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2084: Inspired By Orwell’s Dystopia

Living in a world of Alexas and Siris, we have just sort of accepted the fact that near enough every move we make is tracked and recorded. We are influenced by social media, by the creatives, with those 180 little characters and viral videos having a big impact; you wouldn’t…

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A Chat With…Devon Hadsell

Devon Hadsell made her Broadway debut heading back to High School in Tina Fey’s incredible new musical Mean Girls. She took some time out of her busy schedule to chat to me about her roles in the show (that’s 8 shows a week in the ensemble as Caitlyn Caussin plus understudying for Gretchen, Karen, Ms. Norbury and Cady and Regina’s moms, FYI!). Devon gave me a look into her own life back in High School, Mean Girls auditions…and karaoke faves!

When did you first know that you wanted to get into Musical Theatre?

My mom put me in my first musical at age 5 at our community theatre in Napa, California. I played Gretel in The Sound Of Music, and ever since then I’ve never wanted to stop performing!

What was the first show you saw on Broadway? Mine was Mean Girls!! But the first ever show I saw was The Lion King on the West-End in London when I was 10!

 Wow! I love that your first Broadway show was Mean Girls! I don’t exactly remember my first Broadway show, but I know my first one was my junior year of college when I came to New York for my first time ever and assisted our senior’s showcase. I think it was Once, which is a story I had loved before it had even become a musical!
 

Please could you tell me about your career so far?

After I graduated college, I worked for multiple regional theatres in California. About a year later, I booked the tour of The Little Mermaid which I did for a year and which made me Equity. I was able to save a lot from that tour and a few months after it ended, I decided to make the move to New York! I moved here on Nov. 1st, 2016 and the audition for Mean Girls was Jan. 3rd, 2017. The rest is history!
 

 How was high school for you?

High school was an interesting time for me. My school was very “clique-y” like Mean Girls, but I was a straight-A student and a total choir nerd. I was choir president my senior year. I also did ballet every day after school so I never had a ton of time to hang out with my friends after class got out. I loved how busy I was though. I was never invited to a single party in high school, but I didn’t even care. I had my close group of friends and loved doing my extracurricular activities.

Please could you tell me a little bit about the audition process for Mean Girls?

The audition process for Mean Girls was crazy! I went to the open dance call when I initially auditioned (around 400 girls showed up) and they took 25 girls into a room at once, had us stand in a line and one-by-one step forward, say our name, do a leg hold, and then step back in line. After that, they had us do a dance combo. I then had 4 callbacks which spanned over the next few weeks where I had to sing and read lines until the final callback where Tina Fey and the whole creative team came in and watched us dance and sing! It was insane!
 

What does a typical day in rehearsals look like?

When we were learning the show, we had rehearsals from 10am-6pm every single day except for Sundays. Since I’m in the ensemble, it mainly consisted of dancing the entire day with a few music rehearsals here and there. Nowadays, we only have rehearsals for the understudies about once every couple weeks or if someone new is joining the show.
 

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

I have a corner backstage where I do my warm-up which always gets me focused and ready for the show. My rituals actually happen DURING the show with other castmates like a wink with another cast member, or holding hands with multiple people and having a moment where we look into each other eyes before entering the stage together. I love those moments.
 

How did you feel during your principle debut?

It was AMAZING!!! I was low-key scared right before I went on, but I had rehearsed so much that once I was on the stage and doing it, it felt so exhilarating! My mom, brother, and sister happened to be in town visiting that week so they got to see me make my principle debut as well! It was a night I will never forget.

If Mean Girls came to London’s West-End, would you consider coming over to the UK?

YES! 100%!!! I just visited London for the first time this past December and I would live there in heartbeat! Sign me up!
 

What would be your dream role?

In Mean Girls, I would love to play Cady one day. For other shows, I would love to play Clara in Light in the Piazza, Girl in Once, and Glinda in Wicked!

Describe Caitlyn Caussin in three words.

Preppy. Weird. Wanna-be.

Go-to karaoke hit?

“Someone to Watch Over Me” by George and Ira Gershwin.
 

Favourite member of the plastics?

Karen. She’s so funny, lovable, and sweet!
 

Sexy Halloween or scary Halloween?

SEXY Halloween for sure!
 

Favourite song from Mean Girls?

I seriously love them ALL!
 

Finally, do you have any advice for young people striving towards their goals?

Be kind to others and don’t let other people steal your joy. Always work hard and never stop learning and studying your craft. Also, being over-prepared is NEVER a bad thing.
 
 
 
 Keep up with Devon

    www.devonhadsell.com

@devonhadsell

Mean Girls on Broadway Official Site

 

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All images belong to Devon Hadsell and are not for reuse. 

The Book of Mormon Is About To Become One Of Your Favourite Shows Of 2019

The Book of Mormon came to life in 2011, after almost seven years of development. Opening on Broadway at Eugene O’Neill Theatre, the show received an overwhelming response and set record ticket sales at the theatre. Since it opened eight years ago, the show has delighted audiences around the world, with two US tours, a continuous run in London’s West-End, a production in Melbourne, Australia and the first ever none-English production in Stockholm, Sweden. The show premiered on the West-End in 2013 and is currently playing at The Prince of Wales Theatre.

The Book of Mormon tells the tale of two young Mormon missionaries, Elder Kevin Price (Dom Simpson, London) and Elder Arnold Cunningham (J. Michael Finley, London). The duo are dispatched to a small town in Uganda to spread the word of the Latter Day Saints, where they are faced by a culture shock and are forced to face their own beliefs, along with a face off with famine, poverty, AIDS…and a tyrannical warlord. 

It might not sound like the stuff of brilliant comedy, but The Book of Mormon comes from South Park creators, Trey Parker & Matt Stone, along with Musical Songwriter Robert Lopez, which says it all. You’re in for a snarky, side-splittingly-funny treat that’ll leave you laughing for days.

The show pokes fun at not just Mormonism, but religion in general. It’s tongue-in-cheek and if you’ve seen South Park, you’ve probably already guessed that the show isn’t for the easily offended. It’s a show for the liberal-minded, with the rule that all audience members aged 15 and under have to be accompanied by a (responsible) adult (and sat next to them throughout the show). The humour is in both the dialogue and the song, ensuring a steady run of laughs throughout. 

Elder Cunningham provides arguably the most laughs through his naivety and hilarious one-liners- he’s shocked that Uganda isn’t like The Lion King.

You know when you have a song stuck in your head for weeks and weeks and it is impossible to get it out? Those songs you love that much you’ll be sending the YouTube and Spotify links to everyone? That’s how you’ll feel after hearing the songs from The Book of Mormon. “You and Me (But Mostly Me)” and “Turn It Off” are firm fan favourites, while “Hasa Diga Eebowai” will remind you of The Lion King so much, you’ll be booking tickets to The Lyceum Theatre as soon as the show’s over. Just don’t get the meaning mixed up with Hakuna Matata…

For fans up North, it was announced back in November 2018 that the Mormons are taking a trip to Manchester. From 6 June to 13 July 2019, The Book of Mormon will be playing at The Palace Theatre. 

If you’re after tickets for the West-End performance, tickets can be booked up until April 2019. Plus, if you’re thinking of going, there’s no better time than the present, as Encore Tickets have a deal on where you can get £10 off a £50 spend! Be quick though, the offer is only temporary! 

Grossing over $500 million, The Book of Mormon is one of the most successful musicals of all time. It’s a must-see hit that’ll leave you wanting more and the only thing you’ll regret is not seeing it sooner.

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In Collaboration With Encore Tickets.

A Chat With…Danny Becker

Danny Becker is an actor and vocal coach currently performing in Disney’s Aladdin in London’s West-End.

I had the absolute pleasure of chatting with Danny over FaceTime, where we discussed his role in the show, his other ventures and why everyone should believe in themselves.

How did you get into Musical Theatre?

I’ve always loved theatre and I’ve always loved musicals. The first time I saw a show, I was aged 1 or 2. My mum took me to see Mr Men and the ice cream I’d got in the interval was just pouring down my face because I was staring at them. I think my mum kind of knew from then that I obviously liked this. 

My parents were amazing, they took me to see shows in the West-End once a year for my birthday. 

From the age of 13 I did Am-Dram and my love for musical theatre grew. 

As I got older, I started to train more and once I went to The BRIT School at the age of 16, that’s where I found out I was really good enough to do this kind of thing for a living.

After The BRIT School, I went and got my degree in Musical Theatre at ArtsEd which set me up. 

Explain a bit about your role in Disney’s Aladdin

I’m in the ensemble 8x a week. I have a really nice track where I do lots of singing and dancing. I also have three little lines in the track which I make the most of. 

I’m also one of the Aladdin understudies so that’s a massive responsibility. It means I have to be very conscientious and always go over my stuff because you never know when you’re going to be needed. You could know anywhere between that morning or halfway through a show- just last week I was called on midway through. I have to be able to play the lead in the big West-End show at any second. 

I definitely think that Understudies are the unsung heroes of theatre 

The West-End, touring productions or any professional theatre company would not run without understudies or swings. Every day there are so many people saving shows, so yes I do agree that they are the unsung heroes. 

How did you feel during your debut as Aladdin?

That was a very, very special day in my life. I was in rehearsals for the cast change, rehearsing Friend Like Me. I was tapping away when our Company Manager came into the room and said I needed to stop the rehearsal because I was going on as Aladdin that night. He said it in front of the whole rehearsal, the creative team and the new cast that were joining us so it was so special because usually you’ll get the call and you’re on your own, in your flat or doing the shopping or something and instead everyone was there. 

When I actually did the show that night, I became very focused, so it was almost like I went into hyper-focus mode. I did enjoy it, but it was just about getting through it and not messing it up for people around me. That’s a big part of it as well- they are doing everything they normally do and you don’t want to get in their way. 

Tell me about your other ventures, singing lessons and Dance For Actor/Singers

I started both of these ventures in 2018 and I’m really proud of them both. I’ve taught for two or three years now in drama schools and I’m just so passionate about passing on what I have learnt from my years of training and in four years of working professionally. There’s a lot I want to teach people and I love inspiring others. When I inspire someone, they inspire me back- this give and take of inspiration is really appealing about teaching.

I have people from all backgrounds in my singing lessons, both people in and out of the  industry. It’s so rewarding to be able to help them technically, help their confidence and give them advice.

Dance For Singer/Actors was put together by myself and my friend Blythe [Jandoo, swing & understudy Jasmine, Disney’s Aladdin] for people who aren’t confident as dancers but still have to do it professionally. There are so many people in the industry who are extremely talented but are underconfident when it comes to dance, so we put together these classes at Pineapple Dance Studios to give them a safe space to improve their confidence and technique. 

What’s next for you after Disney’s Aladdin?

Aladdin closes in August and I can’t say too much, but there are some exciting things in the pipeline…

Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring musical theatre performers? 

The biggest thing is to definitely dare to dream and believe in yourself. 

Everything starts as a seed of an idea before it grows into anything tangible. 

You have to dream it, you have to believe that dream and then you have to put action steps in to get that. 

By putting in those action steps, you can make it a reality. 

People around you might say it’s crazy but if you believe it in your gut, you can get there with a lot of hard work. 

 

Keep up with Danny:

Instagram: @dannybeckeruk

Twitter: @dannybeckeruk

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All imagery courtesy of Danny Becker. I do not own any rights to the images used.

The Statue of Liberty & The Empire State Building

Our last full day in New York City began with the news that Trump had announced a partial government shutdown…All together now…🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄

partial government shutdown occurs when the government suspends all non-essential operations. Essential operations including hospital staff, FBI agents and airport security are required to work unpaid, meaning they have missed their first pay of the year – and won’t be paid until the end of the shut down, which is now in its fourth week.

The Saturday before Christmas is known as Panic Saturday in the States as it’s the biggest shopping day of the year, meaning this news could cause mayhem throughout the City.

Our plan for the morning was to take the ferry across to Liberty Island to see Lady Liberty herself and thanks to public funding, The Statue of Liberty remained open.

We had done some research prior to our trip and found that the best time to visit The Statue of Liberty in the morning to avoid crowds and get the best out of our trip.

A gift to the United States from France, The Statue of Liberty was designated in 1886. Originally a penny-brown colour, the statue turned green by 1906 due to the patination process that occurs when copper is placed outside.

Our hotel was only a short walk to the port so there was no need to take the subway that morning.

Once we arrived, it was a short wait from getting our tickets to the airport-style security. The ferry ride was a pleasant journey, with plenty of seating, a shop serving up drinks, snacks and souvenirs and an upper deck for warmer weather.

It was so incredible to see The Statue of Liberty in real life and is one of those moments I’ll never forget. We both did say we expected the statue to be bigger though!

After a walk around the monument and a visit to the giftshop, we hopped on the ferry back to Manhattan.

Once back in Manhattan, we decided on heading to TriBeCa for a little wander around after falling in love with the area the previous day while driving through.

After a little stroll and dreaming of a cute little apartment in the area, we made our way uptown for a trip to Ulta.

I’ve been after a Kylie Cosmetics lip kit for sooooo long but can’t quite justify the shipping and customs fees, so when I heard they stocked them in Ulta, I had to go!

As soon as we arrived we headed straight for the nearly-empty Kylie Cosmetics stand (it was only 3 days until Christmas!). I managed to bag myself a couple of kits for both myself and my friends.

Then Megan spotted the new Becca BFF’s Khloe and Malika collection which had only launched that very day and wasn’t yet available in the UK, so as BFF’s ourselves, we bought matching palettes.

All shopped out, it was time for lunch. Realising we’d been in New York for four days already and not had any pizza, it was about time. $1 slices the size of your head? Sign me right up!

After lunch, we made a stop back at our hotel to drop off our new goodies before heading back out to explore more of Downtown Manhattan, including the spectacular One World Trade Centre.

Before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the evening, we popped in Target because, well, it’s a lot more exciting than Tesco. I bought some American candy for people back home and got far too excited over the many choices of Chips Ahoy! flavours. I also wanted to take home some Mountain Dew but I didn’t have enough room in my case, sad times.

Showered, changed and ready for our last night, we headed uptown for the final time.

Tonight we were going to witness the spectacular views from The Empire State Building! When we arrived, there was a really long queue but the wait was SO worth it. Once at the 82nd floor, we could head up to the outdoor observatory for an even more incredible view. The queue for the lift was really long, so we decided to take the stairs…which was a great idea until after 2 flights up I was yelling I NEED TO GET BACK TO THE GYM!!!

Little workout completed, the views from the top were out of this world and you really need to see it to believe it. No photo will ever do it justice. Miles and miles of twinkling lights and even some of the tallest buildings looked minute compared to where we were. Looking over at Times Square, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it was daytime the lights shined so brightly.

We decided on Planet Hollywood for dinner and made the ultimate rookie mistake of not booking a table. It was Saturday night in the heart of New York City, afterall!

The waitress informed us it would be a 40 minute wait for a table, which was no problem as we could chill and enjoy our surroundings, but as there were only two of us, we got a table much quicker than expected.

If you have ever been to Planet Hollywood, you’ll know just how magnificent the interior is, with larger-than-life decor and original memorabilia throughout.

The food was just as magnificent…our starter came out on a FERRIS WHEEL! The menu says it serves 4 people and let me tell you, it absolutely does not serve 4 people. We smashed it out of the park and demolished the whole thing.

We were defeated by our mains, the Five Cheese Macaroni but it was sooo worth it. I don’t even like cheese that much and I’m nearly drooling just thinking about it.

We had been saying how we had wished it had snowed during our trip and thanks to Planet Hollywod, it did! Fake snow fell in front of a backdrop of NYC itself and that little moment made our trip even extra special, rounding the last night off perfectly!

 

 

 

 

 

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