Tonight’s The Night – New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham (25th February 2014)

 

When I walked into the New Alexandra Theatre on a cold February evening to see TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT – a musical based on the songs of Rod Stewart, I didn’t really know what I was in for. Yes – I knew some Rod Stewart songs – who doesn’t? But how on earth were they going to fit into a musical?

One thing I did know was that the script was written by comedian Ben Elton. With “We Will Rock You” being one of the shows I have made the most visits to, it was clear that I was going to love the script – especially if it had a sense of humour similar to the long-running Dominon phenomenon.

But I was still unsure. I was even more confused when I walked into the auditorium to be greeted by a city skyline at sunrise – and was handed a white paper Sailor Hat, being told “I would need this later!” I didn’t think it was possible – but yes, I was even more confused than when I first walked in!

But once the show started, all of my confusion quickly disappeared as I was bought into Gasoline Alley – and the world of Stuart Clutterbuck.

Stu (played by former Les Mis alumni and past Blue Eyed Girl double interviewee Craig Mather) is a shy and sensitive guy, who can’t find the words to confess his love to his co-worker Mary (played by the ridiculously talented Jenna Lee James) One night, Stuart strikes a deal with the Devil (the stunning Tiffany Graves) to swap souls with the Rock God himself Rod Stewart. But despite all the initial happiness his deal brings him, Stu realises that maybe life as someone else isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I was blown away by the amount of talent across the entire cast – especially from the ladies, lead by the phenomenal trio of Jenna Lee James, Tiffany Graves and Jade Ewen (who played Dee Dee). Both Jenna and Tiffany have been a part of “We Will Rock You” – and it tells in their powerhouse vocals! Both blew the roof off in their solo and ensemble numbers and I can but only bow down at their unbelievable talent. A special mention must also go to Michael McKell (Stoner) – this guy just oozed rock star charm and he had the audience in the palm of his hand at every moment he was on stage, whether it was vocally or in his many comic moments.

And what to say about Mr Craig Mather? It’s been just over 2 years since I first saw Craig on stage – on my first ever visit to Les Miserables – but my, oh, my! What a transformation! Even though he is the alternate lead (Craig currently has 2 set shows as Stu each week, being part of the Ensemble at all other shows), I don’t think I have ever seen a performer look so comfortable leading a company. He commanded the stage, holding the attention of everyone in the auditorium for every minute of the show, and he picked up the customary “rock star strut” with great ease. Craig’s amazing vocal range – if you’ve listened to his solo EP “View of You“, you will know how astounding it isfits perfectly to the classic Rod Stewart tracks – “Stay With Me“, “Sailing” and “Do You Think I’m Sexy?” being my highlights. It won’t be long before we see him leading a phenomenal company all of his own – mark my words!

Tonight’s the Night is a fun night out, and even if you are not a huge Rod Stewart fan, I guarantee you will be dancing in the aisles!

The tour is in Birmingham until 1st March, and then goes on to Aylesbury, Brighton and Wimbledon. Check out http://www.tonightsthenightontour.co.uk/#home for all the details.

Signing off for now

Blue Eyed Girl Xxx

Blue Eyed Girl interviews . . . Amy Anzel

(Taken from www.mirror.co.uk)
 

Amy Anzel is one of the hottest young producers in TheatreLand at the moment. After her appearance on Channel 4’s “The Sound of Musicals” last year, where the audience were given a major insight into her development of HAPPY DAYS – THE MUSICAL, she has gone on to take the show from strength to strength as it embarks on a national UK Tour. A truly multi talented woman – who has strengths in both acting and producing, I was very lucky to be able to sit down for a chat with Amy to find out about her goals, the reception HAPPY DAYS has received, and working with the legendary Henry Winkler . . .

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

I love sheep! I think they’re the most adorable animals on earth.
Who or what inspired you to get into the Theatre Industry?
I always loved performing as a child, which led me to doing community theatre in the States (which is like amateur dramatics in the UK). I then started performing professionally doing US and European tours, regional productions, commercials, TV and film. I subsequently moved into producing in more recent years.
 
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?
‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ – I find that there are a lot of naysayers out there, and I won’t ever have them stop me in what I am trying to achieve.

‘That’s Life’ – Life is full of ups and downs, but I will always get back up and continue on trying to accomplish my goals even if I get knocked down. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

Cabaret‘ – We only have one life and it’s not a ‘dress rehearsal’, so make the most out of each and every day.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? And what advice would you give to young and upcoming performers trying to break into the industry?

Someone once told me that ‘luck‘ is when preparation meets opportunity, so always be prepared and ready.

My biggest piece of advice to young performers is to train and never give up on their dreams. Also, to never stop learning and training. When you finish drama school, it doesn’t mean you should stop taking class. In NY, most Broadway performers are in dance class and voice lessons weekly. They never stop perfecting their craft. I don’t see that as much here in the UK.

What inspired you to make the move from acting into being a producer?
When I moved to the UK in 2009, I noticed that some West End musicals that I was seeing didn’t seem to be as good as they could be, so I wanted to try and create shows that had very high production values with the greatest level of talent. Also, I wanted to have more control over my career and as an actor, for the most part, you don’t have much.
Your most recent production is a new musical based on the classic TV show “Happy Days.” What was it about this show that made you want to bring it to the stage?
I was in the developmental workshops of the show 10 years ago in LA when Garry Marshall, the creator of HAPPY DAYS, was turning the TV show into a musical. I loved the process and loved the show! When I moved to the UK in 2009, I noticed that 1950s Americana was doing quite well in the West End with GREASE, JERSEY BOYS, and HAIRSPRAY and I therefore called Garry Marshall and asked to bring HAPPY DAYS to the UK. After four long years, it has finally arrived!
You are probably best known to my readers through your appearance on Channel 4’s “The Sound of Musicals”, which chronicled the process you went through to try and get “Happy Days” on the road. Why did you want to be involved in the programme?
I wanted the public to see all the blood, sweat, and tears that go into putting on a show, especially the development period. Showbiz is not as glamorous as it might seem, so I wanted to share my journey with the public, so they could see that for themselves as rarely they are given that opportunity.
 
And I have to ask, what is it like to work with Henry Winkler (who played “The Fonz” in the original TV series)?
Henry is great! He is one of the most lovely and generous people I know. The cast loved working with him and they really benefited from their time with him as he helped them develop their characters and their relationships with each other in the show. I am grateful for his involvement.
Since the show aired, “Happy Days” has begun its first ever UK Tour. How has the show been received by audiences so far?
Audiences absolutely love it! From the moment the show starts and they hear the ‘Happy Days’ theme song, they go wild. They are then reunited with some of their favourite characters onstage and they seem to really embrace it. Even if people don’t know the television series, they still have a great time as it’s a fun night out full of great songs, fantastic choreography and a lovely story.
In 10 words or less, why should my readers come and see Happy Days?
Your readers should come and see HAPPY DAYS – A NEW MUSICAL because it’s a fun, feel-good show and a great night out!

For more details about the show, as well as how you can buy tickets, check out http://happydaysthemusical.com/ You can also follow the show on Twitter @HappyDaysUKTour, and to keep up with what Amy is up to, check out @AmyAnzel

Thank you so much to Amy for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions – it was an absolute pleasure and an honour to chat to her.

Signing off for now

Blue Eyed Girl Xxx

Blue Eyed Girl interviews . . . YOUR VOICE Winner Kasia Howley

(From apple.itunes.com)
 

You may not know the name KASIA HOWLEY right now, but I guarantee this is a name you will all become extremely familiar with in the coming years. Last year, she was selected by a panel of unbelievable West End talent as the winner of the first ever YOUR VOICE competition, which was organised by the phenomenally talented Dan and Laura Curtis.

Fast forward to 2014 – and Kasia’s world has been turned upside down! Her version of “Why Am I Falling” has now been released on iTunes, she is looking forward to an appearance at West End Live and a solo album is also in the works. I was lucky enough to sit down with this wonderfully talented young lady to discuss what can only be described as a rollercoaster of a past few months . . .

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

I am a big Rugby League fan!

How did you become interested in singing and performing in general?

I started dance classes from the age of 2 and a half, and at the age of nine, I saw my first West End musical ‘We Will Rock You’ and from then on, I knew I wanted to perform on stage and pursue it as a career. So I changed dance schools to a local stage school – Stuart Stage – which specialised in musical theatre.

Who are the actors/theatre performers that you most look up to and why?

There are way too many to mention! But my main idol is Kerry Ellis and always has been since I first saw her perform in “We Will Rock You“. I think she has the most incredible voice and stage presence and I aspire to one day be as successful and talented as her. Another performer who really inspires me is Idina Menzel, I have only seen her perform live a couple of times in the UK but I think she has a phenomenal talent. Lea Michele is also one of my idols and I am still waiting for the day to see her perform live! A few other of my favourite performers whom I also admire are: Natalie Weiss, Jeremy Jordan, Lea Salonga, Samantha Barks and so many more!

What would be your dream role to play?

My dream role is to play Elphaba in WICKED and always has been from a very young age! But to be honest there are so many amazing roles I would love to play!

** Kasia’s winning entry for the 2013 YOUR VOICE Competition – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyr8EsTsU60 **

How did it feel to be chosen from so many entries to be the winner of the “Your Voice” competition?

I was really shocked to win the competition, but also absolutely over the moon! I was so excited to enter a musical theatre competition as I have never had the chance to do that before! I think the song which Dan and Laura wrote, ‘Why Am I Falling’ is amazing and what made the experience of winning even more special was to know that the West End judging panel had listened to me sing and actually voted for me!

You’ve experienced so much since winning the competition – what’s been the highlight?

The biggest highlight has definitely been recording the song and having it released on iTunes! Though I am extremely excited to be performing at West End Live this year and I am sure it will be a very memorable experience! I also can’t wait to start recording an album this year with the help of Dan and Laura Curtis!

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

My favourite piece of advice is ‘never give up on a dream, no matter what!’
If you had to pick 3 songs – from any genre – as the soundtrack to your life so far, what would they be?

Defying Gravity” – WICKED
Astonishing” – Little Women
I’m a Star” – Scott Alan
If you want to keep up to date with what Kasia is up to, follow her on Twitter @kasiahowley or you can follow @DanLauraCurtis for updates on Kasia’s album as well as news of the YOUR VOICE competition for 2014.

Thank you so much to Kasia for answering my questions – and my eternal thanks to Dan and Laura Curtis for helping to set this interview up 🙂

Signing off for now

Blue Eyed Girl Xxx