in the show, but the rest of the songs are by a variety of songwriters, including Cole Porter, Randy Newman and even Fairport Convention.

Are there any numbers in there that are your absolute favourites?

One is a Fascinating Aida number called “Jealousy”. I performed it back in the 1980s and it’s never made it back into the show. It’s ideal for my voice and has a very powerful message. Another favourite, “Blue Shadowed Eyes”, is by Chris Burgess and Sarah Travis. Sarah is the only woman ever to win a Tony Award for orchestral arrangements for her work on Sweeney Todd, which began at The Watermill, Newbury and ended up on Broadway.

What’s the highlight of a show like this, for you?

Strangely, it’s getting to the end of a song and hearing a silence while the audience digest what they’ve heard – and then the clapping starts. Then I know they’ve felt the song as deeply as I have.

How do you feel when performing solo as opposed to with the girls?

I never get nervous when I’m with the girls because, if anything goes wrong, I know they’ll come to my rescue and we can turn the mistake into something funny. This show has a much more serious content and so I’m not exactly nervous, but I am concerned not to make any mistakes. Solo work has a very different dynamic; there really is nowhere to hide. I prefer being part of a threesome, but it’s also refreshing to step outside from time to time.

Have you any particular favourite venues to perform at?

I’ve not performed as a solo artist for a very long time. This show has only been seen so far at Crazy Coqs, which is a glorious venue. I’ve played The Pheasantry with Fascinating Aida so I’m familiar with that venue. The most exotic venue I’ve played solo is a very chic restaurant in Hong Kong. It was in the early ‘90s, before the handover and the island was quite a wild, hedonistic place back then.

What’s the most fascinating review you’ve ever received?

My favourite review was in South Africa, for Fascinating Aida. It was something along the lines of “They sing beautifully and do something that resembles dancing”. We still laugh about that, because it’s true!

What would you say to encourage people to come and see you?

A show entitled Gloomy Sunday sounds offputting but I can assure you that you will leave the show feeling uplifted. I sing the middle part in Fascinating Aida, which uses a fairly small part of my voice, so now’s your chance to hear what I can do vocally on my own.

Thank you so much for a lovely interview, Adele, wishing you all the very best with your solo shows!

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Spotlight On… Make It A Double Stars, Pippa Winslow and Tammy Davies

‘MAKE IT A DOUBLE’ 
a late night cabaret  fundraising in aid of Swansea Mind 
AT 
The Garage – Whitez Pool Lounge and Late Night Bar 47 Uplands Crescent, Swansea SA2 0NP Thursday 25th August 10:45pm   FEATURING  
TAMMY DAVIES and PIPPA WINSLOW 
While performing in the UK tour of THE SOUND OF MUSIC at the Swansea Grand Theatre, Tammy Davies and Pippa Winslow double up for a late night cabaret benefiting local charity Swansea Mind. With songs from WICKED, PHANTOM, CITY OF ANGELS and many more, this is an evening not to be missed.
Originally from Wales, Tammy’s varied career has taken her from rock to opera and everything in between. She has backed up artists including Elton John, Brian May and Kerry Ellis at venues such as Wembley Stadium and the Royal Albert Hall as well as toured the UK with the National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company for eight years.
Originally from the US, Pippa has toured with THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA as well as created the role of the Thought Girl in the Off-Broadway musical OPAL. She has appeared in West End plays STRANGERS ON A TRAIN at the Gielgud and OTHER DESERT CITIES at the Old Vic as well as playing Carlotta in the UK premiere production of Yeston/Kopit’s PHANTOM. She also has appeared in many film and TV projects including the Sky1’s quirky comedy YOU, ME AND THE APOCALYPSE.
Tammy and Pippa met while touring with THE SOUND OF MUSIC and their love of cabaret performing has led them to teaming up for this evening of comedy and musical gems. Both have extensive solo cabaret experience, more than 15 years between them, in London and throughout the UK, and look forward bringing this brilliant variety of duets to their new show.
Pippa stated “It’s thrilling singing with someone who’s voice is such a perfect fit for mine. We’re pushing the envelope on some of our song selections and I know audiences are going to get a kick out of our choices.” “We hope it’s not entirely what you might expect from two musical theatre geeks,” Tammy added.
10% of profits will go to Swansea Mind and there will be additional opportunities to donate on the evening. Swansea Mind is a registered charity that works with, and for, people who experience mental health problems. As well as providing open drop-in
sessions for anyone in need of emotional support, they also run specialist support groups and speak to people on a one-to-one basis for more tailored support. All funds raised in aid of Swansea Mind helps makes this work possible and helps us keep their services accessible for people on no or low incomes. Registered charity in England and Wales (226732).
The Garage is part of Whitez Pool Lounge and Late Night Bar and is Swansea’s finest, most intimate live music venue. With great music ranging from local favourites to international superstars we take great pride in bringing you the finest live music Swansea has to offer, alongside some great drinks deals we truly do have something for everyone. Past acts include: Pete Doherty (the Libertines/Babyshambles), Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Goldie Lookin’ Chain, Terry Hall (The Specials), Scratch Perverts and many, many more.

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I thought that this sounded like a winning formula, so I decided to catch up with these two lovely ladies to find out more about their new show.

Thank you so much for talking to Break A Leg, ladies, so tell me about the show and where the idea originated from.

We were in Blackpool with The Sound of Music at the Winter Gardens and we went out to watch a wonderful cabaret at the legendary ‘Funny Girls’ and thought how fun it would be to put one of our own together.

What can the audience expect from the production?

An evening of comedy and music, some songs very recognisable, some not, and stories about our lives as actresses.

Is this a style of show you’ve done before? For you, personally, how does it compare to being part of a show like The Sound of Music?

Pippa – I have done two different duet cabarets in the last year and a half, but both were with men. This is a chance to sing with a woman who makes me laugh every day at work and who’s voice blends perfectly with mine.

Tammy – I was just bored.

Is this a show that you hope to turn into a tour?

Absolutely. We already are looking for a venue in Guildford for the week our tour is in Wimbledon because that’s my home town and all my friends have asked to see it. After that, there are so many brilliant fringe festivals that this would be perfect for – Brighton, London, Edinburgh. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for news of future bookings.

Finally, what would you say to encourage people to come?

For a fun evening with a couple of semi-bonkers musical theatre geeks this can’t be beat.

I’m sold, I don’t know about you lot out there? All the details you need to book tickets are below and thanks to this wonderful duo for a great interview.

Ticket Booking Information Tickets can be booked for ‘Make it a Double’ at: Ticketsource Box Office online https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/EHGFKJ Or on the door
Performance Time and Ticket Prices: Thursday 25th August at 10:45pm Tickets £5 in advance or on the door

Make it a Double: Twitter: https://twitter.com/MakeItDoubleAct Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/MakeItADoubleAct

Photo Credits: Kate Scott

 

Spotlight on… Liz Robertson

In the 1990’s I was as regular a theatre goer as ever, thanks to theatre-loving parents – but one production captured my imagination above others, courtesy of one performer whose portrayal of Maria equalled that of Julie Andrews, in my humble opinion.

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Photo Credit: Yousearch

Obviously, The Sound of Music was the show in question and the actress? Liz Robertson! I’ve followed her career and watched her play Madame Giry in Phantom of the Opera and Velma Von Tussle in Hairspray, as well as many other roles over the years. So it is with great pleasure that I present my Spotlight On… Liz Robertson!

Recently you’ve played Valerie Hobson, performed your one woman show Songs from My Trunk and taught a master class. How are you enjoying the variety and what have been your highlights over the past twelve months?

One of the great things that comes with age is the knowledge that if you don’t try things now they may never come your way again. Valerie Hobson as a one woman show was very scary, no one to bounce off and no songs to hide behind, but I can honestly say it has been a piece I am very proud of. I am about to take the show to Southwold Festival and revisiting her after a year has been illuminating. I have found different aspects of her character since the first performance over 2 years ago. Performing cabaret is another leap of faith. It has challenged me but the trick is to be yourself up there, and that’s not easy when you hide behind the role you are playing. I am working on a new show called Lerner without Loewe. I start rehearsals in New York in July and will perform it in that great city at 54 Below in October. Master classes are a joy. To see that raw talent in front of you is so exciting. The pupils are like sponges soaking up your ideas and comments.

You are THE Madame Giry for me, what are your memories of appearing in Love Never Dies and how did playing Madame Giry in Phantom compare with playing her in Love Never Dies?

Playing Madam Giry in Love Never Dies was testing. I was the only principal cast after the album had been recorded so the first day of rehearsals was terrifying. We started from the top of the show and ran through to the end and as you know it is all sung through, I just about held my own. However, having said that working with Jack O’Brien was one of the best experiences of my professional life. To be in at the birth of a new show is thrilling and to have a director who is so sympatico was heaven. Playing Madam Giry in Phantom at Her Majesty’s was a completely different experience. I was the, God knows what number take over, so the directorial needs that an actor craves were sadly, lacking. It is completely understandable, as important as a new cast is the finer points are often glossed over due to lack of time, or ennui. Thank goodness for Gillian Lynne who cracked the whip when she came to rehearse us. She opened my eyes to a role I had been playing for at least a month. Performing the role for the 25th Anniversary at the Royal Albert Hall was a highlight in my long life in showbiz. The attention we all received was bar none and, I think it showed.

What has been your favourite role to date and are there any particular roles you still have an ambition to play?

My favourite roles are Eliza and Mrs Anna. Both are feisty ladies and yet each completely different. Where as Higgins is the catalyst to make Eliza bloom she also changes the professor. Anna though is trying to bring the King into the western way of thinking and it doesn’t work.

Do you have a best-loved musical number to sing?

My favourite song is whatever one I am singing at that moment. I am looking to find new ways to present old songs. It’s fun.

What are the main differences you find between working with a company and a one woman show and do you prefer one or the other?

Working in a company you have a ready-made family who you live and depend on. A one woman show, you are on your own but then the only person you can let down is yourself. There are both enjoyable in their own ways.

When you take on a new role, how and where do you start? Do you have a personal process?

Every role starts with the script which I devour trying to get a handle on the character. But with me the wig and costume is the day I hopefully find her. I would love to revisit Eliza, I was 24 when I was cast and very inexperienced in acting. What I would do with her now! But I am too old. Heigho.

If you hadn’t become a performer, where do you think you career might have taken you?

I had briefly toyed with becoming a speech therapist but luckily for any future patients that never happened.

Favourite things (can I have your first reactions to these questions, please?):

Favourite hobby?

Long walks.

Favourite film?

I Know Where I’m Going starring a young Wendy Hiller.

Favourite time of year?

Spring.

Favourite holiday destination?

Well I am loving Italy where I am now

Favourite restaurant?

My husband’s kitchen!

Thanks to Liz for sparing the time to make this blogger’s dream come true! Wishing every success to you with your projects.

 

 

Spotlight On… Tiffany Graves

Featured photo credited to Claire Grogan

Appearing in her very own cabaret at The Crazy Coqs, Picadilly on 11th April and 18th April 2016.  

She’s played Velma Kelly in Chicago, appeared in The Producers, Kiss Me Kate and Sweet Charity amongst many other successful shows. Her cabarets have received critical acclaim and she’s about to embark upon two more cabaret dates at the Crazy Coqs. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you…. Tiffany Graves!

Tell me all about your exciting cabaret dates at The Crazy Coqs and what the audience can expect from your cabaret.

I had such fun performing at The Crazy Coqs in October and so I’m so excited and flattered to have been asked back to do two nights on April 11th & 18th. I have many returning audience members from the last time which is ace, but it also means it has to be a completely new show! It’s called “Let’s Do it!” and there’ll be plenty of classics from Kander & Ebb, Cy Coleman and Rogers & Hart as well as new work from British composers and songs from Broadway. I also enjoy doing mash-ups, as well as changing the lyrics of well-known songs to incorporate suggestions from the audience, and my wonderful MD Leigh Thompson is a musical genius who loves doing them too.

What are your personal favourite numbers from the show? Why are they your favourites?

I previously sang a song from Pal Joey called ‘Zip’ and changed the lyrics to make it all about the people who were in the audience. There had been many who had contacted me on Twitter (@TiffanyGraves4) to let me know they were coming and tell me what they were up to – it was great fun and something I shall be doing again! Everyone loves to feel included and special and The Crazy Coqs is the perfect venue make this happen because it is so intimate. It’s also a nice way to say Thank You for coming to support me in my show!

Are there any numbers that have been personal challenges to sing?

Patter songs! Like the fabulous number “Words, Words, Words” from The Witches of Eastwick that I sang whilst playing Sukie Rougemont at The Watermill Theatre a few years back. It’s always a worry that, with adrenalin, I will start off too quickly and have nowhere to go by the end of the number – falling all over my words. But I love them and it’s definitely a personal challenge to include one in my cabaret. For this cabaret, I’ve placed my patter song in the second half of the programme so I should be nice and relaxed and in full swing by the time I reach it!

What sort of ambience do you find in The Crazy Coqs? What can audience members who’ve never been to this venue before expect?

It’s definitely one of my absolute favourite cabaret venues in London to both perform at and visit as an audience member. It has been lovingly restored to it’s original Art-Deco splendour and has small cabaret tables with ‘buzzers’ on that you press for service. The staff are genius cocktail-ninjas- they are so discreet and make sipping a classic beverage whilst enjoying the show an absolute breeze. The ambience will be down to me and I hope to make it as scintillating as my favourite tipple, The Dry Martini; bracing, refreshing and perfect as an after-work de-stresser! I aim to be sexy and sophisticated with a twist… without becoming shaken or stirred 😉 The venue also has the fabulous Zedel restaurant that does a great pre-show menu – I can highly recommend it.

You’ve had a varied and successful career to date, what have been the best moments so far?

That’s hard! Hmmm… rocking out with Brian May playing his guitar in front of packed arenas in Copenhagen as Killer Queen in We Will Rock You is up there, as is being a member of the cast at the 21st Birthday and last night of Cats at The New London Theatre. Meeting Mel Brooks whilst playing Ulla in The Producers last year was an incredible treat. My first West End lead was Velma Kelly in Chicago at both The Adelphi and Cambridge Theatres and the entrance to All That Jazz through the trap-door with back-lighting cannot be beaten. They still use my face to advertise the show on Broadway outside the theatre which is pretty cool, too!

Who have been among your favourite co-stars to work with and are there any ‘dream’ co-stars that you’ve an ambition to perform with?

I was part of NT50 a couple of years ago and was in awe of Ralph Fiennes when I was part of the Pravda section. In the finale of the show, I was stood between Dame Judi Dench, Dame Helen Mirren and to the left of Dame Maggie Smith. If I were playing ‘Top Trumps’, I think I have been dealt a pretty good hand and will stick with that!

Favourite Things (can I have your first reaction to these questions, please?):

Favourite food?

Porter-house Steak, medium-rare with triple-cooked fries and creamed spinach with a glass (but please leave the bottle!) of Argentinean Malbec. And an Espresso Martini for dessert. My mouth is salivating just thinking of it.

Favourite tipple?

A Dry Dirty Martini made with Grey Goose Vodka and lots of extra Olives. Yum!

Favourite childhood memory?

Being greeted by my Border Collie when I had been away for more than a couple of hours. He always greeted me with so much love and it was a joy.

Favourite hobby?

This is a bit odd, but I collect flattened coins from tourist attractions. I have them from all over the world ranging from Blackpool Tower to The Empire State Building.

Favourite way to spend your time off?

On my sofa. In my jim-jams. With a glass of wine, a good box-set and my husband.

I’d like to thank Tiffany for her time and wish her every success with this Cabaret and beyond! I think The Crazy Coqs sounds like a fantastic venue and if you want to be in  audience for an amazing evening with a talented lady, you can book tickets here: https://www.brasseriezedel.com/crazy-coqs/tiffany-graves-1/50587203

 

Anne Reid: I Love To Sing! ~ Malvern Theatres

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An evening of cabaret with national treasure and legend, Anne Reid is an opportunity not to be missed. An actress who has graced the stage, the small and big screen and whose reputation precedes her, to see the star of Last Tango in Halifax, Dinnerladies and Coronation Street, up close, personal and singing? Well, it was all I expected it to be and more!

Looking resplendent in a glittery black number, the diva was accompanied by Jason Carr who provided piano accompaniment and some vocals. They were a formidable duo, a visibly relaxed partnership and Carr’s musicality was divine. Hardly surprising as he has worked with a number of singers at the top of their game, such as Maria Friedman to name just one. I had not had the pleasure of listening to Ms Reid sing before, but it was a delight to hear her beautiful voice and the songs complemented her autobiographical banter, wonderfully.

So many of the musical numbers were favourites of mine, but I must pick out Addicted to Black, Memories and Makin Whoopee as some of the highlights. As an actress first and foremost (and one of the finest actresses, in my opinion), she connects with the pieces on a level that surpasses other singers. Once Upon a Time brought a tear to my eye, the lyrics really hit home and the way she can convey the emotions added an extra dimension to this number. Similarly while listening to Makin Whoopee I realised I had never considered the words upon hearing the song on previous occasions, but now I can remember them!

The stories that the star regaled us with were fascinating, I was personally interested to hear of her long friendship with Sarah Lancashire (who plays her daughter in Last Tango In Halifax) and also Lancashire’s parents. It was pleasing to hear that she enjoys playing the role of Celia in Last Tango as much as the public like watching her play the role. There was also a secret shared from the cutting rom floor of the hit film Love Actually, it seems we missed out on Reid and Frances De La Tour playing a pair of lesbian lovers!

I can’t recommend this show highly enough, this lady is one class act and cabaret suits her. The tour continues into 2016, so look out for it at a venue near you.

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