INTERVIEW: RICHARD CADELL (X-TREME MAGIC)

Interview

Richard Cadell is a British illusionist, puppeteer, actor and screenwriter, starring in the UK tour of X-treme Magic.

– Richard – as the star of X-treme Magic, what can audiences expect?

Forget card tricks and hankies – this is thrilling magic, the scale of which has never been seen in the UK before. We have uniquely combined circus skills and genuine danger with some of the most mind-boggling illusions ever imagined.

– Do you get nervous performing your death-defying stunts? What if something goes wrong?

That’s why I do it! That’s the thrill of it. I had one near miss a couple of years ago and if it wasn’t for the quick thinking of one of my assistants, I wouldn’t be here to tell the story. Let’s just say it involved a chainsaw. It gave me an immediate fear of that stunt but I had to overcome that and put it back in the show. I’ll be performing it on this X-treme Magic tour. It’s the only element of the show which nobody will insure me for.

– The show and the props were created in Las Vegas – tell us a little bit about that process, and how the show has been in rehearsals for two years.

I’ve been performing magic all my life, and also teaching it. Over twenty years ago, one of my students, Tim, moved to Las Vegas where he started creating illusions for the world’s greatest illusionist, David Copperfield. I was thrilled when Tim then agreed to build for me. I generally fly to Vegas once a year. We will come up with new ideas, and the props are then built over many months and shipped over. We then go into heavy rehearsals, and adjustments are made, in order to make everything perfect. And then it hits the stage!

– What is your favourite stunt to perform / part of the show?

Without doubt, the mid-air vanishing motorbike. I ride my bike into a cage which is hoisted into the air. You can see all the way around it, from every side. The audience are just feet away from it when I and the bike disappear. No covers – it all just melts away – it’s impossible. I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s the one everyone talks about. It’s – dare I say – extreme!

Playing at the New Wimbledon Theatre 25 October 2022.

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ALEXANDRA PALACE FIREWORKS FESTIVAL | London

Recommended

Alexandra Palace’s Fireworks Festival is one of the biggest and best in the country; described as “the Glastonbury of fireworks” (ITV). On Saturday 5 November 2022, the venue will be taking on a full festival across its 196-acre park and historic palace, with outdoor live music, DJs and street food.

The legendary display will light up Ally Pally’s epic skyline, soundtracked by a specially curated playlist. There will be a huge family area, including a bonfire and fire shows. Visitors can also step inside the Palace, with the ice rink featuring an ice disco, while the Great Hall will be transformed, as is now tradition, into the UK’s largest German Bier Festival, featuring pulsating live music, including Europe’s leading Elvis tribute act, ‘One Night of Elvis’. The Palace’s award-winning theatre will host film screenings, while Gok Wan MBE headlines the DJ bill with a set of soulful and uplifting club classics.

“We’re going big,” says Simon Fell, Alexandra Palace’s Fireworks Festival director, “with a sensational display and massive bonfire. It’s a proper festival vibe with live music and street food, perfect for families. It’s going to be spectacular!”

The firework display will start at 8pm, but visitors can join the fun anytime from 4pm. Early birds can enjoy an up-close fire show by Tottenham-based Chivaree Circus, with the bonfire lit at 6:30pm. The party continues with food, drink and live music until 10:45pm.

Book online for Saturday 5 November 2022. Tickets £16.50.

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PICKLE | London, Park Theatre

Recommended

Two-word summary: it’s Jewish Fleabag. Yes, that world-dominating, award-winning sitcom started as one-hour, one-woman show, too. After captivating audiences during its sold-out performances in May, Pickle returns to the Park Theatre for a two-week run, in this cheeky and authentic exploration of what it means to be a young Jewish woman in London today.

Pickle is written and performed by Deli Segal, produced by Tanya Truman (Confessions of a Rabbi’s Daughter; Tier Three Sisters) and directed by Kayla Feldman (Swimming; Dear Peter), all female Jewish theatre-makers who strive to amplify Jewish voices on stage.

Pickle is all about one woman’s experience of reconciling belief and tradition with change,” says Deli Segal, writer and performer. “I wanted to tell a story that explores being in the middle of both worlds: the parts that fit together, and the parts that don’t. The vibrancy, the spirit, the richness of culture, the humour of Jewish life – those things often get lost.”

Ari lives at home in North-West London, where her life is dominated by overbearing parents, tradition and expectations. However, her daily life includes her job, going out – and, inevitably, the dating scene. Pickle follows Ari as she tries to balance Friday night dinner with drinks at the pub, JSwipe with Hinge, being Jewish and secular. This uproarious simcha of a one-woman show explores a young Jewish woman’s psyche as she navigates her two contrasting worlds with irreverent humour and heart. Expect smoked salmon, guilt and a large dose of self-deprecation as Pickle brings Ari’s vibrant world to life.

Playing at the Park Theatre 14 – 26 November, 2022.

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LANG LANG: THE DISNEY BOOK | London, Royal Albert Hall

Recommended

Global superstar pianist Lang Lang returns to London’s Royal Albert Hall, for an unforgettable evening of music celebrating the upcoming centenary of The Walt Disney Company, which was founded in 1923. Lang Lang’s 55-minute album featuring new solo and orchestral arrangements of classic Disney tunes was released in September earlier this year, to the delight of his fans worldwide.

At this celebratory event, Lang Lang is joined by the entire Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, to perform favourite melodies that span the Disney centenary – from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and The Jungle Book (1967), to Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Encanto (2021). Lang Lang also draws on material from Disney’s iconic theme park attractions, like a solo theme and variations on “It’s a Small World”.

This enchanting musical journey offers the perfect half-term treat for young and old alike, with the magic of Disney brought to life by one of the world’s greatest pianists – alongside the sumptuous sound of a full symphony orchestra. It’s all part of Lang Lang’s aim to encourage the exploration of classical music.

With more guest artists still to be announced (on the album, Lang Lang partners with guest star singers like Andrea Bocelli and instrumentalists like Guo Gan), this promises to be one of the highlights of the Royal Albert Hall’s autumn calendar.

Tickets for Mon 24 Oct 2022 are available on the Royal Albert Hall’s website, priced £55.75 – £109.50.

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INTERVIEW: SAUL BOYER (UNLEASH THE LLAMA)

Interview

Saul Boyer from comedy duo Unleash the Llama (Saul Boyer + Sam Rayner) answered our questions about their new, hit, one-man show, Man of 100 Faces.

– Tell us about Unleash the Llama.

SAUL: Our first play at the Edinburgh Fringe in the halcyon days of 2014, Nougat for Kings, was a swashbuckling period drama, but performed as if it were a pulp action movie from the 1970s: we needed a name for our production company that captured the sheer lunacy of the play. One of our delightful designers told us about his schooldays in Peru, and how the teachers would “unleash the llamas” to get the lazy kids to run. “And you know their spit? It burns!” It sent us into paroxysms.

– Who was Sir Paul Dukes?

SAUL: Sir Paul Dukes was the first spy in British history to receive a knighthood. He ran away from home at 16 years old, to pursue his dreams of becoming a famous musician in Russia, and soon found himself swept up in the ferment of revolution. He got involved in the storming of the Winter Palace in the first revolution of March 1917, when the Tsar was deposed in favour of the democratic government. He was then recruited by MI6 to replace their last spymaster in Russia, who was assassinated. Our play, Man of 100 Faces, charts just a fragment of his extraordinary life.

– How did the show evolve over your successful month long residency at the Edinburgh fringe?

SAUL: Edinburgh is our testing ground; this being my seventh Edinburgh Fringe. But, this is the first time I’ve ever done a one-man show. Playing a host of different characters crisply is a technical challenge, and the energy expended over an hour is quite immense; my shirt is drenched after every performance. Over the fringe, the characterisations became deeper, and the transitions became slicker. After the festival, Sam and I worked closely to rework the script and give the story the three-dimensional depth it needed to breathe, without losing the comedy.

– What’s next for Unleash the Llama?

SAUL: We are hoping to tour Man of 100 Faces nationally, and considering writing a sequel. We are also looking forward to revealing a new project to be premiered at the Vaults Festival early next year. It is the true story of a Sierra Leonean satirist who came to the UK in 1908 to make his fortune as “the greatest British writer the world had ever seen”. And we will definitely be back at the Edinburgh Fringe in the near future!

Man of 100 Faces plays at the King’s Head Theatre in London, 27 September – 1 October 2022.

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INTERVIEW: MICHAEL DUKE (Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical)

Interview

London-based actor and singer Michael Duke answers our questions about playing Bob Marley in the Olivier Award-winning musical Get Up, Stand Up! at the Lyric Theatre in London’s West End.

– You are playing Bob Marley… how does it feel to be stepping out on stage and playing this role, live on stage, to a London audience?

It feels great. I think that there’s something quite specific about it being a London audience. I mean, in this country, anyway, there’s a massive Caribbean culture, and it feels – I feel a great honour to be able to represent it. A lot of people who come to see the show, as well, yes, they know Bob Marley’s music, but not necessarily the culture and history and everything surrounding it, so again, for me it’s an honour to tell these stories and educate people, as well. It’s great.

– How do audiences for Get Up, Stand Up! compare to other audiences you’ve performed to?

Completely different. In our theatre the sound is incredibly loud, which you’re not going to get in many theatre productions. There’s a lot of bass, and the audience seem to engage with the piece a lot more vocally, which I think can be great, to an extent, because it’s very Caribbean, and I love that.

– Bob Marley died in 1981, over forty years ago now. Why this story, and why now?

I think this story could have been told ten years ago, and it could be told in ten years time, because I don’t think that the story or the culture has been celebrated nearly enough as it should be. For an audience nowadays, what we read in the news and what we see at the moment reflects a lot of the things that happened back then. As long as these themes and these issues still exist, the show will always be relevant.

– Some people seem to have some kind of snobbery about so-called “jukebox” musicals. What’s your take?

When the story is great, I love them. Because I think for a show like ours, you could take away the songs and it would still be a great story. But then you add the songs back in and it becomes even better.

– Has anything surprised you about performing this role? And do audiences come away surprised by anything?

People only really know Bob Marley’s music, and his individuality is possibly overshadowed by the Rastafarian image. But, like everyone else, he was a person, and so in Get Up, Stand Up!, you get a sense of his human nature.

Playing at the Lyric Theatre until 8 January 2023.

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RE:IMAGINING MUSICALS | London, V&A Museum

Recommended

A new free musical theatre exhibition has been announced at London’s V&A Museum from 15 October 2022, featuring previously unseen items from their theatre and performance collections.

Re:Imagining Musicals will celebrate some of our best-loved musicals, from Miss Saigon to My Fair Lady, and Six the Musical to Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, and will explore their cultural significance.

The museum said: “Re:Imagining Musicals will explore how musicals have been adapted, revived, and retold for new audiences and reimagined against cultural and historical contexts.”

Considering how extensive the V&A’s collection of modern and ancient theatre artefacts is already, this is set to be a fantastic opportunity for all theatre lovers. It’s definitely worth a visit to the V&A before October 15, too, to check out the current free exhibition, including costumes from War Horse and The Lion King, and set design models from London productions throughout the decades.

Re:Imagining Musicals opens at the V&A Museum in South Kensington on 15 October.

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KALEIDSCOPE FESTIVAL | London, Alexandra Palace

Recommended

Following 2021’s triumphant, sold-out spectacular, Kaleidoscope Festival will return to Alexandra Palace on Saturday, 23 July, with more crowd-pleasing live music, DJs and comedy at London’s highest festival. With a backdrop that takes in sweeping views across the whole city, acres of parkland to explore, plus access to some of the hidden corners of the iconic Palace, this is a summer festival like no other. For fans, families and fun-seekers, Kaleidoscope is hard to beat, and this year’s line-up demonstrates it’s a favourite for artists too.

On the main Hilltop Stage, ORBITAL promises to bring proceedings to a scintillating climax following the inimitable Manchester sound of HAPPY MONDAYS. CHARLOTTE CHURCH’S POP DUNGEON brings a medley of bangers to raise the temperature as the sun begins to set, while THE MAGIC NUMBERS and HOUSE GOSPEL CHOIR will have crowds of all ages dancing all afternoon.

Over on the DJ Stage – Cloud 10 – the line-up is equally mouth-watering with CRAZY P SOUNDSYSTEM, CRAIG CHARLES, DJ YODA, ZERO 7 and PBR STREETGANG all performing on the terrace decks, whilst The Alternative Stage features the legendary Creation Records founder and music industry visionary ALAN MCGEE in conversation; comedy from trigger happy stalwart DOM JOLY and rising star SINDHU VEE; plus THE CUBAN BROTHERS will ramp up the party atmosphere.

There will ALSO be a host of entertainment for families around the festival site, including interactive theatre, workshops and story-telling. Meanwhile the Palace’s secret Victorian Basements will be opened up for people to discover; and there’s more line-up to be announced on all stages.

Book online for Kaleidscope Festival, running 1pm – 11pm on Saturday 23 July 2022.

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INTERVIEW: Jonathan Burrows (Burrows & Fargion)

Interview

Choreographer Jonathon Burrows speaks to The Prickle about a new Burrows & Fargion double bill at Sadler’s Wells: Rewriting (2019), and Science Fiction (2021).

– Who are your inspirations?

I think the interesting thing is how many different, overlapping and constantly changing inspirations people have, which reflects the ways in which culture is always about the work of the many, rather than a few select individuals. And I love how the things you love don’t have to make sense together. I love dub reggae sound system culture, but I also play English folk music.

– You and composer Matteo Fargion been collaborators for thirty years; how have you managed to work together all this time?

I think Matteo is a very patient person, but also we don’t have many meetings and that seems to help.

– Burrows & Fargion pieces straddle the line between dance, music, performance art and comedy. How would you describe a typical audience member?

We have three philosophies about audience, which have kept us going over the years. The first is, “Whoever comes is the right person”. The second is, “How the audience sit is how we should sit”. And the third is, “Equal together under the same roof”. When these ideas work, people spontaneously seem to walk onstage at the end, to look at our scores and talk. And then you find out there’s no typical audience member at all.

– What’s next for Burrows & Fargion?

We don’t really make plans for the future, but rather just try to keep going with our practice, and all the parts of the practice are important, including performing, teaching, talking, writing and so on. For twenty years we’ve had no office and no regular funding, and we share all aspects of the work and pay equally. We like it that way, as it means we don’t have to make any promises about what we might or might not manage to do.

Burrows & Fargion Rewriting and Science Fiction plays at Sadler’s Wells 5 – 6 May 2022.

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REFLECTIONS | Berlin, Bar Jeder Vernunft

Recommended

Jack Woodhead’s new show Reflections is bruising, wounding cabaret in all its rabid, raucous splendour. After committing a murder – matricide – reflecting is Jack’s coping mechanism, a spectacular and intimate form of PTSD. Jack’s shimmering and darting reflections move with streamline precision towards redemption through loss of memory. In his own words, Jack searches “far and wide” for his forgotten inner child. He must remember what is forgotten, in order to forget what he remembers.

But did Jack murder his mother? Perhaps he’s just a little drunk, just a little lonely, sipping a tipple while sitting in a moth-eaten armchair in a cold flat in a dark windswept city no one has heard of. Perhaps he lives a life of quiet desperation that reaches sublime heights that no one will ever know.

Reflections is life seen through a peephole, magnified and whispered through art and alcohol. It shows how life can slap you around and you may just slap it back. It shows imagination as a corrective and rampart to reality. But though reality bites back, the siren call of the forgotten inner child, lured to the surface by alcohol, trauma, or simply by childlike wonder, can provide solace.

Somewhere between Beethoven and burlesque, with his band of four, Jack Woodhead manages to negotiate a musical metamorphosis from concert pianist to cabaret star. His dramatic make-up is only surpassed by his eccentric stage outfits. Flashy and provocative in nail varnish, leather, fur and sequins, he moves elegantly and sleekly across the stage. His performance is lightning fast, sharp as a razor and completely wacky.

Next playing 25 April and 13 June 2022 at Bar Jeder Vernunft, Berlin.

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