Tag Archives: Musicals

Fringe Benefits

8 Aug

Alex is at the Edinburgh Fringe this month in two shows, both of which have been shortlisted for the National Student Drama Festival’s Emerging Artists Award 2017 .  That’s twenty shows of over three thousand appearing this year.

I’ve seen both shows and they’re fantastic (there’s a reason they were nominated).  One is hilarious with music and the other is a musical with hilarity.

The music is great in both.  You can check out some of The Iconoclast songs on SoundCloud.  Sadly, there’s no link to Buried‘s music (yet), but I’ll share three of six from The Iconoclasts.

For me, this is the best song in the show: Estelle’s Song.

 BURIED

An exhilarating and witty look at love and the places it can take you. He’s a shy, seemingly-average young professional. She’s a sarcastic thrill-seeker. After matching on an online dating service, this young and fun-loving couple form a unique relationship when they discover something special that they have in common: they’re both serial killers. Tom Williams and Cordelia O’Driscoll’s dark, new piece of comedic musical theatre puts a sinister spin on relationships in the twenty-first century. Colla Voce Theatre make their Edinburgh debut with a bold new musical.

You can buy tickets for Buried here.  

britishtheatre.com describes the show as:

perversely charming and entertaining, full of dark humour and some killer songs..the music is richly melodic and soulful…book and lyrics are sharp and often funny.

THE ICONOCLASTS

The Iconoclasts tells the story of an exuberant family façade that is just about ready to crack. Music, magic, poetry, drag and comedy meet in an explosive night of would-be redemption for the former celebs, but the cabaret-style comeback night just goes further and further off course. Half-farce, half-tragedy, the Northern Irish family’s plight leads the audience through their chequered history with poignancy, humility and irreverence – all backed by a live funk band. If they’re going down, they’re going down swinging! ‘Beautifully played’ (Sunday Times).

Tickets for The Iconoclasts available here.

Listen to Alex’s solo: Razzmatazz

The Iconoclasts has been forecast by Fringebiscuit as one to watch:

They had me after four words. Part tragic theatre, part comedy cabaret night, emerging company Dear Hunter Theatre have basically put everything I love into one show. This could be a huge hit.

Their first review from Broadway Baby gave them four stars; here’s the opening paragraph:

The Iconoclasts is a perfect example of why one should never go into a show with any expectations. Based on the poster and description which I had only briefly skimmed, I was expecting a run-of-the-mill artsy cabaret show, with a bit of overdone backstory thrown in. What I got was a unique, political and thought-provoking piece of theatre, which worked on so many levels it is still making my head spin to think about.

The show’s closing number: Finale.

If you’re in Edinburgh this month, do yourself a favour and go and see both of these shows.  You won’t regret it.  

 

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Cough, Cough

16 Jun

 

It’s my choir’s concert tonight.  We’re doing stuff from musicals, including a fantastic arrangement – by Ollie Mills, our choir director – of Cats.  His alto line for Memory is the most fun I’ve had singing anything, ever, not least because that’s the only bit in the whole show I can sing without mistake.

Don’t tell that to the audience.  I’m pretty sure Ollie and everyone around me already knows, but we still have some tickets available.

We had a rehearsal last night and I coughed all the way through it.  I have had a persistent cough for months, for which I’m now being treated because I finally dragged myself to the doctor after hearing a horror story from a friend about a friend of her friend’s who ignored a persistent cough, and things ended badly.  

Mine is nothing so dramatic; it’s probably a post-nasal drip.

I misspoke when I told my singing chauffeur (the lovely woman who gives me a lift to choir) about it, accidentally calling it a post-natal drip, and we giggled for an hour about me developing a twenty-one-year baby-related condition that wasn’t excess weight.

The cough is always worse after exercise: for example, from the walk to church on Sundays.  I hack through the first half of the service but I’ve noticed that it improves after communion, just from one sip of wine.  That thought brought on a brain wave – I’ll take alcohol with me tonight!  

Alex tells me alcohol is bad for the vocal chords, but we’re not talking great singing on my part; and I’m thinking, better no voice than Coughy McCoughy in the chorus, ruining the best bits.  You might suggest that I could, of course, nobly stand down and not be in the concert tonight; but I’ll thump you if you do.  I didn’t spend six months learning these songs (some of them, anyway; my first paragraph refers) only to sit sulking in the audience on my big night: yodelayee-yodelayee-yodelayeeNO!

I tested my theory when I got in from choir by supping a tot of rum and, yup, no cough after it.  I’m taking a small bottle with me, to sip throughout the concert. I’ll just have to be careful not to get drunk: no one wants to see a sozzled alto tottering around the stage, defending McCavity against the slurs on his character.

Although…if you do, tickets are a fiver.

 

Alex On The Beeb!

13 Apr

Alex is going to sing live on Radio Three on Monday.

That’s on THE BBC – OUR NATIONAL BROADCASTING SERVICE!  THE BBC! BBC RADIO!  He has to TRAVEL DOWN TO LONDON!  On a TRAIN!

I’m not at all excited.

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I don’t have any details yet, except that he’ll be performing with Debra Finch, his singing partner in the last few Broadway shows he’s done; and it’s to promote their next show, Lerner & Loewe’s The Day Before Spring, which hasn’t had a full performance since 1953 – which is probably why the BBC is interested.

I’ll update this post with details when I have them.

In the meanwhile, picture me on Easter Monday, sitting glued to the radio all day – or TV, in this case, as everyone listens to the radio via their TV these days.  Or maybe glued to my phone, waiting for Alex to remember his doting mother, up in the northern wilds of Britain, anticipating that text which will tell her what time he’s going to be LIVE ON THE BBC (radio, admittedly; and not even the MAIN radio station, but STILL, it’s the BBC, you KNOW).

No, I’m not at all excited.

Don’t Miss This Train!

24 Jun

Given the results of yesterday’s referendum, a post about Departures seems apposite, so here’s my review.

I entered the theatre on Wednesday night expecting to like Departures: A Song Cycle.  I didn’t.  I loved it.

The theatre was intimate; the seating comfortable (always a bonus for the audience).  The station platform set was simple but effective.  The musicians were backstage but visible through an ‘exit’.  The music was by turns fun, energetic, moving; the themes were current.

Each story was revealed in song, with characters only really joining in with the ensemble as their particular tale was told, rather like a matryoshka doll in reverse. The songs varied in style and tone, just like the themes.  We were told of isolation and disappointment, but also hope and positivity; by the end there was a coming together as the characters were united by sharing the very things that left them feeling alone in the first place.

I must declare a bias: Alex Cosgriff is my son.  I’ve seen him in almost everything he has appeared in and I have watched him grow as an actor and performer, so I feel qualified to say that he gave a subtle and nuanced performance as Henry, a teenage schoolboy.   His solo Sad To Me was poignant and moved more than one person to tears.

Tom Williams’ solo I Choose Silence was simply beautiful; but mention must also be made of his ability to sit still and unnoticed for almost ninety minutes: not many actors would be satisfied with that but it definitely added to the show’s quality, for it was a physical manifestation of the underlying theme of those we ignore as a society.  I felt the song would have been more effective if it had occurred earlier on, but that’s a minor quibble.

*

In stark contrast came Billy (Will) Taylor’s vigorous characterisation of Trefor the Station Master.  He was hilarious whether moving or still, and often commanded our attention even when he had no lines.  He built a great rapport with the audience and is definitely one to watch.

The real stars of the show, however, were the fabulous score by Matthew Malone and lyrics by Joe Bunce, both of which showed a maturity beyond their authors’ years.  I pay Bunce & Malone the highest compliment I can: I was still thinking about the characters and singing snatches from the show twenty-four hours later.

I strongly recommend that you try to catch this while you can, tonight or tomorrow at the Pleasance, Islington.  No matter how you voted yesterday, this is one departure that will leave you feeling good.

 

Departures: A Song Cycle

20 Jun

No, I’m not talking about tearful goodbyes to Al, Grannymar and Barbara last week (though there were, of course; especially when they realised I was taking all the Maltesers with me), but about Alex’s latest venture: he’s appearing in Departures: A Song Cycle at the Pleasance Theatre, Islington in London this week.

I will talk about hellos and goodbyes in my next post, of course, but for now I want to publicise this fantastic new musical by Joe Bunce and Matt Malone.  You may recall that it won a ton of awards at The Edinburgh Fringe last year and The National Student Drama Festival this year, only four of which are mentioned in the poster, but one of which was The Cameron Macintosh Award…yep, that’s right: that Cameron Macintosh…  

The plot, according to the Pleasance Theatre website

Nine strangers stand at a nondescript railway platform on an unremarkable weekday afternoon. As their train is delayed further, they put down their crumpled Metros, pocket their bleeping smartphones – and begin to share their secrets, hopes and fears.

The cast in rehearsal:

*

The Sunday Times said:

The lyrics have the contemporary bite, and the music the tricky wit, of a new Sondheim; the cast sing beautifully and the band play immaculately.

When it appeared at the Fringe, the Edinburgh Guide described it as:

…an exciting, innovative, intelligently conceived and choreographed show. Dramatic storytelling with a sense of realism is the strength behind the emotional heart of this modern opera. Remember the names Bunce and Malone – the Kander & Ebb, the Lerner & Lowe, the Sondheim of Musical Theatre of tomorrow.

If you happen to be in London this week, get yourself down to the Pleasance Theatre; tickets are very reasonably priced and I promise you an amazing night – but there are only five nights, so get going.

Miss Liberty at Sheffield University

8 Dec

The songover is Alex’s voice

You readers must be wondering why this blog seems to have turned into an Alex Cosgriff fan page.  The problem is, the Hub does nothing; Wary Boy tells us nothing; I remember nothing.  Alex is the only one who does anything worth writing about.

I can tell you that I did something on Sunday that I did exactly a year ago, but without the defecation: I went to a brass band concert with my friend Alison.  I enjoyed it.  

That’s about as interesting as it gets; if you want the poo story, I suggest you re-read last year’s visit.

This week, Alex is singing in a concert – with some dialogue, including narration by someone from The Great British Bakeoff (not Paul Hollywood or Mary Berry) – of the songs from Miss Liberty.  The cast is singing with a 40-piece orchestra.

Miss Liberty is a forgotten musical by Irving Berlin.  As far as is known, it has never been staged outside of the States, and has rarely been staged there.  As a result, the concert at Sheffield University is creating noise here and in the US. There have been some radio interviews and articles on the BBCThe Stage, PlaybillBroadwayworld and elsewhere.

For the background story on why it is being staged, read here.

The concert takes place on two nights, including four songs for one night only:

…on Thursday 10 December 2015 audiences will have the opportunity to hear world premiere performances of four songs that were cut before the musical opened on Broadway in 1949. They were discovered by McHugh and Malone in Berlin’s papers at the Library of Congress and special permission has been given to perform them for one night only by the Berlin estate.

University of Sheffield News

Can you tell me, then, why I spent all of yesterday upending Alex’s room to find the two suits, one jacket, one shirt, several ties, and two pairs of trousers Alex simply MUST have if he’s going to appear on stage this week?  And why that was a complete waste of time when I couldn’t find half of them – the suits in particular – and Alex suggested I look behind the door…and there they were?  I’m not in it, so why is there so much work for me?  That boy is taking a liberty.

I suspect I’ll get payback in being able to poke fun at him, however: Alex, who thought the modern dancing he did in Godspell was naff (and read here for how I let that slip to the choreographer), is going to TAP DANCE without benefit of any training whatsoever, in front of a live audience.

I’m cringing all ready.

Hee hee hee.

Open Casting Call

24 Mar

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If you live in the Greater Manchester area you might be interested in this from The Tree of War website:

Now Casting Actors and Crew

The team behind September 2014’s show once again head up the production of this new, extended show. Composer Oliver Mills will return to Direct and Produce, whilst Writer Rachel Mann will share Production duties.

The show calls for a cast of 18+ performers and a 12-piece orchestra. There are backstage and crew positions in departments including, but not limited to, Art, Design, Set Building, Stage Management, Front of House, Publicity and Tech.

For Casting, there will be a number of Audition dates in the coming weeks. We welcome anyone of any age and experience to audition.

Rehearsals will take place throughout the summer. Involvement in the show may require commitment from April, and will require regular availability during August and September.

*

Check the website for more details.

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