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Preludes by three-time Tony Award nominee Dave Malloy will be live streamed from Southwark Playhouse on 7 and 8 May 2021

PRELUDES THE CONCERT

Southwark Playhouse has announced new live stream show, Dave Malloy’s Preludes – which will be streamed live from The Little on 7 and 8 May 2021.

Preludes previously ran in The Large in autumn 2019 to critical acclaim. This production is a concert version featuring the same cast. It’s directed by Alex Sutton and produced by Danielle Tarento. The cast is Rebecca Caine, Norton James, Georgia Louise, Tom Noyes, Keith Ramsay and Steven Serlin.

Three-time Tony Award-nominated composer Dave Malloy has written a brand new song, which will receive its world premiere performance in this concert production.

Danielle Tarento presents the live stream premiere of

PRELUDES THE CONCERT

A MUSICAL FANTASIA SET IN THE HYPNOTISED MIND OF SERGEI RACHMANINOFF
Music, lyrics, book and orchestrations by Dave Malloy. Directed by Alex Sutton.

Live stream production credits:
Lighting design by Andrew Exeter. Sound design by Andrew Johnson.

Musical direction by Jordan Li-Smith. Live stream operation by Bartek Podkowa.

Original production credits:
Set and costume design by Rebecca Brower. Lighting design by Christopher Nairne.

Sound design by Andrew Johnson. Choreography by Ste Clough. Musical direction by Jordan Li-Smith.Cast: Rebecca Caine, Norton James, Georgia Louise, Tom Noyes, Keith Ramsay and Steven Serlin.

Dates: Friday 7 May at 7.45pm, Saturday 8 May at 3.15pm and 7.45pm

Online press performance: Friday 7 May at 7.45pm

Preludes is a musical based on the life of legendary composer Sergei Rachmaninoff by three-time Tony Award nominee Dave Malloy (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, Ghost Quartet, Moby Dick).

Sergei Rachmaninoff has it all; world-wide fame from a single composition by the age of 19, commissioned to write his first symphony at 20 and engaged to the love of his life, Natalya. But at 21 he is crippled with a depressive paranoia and anxiety. His world has imploded, his work has stopped, he cannot even lift a pencil to compose a simple melody. Such is the power of the men who sought to destroy him, who haunt his waking nightmares and poison his dreams. And when those men happen to be the greatest artists of their day, how do you come back, how do you escape the darkness and come into the light?

Based on a true story of Rachmaninoff’s sessions of hypnotherapy, Preludes is an extraordinary new musical by three-time Tony Award-nominee Dave Malloy. It examines the crippling debilitation and harm the world can do to people, and how the dramatic and musical process can be used as therapy to restore them back into the fullest of creative lives.

Using live piano and electronics, Malloy uses a hybrid of his own and Rachmaninoff’s compositions to create a dream-like world that takes us to the darkest recesses of Rachmaninoff’s mind.

Three-time Tony Award-nominated writer Dave Malloy is a composer and writer of some of the most exciting new music theatre works. His best-known piece, Natasha Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, based on War and Peace, started at Ars Nova in New York before transferring to Broadway’s Imperial Theatre where it played to huge critical and audience acclaim and was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, the highest number of nominations in the 2017 awards season, including Best Musical.

The 3.15pm performance on Saturday, 8 May will be captioned. Full details on the website link here: https://www.southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/show-whats-on/preludes-in-concert/

Press reviews for Preludes at Southwark Playhouse, autumn 2019:

«««« “Hypnotic and dazzling.” The Stage

«««« “An utterly unique experience.” Time Out

«««« “An experimental formally elusive trance-like experience.” WhatsOnStage

«««« “Extraordinarily and exceptionally powerful.” The Arts Desk

««««« “Superb” British Theatre

««««« “A spectacular assault on the senses that transcends space and time.” Musical Theatre Review

Rebecca Caine plays Dahl. Credits include originating the role of Cosette in Les Misérables, (RSC and West End), Phantom of the Opera (Canada), Flowers for Mrs Harris (Sheffield Crucible) and Harold and Maude (Charing Cross Theatre). Norton James plays Chaliapin. Credits include Choir of Man (Australian tour), Spamalot (Mercury Theatre, Colchester) and Love Story (Union). Georgia Louise plays Natalya. Credits include Mamma Mia (Novello), Kinky Boots (Adelphi Theatre) and 13: The Musical (Apollo/NYMT). Tom Noyes plays Rachmaninoff. Preludes was Tom’s professional debut. Keith Ramsay plays Rach. Credits include Amour (Charing Cross Theatre), Lost in Yonkers (Watford Palace), Portia Coughlin (Old Red Lion) and Julius Caesar (Shakespeare’s Globe). Steven Serlin plays The Master. Credits include Amour (Charing Cross Theatre), Oklahoma (Grange Park Opera) and The Wild Party (The Other Palace).

The Last Five Years returns to Southwark Playhouse from 1st to 31st October 2020

The Last Five Years

Jason Robert Brown’s iconic musical The Last Five Years returns to The Large at Southwark Playhouse this October in a newly configured socially distanced auditorium with limited seating capacity.

 The critically acclaimed production (★★★★★ The Stage, ★★★★★ WhatsOnStage ★★★★ Time Out) is the same one that closed on 16 March and reunites the same creative team led by director Jonathan O’Boyle

Katy Lipson for Aria Entertainment in association with Edward Prophet and People Entertainment Group presents
THE LAST FIVE YEARS
Written and composed by Jason Robert Brown. Directed by Jonathan O’Boyle.
Choreography by Sam Spencer-Lane. Set and costume design by Lee Newby.
Lighting design by Jamie Platt. Sound design by Adam Fisher.
Musical direction and orchestrations by George Dyer.
Originally produced for the New York stage by Arielle Tepper and Marty Bell.
Originally produced by Northlight Theatre, Chicago, USA.
Performed by arrangement with Music Theatre International (Europe) Limited.

Run: Thursday 1 October – Saturday 31 October 2020
Press night: Monday, 5 October 2020 at 7.30pm
★★★★★ “You won’t have seen a better production of The Last Five Years… It is the definitive production. Beg, borrow or steal a ticket.” WhatsOnStage

★★★★★ “Jason Robert Brown’s song cycle revitalised”.” The Stage

★★★★ “A quicksilver delight… Restlessly inventive.” Time Out

On March 16 2020, The Last Five Years at Southwark Playhouse was cut short owing to the global pandemic. This October, Southwark Playhouse are delighted to welcome back the same production to pick up exactly where it left off (with added Perspex and socially distanced audiences).

Jason Robert Brown’s Drama Desk Award winning musical, The Last Five Years, is an emotionally powerful and intimate show about two New Yorkers who fall in and out of love over the course of five years. The musical’s unconventional structure unfolds as Cathy tells her story in reverse, from the end of their turbulent relationship, whilst Jamie tells his story chronologically from the spark of their initial meeting. The two characters meet only once, at their wedding in the middle of the show. This iconic musical returns to London following its run in March, with the actors onstage at all times and playing the piano to add a new narrative dimension to the story, accompanied by a full four piece band.

This production will only go ahead if the government gives the go ahead for indoor performances with socially distanced audiences, which Southwark Playhouse and the producers of the show understand is likely to be in place. Patrons can book tickets with the knowledge that if the production is unable to go ahead there will be full refunds. For a full list of FAQ’s regarding booking for this production and more information on how it will adhere to social distancing within the venue please visit the website here and click on the Covid-19 FAQ’s tab.

Full information on casting and social distancing measures around the actors performing in the production will be announced in the coming weeks.

Listings Information
Venue

Southwark Playhouse

77-85 Newington Causeway
London SE1 6BD

Nearest Tube: Borough / Elephant and Castle
Performances

THE LAST FIVE YEARS

Thursday, 1 October – Saturday, 31 October 2020

Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm
Tuesday and Saturday matinees at 3pm
See website for full schedule.

Box Office

Online

www.southwarkplayhouse.co.uk

24 HOURS/NO BOOKING FEES

By Telephone

020 7407 0234

NO BOOKING FEES

Ticket Prices

£27.50 (£22 conc.)

All previews £16

Concessions

Students, Under 16’s, Unwaged, Registered disabled, Over 65’s

Registered disabled patrons can bring one companion free of charge.

Keep up to date on Twitter and Instagram

@swkplay

Stars of West End and TV announced for Philip Ridley New Play

The Beast Of Blue Yonder

Tramp has announced that Jade Ewen, Mirren Mack, Rachel Bright, and Unique Spencer will star in The Beast of Blue Yonder when it opens at Southwark Playhouse in April. Along with comedian and actor Steve Furst (Little Britain, Stephen Polliakoff’s Summer of Rockets, Matilda West End), Charlie Quirke (Birds of a Feather), Lucy Gape (Hollyoaks, Hollyoaks Later), and Tyler Conti (Safe) they will form the backbone of a talented ensemble cast in Philip Ridley’s rip roaring dark comedy.

Jack Silver, Artistic Director of Tramp, said: “We’re thrilled to have such an exciting ensemble cast on board for Philip Ridley’s new comedy. It’s a testament to Philip’s incredible imagination that we’ve been able to get such incredible actors, and we can’t wait for audiences to experience an unforgettable and entertaining night at the theatre.”

The rest of the cast includes: Joseph Drake, Mike Evans, Nat Johnson, Joseph Potter, and Kyle Rowe.

This new black comedy is a dazzling, genre-mashing, singing & dancing, tour de force of storytelling, where film stars become addicted to strange potions, a town battles with a demonic child, and a burning cinema shines like a new sun. Three different stories from three different decades, but all hurtling towards the same thing. That thing that everyone fears the most…The Beast of Blue Yonder.

Tramp return to Southwark Playhouse after the success of their Offie-nominated production of Philip Ridley’s Angry and their smash hit immersive version of Confessional by Tennessee Williams. 

@swkplay

 

UK premiere of Dave Malloy’s musical Preludes comes to Southwark Playhouse this September

Preludes

Sergei Rachmaninoff has it all; world-wide fame from a single composition by the age of 19, commissioned to write his first symphony at 20 and engaged to the love of his life, Natalya. But at 21 he is crippled with a depressive paranoia and anxiety. His world has imploded, his work has stopped, he cannot even lift a pencil to compose a simple melody. Such is the power of the men who sought to destroy him, who haunt his waking nightmares and poison his dreams. And when those men happen to be the greatest artists of their day, how do you come back, how do you escape the darkness and come into the light?

Based on a true story of Rachmaninoff’s sessions of hypnotherapy, Preludes is an extraordinary new musical by three-time Tony Award-nominee Dave Malloy. It examines the crippling debilitation and harm the world can do to people, and how the dramatic and musical process can be used as therapy to restore them back into the fullest of creative lives.

Using live piano and electronics, Malloy uses a hybrid of his own and Rachmaninoff’s compositions to create a dream-like world that takes us to the darkest recesses of Rachmaninoff’s mind.

Three-time Tony Award-nominated writer Dave Malloy is a composer and writer of some of the most exciting new music theatre works. His best-known piece, Natasha Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, based on War and Peace, started at Ars Nova in New York before transferring to Broadway’s Imperial Theatre where it played to huge critical and audience acclaim and was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, the highest number of nominations in the 2017 awards season, including Best Musical.

The cast is Rebecca Caine, Norton James, Georgia Louise, Tom Noyes, Keith Ramsay and Tim Walton.
Rebecca Caine plays Dahl. Credits include originating the role of Cosette in Les Misérables, (RSC and West End), Phantom of the Opera(Canada), Flowers for Mrs Harris (Sheffield Crucible) and Harold and Maude (Charing Cross Theatre). Norton James plays Chaliapin. Credits include Choir of Man (Australian tour), Spamalot (Mercury Theatre, Colchester) and Love Story (Union). Georgia Louise plays Natalya. Credits include Mamma Mia (Novello), Kinky Boots (Adelphi Theatre) and 13: The Musical (Apollo/NYMT). Tom Noyes plays Rachmaninoff. Preludes is Tom’s professional debut. Keith Ramsay plays Rach. Credits include Amour (Charing Cross Theatre), Lost in Yonkers (Watford Palace), Portia Coughlin (Old Red Lion) and Julius Caesar (Shakespeare’s Globe). Tim Walton plays The Master. Credits include City of Angels (Donmar Warehouse), Kiss Me Kate (Old Vic), Matilda (RSC/West End) and Mamma Mia! (Prince Edward Theatre).

Direction by Alex Sutton. Set and costume design by Rebecca Brower. Lighting design by Christopher Nairne. Sound design by Andrew Johnson. Choreography by Ste Clough. Musical direction by Jordan Li-Smith. Casting by Danielle Tarento.

Dave Malloy saysI am so so thrilled and tickled to see Preludes be given new life in this London premiere. It’s a very personal piece for me, wrestling with all the things it is to be an artist and a human, and the score features my music entwined with Rachmaninoff’s work, some of the most romantic and rousing piano music I know. I cannot wait to come to Southwark Playhouse and see this show reimagined by this amazing new team.”

Preludes originally premiered at the Lincoln Center Theater in New York in 2015. It ran for three months in a production developed with and directed by Rachel Chavkin.

Along with Fun Home and the soaring, Broadway-bound Hamilton, this smashing production says that the American musical is not only not dead but also growing luxuriantly in places you never expected.” Ben Brantley, The New York Times on Preludes at the Lincoln Center Theater

Cast Announced for Ain’t Misbehavin’! A Made in Colchester Production

Mercury Theatre Colchester and Paul Taylor-Mills in association with Tamasha Theatre Company have announced casting for their brand-new production of Ain’t Misbehavin’ – the first London revival in almost 25 years – playing at Southwark Playhouse from Friday 19 April to Saturday 1 June, following its premiere at Mercury Theatre Colchester from Friday 15 – Saturday 30 March. Tickets are on sale now.

The cast will feature Adrian Hansel as André, Renée Lamb as Armelia, Carly Mercedes-Dyer as Charlaine, Landi Oshinowo as Nell and Wayne Robinson as Ken.

Adrian Hansel originated the role of Seaweed in the West End production of Hairspray, with other credits including Five Guys Named Moe at Marble Arch Theatre. Renée Lamb played Chiffon in Little Shop of Horrors at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and Catherine of Aragon in the original London cast of Six at the Arts Theatre. Carly Mercedes-Dyer was recently seen in Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre, with other credits including The Lorax at The Old Vic and Memphis at the Shaftesbury Theatre. Landi Oshinowo recently appeared in Big Fish at The Other Palace, with West End credits including Shrek the Musical and Sister Act. Wayne Robinson returns to Southwark Playhouse having played Benny in In The Heights. He was most recently seen as Jagwire in Bat Out of Hell. Click here for a first look at the cast in rehearsal

The full creative team is also announced today. Joining previously announced director Tyrone Huntley and choreographer Oti Mabuse are designer Takis, lighting designer James Whiteside, sound designer Dan Samson and associate choreographer James Bennett. There will be new orchestrations by Mark Dickman, and casting is by Will Burton CDG.

Several roles on the production are supported by the Sustained Theatre Fund in association with Tamasha Theatre Company. The aim of the Sustained Theatre Fund is to support the development of established and emerging Black and minority ethnic theatre makers and to increase the representation of Black and minority ethnic theatre makers across the wider theatre sector in England. Associate Producer Dilek Latif is on a producer placement at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester supported by the Sustained Theatre Fund and will work as associate producer on Ain’t Misbehavin’ as part of this placement. Dilek has also been able to offer a bursary

to the Associate Lighting Designer Kiaran-Lee Kesby as part of the Tamasha Developing Artists fund.

Finn Kennedy, Artistic Director of Tamasha said: “It is incredibly rewarding to see the results of the scheme – and our Associate Producers’ hard work – come to the stage. Each producer has achieved a huge amount – mentored, supported and given every opportunity to learn and develop by their venue and Tamasha. They have proved themselves beyond any expectations and I am proud that Tamasha has been able to propel them in their careers, and – I hope – provide role models for other BAME producers and practitioners to break into the industry.

Celebrating the legendary jazz musician Fats Waller and his energetic, exuberant and effervescent music, Ain’t Misbehavin’ steps back into the 1920’s and the raunchy nightclubs of Manhattan. Join an extraordinary group of performers on a journey through a defining period of American musical history, the Harlem Renaissance – where musicians were free to experiment with new styles, and joints were jumpin’ with talented dancers, singers and instrumentalists jamming to a new beat known as swing.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ will mark Tyrone Huntley’s directorial debut. Tyrone is best known for his acclaimed performance as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, for which he won the Evening Standard Theatre Award and received an Olivier Award nomination. Tyrone is soon to appear in Leave to Remain at the Lyric Hammersmith with other performing crediting including Angry (Southwark Playhouse) and Dreamgirls (Savoy Theatre).

Oti Mabuse also makes her debut as a theatre choreographer. Best known as a professional dancer on BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing since 2015, Oti is also an 8-time South African Latin American Champion and one of the most successful South African dancers in the world. Oti is currently a Dance Captain and Mentor on BBC One’s new Saturday night dance and entertainment show The Greatest Dancer.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ first premiered at Manhattan Theatre Club in 1978 and transferred to Broadway the same year, where it won the Tony Award for Best Musical. The original West End production opened at Her Majesty’s Theatre in 1979, and was followed by a revival at the Tricycle Theatre and Lyric Theatre in 1995. This new production will mark the first London revival in almost 25 years.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ is based on an idea by Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby Jr, with orchestrations and arrangements by Luther Henderson, vocal and musical concepts by Jeffrey Gutcheon and vocal arrangements by Jeffrey Gutcheon and William Elliott. It is produced by Paul Taylor Mills and Mercury Theatre Colchester in association with Tamasha Theatre Company, with support from Arts Council England.

Twitter: Mercury Theatre Colchester @Mercury Theatre Southwark Playhouse @SwkPlay

Instagram: Mercury Theatre Colchester @MercuryTheatreColchester Southwark Playhouse @SwkPlay

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Ray Rackham: ‘I won’t read a bad review twice; I’ve not come that far!’

Ray Rackham

Ray Rackham

As he brings Judy Garland to Southwark Playhouse the director of the glorious Through The Mill talks about casting, the circumstances of his own death – and social injustices.

Hello Ray! Through The Mill is about to open at Southwark Playhouse. How is it looking?
We’ve just had our press night and, to coin a Judy phrase, things are going marvellously. I don’t think any of us, cast, creative and production, have ever worked so hard, but when you get a full standing ovation on your opening previews, and then in each performance in our opening week, it’s strangely re-energising. That being said, I feel like I could sleep for a fortnight!

Do you read reviews of your work?
I never did as an actor or director, I felt that it was unnecessary. I came to realise it was actually because I don’t take criticism particularly well. My career evolving of late into writing, I find reviews more interesting than terrifying now. What do people get from the work? What points am I making that aren’t translating? As a writer, I think you innately become more self-critical because your responsibility is to provide clarity and simplicity in the form, however beautiful you wish your dialogue to be. That being said, I won’t read a bad review twice; I’ve not come that far!

How did you start out in this business?
I tried collecting art, and that didn’t work. I tried collecting antiques, and that didn’t work. I tried acting, and that didn’t work. In fact, a rather well known, but now late, casting director told me, at the age of twenty, to come back in twenty years time when there will be plenty of roles for me. When I had more than a few years to go until that time, I thought I would give directing a crack. And it worked. Writing came as a natural successor. I’ve got four years to really nail it, or you may see me playing “affable, dumpy towns person 4” in a musical near you!

What’s your favourite Quality Street?
The eponymous Green triangle! Anyone who says otherwise is not to be entirely trusted.

Where were you – and what was your reaction – when you discovered you’d been nominated for a Broadway World and Off-West-End Theatre Award?
Well, there have been a few, but alas I’m always the bridesmaid and never the bride. I don’t recall them all, but I do remember the first. I was congratulating everyone else and had started voting online when I saw my name for Ordinary Days. I won’t say if I voted for myself, but I’d like to thank that one person who did. I have a feeling he’d be tall, handsome and exceptionally witty. A regular Noel Coward!

How did you celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday in June?
Like our glorious Majesty, I celebrate my own birthday twice, so I had a few friends around for a slice of cake and a spot of narcissism. I met the Queen once, she complimented me on my hat. I replied it was from Moss Bros, and wasn’t bad for a hire job. I was to learn she was actually talking to Esther Rantzen, who was stood beside me.

If you could eliminate one social injustice a year, each year for three years, which would you choose and in what order?
I think love will always be the answer to injustice. If we all just loved each other more, and celebrated, supported, accepted; well all types of social injustice would lessen overnight, and we’d all be a tonne happier. But, sadly, that seems less likely each and every passing day. So my plan would be Poverty, Discrimination (in ALL its forms) and Classism. It’s so sad that, all these years after the introduction of incredible social reform under a post Second World War government, that there’s still a establishment snobbishness throughout the political elite. I often think the world would be better run if the world leaders had spent some time down the Upper Street launderette with my Great Nana Ada, my Nan, and my Aunt Yuni.

Who’s the best Theatre Director?
I’m not answering that question. No, don’t make me!

Do you spend a lot of your time thinking about how much of your life you have left?
All the time. If my horoscope were ever to tell me I was going to meet a tall dark stranger, I’d withdraw all of my money from my bank account, stock up on gin, fly myself to the Bahamas and await the Grim Reaper. I’ve never written a bucket list for that reason; in doing so you’re more or less contracting to shuffle off at some point. So, whatever time I have remaining, I want to fill it with being good at doing what I want to do. And maybe getting paid for it!

What do you look for when you are casting a show?
Talent and Timeliness.

Who are the last four people that you called on the telephone?
I am renowned for never answering my phone. Because I spend so much time in the theatre, my phone is usually always on silent mode. So I’ve just looked at the last four calls I’ve missed. The answer? Mother, mother, mother and mother.

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Belinda Wollaston talks about her role as Judy Garland in Through the Mill, what made her the woman she is today and more

Belinda Wollaston
Belinda Wollaston

Belinda Wollaston

10 years after working with Sondheim on Broadway, the musical theatre chanteuse is preparing to take on Judy Garland at Southwark Playhouse.  She considers the circumstances of her own death  – and wants  us to never stop trying to save the world.

Hello! You are an Australian Musical theatre actor. How do the UK and AUS Theatre scenes vary and which is the best? 

The best bit is that they both have an incredibly strong community, just as vibrant as one another. The scene is obviously much bigger in London, which creates more opportunities week to week than in Australia, but that doesn’t make it either one any better or worse, they’re just different.

In early 2006 you travelled to New York where you worked with some of the theatre world’s biggest names, including Stephen Sondheim. What does Stephen Sondheim smell like?

Rainbows!

What are you up to these days? 

I am currently rehearsing for Through the Mill, which is due to open at the Southwark Playhouse on the 8th of July. I will be playing Judy Garland during her Palace Years, from 1951-1952.

Belinda Wollaston as Judy Garland and Harry Anton as Sidney Luft

Belinda Wollaston as Judy Garland and Harry Anton as Sidney Luft in Through the Mill. Click the image to book your tickets now!

Do you think current musical theatre artists would benefit from a short spell in the marines? 

That’s an interesting question… A few years ago I was in South Korea doing Jekyl and Hyde, and I was told that a lot of the local performing artists have previous military experience. Needless to say, it was the slickest show I have ever worked on!

Do you ever consider the circumstances of your own death?

Sure, I think we all do from time to time. All I can hope is that when the time does come, I fall asleep after drinking a lot of expensive champagne, surrounded by my loved ones.

What’s the best song in MAMMA MIA

The Winner Takes It All for sure!

Which one event in your life made you the woman you are today?

It’s hard to pinpoint one event, but I certainly remember a time when I felt 100% certain that I wanted to go into musical theatre. I was 11 years old, living in a small town in rural Australia, when I went to see a performance of Les Mis. I sat in the second row and I remember never wanting to leave the theatre again; I was completely mesmerised.

Do you think actors should stop trying to save the world and get on with their jobs?

I don’t think anyone should ever stop trying to save the world.

Have you ever set fire to anything you shouldn’t have?

The only things I ever set fire to are the coals on my barbecue, or some candles for a bit of mood lighting.

Is there anything else we need to discuss?

Aside from your choice in questions? 😉 Only to ask when you are going to come and see Through the Mill??

CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR TICKETS FOR THROUGH THE MILL

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Mark Anderson talks about his role in The Toxic Avenger “It’s been great for me to step out of my comfort zone.”

 

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson is an  immensely talented actor and musician based out of London. His theatre credits include  The Book of Mormon – Original West End Cast (Prince of Wales Theatre), Once Upon A Mattress (Union Theatre), Legally Blonde (National tour), Love me tender (The Churchill Theatre Bromley) and more. Currently he is starring as Toxie in The Toxic Avenger at Southwark Playhouse.

During the course of what follows you will hear Mark talking about various things. Enjoy!

Hello Mark! How the devil are you?
I’m really good ta.

You’re currently starring in Toxic Avenger at Southwark Playhouse. What’s that all about?
It’s a musical based a cult, 80s, B movie, horror film. It’s essentially your typical comic book superhero story; Nerdy guy Melvin Ferd, The Third is an aspiring earth scientist who gets dropped in a vat of toxic waste by some local thugs and evolves into The Toxic Avenger. The villain is the corrupt town Mayor who is importing toxic waste into Tromaville for large sums of cash. It’s written by Joe DiPietro who wrote I L ove You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and Love Me Tender, which toured the UK last year, and David Bryan who is most famous for being in Bon Jovi. They also wrote Memphis together which was hugely successful in it’s West End run. Toxic Avenger is much smaller though, there are only five of us in the cast and three of those play multiple roles. The love interest is a blind librarian called Sarah and the Mayor also doubles as Melvin’s mother which culminates in her having a scene with herself. The other two guys literally play everyone else and quick change like there’s no tomorrow. I think what makes the piece is that it’s very aware of what it is. It self references and all of the fun and drama comes from whether or not people will make their changes and who they will come out as next. The material is SO strong and it’s just really good fun.

Mark Anderson as Toxie

Mark Anderson as Toxie

Pretty standard musical fare. You know the trendy people. Let’s call them tastemakers, the media etc. They don’t like to feel that something is too likely to be a hit; they play it cool. How anxious were you about taking on the lead role in the European Premier?
To be honest, I never considered that the response would be so fantastic. You hope but when you’re dealing with something new, you have no idea what the reaction will be like. When I got sent the script I just knew it was right up my street. Like I said, the songs are ace and when I read the script I was lol’ing every other line and I knew I wanted to do it. All you can ever hope to do is do the piece justice and to the best of your ability. I think that’s why we have something so special – there was never any pressure from anywhere but we all threw ourselves in so hard and all wanted to do well, for each other. It’s incredible to be acting with people and working for a creative team who inspire you so much, who you want to impress and work hard for and keep finding new things with every day. That’s why it works.
I never think of myself as the lead. There are only five actors in the entire thing and we all have as much to do as each other, yes, the story is about Toxie, but we’re all essential to creating the world we’re all living in, its more of an ensemble piece.
I was majorly anxious though. Ha! It was big deal for me to take on such a large role, I usually do the sidekick/geeky part and in my audition I told the director, Benji, that I was nervous about playing Toxie. Playing the nerd in the start comes more natural to me and I was worried about playing the character after he had transformed. Toxie is a 7 foot, big, green freak and has some serious songs to sing. This probably isn’t normal for a musical theatre performer but I don’t really like singing, it terrifies me. But, like anything, when you’re in context and wearing a load of prosthetics, covered in green makeup and are in character, telling a story the inhibitions seem to go away. It’s been great for me to step out of my comfort zone. When you’re used to playing certain roles you start to pigeon hole yourself and can doubt your abilities. But then that’s just part of being an actor I guess.

Toxic Avenger Team

Toxic Avenger Team with composer David Bryan

You’ve performed in some pretty big shows.(The Book of Mormon, Legally Blonde etc) Do you feel any pressure to look a certain way?
Ummm…yes, kind of. I gym a bit and always watch what I eat. This is a tricky one because it’s different for everyone. I’ve done some shows with some very physically fit people and when you’re sharing a dressing room with a group of boys who are all very in-shape, there is a certain pressure to keep up. Now, I’m quite happy knowing that I’m the best I can be and want to be. For me, the jobs I’m up for don’t require me to have a 48 inch chest but I think when you do what we do, your body is your toolkit or your office computer. You need to look after yourself because what we’re asked to do sometimes as actors is nuts and even a little cold can take you out for weeks.

What’s your favourite musical note and why?
Ha! My favourite musical note? Any one that comes out of Cynthia Erivo’s mouth probably.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever put in your mouth?
An anchovy. Dis-gus-ting! Why people eat those things is beyond me. I’m heaving.

Yuck! Who or what was your biggest influence as a performer?
Good question. I’ve never been so in awe of someone than Gavin Creel. I loved him before I met him and when we worked together I was so pleased he was nice. Ha! When we did Mormon, he was such genius onstage but that wasn’t even half of it. He was the beating heart of the building we all worked in. He included everyone and was a leading man in every sense of the word in every aspect of the job. We became great friends, he is so generous and kind and makes you feel so special. He did an ‘In Conversation With’ type thing one Sunday at the Charing Cross theatre with Ed Seckerson and he asked me to sing one of his original songs with him doing backing vocals and playing piano. I was so scared. He coached me and gave me confidence and some amazing advice I still practise now. He’s kind of incredible.

What’s your favourite dinosaur?
Is this because you know I’m obsessed with dinosaurs? They’re all so awesome. My twitter says that I’m a Triceratops so I’ll go with that. Though I always wanted to be able to fly when I was little so maybe a Pterodactyl. No, a Triceratops, final answer.

How good out of 10 was GYPSY?
10. I loved it. I love everything. I even saw the Light Princess five times (mainly because I love Tori Amos, but still).

Christ alive. Do you have anything exciting planned for the second half of 2016?
Not yet. Back to the drawing board. Wanna give me job?

If you were to take me out in West London for the evening where would we go? (Not as a date. It was never described as a date)
West London is very specific, ha! We’d go to the Southbank, it’s my absolute favourite place in London, especially when it’s sunny. From the London Eye right down to Tower Bridge. Then, we’d obviously go to the theatre.

Thanks Mark!
Thank YOU!