Issue date: Fri 29 April 2016
A musical with a difference that took Edinburgh Fringe by storm last summer has been snapped up by Greenwich Theatre boss James Haddrell and will play three dates in south east London between 10 and 14 May.
But Weekend Rockstars – which beat hundreds of shows to the Musical Theatre Network Development Award in Edinburgh - won’t be staged at the theatre in Crooms Hill.
“Because the show is so much like a gig we decided that Greenwich Theatre might not be the right space for it,” said James, the theatre’s Artistic and Executive director. “We wanted somewhere a bit more intimate, so it will be performed at the Amersham Arms in New Cross on Tuesday 10 May, and at The Tramshed in Woolwich on 13 and 14 May.
“The Amersham is a long-established live music venue and The Tramshed has a long history of all kinds of performance from live music to stand-up comedy.”
James was scouting as usual in Edinburgh for shows to bring south but he was also one of the assessors for the MTN Musical Theatre Development Award. He said: “It’s an annual award given to the company considered by a panel of industry judges to be presenting the most exciting new music theatre.
“There are hundreds of musicals with different styles at the festival and all are eligible, whether they use a classic format or do something different. Between us the panel of assessors saw all of them and came up with a shortlist of about eight. Weekend Rockstars by Hull’s Middle Child Theatre Company was the winner, and ever since I’ve been trying to bring the show to Greenwich.
“What’s so unusual about it is that you go along as if you were attending a typical music gig. The band comes on and plays a typical one hour set, but through the course of the show the lead singer tells the story of his life slowly spiraling out of control, using narrative and projection as well as the music.”
Middle Child actor Josie Morley learned bass for her part as Jenny.
“It’s definitely not your usual night out at the theatre,” she said. “It packs a real punch and we’re hoping to attract people who might not think that theatre is particularly for them.
“We’re creating the kind of buzz you get from a gig or a football match. I think it’s absolutely brilliant, it’s so much fun. We’re not a real band as such, we’re all actors, and the projections add to the energy of the show. I think it would make a great album too.”
Middle Child never expected to win the award in Edinburgh. “We thought it was for the development of musical theatre and we call Weekend Rockstars gig theatre,” said Josie. “But a lot of the reviews said we were reinventing musical theatre, and winning the award was a really lovely surprise.
“The idea came from our director, Paul Smith, and he discussed it with the writer, Luke Barnes, so it’s their baby really, with the music by James Frewer. Going to London is amazing and we’d love to carry on with the show for as long as possible. This feels like our breakthrough and the perfect example of the kind of work we want to do.”