An Interview with Tom Arnold

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Argosy Arts are bringing a splash of gothica to this year’s Fringe. The Mumble were lucky enough to catch one of their members for a wee blether…


Hello Tom, so where you at, & where ya from, geographically speaking?
Tom: I’m from and in sunny Bournemouth at the moment. Last year I finished university in Exeter, which is where I first met everyone in this company. Since graduating we’ve all been scattered around the country, which is a logistical nightmare, but a lot of fun when we’re all together for rehearsals and performances.

Can you tell us about your musical training?
Tom: I’m actually a science graduate! I studied Natural Sciences for three years, but alongside that I took part in at least eight musical theatre productions, for the majority of which I was the Musical Director. In the end I spent a lot more time on those than I did on the degree, so that has been my training. You pick up a lot very quickly when you get to dissect some of the great scores that closely.

What are the keystones to a good musical, & then an amazing musical?
Tom: A good musical needs a compelling story. An amazing musical has a compelling story and songs that really compliment it. The songs don’t necessarily need to be great standalone songs, but they need to tie in seamlessly with the tone and mood of the story.

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Can you tell us about Argosy Arts?
Tom: The main aim of Argosy Arts is to tell stories within the Musical Theatre format that don’t necessarily seem like an obvious fit at first, but actually broaden the horizons of what a Musical can be. All a good story for a Musical needs is heightened emotional moments where a character can express their internal monologue. There are loads of fantastic stories that fit this mould within unusual genres – such as horror – and turning them into Musicals feels like a fresh way of telling them.

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You are bringing The House of Edgar to Edinburgh, can you tell us about it?
Tom: The House of Edgar is a fiction very loosely based on real events that occurred after the death of gothic icon Edgar Allan Poe. We follow Poe’s rival – a bitter poet named Rufus Griswold – as he claims Poe’s estate for his own with clearly malicious motives. The house however is having none of it, and things start to very quickly unravel from there. We first performed Edgar in Edinburgh two years ago. Audiences seemed to really dig it, so it’s great to be coming back with this new revamped version.

You have twenty seconds to sell the show to someone you are flyering in the streets of Edinburgh – what would you say?
Tom: A gothic musical based on the life and works of Edgar Allan Poe. It’s got horror. It’s got romance. It’s got heart in both the grizzly and endearing sense! And it’s all set to a score of folk songs…

What will you & Argosy Arts be doing after the Fringe?
Tom: A lot of that depends on the response to Fringe, but we definitely want to keep pushing this show and giving more opportunities to see it. How we do that is still to be finalised!


House of Edgar

Greenside @ Nicholson Square
Aug 3-11, 13-18, 20-25  (times vary)

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www.argosyarts.co.uk

 

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The Band

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Edinburgh Playhouse
10th-14th July 2018

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I was looking forward to this production but was not expecting such a fine example of musical theatre, Quite possibly the best stage production for the genre I have ever witnessed. Not so much about the Band, but a story about fans of Take That.

We took our seats, which were brilliantly positioned, 26S and 27S, central stalls. Literally the best seats in the house. A massive telly was projected onto a massive sheet, upon which was a Ceefax page. Dated 09/09.1993. This is when the story opens with a 16-year-old girl explaining her love of “Take That” and how she and five of her girlfriends all had their first concert experience together. Each of the girls gave a spectacular vocal performance. there was more than one moment that my eyes filled up, a true indication of how brilliant this was. Each member of the audience was then spirited back to 1993 to remember what they were doing at that time.

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The Playhouse was heaving with middle-aged ladies, & it was obvious that they had grown up with the songs performed by The Band.  Replicating the vocal performance of each of the boys in Take That, each member of this very slick tribute act had won his role by entering a TV talent show, called Let It Shine. The vocal performances were brilliant. On top of these the stage presentation and overall production were quite simply mind-blowing. It was easy to see and understand why this piece of musical theatre has become the smash that it is.

But there is more. The story of the five girls moves on to them having all grown up and moved on through life, 26 years later. One of the girls wins a radio competition to see Take That in Prague. Dutifully inspired, she contacts the girls (now mature women) to invite them on a ladies’ adventure, It was a superb script. This within itself would have made a moving and entertaining performance, and I am quite sure that this is going to become a movie in the not too distant future. Every audience member recognized a bit of themselves in the characters. It was massive, it was bold, and with our replica Take That performing songs that everyone was singing along to, the capacity audience relished every moment! Feel Good Theater At its Very Best.

Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

five-stars

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An Interview with Jonathan Bauerfeld

This Fringe the talented MA Musical Theatre students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland are bringing us, among other things, Legacy: The Book of Names. The Mumble managed a wee blether with the writer…


Hello Jonathan, so where you at, & where ya from, geographically speaking?
Jonathan: Hi Mumble! I live and work in Manhattan and I grew up not far from NYC in Connecticut.

Can you tell us about your musical training?
Jonathan: I started classical piano training when I was four years old and played for the first time at a friend of my mom’s house when I was two. Since then, I’ve studied violin and trumpet. I stopped playing violin in early high school but I continued to play trumpet in pits/various orchestras throughout university. In high school, I shifted my focus to jazz music, attending the Skidmore Jazz Institute twice for trumpet, and studying jazz piano/theory with the director of the music programme at my school. I started composing at an early age and studied with a few teachers privately in my hometown. At Northwestern University, I got a BM in Music Composition and studied orchestration and arranging. I was a head writer for the Waa-Mu show in 2015 and 2016 and also orchestrated for the shows. The culmination of my formal music education was my senior recital, which was a musical called DEVOTED written with my writing partner Casey Kendall. My musical theatre training has continued, observing my killer bosses at the top of their games at the shows that I’ve had the privilege to be a part of in NY in the past few years.

What is it about Musical Theatre that makes you tick?
Jonathan: When all the moving parts (orchestrations, lyrics, music, staging etc.) come together to create an honest and beautiful look inside of an emotion, it’s a magical moment. Musical theatre is one of the most collaborative art forms that exists, and that collaboration is why I love it so much. Every person on the team is on a journey together, and when all of those parts mesh perfectly, it’s one of the best forms of art.

Can you tell us about the BMI musical theatre workshop & your role with them?
Jonathan: The BMI musical theatre workshop has been one of my favourite parts of living in New York. It’s a free programme that meets on Mondays and some of my favourite writing teams have gone through the workshop at one time or another (Ahrens and Flaherty, Pasek and Paul, Alan Menken etc). I am a composer at the workshop. During the first year, composers get paired with lyricists by the instructors and we are given assignments (i.e. write a ‘charm song’ for a moment in Tim Allen’s The Santa Clause). Every Monday, a few teams would present the songs they’d come up with and we and the instructors would share comments. I had some wonderful collaborations throughout the year.

What does Jonathan Bauerfeld like to do when he’s not immersed in the arts?
Jonathan: Well, when I do get free time, I tend to spend most of it hanging out with my friends in the city, coming out to visit my family and dog, or locking myself in my room and playing Zelda. I also try to see as many shows as I can around town, but I guess that still counts as arts immersion. I like the arts.

What are the keystones to a good musical, & then an amazing musical?
Jonathan: I think structure is one of the most important things to making a good musical. Everything hangs around how the plot and characters are introduced and presented, and stage time is precious real estate that has to be used perfectly if we want to get an audience to care about our characters. The key to an amazing musical is detail. Every musical line, every rhyme, every piece of staging all has to be working together perfectly. All of the great musicals that have stood the test of time have meticulous attention to detail.

What are your connections to Fringes past?
Jonathan: I’ve been connected to festivals/fringes in the US as an orchestrator and arranger but this is my first time coming to the Edinburgh Fringe. I’m very excited to be a part of it.

You are bringing LEGACY: THE BOOK OF NAMES to the Fringe this August, can you tell us a little about it?
Jonathan: THE BOOK OF NAMES is about one day on Ellis Island which served as New York City’s immigration station for 60 years and saw over 12 million immigrants during the largest human migration in history. Ellis Island was the last obstacle between all of these people and their dream of America. Our show explores what it would have been like to be an immigrant coming through the station; how scary and disconcerting it could be, how heartbreaking being told you couldn’t come through was, and how new connections can be made across divides. It is very much an ensemble show and we have a wonderful cast of 15. We will be using all of their voices to create a big, sweeping musical world for the show. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done so far and can’t wait to share it with audiences this August!

How do you find working with Ryan Cunningham?
Jonathan: Ryan Cunningham is a genius! Working with him has been amazing. He’s an incredibly quick and smart director, and his background as such a great writer makes him a perfect fit for directing this new musical. His ideas for the stagecraft of the show are very exciting.

How much contact have you made with your Scottish counterpart, Finn Anderson, on the project?
Jonathan: We talk with Finn every few weeks to check in and we spent two developmental weeks (one in Glasgow and one in Chicago) with him where we each were able to share our work and discuss how the two projects talk to each other. Just the other day we texted each other to say that we both had songs from the other’s show stuck in our heads! I think the two shows work together in a great way – at their hearts they deal with similar themes (tradition, family, migration) but they come at it from completely different angles.

What aspect of the show are you most enjoying? Do you have a big moment that you always look forward to?
Jonathan: The aspect I’m most enjoying is just being in the room with the team of people AMTP and RCS have assembled. The big moment I always love is the first time we run the show with all of the staging, lights, costumes and band. It’s always so exciting to see it coming together, and to see all of the thoughts and contributions that our amazing team will bring to the piece we’ve written.

You have twenty seconds to sell the show to someone you are flyering in the streets of Edinburgh – what would you say?
Jonathan: If you like big ensemble vocals, funny, honest and beautiful stories, and exciting dance sequences, come see LEGACY: THE BOOK OF NAMES. It’ll make you feel things!


LEGACY: THE BOOK OF NAMES

Assembly Hall, Mound Place
Aug 3-26 (15:00)

www.rcsedfest.co.uk

Pure Freezin’

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Lunchtime Summer Panto
Oran Mor, Glasgow
2nd-21st July

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Mr and Mrs Punch may be dusting off the sausages, preparing to entertain in coastal sunshine all around the country but in Glasgow’s west end ‘tis the season to be jolly. It’s July and the Lunchtime Summer Panto is back at Oran Mor. This year things are heating up and cooling down as the scheming Mayor of Cumbernauld reveals his nefarious plans to go for the big one, the pinnacle of political ambition – Lord Provost of Glasgow. Trouble is the city’s just elected one, mysterious, beautiful Elsie, who appears to be cauldrife, as we say in these parts, for why else would she need to wear gloves when the sun is totally scorching?

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Her doting mother, Widow Swanky, has little time for her other daughter Annie, who has never been forgiven for producing an embarrassing, bobbing evacuation in the local swimming pool when young. Starved of love, will Annie fall prey to the easy charms of the sleazy Mayor and unwittingly help him in his dastardly scam to dodge democracy? Perhaps gabby snowman, Wee Gnaff, can be persuaded to help things slide towards a happy ending? Let’s hope so.

George Drennan plays a grand dame, blonde, rude and full of… herself mainly. Teasing the audience with winks and innuendos, gloriously cruel and dismissive of Annie (whose psychoanalyst’s fees must be enormous), if Swanky is a widow, then surely it’s because her husband topped himself. Hannah Howie’s Elsie provides a softer, sweeter ingredient to the panto, giving plenty of unrestrained, diva warbles to the big song that isn’t, ‘Let It Go’ from the movie. Walt disnae want them to use that one.

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Rebekah Lumsden’s Annie lives in the shadow of her enchanting sister. In her wee football strip she’s as determined and plucky as Cara Delevigne’s eyebrows. With unflagging energy and affection for her big sibling she will even travel to the murky depths of Glasgow’s south side, to save the day. Tom Urie’s Mayor is an unabashed conman in a red tartan suit and huge bowtie reminiscent of a 1950s holiday camp comedian. A sly, sleekit bad-yin, he’s prepared to sacrifice a vulnerable young Annie’s feelings for a position of power… and a bit of a laugh. Hiss boo.

Written and directed by Andy McGregor this summer panto, with its slick interchanges between cast and audience, original songs, dash or two of hilarious Glesga coarseness and traditional sing-along finale, is a hot ticket for the next three weeks.

David G Moffat

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Cranhill Carmen

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A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Mini Musical
Oran Mor, Glasgow
25th-30th June

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In Edwardian times, when out and about, a lady wore her hat. Not so to do, was frowned upon and any woman who wantonly displayed her locks in public might be given the pejorative term ‘hairy’. In Glasgow she would have been known as a ‘herrie’. Over the years, ‘wee herrie’ evolved into a set phrase that was used to describe a female of doubtful virtue.

IMG_8013i Charlene Boyd, Ryan  Fletcher.jpgWhen we meet Carmen walking the mean streets of Saturday-night Glasgow, back in the 1950s, she tunefully informs us she is “Herrie Mary from the Gallowgate”. She is also seeking the convenience of a secluded lane in which to urinate. (Drink has been taken.) Happily she finds one, squats in a corner and goes about her business. Her actions are seen (and heard) by a young policeman Donald, recruited from the Highlands to keep the city streets safe. With his heart full of love for his mother and his church, he feels he has no option but to take down her details for committing such an offence. Although extremely straight laced, he finds something in this foul mouthed beauty intriguing, could he be the one to save her? He has a rival for her soul in Glesga Millio, who believes he is the man Carmen is looking for and has the distinct advantage of being in possession of a half bottle, when Carmen has a right drouth on her. What’s a girl to do?

Charlene Boyd’s Carmen fizzes and bubbles with street smarts. The dress, lips and flower in her hair are all scarlet, indicating passion and danger, both of which she revels in. Innocence and illusions have long since been stripped; she is a woman who knows exactly what men see in her. She sings, struts and spouts bad language beautifully.

Ryan Fletcher’s Millio fancies Carmen something rotten and sets about to win her with wide-boy patter. He’s full of swaggering self belief, dodgy compliments and smutty innuendoes. Ewan Petrie’s Donald is a wistful young man from a sheltered background who is appalled and fascinated by Carmen in equal measure. His light voice brings a plaintive innocence to his sentimental songs that contrast with the brash, gritty reality of the other two characters.

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Benny Young’s musical play is a treat. Though based on the Bizet opera there is a fresh take on the story, further enhanced by staging it in Glasgow. The opportunity to use the local parlance has not been abused; each colourful, stinging retort is believable, true and necessary. The songs are well crafted and when comic, really funny. Seldom has foul, abusive vulgarity been put to such excellent use. This Carmen is a rebellious burd, well worth catching.

David G Moffat

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Edge Of The World – A Digital Detox Musical

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A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Mini Musical
Oran Mor, Glasgow
18th-23rd June

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Are you in love with your tech, Android-appy or iProne? Are you Microsoft in the head for your device; is it the Apple of your eye? If so, you might require a digital detox, somewhere a mobile signal just can’t penetrate – like up a close in Glasgow’s Hyndland, or on a remote, windswept Scottish isle that’s the last land-stop before Canada.

IMG_7952ii Isabelle Ross, Katie  Barnett, Simon Donaldson.jpgThis is where American, motormouth banker Lindsay (Simon Donaldson) finds himself, with fellow retreaters, writer Annabelle (Isabelle Joss) and web fantasist Charlene (Katie Barnett). All three have diverse problems. Lindsay is a wheeler dealer, barking orders down the phone to financial institutions all round the world, using cocaine to fuel his 24/7 life style. Annabelle can’t get through a meal without constantly checking her phone, endangering her digestion and marriage. Charlene is a Govan lassie who suffers from a sort of Stockholm syndrome – she presents herself on the internet as a glamorous, exciting, Swedish girl. How will they cope for an entire week, having surrendered their cellular gadgets to Hamish (Richard Ferguson), the organiser of the group’s rehabilitation? Will fresh air and porridge work their wonders?

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Richard Ferguson’s mini musical has a tangled web of a story. We are introduced to elements such as the island’s Norse history and dress code, its Julian calendar and the practise of chanting Om, none of which advance the narrative. If it’s a serious look at the problems of virtual realities then there’s nothing new being said here. If it’s a comic take on addiction to technology, there’s precious little in the way of wit or humour. The songs are far from memorable with a couple having a distinctly Sondheim feel to them.
The composer provides piano accompaniment throughout.

Barnett, Joss and Donaldson all sing well, both individually and when harmonising. It is their combined energetic efforts, which bring to the production what little life it has.
Not likely to go viral.

David G Moffat

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Melania

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A Play, a Pie and a Pint
Mini Musical
Oran Mor, Glasgow
11th-16th June

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Melania Trump is not a happy FLOTUS. The First Lady of the United States does not sleep well, as she can hear the obsessive tweeting of her husband’s stumpy ‘Kong-King’ fingers pumping away all night, just down the hall. Between that and the 45th president’s other women, she’s had enough of the White House. But there is no silver bullet to her problems, certainly not in the pistol she briefly considers using on herself. Luckily the spirit of former, redoubtable First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt has been keeping an eye on her and with the savvy guidance of glam ghost, Jackie Kennedy, Melania’s future might end up looking brighter than her husband’s perma-orange face.

IMG_7859i FRANCES THORBURN, KIRSTY  MALONE.jpgKirsty Malone’s Melania Trump is highly strung, full of nervous regrets, her heavily accented voice working beautifully with the comic songs she performs. Her dearest wish is to get back to the ordinary, simple life of shopping all day with her girlfriends. Margaret Preece’s Eleanor Roosevelt likes girlfriends too. She is self contained, erudite, hooked on current affairs, a sort of can-do librarian. Her lack of fashion flair is mirrored in the restrained, often clipped delivery of her songs. 12 years in the White House has left her with few allusions about the perfidious nature of men. Frances Thoburn’s Jackie Kennedy has pillbox hat glamour. A style icon, she is what she wears. A woman around when the 60’s began to swing, her voice resonates with upbeat vitality.

IMG_7891i MARGARET PREECE,  KIRSTY  MALONE, FRANCES THORBURN.jpgHilary Brooks and Clive King have written a highly entertaining musical play with songs full of humour and irony that not only entertain with current observations but cleverly reflect the eras of the two former First Ladies. Jackie takes us back to a pre-Beatles, sweet American, big-pop sound, for a song about her love for JFK during the 1960’s Missile crisis (Cuban heels and Russian spies, I lost myself in his blue eyes), while Eleanor sings of the Great Depression (The grapes of wrath made lousy wine) with stark, slow rolling, piano accompaniment. With plenty of jokes, surreal developments and the happiest of endings, this is a treat well worth seeing. Gr8, as tweeting thumbs might have it.

David G Moffat

five-stars