Introducing . . . Kristian Lavercombe

In the second of my two “Introducing” Interviews, I would like you all to meet Kristian Lavercombe.
 

I was first introduced to Kristian’s amazing talent on a recent visit to the Alexandra Theatre to see The Rocky Horror Show, where Kristian was playing the role of “Riff Raff“. Amongst a ridiculously talented cast, he was one of the shining stars for me, in a role made famous by the legendary creator of the show Richard O’Brien. It has been fascinating for me to learn that this tour was not his first time playing the Time-Warping butler, and that there is a lot more to this very talented man than just a very unusual stage costume!

Have a look at my chat with Kristian, and see what else I learnt about this amazing man . . .

Tell us a little known fact about yourself – something we wouldn’t know by looking at you!
 
I couldn’t click my fingers as a child. Then when I was 15 I woke up one day and could click my fingers at an insanely fast speed – I think I’m the worlds fastest finger clicker. Strange but true! I can basically click any rhythm – like a tap dancer. It hasn’t been the most lucrative of talents, but it has kept me entertained when there is nothing else to do.
 
Who or what inspired you to get into the acting profession?
 
I don’t think there was ever any question that I wouldn’t have done something creative. I started doing amateur shows from my early teens. Offstage I was a pretty shy and quiet (I still am), but when I was on stage I didn’t give myself the same limitations. I became someone quite different. I suddenly had the opportunity to walk in other people shoes and experience life through other people eyes.

What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome in your career so far?

 
There are many different challenges to being an actor. For me the main one is nerves – it is something that I suspect I will always have to keep a check on. A little bit of nerves can be great to heighten everything, however there have been times when it has had more control of me than I have had of it.
 
When I studied acting nothing was really mentioned about how to deal with nerves. I have since done a reasonable amount of my own research into it and feel like I now have it at a good level. I’m sure in the past I have missed out on several auditions and not given my best performance because I had let nerves get the better of me. I’ve always put a lot of pressure on myself to not make mistakes – but at the end of the day you just have to put things into perspective.

And what is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

 
Follow your instincts. Be in the moment. Respect your fellow actors and crew.
 
Kristian as “Riff Raff” – Rocky Horror Picture Show
 
You are currently starring as Riff Raff in the “Rocky Horror 40th Anniversary Tour” – is it as fun to perform in as it looks?
 
Rocky Horror is an incredibly fun show to be a part of. This is the fifth different production of Rocky Horror that I have been involved in and I am still enjoying it as much as the first time. It’s the only show I know where the audience plays such a huge role in the piece. It is almost as if the audience have become another member of the cast. I love the audiences unpredictability – I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of it.
 
If you could play any role (in any play or musical, male or female, past or present – excluding Rocky Horror!), what would it be and why?
 
I don’t think I can chose just one so I’m going to mention several. From looking at the roles I’ve chosen below, I think it is pretty clear that I am attracted to playing misfits and odd-balls. They trigger my imagination as there is lots of scope in how they can be played.
DICKEN – Secret Garden
 
ROOSTER – Annie
 
HEDWIG – Hedwig and the Angry Inch
 
LEAF CONEYBEAR – 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (I have played this role before, but I’d love to do it again – I miss him)
 
BENOIT(the village idiot) – Martin Guerre
 
EDWARD SCISSORHANDS – This musical doesn’t exist yet as far as I know, but it would be a dream role for me.
 
You can see what Kristian is up to by following him on Twitter @Lavercombe, and if you fancy seeing him strut his stuff on the Rocky Horror Tour – an absolutely brilliant night out if I do say so myself! – dates and ticket prices can be found at http://www.rockyhorror.co.uk/
 
Thank you so much to Kristian for taking time out of his busy schedule to have a chat with me!
 
Signing off for now,
 
Blue Eyed Girl Xxx
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Introducing . . . Rosie Ladkin

One of the biggest positive points for me about my love of theatre is being able to discover so much new talent that I would never have seen before. Because of this, my next two articles are interviews with some amazing talent that I have been introduced to through both Twitter and theatre visits!
 
Firstly, let me introduce you to Rosie Ladkin.
 
 


Rosie is an English actress, born and raised in Bristol. Her experiences from being very young have ranged from a lead in a Radio 4 ‘Play for Today’ to countless vocal and theatre performances.
 
She is enormously proud to have been one of just 14 students graduating in 2012 from the first ever BA Musical Theatre programme at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, (formerly RSAMD), a course thought to be unique in its high level tuition of instrumental music, music theory and Actor/Musicianship, in addition to the more traditional skills of acting, singing and dance.
 
Rosie has also been involved in several recordings of new musicals; “Watertight” written by Douglas Maxwell and Richard Taylor in which she had the opportunity to originate the role of “Claude”, directed by Phillip Howard, “Rizen The Musical” written by the writing partnership of Finn & Oakley and two new musicals, “Cafe Nation” and “Sinners” written by Ian McClusky and Chris Bush.
 
She has been involved in a wide range of performances both during her Studies and since her graduation. Most recently she was involved  in the Landor Theatre’s production of “Hot Mikado” in which she played a Lady of Japan, whilst understudying both Pitti-Sing and Yum-Yum, the latter of which she was thrilled to have the opportunity to cover for two nights of the 3 week run.
 
I was introduced to Rosie through the amazing song-writing duo of Taylor Rowan and Hughes and I couldn’t get over how amazingly talented she was – one listen to her SoundCloud profile and I was blown away! And I am now so excited to introduce her to you all! Why not have a look at what happened when we sat down for a chat . . .
 
Tell us a little known fact about yourself – something we wouldn’t know by looking at you!

Hmmm…I’m quite an open book really…..I guess one thing you wouldn’t get from looking at me is I love travelling and am a real adrenalin junkie. To look at me, you wouldn’t necessarily put me doing a 15,000ft skydive in the Namibian Desert, but I did it! I spent 2 months in Africa after I finished school, travelling from Kenya to Cape Town, by myself, and it was one of the best times of my life. I met loads of great people, saw some incredible things and did more than my fair share of adrenalin-seeking exploits while I was there! I’d love to go back out there! I suppose the adrenalin thing is another kick I get out of being on stage and performing!

Who or what inspired you to get into the acting profession?

I suppose I was kind of born into it. My family are all quite musical. My Granddad used to be Musical Director for some of the Large Scale AmDram groups in Bristol, and my Granny performed in them. My dad also followed in their footsteps, and did the AmDram shows in Bristol – He played Billy Bigelow in Carousel and Mr Doolittle in My Fair Lady! I joined my first drama group aged 8, and within 6 months they had me singing the solo to “She Sells Sea Shells” in my first ever concert!

I think the person who really inspired me to follow it professionally (though, granted, I was heading that way anyway!) was Louise Plowright. She had performed with my dad when they were younger in Bristol, and so when she came and coached me for an audition for a school production of Grease, she taught me, in one session, to go from a quiet little voice singing Castle On A Cloud, to belting out I Hate Men….I’ll never forget that session, it changed my whole approach to singing, and the sound I could produce. She has had such a successful career and she honestly believed in me (and still does!), so I think she probably inspired me to take the final leap to doing it professionally. (Louise can be seen playing Madame Morrible in Wicked at the moment!)

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given was from a guy at my audition for the Musical Theatre course at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now Royal Conservatoire of Scotland). I was really nervous, and I knew it was where I wanted to train. I really wanted a place on the course, desperately. He was a student on the Acting course at the time, I never caught his name unfortunately, he had been given the job of ushering all of us nervous auditionees to and from our auditions.
 
I asked him if there was anything specific they were looking for, anything extra I could do, because I really wanted it. I remember him looking at me and just saying “Go in there, be yourself, be honest, and if its right, they will know how badly you want it and deserve it.”

I also seem to come across beautiful quotes of advice all over the place, which I have made a habit of writing down. These are from everywhere, I can’t remember where each one is from any more; things friends have said, or things I’ve come across online, or read in a book….but I like them, these are a few of my favourites:

– Nothing is Impossible – This is one that I live by, I have a ring that I wear all the time with this engraved on it!
– Never let yourself wonder “What If?”
– Life Is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.
– Some days you are the Pigeon, some days you are the Statue!
– Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish on it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
– You have exactly one life in which to do everything you will ever do – act accordingly!

What is your favourite play or musical?

I don’t think I have a favourite play or musical. I like all sorts of different things for different reasons.

Of the things that I have worked on, my favourite Musical is either Into The Woods, in which I played The Baker’s Wife, and loved every minute; or Watertight, which was a new piece written by Douglas Maxwell and Richard Taylor, in which the group of 14 of us (my year group at the RSAMD) were key parts in the whole process, from workshop, to detailed writing of characters, right down to the final production. It was a process that I loved and I’d love to take part in something similar again in the future.

If you could collaborate with any artist – past or present – on one of your own or a musical theatre song , who would it be and why?

If I were to collaborate with a present artist, I’d love to work on a duet with someone like Kerry Ellis or Louise Dearman. I admire both of them for their individuality and versatility and they have both been working in career paths that I aspire to follow in the future.

If I could collaborate with a past artist, I’d love to record or perform something with Frank Sinatra. I love that style of music and singing, and it would be an incredible experience to work with someone with such a defining, individual style.

What advice would you give to young and upcoming theatre performers who are trying to break into the industry?

I’m still very much building up my career and learning all the time. Giving advice to people breaking into the industry feels a little premature coming from me.

I suppose all I can say in that respect is, if you want it, and work hard at it, you deserve it. It is never going to be easy, you are going to take lots of rejection and have loads of doubts, but if you want to make a career out of doing what you love, then you have to work for it and stick at it. Not many people get to do what they love as their job! It may take years, but if you work your backside off for it and stick at it no matter what, it will happen, and it will be so worth it. (At least I hope so, because that is what I’m counting on!)

If you want to keep up with Rosie and all the exciting things she has going on, check out her website at http://www.rosieladkin.com/ or follow her on Twitter @RosieLadkin. You can also listen to her stunning talent at https://soundcloud.com/rosieladkin

Thank you to Rosie for taking the time to answer my questions – she is as wonderful as she sounds folks!

Signing off for now,

Blue Eyed Girl Xxx

Blue Eyed Girl interviews . . . Craig Mather


One of the best things for me about my love of theatre is being able to discover new talents – performers that I may not have heard of before but who after seeing them on stage, you wonder how, with that much talent, you could NOT notice them!

One of those performers is Craig Mather. I was first witness to Craig’s amazing talent on my first ever visit to Les Miserables in January 2012. (Yes, he was my first Marius!) Ever since, I have seen him in this role on several occasions while also being able to show my support for his own music and songwriting, most notably at An Evening with Hadley Fraser in October 2012.

It was an absolute honour for me to chat to Craig about his time at Les Mis, what we can expect from his own music, and the direction he would like his career to head in . . .

Tell us a little known fact about yourself – something we wouldn’t know by looking at you!

I really want to learn to fly a plane!
 
Now that your time at Les Miserables has come to an end, what did you enjoy most about being a part of such an iconic show?
The thing I have enjoyed most is the fact that this show has or is a massive part of peoples lives and it still entertains and delivers every night. Also the family of Les Mis…the fans and the company are all lovely.

If you had the choice of any West End show (be it a play or musical theatre, past or present), what would be your dream role to play and why?

Well, Les Mis was my first choice and War Horse would be my second, but I would love to part of a Sondheim musical and straight theatre.
You performed some of your own material as a part of Hadley Fraser’s gig’s at St James Studio in October 2012 – if you were asked to describe your music to someone who had never heard it before, what would you say?
 
My music I would say is Alternative Pop.

** I was lucky enough to be in attendance at this gig – check out clips from Craig’s sensational set: –

Original Song 1 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgtpLWZsa5g
Original Song 2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJz7JCTGcWA
A cover of The Killers “Jenny is a Friend of Mine” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BSpmLtUNcE

If you could collaborate with any artist – past or present – on your album, who would it be and why?
Jason Mraz! I love his music!
What are your plans – and hopes – for 2013?
My plans are to work on my own material and get myself, as a recording artist, out there. Oh, and gig more, definitely gig MORE!

For all the latest updates on what Craig is up to, including his the release of his eagerly awaited EP, check out his official website at http://www.craigmather.com/ or you can follow him on Twitter @CraigMather

Much love and unending thanks to Craig for taking the time out of his busy schedule to do this interview 🙂

Signing off for now,

Blue Eyed Girl Xxx

The Westminster Derby – An Afternoon with Sheytoons

So, as a belated birthday present to myself (even though it wasn’t originally planned that way!), Sunday 10th February certainly became a day of firsts. It was the first time I had been to London just for a day (well, certainly the first time in quite a while!), it was the first time that I finally got to meet lots of Twitter friends, and it was the first time I was going to a Sheytoons gig!

Now for those of you who don’t know, Sheytoons is the name of the superbly talented group of individuals, lead by the dynamic duo themselves, Ramin Karimloo and Hadley Fraser. For those who are regular readers of this blog, you will know how much respect and admiration I have for these two guys ever since I saw them first perform together in Les Miserables in January 2012. And I have also had the honour of seeing them perform together at several solo gigs, including “An Evening with Hadley Fraser” and “Broadway to Bluegrass . . .Ish“, but this was the first official Sheytoons gig I had ever been to!

The gig was to be hosted at the St James Theatre, Victoria which continues to cement its place as one of the best new venues in the whole of London – if you haven’t been down to see them, check out their website at http://www.stjamestheatre.co.uk/ to see what’s coming up! You will not get a better venue in London for the best new theatre, cabaret and music right now – believe me!

As I had previously been in the Studio for Hadley’s solo gigs last October, it was wonderful to see the other side of the venue as this gig was to be held in the Main Theatre.


A simple set up – but in a way, isn’t that the best kind? It is also one of the best features of the Sheytoons style – why do you need fancy lights and fireworks when the music speaks for itself?

The ‘Toons were supported by the ridiculously talented Carrie Fletcher. Now I have heard so much about this very talented girl, mostly from Ramin’s UK Tour last year, where she got rave reviews for her performances, but had never seen her live myself! She had also been tweeting most of the morning of the gig saying how nervous she was! I can honestly tell you this girl has one of the most spectacular voices I have ever heard!


She performed a four song set, which mixed covers with her own material and every note she sang was absolutely enchanting! Carrie was also such a sweetheart, signing autographs and talking with every person in a very long line during the interval – and she did it with such grace and style! This girl is going to have a massive future – mark my words!

And then on to the main act – SHEYTOONS!


Looking cool, calm and relaxed – Ramin and Hadley lead their very talented crew – including the stunning Rosalie Craig and the marvellous Tom Deering – on to the stage and took the 200 strong audience on a magical journey through the most beautiful songs you could ever wished to have heard! Opening with the Mumford and Sons-esque Traveller’s Eyes (a new favourite of mine!), as an audience, we were treated to a range of Sheytoons classics, as well as some new favourites and some surprising covers!

Highlights for me included the beautiful On Constellation Street (which is where Hadley lived in Wales, don’t you know!), the fabulous Driftwood, Herne and the Red Kite (with the brilliant Rosalie Craig on top form), stunning Steal Our Moments, the breathtaking Heading West and Losing, not forgetting sensational encore Broken.

Probably that the song I most adore is How Many Times. I think the reason this song has such a special place in my heart is because I remember Hadley first performing this back at Off Duty Thursday in June 2011, when he had only finished writing this a few days before. I have been fortunate enough to see this fantastic song develop and evolve, from 12 Bar Club, to St James Studio and finally to today’s gig – and it continues to be the one song that I can’t wait for them to perform!

VIDEO: Hadley performs How Many Times for the first time (with some help from Rosalie and Craig Mather) at Off Duty Thursday, 12 Bar Club, June 2011 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jG1SxIurBs4

For me, one of the stand-out features of this gig is how strong Ramin and Hadley are, not only together, but on their own as well, as each of them got a chance to make the own solo contributions to Derby Day.


Ramin sounded as sensational as ever, as he performed “Reminder/When Does It Go Away” and the beautiful “Solitude“, with a little bit of help from the wonderful Carrie Fletcher. It has been such an honour and privilege to see Ramin’s journey since I first saw him live back in October 2011 – from a night with the Phantom, to Valjean, to an absolutely amazing solo artist, all the way to being back as a Sheytoon! He continues to be one of the most talented, yet most humble performers I have ever had the privilege to meet, and it is my honour to support his fantastic talent.


Hadley Fraser was also on top form from start to finish – and this is another guy who continually astounds me with his talent and unassuming nature (Maybe that’s not the right word – ha ha!) His solo contribution – a cover of Darrell Scott’s “River Take Me” was just as sensational today as it was when I first heard him perform it down in the St James Studio. I am so blessed to have discovered his breathtaking talent and am proud to show my support wherever and whenever I can – Hadley totally deserves all the success that comes his way, and I am sure this will continue when he heads to Chicester in April!



I mustn’t forget to mention the surprising cover that was performed during the first half! Now, we all know what a history these two have with musical theatre, and as a way of reminding us that they haven’t forgotten about it, Ramin and Hadley treated us to a magnificent version of “Edelweiss” from “The Sound of Music” – complete with a very “specialGlockenspiel solo from the super talented Tom Deering. I don’t think I was the only one who was surprised when Hadley began singing the opening to it, but it was stunning – and in Ramin’s own words, it was included because they thought “it was pretty!”. Another magical moment in what was such a brilliant afternoon.

Needless to say my first official Sheytoons experience was nothing short of spectacular, and was totally worth the 300 mile round trip. I can only hope that another gig – or possibly an album – is somewhre in the not too distant future – these guys are far too talented and far too wonderful not to perform with each other again very soon!

 

To the amazing Band, to the beautiful Rosalie (hope Hull is treating you well), to the marvellous Tom Deering (thanks for the hug as I left!), the stunning Carrie, and of course – to the enchantingly wonderful Ramin and Hadley, thank you so much for providing such a beaming light of hope and joy in what has been a very dark time for me recently. Words will never express how much I appreciate and am so thankful for the kindness and time that you give me and all of your other well deserved fans and supporters.


Don’t leave it so long next time!

Signing off for now,

Blue Eyed Girl Xxx


Set List

CARRIE FLETCHER
Impossible
One of Me
Never Ever Getting Back Together
Keep Up With My Love

SHEYTOONS
Traveller’s Eyes
Here I Go
She is Loved
On Constellation Street
Big Love’s Small
Driftwood
Just Let Go/Edelweiss
Patiently Waiting for Love
Herne and the Red Kite

BREAK

Steal Our Moments
But For Me
Unbound
I Left You
River Take Me (Hadley)
Reminder/When Does It Go Away (Ramin)
Solitude (Ramin and Carrie Fletcher)
How Many Times
Heading West
Losing
Broken

It’s Just a Jump to the Left: Rocky Horror Show – Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham

Everybody knows that the best remedy for an extremely hectic and stressful week at work is a visit to the theatre. And for me, this was not going to be an ordinary evening out!

The Rocky Horror Show, originally created by the genius Richard O’Brien, celebrates its’ 40th anniversary this year and is currently touring the UK with a brand new, and phenomenally talented cast, that includes Oliver Thornton, Ben Forster, and Roxanne Pallett. When I saw the show advertised back in the late part of 2012, I couldn’t resist booking a ticket – especially as I had NEVER seen the show before!

Yes, I knew most of the songs already – I mean, I have been dancing to the Time Warp at family discos for as long as I can remember – but I knew seeing the show live and in person would be a very different experience altogether.

As I arrived at the Alexandra Theatre, the first thing that struck me was the amount of people that had dressed up! Everywhere you looked – stockings, basques, suspenders, glitter, mad hair – and that was just the men! It was clear to see already what a cult following this show has – and if I hadn’t come to the theatre straight from work, and thus wearing some very boring smart casual clothes, I probably would have been brave enough to get more into the spirit of this side of the show!

Into the theatre itself and the madness (in a good way!) continued – the stage curtain which seemed to have a life of its’ own, with it’s frazzled edges raised a number of questions and the costumes got even more outlandish!

However, once the show kicked off, I couldn’t wipe my already huge smile from my face! I can honestly say that this is one of the funniest shows I have ever seen in all the time that I have been going to the theatre!

The atmosphere was absolutely electric and quite a lot of that was down to the audience. Never have I been to a show where audience heckling was encouraged so much! When it started, I will admit, I was completely thrown by it – thinking what the hell? But as it continued, I couldn’t stop myself laughing – and at some points, joining in! A special mention must go to the wonderful Phillip Franks, as the Narrator, who was at the forefront of the audience heckles and dealt with them all in a superb manner – even throwing his own off the cuff the comments back at the audience with ease and style!

The other thing that caught me off guard – but in a fantastic way – was something that occurred mid way through Act One. When Brad (Ben Forster) and Janet (Roxanne Pallett) arrive at the Castle and are introduced to the motley crew of personalities that live there, the opening riffs of “The Time Warp” rang out through the theatre. Now I have to admit, this was one of the songs I was most looking forward to hearing – as it was the one where I felt a full part of the crowd (as I knew all the words and every dance move!) But what threw me was as the song began – people started getting up and dancing! Now this started as one or two people – but suddenly a few people became the whole audience! (Me included!) And I LOVED IT!!! Never before have I seen an entire audience – IN THE MIDDLE OF ACT 1 – get up and join in with the performance in this way – it was just brilliant!!!

One of the things that adds to the brilliance of this show is the stunning cast that have been assembled!

Ben Forster and Roxanne Pallett are amazing as the pairing of nicer than nice Brad and Janet. The last time that I saw Ben was in Jesus Christ Superstar – so needless to say, this was a bit of a departure from that, but he was fantastic! Roxanne, who I only knew from her TV work in Emmerdale, impressed me so much! Her voice was astounding and so powerful – what an amazing performer she is and I only hope that her wonderful success continues in the future.

I have already mentioned the fantastic Phillip Franks (Narrator) who brought a comic, yet devious twist to his role – and he’s got a great pair of legs too! Seeing Rhydian (Rocky) – who I am used to hearing singing powerful ballads in a beautiful Welsh accent in a very smart suit – wearing nothing more than a very small and very tight pair of leopard print pants, speaking in an American accent, and showing off a lot of flesh was something that took a bit of getting used to, but anyone as talented as him can pull off any role he chooses, and he was brilliant in every scene he was involved in!

However, there are two people in this stunning cast who I must give a special shout-out to!

Kristian Lavercombe (Riff Raff) was one of the absolute stars of the show for me! He had that role down to a T – and there were times that I wasn’t sure if I was watching Kristian or Richard O’Brien – he was THAT good! Creepy, funny, sweet and intimidating all at the same time – in every scene he was in, especially The Time-Warp, he held the audience in the palm of his hand and we were more than happy to join him! I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this stunning talent!

The same can be said for the DIVINE Oliver Thornton (Frank N Furter). The last time I saw Oliver in the theatre when I visited Priscilla, Queen of the Desert at the Palace Theatre, London – where Oliver was winning rave reviews for his role as Felicia/Adam. I fell in love with his performance and amazing talent that night and have been a massive fan of his ever since – I would be lying if I said he wasn’t one of the main reasons that I bought my ticket in the first place!

But as Frank, he was phenomenal! From his first appearance singing “Sweet Transvestite” – and looking smoking hot while he did it! – to his emotional end, I could not take my eyes off him for one second! His comic timing was second to none, and along with Kristian, he had the audience in the palm of his hand from start to finish! Oliver continues to overwhelm me with his stunning talent – and I wish him nothing but blessings and amazing success for whatever the future may hold!

It is probably obvious to see that my first Rocky Horror experience is one I will never forget – and I will definitely be returning at the next available opportunity!

If you want one of the best night’s out you’ve had in a while, the show continues its’ UK Tour throughout 2013, with stops in Aylesbury, Liverpool, Sunderland, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Check out http://www.rockyhorror.co.uk/home for all the details!

Signing out for now,

A very happy Blue Eyed Girl Xxx