Spotlight On… 2 Become 1 Writers and Stars, Kerrie Thomason and Natasha Granger

2 Become 1 was a sell-out show at the Fringe last year and is coming back bigger and better at Underbelly this year. The ladies have been developing this 90s musical exploring pre-Tinder dating and the emergence of girl power over the past year. Inspired by the music they grew up on and the group dynamics of their favourite girl bands, Natasha Granger and Kerrie Thomason invite you to join them from pre-drinks to speed-dates to the takeaway and taxi in this sparkling bubble of 90s nostalgia.

2 Become 1 by Kerrie Thomason and Natasha Granger Performed by Bethany Black, Eliza Hewitt-Jones, Natasha Granger and Kerrie Thomason Produced by Swipe Right Theatre  Venue: White Belly at Underbelly Cowgate (Venue 61), 66 Cowgate, Edinburgh EH1 1JX Dates: Previews 4-5 Aug (£6), 6-28 August (£9/£8) (not 17), 4pm (1hr) Box Office: 0844 545 8252 / Fringe Office: 0131 226 0000

This is right up my street, so I was delighted to chat to Natasha Granger and Kerrie Thomason who wrote this piece and perform in it, too.

Tell me about the show and how the rehearsal process has affected the transition from page to stage.

2 become 1 is a 90s comedy pop musical about four slightly mad girls going speed dating. After seeing many jukebox musicals with songs from the 60s and 70s, we really wanted to create a musical that had songs from our generation. Although we wrote an initial script, we devised a lot in the rehearsal process, workshopping the scenes and characters, and then kept going back to edit the script as the story developed and changed.

What is your favourite moment or favourite line in the production?

Our favourite moment has to be when Amanda (the hopeless romantic) has the chance to date a member of the audience, a man she has been in love with since the start of the show. We love this moment as it is largely ad-libbed and changes every night and is so dependent on the audience reaction. This scene always has the audiences, and us, in stitches!

What do you hope audiences will take away with them from this piece?

Mostly we think this is a party of a show, so want our audiences to come away ready for a night out in Edinburgh Town. But we do hope people pick up on the idea that there was a way to date and meet people before the takeover of Tinder and technology.

How does the space lend itself to the production?

We are performing in the White Belly at Underbelly Cowgate, and we love the contrast of four girls singing pop with our very sparkly set, and costumes, in what is essentially a bunker! It has a brilliantly large stage, perfect for our dance routines, and a wide aisle in the middle of the audience, so we have managed to use this as an extension of the stage so even those at the back can get close and personal to the characters…

Have you experienced a fringe festival before? What has your experience been?

We brought ‘2 Become 1’ up to the Fringe last year, it was a brilliant experience and the show did really well. We wanted to bring it back this year bigger and better then the last and we think we have done just that!

Sell the show to me, what would you say to encourage potential audience members to come?

It is an hour of classic 90s tunes, hilarious dates, girl power and a zigazigah!!

Thanks for a great interview, ladies! Enjoy and have fun during your run. Girl Power!

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Spotlight On… Love for Sale’s Kelly Burke

Love for Sale takes a completely different musical turn – a cabaret-drama featuring the music of Kurt Weill, Cole Porter and their contemporaries. In a run-down cafe in the sordid underworld of pre-war Paris, an itinerant songstress struggles to keep hold of her wits and virtue – but the City of Light has other plans. Offie finalist Kelly Burke brings her new show making its world premiere at Assembly Hall this year, following five-star sell-out Zelda in 2010.

Venue:  Assembly Hall, Baillie Room, Mound Place, EH1 2LU Time:  17:45  Running Time: 75mins Dates: 04 – 29 August. Previews 4-5 August.  Tickets: Previews £7; 2 for 1 8-9, £12; 6-7, 10-11, 15-18, 22-25 & 29 August £11 (£10); 12-14, 19-21, 26-28 August  £12 (£11) Bookings: assemblyfestival.com, 0131 623 3030 or Assembly box offices at Assembly Hall and Assembly Roxy, Assembly George Square and Assembly Checkpoint

Social media: @Love4SaleShow / facebook.com/Love4SaleShow

Love for Sale sounds like a must-see show and I caught up with actress Kelly Burke to find out more.

Tell me about the show and how the rehearsal process has affected the transition from page to stage.

Over the course of about eighteen months, the show has evolved from a one-act cabaret into a cabaret-play.  We started with the songs, and slowly crafted the narrative around them — it’s been a very satisfying process to recontextualise some of the 1930s repertoire (Kurt Weill, Cole Porter) and find a dramatic life for them here. 

What is your favourite moment or favourite line in the production?

There’s a duet towards the end of the show which I really love.  (There’s also a terrifyingly quick costume change which gives me a kind of masochistic pleasure… You should see the dress). 

What do you hope audiences will take away with them from this piece?

Of course, you love it if the audience comes out thinking about their real lives, finding parallels with what the world looks like today — international instability, the uncertainty of economics, the way in which people with too few resources are slowly worn down…

(We’d also like them to re-encounter this wonderful music, which I think is increasingly unknown). 

How does the space lend itself to the production?

The space is quite low-ceilinged and narrow, so you do get the sense of a claustrophobic, underground café.

Have you experienced a fringe festival before? What has your experience been?

I was last at the Fringe ten years ago!  It was only slightly less chaotic then — but both experiences have been energising.  It’s really exciting to see a whole city overrun by theatre. 

Sell the show to me, what would you say to encourage potential audience members to come?

Love for Sale is a 1930s cabaret-play which threads a narrative through the songs of Kurt Weill (and a few of his contemporaries, like Cole Porter).  Basically: American girl goes to Paris to escape the depression, but it doesn’t quite work out like she’d planned.

If we’re selling the show, I’d also say that we have a stunning musical director, it’s worth coming just to hear Joseph Atkins play!

Break a leg, Kelly! Thank you for chatting to me.

Spotlight On… Telemachy’s Arman Mantella and Milla Jackson

If you’re looking for an epic journey with a political spin in the last week of the Fringe, The Telemachy is rocking up fresh from a run at Camden Fringe. Mice On A Beam return to the Fringe following last year’s hit As Is with a modern-day retelling of the first four books of Homer’s epic poem, the Odyssey. An enigmatic, travelling poet delves into the mythologies of Odysseus, the original rock’n’roll absent father, through the eyes of his brooding son Telemachus. How can he compete with the legacy of his father when the world’s so different now? What does it mean to become a man? You can find out at Greenside @ Infirmary Street this year, and at Etcetera Theatre as part of Camden Fringe.

 

Camden Fringe: Venue: Etcetera Theatre, 265 Camden High St, London NW1 7BU  Dates: 16-21 August, 12:30pm (1hr), £10/8

Edinburgh Fringe: Venue: Greenside @ Infirmary Street (Venue 236), 6 Infirmary Street, Edinburgh EH1 1LT Dates: 22-27 August, 4:05pm (1hr), £10/8 Box office: 0131 618 0758 / Fringe office: 0131 226 0026

Doesn’t this sound like an amazing show? I chatted to actor, Arman Mantella and director, Milla Jackson about their forthcoming production.

Tell me about the show and how the rehearsal process has affected the transition from page to stage.

AM: The show is based on Homer’s Odyssey but is told from the perspective of Odysseus’s son, Telemachus. The Poet uses this story to relate to the present day, and show audiences that not much has changed in the last 3000 years. The younger generation is being disregarded in today’s society, and if they had a little bit of support and encouragement they could actually help change the world.

Our rehearsal process was very full on as we only had two and a half weeks to put the show together before the previews, however, it all seemed to fit organically into place as time went on. We had several breaking news stories come out during rehearsals (Brexit, David Cameron stepping down, Theresa May getting into power, terrorist attacks, the Chilcot enquiry, the attempted coup in Turkey, etc.) which really made us realise that this was the perfect time for this story to be told.

MJ: What is great about working with new writing is we were able to keep developing the script to incorporate all these stories – it feels very fresh and immediate and that there’s a strong reaction to events happening right now.

AM: In terms of bringing the story to life Milla and I looked at whether we have a voice of our generation – and if we don’t, what’s important for someone prepared to take up the mantle. So there was a lot of finding the passion behind the story and the real need my character has to get people to listen to his tale in hope of inspiring them and instilling them with his drive to change the world.

MJ: It was really important to me, with a one-man show, that although we were working from a script, Arman felt a sense of ownership of his storytelling character. So in bringing it off the page, we worked a lot on the character of The Poet, why he was telling his story and what he was hoping to achieve by doing it. Why now, why in this way? It evolved in a really collaborative way and I think you can see something of everybody involved in the show on stage – and because of that, the aim is for the audience to see something of themselves there too.

What is your favourite moment or favourite line in the production?

AM:  There’s a whole element of Greek philosophy about the world coming from chaos and how sometimes it feels like that’s where we’re heading back to. I think it really sums up why this story has to be told, as we constantly see history repeating itself and not for the better!

But I also have several bold characters that I play within the story which is quite a fun element to the show.

MJ: I’m a classicist, so I love the poetic, very Homeric moments – the swift black ship, the rosy-fingered dawn, sending a following wind singing over the wine dark sea. Moments of beauty in a difficult and frustrating world.

What do you hope audiences will take away with them from this piece?

AM: I hope that audiences will see the links between the story and what’s going on in today’s world and realise that the power of people working together can have an impact on the future of our world. Working on this play has inspired me and changed my outlook on life, so hopefully I can persuade the audience to feel the same way and if I can then I will feel like the show has been a success.

MJ: I agree. I also hope audiences leave feeling like they’re not alone. Theatre and storytelling has always had the power to bring people together. There are other people who are angry, frustrated, sad, but hopeful. At the very least it should provoke some discussion.

How does the space lend itself to the production?

MJ: Our Poet is a travelling poet – he rocks up with a suitcase and nothing else. The aim of the show is that it will fit into any space – so we’ve been able to adapt it to all our venues, depending on what higgledy piggledy lights we’ve got, sound systems, white walls, black box… it works in found spaces, traditional spaces, outdoors, indoors, on the street… Just like traditional storytelling, for its original purpose – to help make sense of the mess of the world around us.

Have you experienced a fringe festival before? What has your experience been?

MJ: This is my fifth time at Edinburgh Fringe, but my first time at Camden Fringe. Festivals are such difficult spaces to bring work to, because you’re sharing all of your technical equipment, your space – I’ve had lights knocked out of focus by flying chairs, been told to stand on chairs to refocus lights, frightening loud sound checks because the faders have been changed, flyered in the pouring rain… But it also means you’re sharing in a really collaborative and creative event, so it’s always a really special thing to be a part of.  Edinburgh is a really unique atmosphere.

AM: I have only recently graduated from the ArtsEd acting school, so this will be my first Fringe experience but I am very excited to be part of it.

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

MJ: It’s an intimate solo show using poetry, humour and a rock’n’roll attitude – what more could you want? The show explores what’s actually happening right now, just to feel like we’re heard, people are listening and artists are responding.

AM: I would really love members of the younger generation to come along and see it just so that they can know that they aren’t alone in a world that seems spiraling out of control, and that there are people that are fighting their corner!

Thanks to Arman and Milla for their time, break a leg!

Spotlight On… Robin Sebastian

August’s BONUS Spotlight On…

*** Robin Sebastian ***

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Can you tell us when you realised you could impersonate Kenneth Williams so accurately and if you were a particular fan of the gentleman, himself?

Well I was working as a wine waiter at a private party in London and I was being as gregarious as I could, asking people “if they’d like another bottle up their end” that sort of thing, but I found that the voice I was using was naturally the king of innuendo Kenneth Williams. I had always enjoyed his performances and had owned a copy of Rambling Syd Rumpo since I was 11. At that party was the actor Nigel Lindsay who was doing the London Cuckolds at the National directed by Terry Johnson. Nigel told me that Terry was desperately trying to find a Kenneth Williams for his new play Carry on Camping Emmanuelle and Dick and that I should apply. I was too late as he had already got the excellent Adam Godley instead. It planted the idea in my head and a few years later I landed the role in Round the Horne revisited. Kenneth Williams has been my saving grace.

Did you envisage that your career would involve portraying Mr Williams so frequently?

Not at first, but I would happily play Kenneth in every show; from Shakespeare to Brecht!

Are you a fan of the ‘Carry On’ films and which is your favourite?

Naturally I have an inclination towards the Carry Ons. My favourite being Carry On Screaming! I did land the role of Sir Desmond Uppingham Knightly in Carry on London, but unfortunately Peter Rogers died and the funding was pulled. Boo hoo!

Apart from the man you’re so famous for impersonating, which role has been your best loved to date?

Well I have been in two productions of The importance of being Earnest playing Algernon Moncrieff who is the wittiest character on the stage. I also enjoyed playing Carmen Ghia in The Producers playing opposite Peter Kay. Lots of laughs and masses of ad libs!

Are there are any particular roles you would like to take in the future or shows that you have an ambition to appear in?

I have no ambitions to play a particular role…. Except James Bond of course, but somehow I don’t think that’s going to happen. I would however like to try stand up as me!

Please tell our readers about ‘The Missing Hancocks’ and what they can expect from its appearance at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival. 

These are comedy gold! We are performing four lost recordings : Prime Minister Hancock, The Winter Holiday, The Three Sons and New Year’s Resolutions. We play two episodes per show. So if you’ve enjoyed one show you can come back the next day and see two different episodes. The cast are Stella with Kevin McNally as Hancock, Simon Meerkat Greenall as Sid James, the hilarious Alex Lowe as Bill Kerr, Susy Kane brilliantly captures Andree Melly and Me messing about as Kenneth Williams! It’s quick fire humour at its best with plenty of added banter!

Any advice for budding actors?

Seriously think about doing a plumbing diploma….. As back up!

Favourite Things (quick-fire questions):

What are your favourite things, if you could only name three in total?

My wife, champagne and dressing up!

Favourite theatre?

Bath Theatre Royal. It is perfectly built and perfectly run.

Favourite co-star?

I have had many from David Mitchell to Rob Webb, Peter Kay, Russia Abbott, Jonathan Rigby, Joe Pasquale, Jenny Seagrove, Roy Marsden and the lovely Sara Crowe. They have all been joyous to work and play with.

Favourite song?

I love music, but my two favourites are Oli Girizo by the Greek band Marsheaux and sprawl two by Arcade Fire. Two very catchy tunes!

Favourite childhood memory?

I have so many. As I was brought up in the beautiful Surrey Countryside in a very loving family. It has to be running through the sprinkler in the garden in the hot summer of 1976.

Favourite colour?

Blue

The Missing Hancocks is at Edinburgh Fringe Festival and tickets can be purchased here: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/missing-hancocks-live-in-edinburgh-show-a

and here: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on#q=%22The%20Missing%20Hancocks%3A%20Live%20in%20Edinburgh!%20(Show%20B)%22

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