FIRST LISTEN – Craig Mather’s "View of You"

(Photo from www.eventbrite.co.uk)
 
This past summer, I had the pleasure of catching up with the rather awesome Craig Mather, formerly of Les Miserables, to chat about his upcoming plans and projects in my first ever face to face interview (which you can read here.) One of the biggest things we discussed was the upcoming production and release of his first ever EP, and you could see from the beaming smile on his face when he discussed it, how excited he was for his dream to become a reality!

Now the release date is nearly upon us – and after having a first listen, I am pleased to report that Craig’s first EP sets a precedent for what I know is going to be an amazing future as a phenomenally talented singer-songwriter.

One of the most brilliant features of this EP is that every track stands out as a unique piece of craftsmanship. Every song fits within a different genre and tells a different story, yet they all fit together like pieces of a beautiful jigsaw. It is a testament to Craig’s talent and songwriting skill that as I took my first listen, such artists as Jason Mraz, Passenger, Bryan Adams, Snow Patrol and Muse came to mind – but it is Craig’s ability, along with co-writers Dan and Willie Weeks, James Charlton and Tom Callister, to fuse these influences and sounds together with their own creative ideas that is one of the most outstanding features of the EP.

From catchy opener “Hey Girl” – which I guarantee you will be humming for days after just one listen, to the rhythmic beats of “Stole My Heart” and the Muse-esque piano melodies on “Hold On“, it is very difficult to pinpoint a favourite track – they are all that good! Add in the ethereal beats of “Ghost“, the haunting beauty of “Almost“, and rockier title track “View of You” (complete with Indiegogo Vocal Group!), this really is a set of tracks that will appeal to so many people on so many levels.

TRACK LISTING


Hey Girl
Stole My Heart (Teaser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUigpSlg8Kk)
Hold On
Ghost (Teaser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJm1IlWIFxk)
View of You (Teaser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xyb2BKcbn9w)
Almost
**All teasers from Craig’s official YouTube channel

As a first release, this shows me that, as far as Craig’s potential goes, this EP only scratches the surface of his amazing talent! If he is setting such a high standard with his debut, I can only imagine the quality and all round brilliance that future EPs, and dare I say an album, will bring!

This really is an EP for everybody – so if you haven’t got your copy, get over to http://www.craigmather.com/ for details of how you can pre-order the EP as well as information about the release date, and the upcoming November launch gig. I promise that you won’t regret it! 🙂

Signing off for now

Blue Eyed Girl Xxx
Advertisements

Blue Eyed Girl interviews . . . Richard Fleeshman

 
Richard Fleeshman has had such a phenomenally diverse and varied career– it is probably hard to believe that he is only 24!

From beginning his professional acting career on the cobbles of Coronation Street when he was just 12 years old, as goth Craig Harris, he has gone on to gain critical acclaim for his roles in “Legally Blonde” and “Ghost“, where he originated the role of Sam Wheat and subsequently transferred with the show to Broadway. Not only that, he is an extremely talented singer song-writer – he performed as part of Scott Alan’s epic O2 gig in August this year and has even supported Sir Elton Johnduring a series of live concerts.

And there’s no sign of him slowing down anytime soon!

I was able to sit down and chat with Richard, who was so wonderful to give up some time within his extremely busy schedule, about Science, John Mayer, The Colour Purple, Urinetown and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. . . 

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


I’m a big science geek!

You started your career at Coronation Street. What was the biggest thing you learnt from your experience on the show?

It moves very very quickly and unless you’re prepared and professional, you’re going to look bad. It taught me to work under pressure

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

 
Probably not to look around too much in order to compare and contrast. Your career isn’t a race against anyone else – it’s about making good decisions for you based on your personal ambitions and wants – no one elses’! That, and to not take it all too seriously..which is by far the most important I reckon!
 
If you could play any role in any show, play or musical, past or present, what would it be and why?
 
I would have loved to play Christian in Moulin Rouge
 
What are the must see shows – in your opinion – currently playing in the West End or on Broadway at the moment?
 
I know it’s finished now but The Colour Purple was one of the most fantastic shows I’ve seen in a very long time..amazing theatre!
 
WATCH Richard and the divine Cynthia Erivo perform at his recent charity gig at the Hippodrome Casino (Videos courtesy of lesterfreeman1)
 
You originated the role of Sam in the musical version of GHOST. How did it feel to not only originate the role in London, but to also take the role to Broadway?
 
It’s obviously something I’m very proud of and I’ll always be very grateful for the opportunity. It didn’t really sink in at the time but now I look back sometimes and I’m like ‘what just happened..that was nuts!’ Ha ha! It was an awesome time 🙂
 
Who is your favourite artist/group to listen to in your spare time?
 
On the whole, I don’t tend to listen to particular artists or groups. It’s usually albums or songs that I hear and think are good, so I listen – but I’d be lying if I said John Mayer wasn’t one of my biggest musical heroes. I have all his albums/live albums & EP’s..literally everything!
 
Richard performs his version of Ed Sheeran’s “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” at his recent gig at the Hippodrome Casino, London (Video by Vic C)
If the opportunity presented itself, would you like to record an album of your own material? If so, what could your fans expect from your own music?
 
Certainly! I’d love to record more of my music. I’ve changed a lot since I last recorded..I’m older, been through a lot more and with that comes maturity and the songs you write change. The things you want to say..I’m enjoying exploring that and hopefully I’ll record sometime soon!
 
What are your plans for the rest of 2013 and beyond?
 
I’ll be back on stage in the New Year..but my lips have to stay sealed in what for now 🙂 (It has been recently announced that Richard will start in the UK premiere of ‘Urinetown’ at St James Theatre next year. Check out http://www.urinetown.co.uk for details!)

Richard is also set to embark on an astonishing trek to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for the Calvert Trust. To learn more about why this charity means so much to him – and to donate! – please check out http://www.justgiving.com/richardfleeshman

Again, thank you so much to Richard for answering my questions – make sure you all get over to his JustGiving page and show your support!

Signing off for now

Blue Eyed Girl Xxx
 

Blue Eyed Girl interviews . . . Shaun McCourt


(From Twitter)
 
One of the amazing stars of the last Singers Soiree, that I mentioned during my interview with Jamie Chapman Dixon (which you can read here) was the brilliant Shaun McCourt.


His career so far has included roles in The Pirates of Penzance (Kilworth House Theatre) and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (London Palladium), he continues to go from strength to strength as his amazing talent is recognised more and more.

It was my great honour to sit down with Shaun to discuss gymnastics, Bugsy Malone, Les Miserables, The Colour Purple and getting what you want . . .

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

A little fact about me…erm…not many people know I was a competitive gymnast during my childhood. I did that for quite a few years.

Who or what inspired you to get into the Theatre industry?

I had always enjoyed going to the theatre when I was younger but I didn’t get involved or take an interest in it until I was about 15. A teacher at secondary school persuaded me to audition for the end of year production of Bugsy Malone and once I was up there singing ‘Tomorrow‘ and dancing with a broom, I guess I was hooked. That was the first time anyone had heard me sing.

What has been the biggest obstacle you have faced in your career so far?

I think all actors will agree that quite often this industry is just one big obstacle. When they say you need a thick skin, they are not lying! I would say the biggest obstacle is staying positive in those periods where things are not going the way you would hope. The times when it is really quietwith auditions means it is easy to lose faith and hope that something is around the corner . The obstacle is picking yourself back up, dusting yourself off and remembering why it is you have chosen to do this as a career.

If you had to choose any 3 songs from any genre as the soundtrack to your life so far, what would they be and why?

Oh, this is a really trickyquestion because it would be easy just to choose my 3 favourite songs but it’s finding the reasons.


OK, my first choice would actually be my favourite song of all time which is ‘Why‘ by Annie Lennox. It has no particular significance other than I think it is a beautiful song. It is something I can listen to over and over and helps to calm me down. I think its important that we all have a song which makes us smile every time we hear it.  

I suppose I have quite a few of these but my second song choice would be ‘Always There’ by Jocelyn Brown. I love this song and it is one of those which holds lots of memories but also one I can play really loud (I don’t dance around when home alone…..much) and it makes me smile.

This list would not be complete without a song from a musical. My third choice is ‘One Day More’ from Les Miserables. I have no doubt my friends will sigh as they read this. It is without doubt the best musical to have been put on stage and this number always makes my hairs stand on end and my eyes well up(with those sort of happy tears). It is such an incredibly powerful piece of music and the message is also important. To me it is about striving for better and looking to the future and this itself is a great message. Of course, there is the added reason, that one day I want to be up there singing it.

What is your must-see West End or Fringe show at the moment?

If it was still running I would be saying ‘The Colour Purple’ because it truly is one of the best pieces of theatre I have seen in London. An incredibly talented cast and a great score. I was absolutely captured for every moment Cynthia Erivo was on that stage. There is such high quality theatre outside of the West Endin venues such as the Union and the Southwark Playhouse (the recent production of Titanic was brilliant!).

If I were to recommend a West End production which is currently running, I would go for ‘Matilda‘. This show has it all – a great score and book, moments of comedyand moments which tug at the heart strings as well as a great cast(the children are insanely talented). I think it would make even the most grumpy of individuals leave the theatre with a big smile on their face 🙂

If you could play any role, be it play or musical, past or present, what would be your dream role to play and why?


Anyone who knows me will know that my dream production to be part of would be ‘Les Miserables’. This is my favourite show of all time and it would be a dream come true to be part of the cast one day. There are a number of roles in this show which I would love to play so the opportunity to do any of these would make me a very happy man!

From a music perspective, who are your biggest influences? And who are your favourite artists to listen to?


Although I am told to broaden my horizons, a lot of the music I choose to listen to is centred around musical theatre. I can be a bit of a geek and will constantly be researching new shows and soundtracks.

Other than musical theatre, I like a real mix of music. I tend to get bored of listening to individual artistsso iTunes is always on shuffle. It really is an eclectic mix with artists including Annie Lennox, Kate Rusby, Seal, Jocelyn Brown, Natalie Cole, Adele, Madness…the list goes on. I tend to like a bit of everything….oh and I love 80’s Music. I think that is myfavourite decade for music.

I wouldn’t say one specific artist influences me as I like such a variety of genres and styles. I think in the current music industry, a lot of it is no longer about the vocalswhich I hate. I love and appreciate listening to great voices.

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


The best piece of advice I have ever been given. This is tricky. I have an incredibly supportive family around me who are always willing to offer advice and I try as much as possible to take it on board. However a phrase which really sticks in my head which I have been told on a few occasions by a couple of people is “What’s for you, wont pass you by“. Those who use this phrase with regards to me will know exactly who they are when reading this. I think it is something which I have to push myself to believe in this industry (and it’s not always easy) but it is something that constantly surfaceswhen I am having a tough day. It’s that whole idea of something just being around the corner.

I will also occasionally get a letterfrom my Grandma in the post (yes a letter people, she is not into emails or texts!). These are always filled with words of wisdom. However there is one thing she always writes towards the end of each letter. This follows the usual “I have enclosed £10 for you to get some sweets or something” (She knows me well). Just after this she always writes “Never stop believing in yourself and go out there and get what you want“. I would say this is some pretty sound advice 🙂

What are your plans and hopes for the rest of 2013 and beyond?

2013 has been a fairly quiet year for me with the exception of an array of gigs and concerts which I am always really happy to take part in. I am going to be doing a show over Christmas which I am looking forward to taking part in and then it is on to 2014. I have very definite ideas about what I want to achieve in 2014and I am positive it will be a good year. What I do know is that I will be following that “go out and get what you want” advice.

Keep up to date with Shaun’s news and where you an see his amazing talent on show on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/shaun.mccourt.52or on Twitter @shaunmc1986


Thank you so much to Shaun for answering my questions – you mark my words folks, this man is one to watch!

Signing off for now


Blue Eyed Girl Xxx

Blue Eyed Girl interviews . . . Singers Soiree founder Jamie Chapman Dixon

 


Jamie Chapman Dixon is a name that at first glance you may not recognise. But you will be surprised how much you know about him without even realising!


After training as an actor at Millenium Performing Arts, and featuring in such productions as Sleeping Beauty, PHA and the film Les Miserables, Jamie made the decision to solely focus on directing. Since then, his credits include the Pirates of Penzance (Brookside Theatre); ScreamFest (National Forest); and the extremely successful Geek! A New Musical (Tristan Bates Theatre).

He is probably best known, though, as the founder of the Singers Soiree Charity Concerts. What makes these concerts so unique is allowing current theatre students to pair up and duet with the biggest names in the industry today. The list of phenomenal talent at the last Soiree alone included the Strallen sisters, Nathan James, Shaun McCourt, Ian Stroughair, Jordan Lee Davies and John Owen Jones – to name just a few.

I sat down with Jamie to discuss his obsession with milk, Blink 182,  Matilda, Spotstealers and taking the Soiree into 2014 and beyond . . .
 
Tell us a little known fact about yourself – something we wouldn’t know by looking at you

I have a small obsession with milk. I drink between 4-6 pints a day and just can’t get enough of the stuff.

Who or what inspired you to get into the Theatre Industry?

I always wanted to be an actor from a young age but also to prove a point to everyone who says that theatre is a dead industry.

What was the first song/album you ever bought?

Think it was most likely Blink 182 or something embarrassing like the Spice Girls. I wasn’t big into buying CDs though as a kid.

If you had to choose any 3 songs from any genre as the soundtrack to your life so far, what would they be and why?

It would have to be Rock Around The Clock, as it gets your energy up, is stuck in a different era and has lots going on which I think sums me up quite well! I would also have to choose Banana Pancakes by Jack Johnson as I do love my lie-ins and my lazy days. Last song I guess would have to be Counting Stars by One Republic as me and relationships just never seem to work.

Which West End show is top of your must see list at the moment? (Can include Fringe!)

I really want to see Matildaas I just haven’t gotten round to it yet. I’m also really looking forward to Bare at Greenwich and UrineTown at St James Theatre.

Tell us about Spotstealers!

Spotstealers is a new project I’ve just jumped on board with. It was founded by Laura Prince and Matthew Rowland a few months ago. I went along to their first show at the Union Theatreand fell in love with the concept. It was fun, laid back and didn’t take itself too seriously. They created a fantastic atmosphere whilst showcasing some amazing performers. After the show I suggested some things to Matthew and Laura and agreed I would come on as an Associate Producer to help them on certain things. Keep an eye out for these shows as they are going to high places fast!

**FIND OUT MORE ABOUT SPOTSTEALERS AT THE FOLLOWING LINK http://www.spotstealers.co.uk/**
 
You are the founder of the Singers Soirée – what inspired you to start this wonderful event?

Its quite a strange reason really – a mix of two factorsStephen Oliver Webb and CJ De Mooi in a charity concert in October last year and thought it was a good idea. I had a few months off work until I directed GEEK so I thought I’d start it to give performers and students a chance and a foot into the industry, and also it’s a nice way to give back.

After moving to a larger venue at your last event, how would you like to see the event grow?

Now that the interest is getting higher, I want to keep it growing. I’m looking into a few different routes but my favourite has got to be turning it into a charity itself which will fund students through professional training and handing out bursaries to thearts. The more support we receive, the quicker we can achieve our goals.

If you could have any Theatre Performer (West End or Broadway) be a part of a future Singers Soirée that hasn’t been involved already, who would it be and why?

Oooh, that is a tough one. There are so many amazing performers out there. I would love to have Steven Berkoff and Stephen Fry host one of our shows and would be ecstatic if we could get Michael Ball involved. I also think that my actual biggest wish would be to have Zizi, Sasi, Summer, Scarlett Strallen and Bonnie Langford sing together. We have had Zizi, Sasi and Summer sing together in one of our past shows but having all 5 together… I don’t think it’s ever been done. Has it?

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

It’s not the amount of moneyyou have at the end of your life, it’s the journey you have taken and the stories you can tell.

The next Singers Soiree will be held on 5th December at St Giles-in-the-Fields, London. You can find out all the details, and buy your tickets over at http://www.thesingerssoiree.co.uk/

Thank you so much to Jamie for taking the time to answer my questions. I can only hope I get a chance to attend one of the future Soiree’s to see this fantastic man in action for myself.

Signing off for now

Blue Eyed Girl Xxx

LONDON THEATRE DIRECT – THEATRE BLOG OF THE MONTH!

It is my absolute honour to announce that Thoughts of a Blue Eyed Girl has been chosen by London Theatre Direct to be their FIRST EVER Theatre Blog of the Month!

I can not put into words how overwhelmed and thoroughly amazed I am to have been chosen to receive this honour. It means the absolute world to me! I am so grateful to all at London Theatre Direct for giving me the opportunity – and to anyone who has ever read my Blog, or shared the links I post – you will never know how much your kind words and support mean to me!

Why not take a look at the exclusive article that I wrote for the London Theatre Direct website to celebrate this fantastic occasion?

You’ve seen that show HOW many times?

It’s a conversation that occurs about every 6 weeks (or so) in my household.

As a teacher and a self confessed theatre geek, I always try to use school holidays to get away from the stress and tension of work by spending a few days in my home away from home, London’s West End.

But it’s when it comes to booking my tickets and which shows I will see, that the question and shock arises as I happily announce to my family that I will be seeing a West End show that I have seen before (on numerous occasions!) yet again.

Their response? “But why? You’ve seen that show HOW many times?

And it made me wonder – why do people go back and see the same shows over and over again? Is it to show support for a certain performer? Is it the magic of the story? The enchanting music? The special effects? Or just because it makes you smile?

Read the full article over at http://www.londontheatredirect.com/news/1297/Theatre-Blog-Of-The-Month—You-ve-seen-that-show-HOW-many-times–.aspx

Again, thank you so much again everybody – I am going to be wearing my current Cheshire Cat-esque smile for quite a while!!

Signing off for now

(A very overwhelmed, yet extremely thankful) Blue Eyed Girl Xxx

Thoughts of a Blue Eyed Girl – COMING SOON!


Hey folks!
 
I apologise for the lack of posts recently – “real-life” work has been consuming quite a lot of my time recently and general life has been quite hectic to say the least!
 
I aim to put this right soon, with some new posts!
 
COMING SOON!!
 

– News of my upcoming London trip, with 8 shows in 5 days!
– Reviews of some newly discovered (well they are to me!) albums!
– HUGE interviews with some amazing West End performers, including our “Here Come the Girls” special!
– Some very special feature articles which, well, you’ll just have to wait and see

Your support is so greatly appreciated – please keep sharing my links if you enjoy what you read and keep checking back for more updates over at our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/thoughtsofablueeyedgirl)  or over on Twitter @TOABlueEyedGirl

Signing off for now

Blue Eyed Girl Xxx