Friday, 16 August 2013

The Union Theatre, Pipe Dream and Music That Matters

Welcome back to Access London and Thank You once again for continuing to support Access for All to the Arts. Today's post looks at Access to one of London's hottest fringe theatres, The Union, and its current production, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Pipe Dream. There is also an interview with Kieran Brown who is currently starring as 'Doc' in Pipe Dream and is performing his own cabaret, 'Music That Matters', this coming August Bank Holiday Monday.
"Pipe Dream is the seventh musical by the team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II; it premiered on Broadway on November 30, 1955. The work is based on John Steinbeck's short novel Sweet Thursday—Steinbeck wrote the novel, a sequel to Cannery Row, in the hope of having it adapted into a musical. Set in Monterey, California, the musical tells the story of the romance between Doc, a marine biologist, and Suzy, who works as a prostitute." The Union has made a name for itself in bringing lesser-known musicals and gems to London audiences at its home on Union Street in Southwark. This production of Pipe Dream marks the shows London Stage Premiere, 58 years after its Broadway one. The cast of 17, led by Kieran Brown as Doc and Charlotte Scott as Suzy is directed by Sasha Regan. Kieran Brown stars as 'Doc' in Pipe Dream, some of his other credits include, Phantom, Wicked, Love Never Dies and Les Miserables. He has regularly supported the work of Access London and has kindly agreed to once again answer a few questions. Thank You very much Kieran!
AL: Pipe Dream is not one of R&H's most well known shows. Why do you think this particular show of theirs was chosen for The Union? KB: The Union has a great reputation for taking lesser known shows, or taking pieces and doing something different with them. Our Director, Sasha Regan and Choreographer, Lizzi Gee's all male Pirates of Penzance springs to mind, so I think doing this very unknown piece from two of the best known musical theatre writers in history was a good choice for The Union. Sasha and Lizzi really tried to get to the root of the problems with the piece and fix whatever it was that didn't quite gel with audiences on Broadway. The have done a wonderful job, right down to the casting of each and every person in the show. The are genuinely all Awesome! AL: How does it feel to lead the London Premiere of an R&H musical? KB: Really exciting! As Ted Shaffer (President of the R&H Theatrical Europe pointed out, we are the first to have done this, it's being done for the first time so technically, we created it professionally after having to wait 58 years in the UK.
AL: The show really does have some superb choreography. What can you tell us about the piece for Doc's song 'The Man I Used To Be'? KB: Without giving too much away, Lizzi Gee has definitely created one of the highlights of the show (for me and some of the reviewers). It's incredibly creative, sweet and clever. Joshua Lovell, who I sort of 'Duet' with is a great dancer, light on his feet and a mean tapper! I'm definitely not....! AL: How did you go about preparing for this role? KB: Well, I read the novels it is based on 'Cannery Row' and 'Sweet Thursday' by John Steinbeck. With regards to the show, there wasn't all that much out there about it, other than Wikipedia articles about its failure to launch on Broadway in the 50s. I must admit, I was never really a R&H aficionado but I have fallen head over heels for this score. AL: In one sentence...why must audiences come and see this show? KB: London Premiere (it has taken 58 years to get here), super cast, creative, clever choreo and direction. A distraction from life's daily woes, very sweet without being over sentimental. That's two sentences, I know, but hey, nobody's perfect...!
The Union Theatre has level Access from street level (on Union Street, under the railway arches), through the small café and seating area at the front of the venue to the box office, located in the bar at the back. Through two sets of double doors is the theatre itself. The area is step free but if you are a wheelchair user or have other mobility problems, please be aware that some parts of the floor are a bit uneven. The theatre has 3 rows, the front of which is on floor level and can accommodate a wheelchair. The other 2 rows are 1 or 2 steps up into them. Tickets are unallocated for seating when booking online. However, if you ring the box office (most of the time this will go to an answer machine so leave your name and number), you can book a wheelchair space or request an end of row seat if you have mobility difficulties. The box office number is 020 7261 9876. For online bookings, click HERE . Pipe Dream is running at The Union until Saturday 31st August. Performances are Tuesday - Saturday evenings at 7:30pm and matinees on Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30pm.
Kieran Brown will be performing his own cabaret, 'Music That Matters' on Monday 26th August AT 8:00pm at The Union Theatre. Tickets cost £15 (£12 for concessions) and can be booked through the box office on 020 7261 9876 (best for Access bookings). You can also book online HERE . To keep up to date with all of Kieran's news, follow him on Twitter @LuciferBox . You can also check out his website www.kieranbrown.com . Here's what Kieran had to say about his forthcoming cabaret... AL: What can people expect from the evening? KB: An evening of simply soulful, personal music, sung by some of my favourite performers (and friends)around town. AL: Why The Union as your chosen venue? KB: Well, I am doing Pipe Dream there at the moment. I have a tremendous affection for The Union. I know the space, the acoustics and the atmosphere and for what I have in mind for this show, it is perfect! AL: How did you go about making your song choices for this cabaret? KB: Each song means something very personal to me (and my guests). Songs that originate from my childhood, the beginnings of my career, right through to what is happening with me now, and a sneak peek into what is happening next... I also have two homages - one to the greenest girl in Oz and the other to my own icon from childhood right through to present day, Madonna!!! AL: What can you tell us about your guests for 'Music That Matters'? KB: I am utterly thrilled with who I have, some of my best friends have agreed to sing for and with me. My ex Les Mis cast mate, and partner in crime, Sophia Ragavelas, will be dueting with me on a song special to us. And Yorkshire's finest, the awesome Scott Garnham, will be singing something with me, no idea what yet though!! Both are currently in Title of a Show at The Landor. My favourite Aussie blonde bombshell, Erin Cornell, my Phantom co-star Kira Morsley, the girl with the best lungs and legs in Canada, Michelle Lafortune, my Pipe Dream love interest (and ex Wicked buddy) Charlotte Scott, Georgie Burdett and the gorgeous Loula Geater and Jeroen Robben (trust me ladies, and some gents, you won't want to miss him!). AL: Which 5 words best sum up 'Music That Matters'? KB: EEEEEK!!! Music, Matters, Laugh, Cry, Come!!!

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