With the launch of the new music theatre season at Riverside Studios fast approaching, we thought it’d be a good time to have a little chat with the director behind our amazing new production, Variété.
The show, set in 1936, follows a wandering naïf who joins a sideshow circus, the eccentric cast of which are rarely what they seem. Heather Welsh talks to the performer, director and teacher Kinny Gardner about his inspiration and what you can do to get into music theatre.
How did you feel taking on the role of director for this production, for the first time since its original creator Lindsey Kemp?
Suitably nervous, but still inspired by his original vision. As he himself has said “I have always had the compulsion to make my dreams realities...”.
Why should people come and see the production?
Variété is such a rarity: a darkly seductive yet lyrical musical work, surreal and expressionistic yet moving and very funny. Rarely does one get such a plethora of delights in one theatre piece.
Where did you take your inspiration from?
In this all-new staging, designed by Chris de Wilde - my favourite visualist - I took a lot of inspiration from spending time with and talking in depth to the composer of the piece, Carlos Miranda. As old collaborators, touring together to the opera houses of the world with Lindsay Kemp’s company, we have been able to re-visit many of Kemp’s original.
What’s your favourite thing about performing?
The connection with the public.
And your favourite production(s)?
Lindsay Kemp's Flowers remains a soul-stirring masterpiece: a work which influenced so many others, creative artists and adoring public alike. I have also many fond memories of performing in the earlier production of The Rocky Horror Show on Kings Road, London for quite a few years. If only I'd had an opportunity to be in Jerry Springer, The Opera, I loved it and the composer is my hero...
You’re obviously a very busy man! How do you juggle your various commitments?
Freelance theatre artists learn to juggle at an early age! I also spin plates... It's easier to plan in advance now due to computer connections and assorted apps, the diary has been replaced by the phone, but one still has to keep a firm eye on availability and allow for some sort of breaks. Even if that's a break with a meeting in the middle. I'm currently on a train to Manchester to finalise designs for Edmund the Learned Pig at the Royal Exchange Theatre, running in October 2013, and will grab an early supper with friends. Multitasking, eh?
Multitasking to the max! And finally, have you got any tips for any budding actors/singers/directors out there?
Go for it. Starve in a garret, pick pennies out of the Trevi Fountain, sing on street corners, live for your art....DO IT.
Variété comes to the Riverside Studios, this summer from 29 August - 1 September 2013