There’s nothing worse than being three hours deep into a social media scroll to realise you’ve been using your 4G most the time because your Wi-Fi has given up. Or how about when you’re halfway through a good cry at a rom-com or a binge watching sesh of the newest…View Post
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 be reading this blog right now if you didn’t care what I had to say.
Inspired by Orwell’s dystopian novel comes an immersive performance from Pure Expression, where audiences are taken inside a totalitarian state where every act, move and thought is monitored.
Starring Aamira Challenger (Romeo & Juliet, Ostalgie), Robin Hellier (The Lehman Trilogy) and Simon Gleave (Bleak House, Metamorphosis), 2084 is set in a future where the state claims to be the only guarantor of order, which comes at a price of absolute obedience.
Telling the tale of two people who defy the regime, they soon find that actions have consequences and their deepest secrets are turned against them.
Taking place at Manchester Central Library from 5-14 February, 2084 explores the freedoms we take for granted and places audiences right in the heart of the action.
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?
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!
Please could you tell me about your career so far?
How was high school for you?
Please could you tell me a little bit about the audition process for Mean Girls?
What does a typical day in rehearsals look like?
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
How did you feel during your principle debut?
If Mean Girls came to London’s West-End, would you consider coming over to the UK?
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?
Favourite member of the plastics?
Sexy Halloween or scary Halloween?
Favourite song from Mean Girls?
Finally, do you have any advice for young people striving towards their goals?
All images belong to Devon Hadsell and are not for reuse.
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 26 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.
In Collaboration With Encore Tickets.
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:
All imagery courtesy of Danny Becker. I do not own any rights to the images used.