Scott Alan answers…

I am always incredibly grateful to anyone who agrees to answer some questions for me and I appreciate every single one of them. This week however I am really excited to offer to you my interview with ‘Man of the Moment’ Scott Alan. For those who may be unfamiliar with him, he is a popular songwriter who has worked with some of the biggest names in musical theatre and who many others are hoping to work with sometime soon. I would like to add at this point, that this blog – ignitedbyadream – is named after one of his tracks. Read on to find out more about this fantastic composer:

1. You write some stunning music. Who, what and where do you get your inspiration from?

 From my own life.  I don’t write unless I have something to say.  I’m not really someone who writes because I have to.  I write because I need to release.

 

2. Was writing music something you always wanted to do? Did you ever consider performing instead?

 I started as a performer.  It wasn’t until I was 18 that I started writing.  

3. What was the first piece you composed?

 Kiss the Air when I was 18.  
 
Watch Oliver Tompsett perform this piece here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_K0R9-2ms2w

 

4. How do you go about composing? Does the tune just come to you? Do you get the words first? Please talk us through the songwriting process 🙂

I normally sit down at the piano because I am feeling lost and the piano is like a friend that I can speak to and only speaks back with the right words.  So, for me, I just start playing chords and singing words that I am feeling.  Writing is very emotionally driven for me.  I normally know that a song feels right when I feel extremely emotional from what I am writing and then feel like I have cleared my head of whatever was pushing me to write in the first place.  

 

5. Home. Your full musical. Really hoping this makes it to the West End but please could you tell us more about it?

The show is just a beautiful piece about returning home and what comes along with that.  I remember going back to my childhood home a few years ago and being surprised at how small it was.  I always remembered it so differently.  In a way, a home is filled with the ghosts of your past.  HOME represents those ghosts as well as the present.  It’s a reflective piece but is extremely honest.  There are no helicopters or French flags.  

 

6. You did a gig in London last week. You were very honest and had some amazing talent there. How did you feel when it all came together?  The reviews were fantastic.

I am a total perfectionist.  I don’t trust anyone and like to control everything so I think it was hard in some ways because I had to learn to trust because while planning the concert I was miles away from where the concert was being planned.  That being said, I am thrilled with the reception the concert had and I am honored to be able to be given the ability to travel back to my favorite city and perform with some of the most beautiful talent for the most incredible audience filled if dreamers. 

7. Do you have a favourite composition (of your own) and if so, why?

Anything Worth Holding On To (from ‘What I Wanna Be When I Grow Up’) is my favourite song of mine.  When I am feeling lost in my life I often sit down and play that song to myself.  It sums up a lot of the weight I often feel upon my shoulders.  
 

 

8. Is there a song, score or other piece of music that you wish YOU had written?

 There are songs and scores I am fans of but if I had written them they wouldn’t have been as beautifully written.  The Secret Garden is one of my favourites.  Every song by Joni Mitchell.  

 

9. You have collaborated with some fantastic singers.  Is there anyone you haven’t worked with yet that you would like to?

After seeing ‘Merrily We Roll Along’ in London I am now obsessed with Jenna Russell, so I am determined to work with her.  Tina Arena is one of my favourite vocalists so I also dream of working with her.  Of course, Celine.  I am gay and proud.  A lot of the singers I want to work with I haven’t even heard of yet.  I love new talent.  You find a determination and passion that you don’t always find in talent that has become a little more bitter and jaded by the profession.  

 

10. Like myself,  depression has been a problem for you. Have you managed to overcome this or are you still attempting to deal with it? Also how?

Depression isn’t a problem.  That is a major misunderstanding.  It is a way of life.  I have suffered from depression for many years.  I didn’t know it was something that could be treated so I just felt lost.  I didn’t speak of it.  I just used music as an outlet until I found myself losing control of my day to day activities.  Thankfully, I have been on medication for the past year and a half and have an incredibly supportive partner who helps me deal with some of my lower days.  And, there are many.  

 

11. Do you have any advice for people with depression?

Seek help.  Don’t be ashamed to be able to say ‘I suffer from depression and I need help.’  There is nothing wrong with you.  You are normal.  It’s when you feel ‘different’ that you start question your life. 

12. Have Travis (your partner) describe you in three words?

 Opinionated, determined, caring.  
 
 
 
 
13. How would you choose to spend your idea of a perfect day?
 
Taking a nap with Travis and our dogs. 

 

14. If you weren’t a songwriter,  what do you think you would be doing instead?

I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t a writer. 

15. What is next for Mr Alan?

I guess we will have to wait and find out.  Every day is a new adventure and it’s always worth it to stay around to find out what that might be.  

I know I am amongst many who very much hope that Scott will return to the UK again very soon – he is based in the US – especially after the success of his O2 gig. Hopes are high that ‘Home’ will make it onto the West End, at present we don’t know for sure but watch this space.

Here are a couple more tracks for anyone who has not yet experienced this mans work or just for the enjoyment of those who have. Absolutely beautiful, I cannot sing the praises of Alan’s work highly enough.

Always sung by Sierra Boggess: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkctwANlLQ8

Take Me Away performed by Jamie Muscato and Cordelia Farnworth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uo-LsMpYSY

Again performed by Hadley Fraser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2-cuyRaIfA

Keep in touch with what he is up to by following him on Twitter @ScottAlanNet. Many more videos can be found on YouTube so take some time and have a watch, I promise you won’t regret it. I would like to say thank you once again for answering my questions and for being so honest with his replies. I hope you have all enjoyed reading more about him – I have no doubt we will be hearing a lot more about him soon.

You can buy his albums from Amazon or download them from iTunes .

Keep dreaming,

Naomi xx

All videos are used with the kind permission of Scott Alan.

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Review: Witches of Eastwick

This review was originally written for The Public Reviews and can be found in it’s original form here: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/the-witches-of-eastwick-the-watermill-newbury/

I have to confess that when I go to the theatre I generally like to find out more about what I am about to see. On this occasion I accepted at short notice and although I had heard of this show, I knew nothing about it. Needless to say it was not what I expected. I actually really enjoyed it but I was just very surprised by the content. I think I was expecting something similar to the Wizard of Oz or Wicked…erm, no!

The production is set in a quiet little town in Eastwick, New England where three friends, Alexandra (Alex)  Spofford (Poppy Tierney), Jane Smart (Joanna Hickman) and Sukie Rougemont (Tiffany Graves) are discussing their lives over Martinis, particularly their sex lives and wish that they could meet a nice man. Alex has a son, Michael, (Ross William Wild) who despite his mother’s promiscuity is actually pretty clueless about women and in need of some advice. The three girls are excellent, particularly Spofford, and they sing with power and clarity.

Clyde Gabriel (Jeffrey Harmer) is the long suffering husband of Felicia (Rosemary Ashe – original Carlotta, Phantom of the Opera) who is self-appointed Lady of Eastwick and who frowns upon almost everything that people in the neighbourhood do. Their relationship is unhappy and Ashe plays Felicia as a force to be reckoned with, stern and disapproving. They have a daughter, Jennifer (Naomi Petersen), who is dating Michael, but as with everything else, this is upsetting for Felicia. Sukie and Clyde have been seeing each other for years and the town are aware of the affair but as with most news in the neighbourhod, a lot of it is gossip. Michael and Jennifer are sweet if a little naïve, and Michael certainly has a figure to make the ladies in the audience jaws drop!

One day, everything in Eastwick is disrupted with the arrival of Darryl Van Horne (Alex Bourne). A smooth, attractive character who clearly knows it, Van Horne’s arrival creates upset and a whole world of gossip. Bourne is simply fantastic as Van Horne.  He quickly manages to seduce women into falling for him, encourages men into bringing out their wild side and makes Felicia very cross when he starts making alterations to her beloved Lenox House, into which he has moved. His entrance is grand – Darryl Van Horne – and his egotistical nature is clear from the outset.

As the story progresses the audience learn that Alex, Jane and Sukie are in fact witches and it was their powers which had brought Darryl to Eastwick. Through him they learn how to cast spells and pretty soon chaos ensues as they turn their mundane lives into something far more raunchy but also with sinister consequences. There is a strong sexual theme running throughout this production so it is unsuitable for a younger audience, however it is very funny and it is through the dialogue and songs more than the acting that this is apparent. Watch out for some revealing outfits though. For me, Waiting for the Music to Begin’ although very racy is performed brilliantly by Hickman and Bourne and is a really strong musical number, but all three witches have some fantastic songs and play their roles extremely well.

Another highlight of Act One is the song Dirty Laundry. Hilariously choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood (probably best known as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing) this had the audience in fits of laughter. Performed by  Marge (Esther Biddle), Girl (CiCi Howells) and two very lovely ladies (Gary Mitchinson and Greg Last) along with Felicia, this one is a really catchy number. Overall there are many memorable songs and extra impressive is that the cast all double up as the orchestra. Each member plays at least one instrument, often more, showing that their talents extend further than those onstage. There were a few moments through the show however when the singing was drowned out a little by the orchestra and it was hard to hear the words.

Act Two is a little darker and the main events of the story are played out here but as with Act One, there are some wonderful pieces, one being Dance with the Devil and another The Glory of Me. Both performed by Bourne – he has a majority of the best lines – these are great fun. The racy theme continues but there are also scenes which contain slightly more disturbing content, however the nature of the show is such that it is still done in an amusing way. I have to say I think Van Horne is a fantastic character and very funny.

There is a lot of action for a small stage and the set has been cleverly designed to fit quite a lot of it into a relatively small space. Parts of the set are pulled out from various locations and the main stage is very quaint, with circular windows and picket fences enclosing the instruments. The auditorium is put to full use as well with the cast leaving and entering through it several times. The cast also set the stage themselves so there are clever links between scenes. Revel Horwood has clearly put a lot of thought into making this work to its maximum potential.

Because of the content this production may not appeal to everyone but the cast as a whole are strong, the songs, though not perhaps as well-known as those from other shows are good and it certainly compels you to keep watching. The audience were extremely receptive to it, there were a lot of laughs and cheers and the venue is simply beautiful and full of history, so as a theatrical experience alone it is well worth a trip. The Watermill is old and the auditorium is cosy with a balcony which looks like a minstrels gallery running around three sides. I would definitely recommend a trip there – the old water wheel is preserved behind glass and there is a lovely bar area and gardens.

I think I would go and see the show again, though it wouldn’t be top of my list but I am definitely glad I got to see it and the raunchiness of it didn’t bother me (though sitting next to folk much older than me while they carried on onstage felt a tad awkward!) but it’s definitely not one for the easily offended. It was done well, a brilliant use of space and quaint set and a strong cast and if you are able to go to the Watermill to see it then do – it’s on until Sept 14.

 

Keep dreaming,

Naomi xx

Steph Parry Answers….

Today’s interview is with the thoroughly lovely West Ender Steph Parry who agreed to tell us more about herself and her work. An experienced performer, Steph can currently be found at the Novello theatre dancing and singing in the world of ABBA. As well as Mamma Mia, she has a wealth of shows under her belt. I hope this interview will be an interesting insight into her world.

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1. When (at what age) did you know that you wanted to perform for a living?

I’ve always performed, it was just something I did. My mum has tapes of me singing from the age of 2! I don’t think I took it seriously as a career choice until I was 19 though. I always had instilled in me the importance of an education and I stayed at school to do my A Levels. It wasn’t until I’d left school and got myself a job as a full time doctors receptionist that I realised what I really wanted to do was perform. I had an epiphany one day when I was filing some notes and went home that afternoon and applied for drama school. The rest, I guess, is history.

2. As a Welsh person, how do you feel about the ‘ability to sing’ stereotype that is attached to all Welsh folk?! (It does seem to be true!)
Well, I’m the daughter of 2 singers, my Mum and Dad are a vocal harmony duo, so it’s no surprise that I can sing. Believe me, not every welsh person can sing….I’m sure my very best friend from school would be the first to say this as she’s tone deaf, bless her! I think, in Wales we’re encouraged to sing….it just seems to be something we do!
3. What would you be doing if you weren’t performing?
Hmm?! Tricky one, if my career suddenly ended tomorrow I’d probably go into Personal Training as you may have noticed that I have a passion for fitness. But I’m not sure I could ever not perform….even if I went into fitness, you’d probably find me fronting an exercise DVD or “performing” somewhere!
4. What advice would you offer to anyone wanting to get where you are?
DON’T GIVE UP!! Good things come to those who wait….and those that work bloomin’ hard. It’s taken me years to get where I am today and there’s been times where I’ve thought, “is this heartache really worth it?” I’ve doubted myself and my ability but thankfully something told me to keep pushing on and eventually I got there. I always got told, if there’s something else that you can do and want to do….do that! Because this business is hard! You have to develop a tough skin and be willing to fight for what you want.
5. Do you remember your first West End performance? What was that like?

Ha ha! Nope! It’s like a blur! I just remember being slightly scared. That’s always the way with me, especially when I first go on for my covers, I get through it and it all happens but I don’t remember a thing!
6. You have recently joined Mamma Mia after a stint in Billy Elliot. Two very different shows, do you have a preference and why?
Ha ha! I can’t answer that!! As you say, they’re both so different and I love them both for very different reasons. Billy is a show with such amazing heart and the talent of the kids just blows your mind. Mamma Mia is such amazing fun, you can’t help but get carried away with the singing and dancing at the end. I feel like I’m at a pop concert EVERY NIGHT!!
7. You understudy some FANTASTIC roles. Which is your favourite to play?
I don’t think I could’ve answered this until the other night when I went on for Donna. As much as Tanya and Rosie are brilliant parts….Donna is “me”. Yes, she’s a good few years older than me but I relate to her so much. And belting the end of Winner (The Winner Takes It All) is a pretty special moment!

8. Which scene has been your favourite to perform (including from all of your previous shows – Sound of Music, Oklahoma, MM etc)
I did a Ray Cooney farce a few years ago called “Not Now Darling” with a fantastic comedian called Damian Williams….His character was having an affair and I played his wife who came home unexpectedly. I think the scenes with him were the most fun I’ve ever had on stage….mainly because I’d spend the whole time trying not to laugh.
9. If you could perform in any other show which would you choose? Why?
Oh god! That’s a hard one, though I think it would have to be either Les Mis or Wicked. Those are two roles I would LOVE to play…..Elphaba and Fantine.
10. Do you ever get nervous and if so, how do you combat the nerves?
I get more nervous for auditions than I do for shows. I’m surprised people have actually given me a job as I’m so rubbish at auditions. I’m someone who thrives on pressure when it comes to performing and I’m ridiculously calm backstage….to the point where people worry that I’m ok because I don’t flap! I get a few little butterflies in my stomach but that’s it….my main aim when I walk out onstage is to enjoy myself because if you don’t absolutely love what you’re doing, what’s the point in doing it? I just wish I could be so cool in auditions!
11. Describe yourself in three words
Ambitious, friendly and tall.
12. What ONE thing couldn’t you live without?
Tea!!! Love a good brew. Milk no sugar if anyone’s buying?!
13. What has been the highlight of your career to date?
I think a really special moment was the night I played Mrs Wilkinson on Ryan Collinson’s last Billy show. The atmosphere was electric and just before the show he said to me “Lets just go out there and enjoy it” and that’s exactly what we did.
14. You have worked on cruise ships – what was that like? What were you expected to do? Please tell us more 🙂
I loved ship life, mainly because it was one big party! I got to travel the world, sing and get paid for it! I would advise anyone to do a ship, it was such a great learning curve for me. We’d have to learn a total of 9 45 minute shows which would be rotated throughout a 14 day cruise. I also had my own cabaret which was amazing.
15. Your career has been quite varied, with several musicals, pantomimes and cabarets (including The Sound of Music in Cyprus). Is musical theatre where your heart lies? Do you fancy branching into TV etc?
I’d love to do TV and film. I’ve done a fair few commercials in my time but not quite broken through into the TV world. I love Musical Theatre though and there’s a wide range of parts that I would love to play so I’m not done with it yet. I guess I’d like to keep my career varied, I’m an actor at heart, whether that’s in a play or a musical or TV….as long as I’m acting, I’m happy.
16. How and where would you choose to spend your ideal day?
By the beach, I miss the beach so much having grown up by the sea. It would probably involve a big bunch of friends and family, a BBQ, lots of food and laughter.

17. When you are not on stage, how do you like to spend your spare time?
In the gym! I’m a bit of a gym bunny. It’s something I’ve gotten into in the last few months and I’m always trying to cook up healthy nutritious recipes. I spend a lot of time socialising, I love my friends and love to catch up with them whenever I can.
18. Are there any interesting but little known facts that you can tell us about yourself?
Not that I can think of?! I was once stood up on a date because the guy was in a coma! Ha ha! That do?

I really hope that I can get along for a performance where Steph is playing Donna, I know she’d be brilliant (Dianne is super too of course!) but why not follow her on Twitter @thatStephParry where she will inform us all of any of her ‘stand in’ dates. Otherwise she can be seen living it up with the rest of the cast so do pop along and see her in action.

Apologies for any strange formatting issues – in translation from writing this up and publishing it, my formatting seems to be getting lost. Once again, a huge thank you to Steph for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer these.

 

Keep Dreaming,

Naomi xx

[title of show] exclusive

This interview was originally conducted for Livetheatre.co, link to follow.

 I was lucky enough this week to speak to Simon Bailey about his forthcoming production [title of show]. This production has previously run on Broadway but this will be it’s London Premiere. I was curious to find out more, so read on to find out about why you should get a ticket…

1.       So, [title of show]. Confusing title, but tell us about the production?

It’s a musical about two guys writing a musical, about two guys writing a musical. It’s all as it suggests, but the beating heart of the story is about friendship.

2. Are you able to tell us more about your character?

Jeff is a composer and lyricist, is best friends with Hunter and loves the arts, musical theatre etc. He dreams big and is happy for them to remain dreams until he’s pushed by Hunter to pursue them…

3. Have you had to do a lot of research to get into the role or is it a part you can relate to? Are there any similarities between yourself and Jeff?

We are both very passionate about the work we do, we both take pride in the work we do.

4. How are rehearsals going? Did you know the show before you auditioned?

I didn’t know the show at all, but once I read it, I loved its ingenuity, its quirkiness and its heart. Rehearsals are going great.

5. How does it feel to be part of an Original Cast?

It’s always great to be part of an original cast because there is no template. It allows creativity, creating a brand new journey to take people on.

6. Do you have a favourite scene or number from the show – not necessarily one you are in?

Sounds cliche, but I love all the music. The show is ninety minutes long and we are on stage for about 88 of those, so it feels like one journey rather than a scene by scene show…

7. What can people expect from the music?

Quirky, toe tapping, great harmonies – everything you can wish from a show!

8.  Why should people come to see it?

People should come and see it because it is a great piece, a brand new piece and that is something that theatre lovers should support. It’s also very funny, with a huge heart and a great cast.

9. You have a long history with Phantom. Are you glad to be finally saying goodbye to Raoul, Vicomte De Chagny?

I’m not sure I’d say glad. Raoul has been a huge part of my life and having played him both in London and on the tour, it felt like the right time to part ways. However, with everything that role has done for me, I shall be eternally grateful.

10. Since you finished touring you have been managing to catch a few of the shows currently running on the West End. Are there any which stand out for you?

I’ve seen a lot of great things recently, Book of Mormon, Once, The Color Purple and Titanic.

Many thanks again to Simon for giving us this exclusive insight amongst crazy preparations and promotions for Wednesday’s first preview.

This show, written by Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen is directed by Robert McWhir with musical direction by Michael Webborn. I have no doubt that [title of show] will be another production among many recently that people continue to talk about for quite sometime afterwards. It is on at the Landor Theatre, London from 7th Aug to 14 Sept. Book tickets while you can here: http://s188229697.websitehome.co.uk/LT/index.php/booking-office/

Follow the production on Twitter @titleofshowLDN

For further information check out the official website: titleofshowmusical.com

Follow Simon on Twitter @SimonBailey1210

Read more about the Landor theatre at www.landortheatre.co.uk

Keep dreaming,

Naomi xx