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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INTERVIEW | Anna Ferrer, Magalí Sare & Manel Fortià

Interview

The Prickle spoke to Balearic singer and multi-instrumentalist Anna Ferrer, alongside Catalan jazz duo Magalí Sare & Manel Fortià. They will be performing at The Pheasantry in London on 5-6 April, as part of Spotlight on Catalan Culture – the UK’s largest festival of Catalan arts, music and culture taking place across the UK March – June 2022.

– What does the Spotlight on Catalan Culture festival mean to you?

FORTIÀ: It is a great opportunity that allows us to show what kind of music we do outside Catalonia and how the audience reacts to it.

SARE: I love the fact that a festival like this exists. It’s a very cool way for locals to discover new music and to create new bonds between these cultures.

– How about audience members who can’t speak Catalan, and are totally new to Catalan music and culture; do you think they will still have a good time?

SARE: Of course they will! And we will also explain the songs during the concert.

FERRER: The reality of what one wants to say, if it’s authentic and comes from the heart, can come through via other, much more intangible ways.

– Many people say music is universal: do you think that’s true?

FERRER: Humanity is universal, the feeling of belonging to a cultural net is universal… and music is one of the first forms of expression of a community. Without a doubt, yes: music is universal.

FORTIÀ: Sometimes I have played with musicians that didn’t speak the same language as me and it worked well. It is the magic part of the music.

– Fish and chips or roast dinner?

FERRER: Fish and chips.

SARE: Roast dinner.

FORTIÀ: Mediterranean food.

Book online for 5-6 April 2022 at Pizza Express Live.

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ONE MAN BAND FESTIVAL | London, The Blues Kitchen

Recommended

Innovative, unique and utterly bizarre, One-Man Band Festival celebrates the supreme talents of those Dick Van Dyke-inspired musicians that take to the stage solo, but still deliver the full sounds of a multi-piece band: this is an unmissable week-long celebration of some of the very best in the game.

1. Wednesday 20th March: Dollar Bill + Hollowbelly in Shoreditch (Free)

Dollar Bill is a one-man band that seemingly achieves the impossible with the wide collection of sounds he delivers at once. It’s raw, stripped down, stompin’ and rockin’ blues with drums, a guitar, a harmonica and singing going on all at once.

Hollowbelly is one-man punk blues band, with a 3-string cigar box guitar in his hands, a blues harp at his mouth, a pre-war marching drum at his right foot and a 1930’s low boy at his left. Authentic, fast and furious stuff.

2. Thursday 21st March: Son of Dave + One Man Destruction Show in Brixton (£10.50)

Son of Dave is a maverick Bluesman, providing a one-man harmonica and beat-box experience. He performs catchy, original, world class shows all around the globe.

One Man Destruction Show has created his very own one man rock n’ roll garage n’ blues band.

3. Friday 22nd March: Bob Log + King Size Slim at Jazz Cafe, Camden (£15)

With Bob Log, Delta blues meets electro in a live show that can only be described as a man in a jumpsuit and full-face helmet rigged up with a telephone receiver barrelling around in a lifeboat while beating away on a hollow-body guitar.

King Size Slim’s music is rhythm-led, heavy on the bass and rootsy in the melody. A powerful performer and a must-see on the blues circuit.

4. Tuesday 26th March: Ian Siegal + Big Joe Louis in Brixton (£15)

Ian Siegal presents songs from his latest album All The Rage. Titled Best Male Vocalist and Best Acoustic Artist in the UK Blues Awards 2018, Ian Siegal is a must-see musician for 2019. Classic Rock tags Siegal “a national treasure” and MOJO magazine ranks him “the cleverest writer and most magnetic blues performer in the UK”.

Big Joe Louis is a powerful force on the modern UK blues scene, whose style and authenticity are unparalleled on this side of the Atlantic.

5. Thursday 28th March: Lewis Floyd Henry + Hip Bone Slim in Camden (£4)

Lewis Floyd Henry busks daily on Brick Lane, and has clocked up millions of views on YouTube. A one-man, multi-genre, traveling sonic medicine show, it’s Jimmy Hendrix one moment and Biggie Smalls the next.

Hipbone Slim (aka Sir Bald) plays stompin’ rhythm and blues on guitar, harmonica, foot drums, and maracas, in a very eclectic set.

Book online for these amazing one-man band shows.

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LITTLE ECHOES | London, The Hope Theatre

Recommended

Published this year by Methuen Drama, Tom Powell’s Little Echoes now receives a full run at The Hope Theatre in Islington. Three haunting monologues interweave amid lightbulbs and microphones in this 90-minute exploration of London “as you’ve never seen it before”.

16-year old Danielle (Maisie Preston) meets danger in the VIP area of a pop concert. Professional relationship manager June (Ciara Pouncet) seems cool and collected, but all is not as it seems. Shaj (Mikhael DeVille) navigates feelings of intense anger and hatred in the wake of a violent acid attack on his young brother.

One of the UK’s most up and coming new playwrights, Tom Powell won the OTR National Radio Drama Award and the Footlights’ Harry Porter Prize. He is part of the Soho Writers Alumni Group and in 2015 he was shortlisted for the Soho Young Writers’ Award for his first play the bear hunt. This year he attended the Royal Court Introductory Group and was shortlisted for HighTide’s First Commissions programme. His third play White Light has recently been selected for the Arcola’s PlayWrought festival.

The production is directed by Stephen Bailey, and partnered with Beyond The Streets, a charity that works to create pathways out of sexual exploitation.

Little Echoes is playing until 9 March 2019.

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CIRCA | London, Old Red Lion Theatre

Recommended

After premiering with a cast of twelve at the Theatre de Meervaart, Amsterdam in 2016, followed by an acclaimed run with a cast of seven at The Vaults in London, Tom Ratcliffe’s company work.Theatre returns in a co-production with Harlow Playhouse.

“I can’t wait to be bringing Circa back this year for a longer run in London, and then to Harlow,” says Ratcliffe of his debut play. “The play has become even more topical over the past two years, and loneliness amongst the gay community is something that needs to be spoken about. The play has developed over the past two years and it’s something I cannot wait to share with everyone.”

In the 21st century, being gay is supposedly more integrated than ever: marriage is legal, parenthood is possible, and #LoveWins is trending on Twitter. But in a world where sex is readily available, what does it mean to be in a gay relationship in the modern age? And why are so many gay men still lonely?

Circa explores the blurred identity of the gay relationship in the modern age. Following the story of one man’s romantic life, we are taken through the different relationships and encounters he experiences over a period of thirty years, joining him through the joys and pitfalls of love.

Book online at www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk. Tickets from £12.

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Too Many Zooz | Ronnie Scott’s, London

Music review

I had two tickets for the rave at Ronnie Scott’s last night. Queues all down Frith Street for the fusion trio beloved by Beyoncé, and a regal appearance from the Zooz themselves some forty minutes after their scheduled slot began. They walked on stage wordlessly, and after a small pause began one of the most relentlessly paced and technically extraordinary shows I’ll probably ever see.

Masters of fresh, fierce, discordant revels, they whipped the crowd into a frenzy of Englishly awkward head-banging and shoulder rolls, with their carnival speed, Leo Pellegrino’s commanding gestures, and the trio’s intense improv. Laconically fronted by the furiously concentrated Matt Doe (trumpet) who never once removed his sunglasses, Leo Pellegrino (baritone sax, mainly) left me open-mouthed as he leapt, thrust, and cavorted over the stage, barely stopping for breath as he produced the sound of six saxophones from one. Operating on a register from squawk to didgeridoo, he was supported and punctuated by Doe, and all this was bound together by David Parks’ uniquely ferocious drumming. It was rebarbative, insouciant New York invention at the top of its game. Looking around, I saw a packed house full of the possessed, with a few bewildered – or frankly incredulous – faces, still ensnared by sheer bedazzlement.

Since they’ve just been signed by the Ministry of Sound (as a thoughtful Parks broke his silence to tell us), I’m curious to see where the stardom that must, surely, be about to overtake them will direct their music. Commercialisation seems the last thing that could happen to this unique trio – especially when they pulled an unexpected card from their sleeve halfway through. A glimmer of romance (with a swing rhythm and insistent drumming, naturally) suddenly shone out when Doe sat down at the piano to take on Pellegrino’s sparkly black alto sax. Wherever they’re going next, long may Too Many Zooz keep surprising us.

Too Many Zooz are touring the UK throughout May: https://www.songkick.com/artists/8221618-too-many-zooz

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Barbican – Sound Unbound 2017

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Sound Unbound sees the Barbican fling its doors wide open to share intimate encounters with classical music. The 60 performances represent 60 different opportunities to taste something new and interesting from a spectrum of pioneering, brilliant ensembles and composers.

In particular, we’re looking forward to Chilly Gonzales with Britten Sinfonia conducted by Jules Buckley in the world premiere performance of The Young-ish Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. You can also catch the orchestra with Alison Balsom and Timo Andres for a jazz-inflected programme of Rhapsody in Blue and Miles Davis’s Sketches of Spain.

Guiding another generation through and to classical music is BBC Young Musician 2016 winner cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason who performs as one third of a trio, joined by his talented siblings on violin and piano.

Anna Meredith‘s work grows ever more interesting plumage with every year, and the Curve Gallery is privileged to be hosting an installation performance called ‘Hum’. The infinitely hip Pit Sessions in association with Boiler Room will also be channeling Calder Quartet, Liam Byrne and Ensemble Nevermind never satiate your desire for online-streamed cool.

Events are scattered (in an artful manner) across Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 April so you might want to check out what’s going on when and then enjoy the wanderlust of the open-house. Check it out here.

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RETURN: The Jazz Cafe

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Q. What do Gil Scott Heron, Herbie Hancock, Mulatua, Astake, Lee Scratch Perry, D’Angelo, Lana Del Ray, Bobby Womack and Amy Winehouse all have in common?

A. They’ve all performed at Camden’s Jazz Cafe, which is reopening after a £3million renovation project.

By the looks of the announced line-up, it’s not just the 25-years-old venue that’s had a face-lift. The programme packs a punch, with established quality lining up alongside emerging sounds on the scene. For example, you can get down there to see the likes of Dave Harrington or Portico. How about Mammal Hands with a smattering of soul and hip hop options to broaden the palate? It’s tasty.

With a vibey new look and feel, here’s to London regaining a venue equal to its history and famous name.

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