Spotlight On… Stuart Morriss

*** Spotlight On… Stuart Morriss ***

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Stuart Morriss is known as ‘The Curator’ as he is the main man at The Misty Moon Film Society, they celebrate their 7th anniversary, today – so in honour of this spooktacular day, here’s an interview for your delectation!

Tell me about the Misty Moon Society, where did the idea originate from and what do you offer?
I created Misty Moon Exhibitions and Events in 2008 as a small art and craft fair at our local church hall to promote my wife’s jewellery business. The event was on Halloween, this was very successful and we held craft fairs every 2 months. I stumbled across a pub with a gallery space out the back.  We put on a couple of exhibitions there and after awhile I took over the space and it became The Misty Moon Gallery. Our collective artists seemed drawn to the name and we were known for our dark, and quirky art.
Adrienne King who played Alice Hardy in the original Friday the 13th became friends of mine through Facebook and sent me some of her art work.  We exhibited it and it sold well and so Adrienne decided to come to the UK to exhibit the original pieces, whilst she was here she thought we should screen Friday the 13th, which we did to an audience of 30.  This was a huge success and this where The Misty Moon Film Society was born.
Adrienne put her name to the project and we started to get guests from Hollywood coming to our gigs. In the last couple of years we moved from the gallery to FlatPlanet in Soho, where we hold our regular gigs to an audience of no more than 40 and also at The Cinema Museum for our larger gigs.  We offer a unique evening of chat and meet & greet….the audience can have a drink with the guest in a laid back environment and normally the guests come out for a drink afterwards with us as well. We are NOT a convention we are just a group of people that love cult TV & Film and it is like going round to a friend’s house and talking about yourself over a beer.  We have had over 80 guests so far and a lot of them come back because they have enjoyed it so much.
Who have been your favourite guests so far and who are your ‘dream’ guests?
When we first had Fenella Fielding 3 years ago, I thought it couldn’t get any better than that…..but Fenella has been with us 12 times now and we are good friends.  Richard Kiel was fabulous, Michael Berryman, Robin Askwith, Ian McNeice……there is so many it is hard to choose and a lot of them become good friends that I stay in touch with and go out socialising with.  Adrienne King “adopted” me as her younger brother and when she comes over she stays at our house.  Guests I would love to have Kevin Bacon, Robert Englund, Peter Kay.
Do you have an overall favourite film or a film that has influenced you, particularly?
Friday the 13th and the original Halloween
What does the future hold for The Misty Moon Society?
Next year we are producing a play “A Day In The Lives Of Frankie Abbott” – A Comedy By David Barry which we are touring the South with in the Spring.  David played Frankie Abbott in Please Sir and The Fenn Street Gang in the 60s & 70s and he will be reprising the role after 40 years.  Linda Regan who starred in Hi-De-Hi will be playing Marion his carer.
Synopsis: What happens when a fantasist with a fading memory recalls events from years ago ? Frankie Abbott, now in a care home, is helped by Marion, one of his carers to remember.  The fun starts as the mother-smothered, big talking buffoon reverts to a past littered with guns, girls and gangsters.
We will also be holding our normal Misty Moon gigs at The Cinema Museum and FlatPlanet and we have some great guests lined up for the first 4 months of 2016 already.
I have also become actress and Bond Girl, Nina Muschallik’s manager, she’s the star of The World Is Not Enough, Saving Private Ryan, and Sky 1’s Dream Team. Nina is currently working on a new Horror film called Lost Soul by Robo Films which starts shooting in November.
What would you say to encourage our ‘audience’ to come along to one of your events?
Misty Moon’s events are unique.  We are a small family run business and we give the audience and the guest a evening of intimate entertainment where you can meet your favourite actor or actress and spend quality time with them.  We don’t rush people and we very rarely start on time, it is just a very laid back atmosphere.
If you could hold a dinner party and invite five ‘famous’ people (alive or dead) who would you pick and why?
Tony Curtis – I just love him my favourite actor
Marilyn Monroe – I just love her
Jack Lemon – another fine actor
All 3 were in one of many favourite films “Some Like It Hot”
Jack The Ripper – because I would like to see who he is 🙂
Roy Scheider – because he was so cool in “JAWS”
Favourite things (quick-fire questions, give me your gut reaction to these questions!):
Favourite ‘Carry On’ film? – Carry On Screaming
Favourite tipple? – Red wine
Favourite actor or actress? – Tony Curtis
Favourite time of year? – Autumn (Halloween to be precise)
Favourite book? – Gobolino The Witch’s Cat
Here’s the link to the website, we hope to be to some of the events, next year – the future sounds amazing for Stuart and his crew! http://mistymoonfilmsociety.com/
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Marty MacDonald’s Farm ~ Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

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If you can capture the imagination of a twenty-one month old, inexperienced theatre-goer, you’re onto a winning formula! Featuring the voice of Justin Fletcher (aka Mr Tumble) as Pongo the pig, who is joined by Molly-Moo the cow and Sheena the sheep, the race is on to save Marty’s farm from ruin (and the beak of a cheeky crow called Crafty!).

With the use of Makaton signing together with nursery rhyme classics, this show had my little boy clapping along and engaging in the whole story. ‘Wheels on the Bus’, ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’ and ‘Young MacDonald Had a Farm’ (well, it seems that farm-owner, Marty isn’t that old!) the audience of delighted young patrons danced in the aisles and sang along to the old favourites.

The puppets used to portray Pongo, Crafty, Sheena and Molly-Moo were perfect for the age group they were pitched to and quickly gained an enthusiastic fan-base who bought into the characters. The set was also simple and effective which drew attention to the characters even more. It worked well and it’s evident that the team who have created this excellent piece of childrens’ theatre. Credit must go to Martin Parsons (writer), Kate Ashmead (producer) and Iain Lauchlan (director).

A special mention must go to Marty’s new friend who is created by the use of a clever machine in act two. I’ll keep her identity a surprise, but she does a fine job of making sure that Crafty the crow is kept at bay and ensure that he becomes a little more friendly!

Check out the website for more details and also look out for Pongo’s Party next year, we’ll be there! http://www.martymacdonaldsfarm.co.uk/index.html

Spotlight On… The Searchers

*** Spotlight On… The Searchers ***

The Searchers are recognisable for their many hits, including: Sweets for My Sweet, Sugar and Spice and When You Walk in the Room. They were a success in the 60’s and continue to be an exceedingly popular group, decades later. I interviewed frontman and original member, Frank Allen.

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How are you enjoying touring at the moment and are there any particular favourite venues of yours that you’ve played at or are due to go to?
We have always loved touring, still do and it`s been pretty continuous for the last five decades which is amazing. We are often asked if we get fed up with it. The travelling – yes. The performing – no.
Which song or song(s) gets the biggest reaction from the audience?
Without a doubt When You Walk In The Room. Not the biggest hit. It reached number three. But it has the most impact. A great Jackie DeShannon song with a terrific tune, and words that everyone sings along to.
Are there any numbers that you particularly favour playing?
Too many to pick an absolute favourite but one of our later album tracks, Somebody Told Me You Were Crying, is a beautiful tune and the lyrics are stunning and very emotional.
What sort of age range is your tour appealing to? Are you noticing some of the same faces returning again and again?
I always say our audience in the new millennium goes from incredibly young to fast approaching death, in the nicest possible way. We had our youngest audience member last year. A little lad called James who was nine months old and sat in the front row on his mother`s lap.
Is there a song recorded by another band that you wish you’d recorded?
Probably You’ve Got Your Troubles, a huge hit for The Fortunes. Apparently we were offered it and turned it down but no one can remember.
What is your advice for anyone wishing to enter into the music business?
Don`t believe your own publicity and play the music you enjoy rather than what the current trend might be. Originality is everything.

One of the local West Midlands venues that the band will be playing at this year is Huntingdon Hall in Worcester on 4th December, however all concert dates can be found on their website: http://www.the-searchers.co.uk/

Spotlight On… Dmytro Morykit

*** Spotlight on Dmytro Morykit ***

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After last year’s successful tour of Metropolis LIVE, Dmytro Morykit has now created a new score for Nosferatu and will premiere it at the Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa and The Guildhall in Leicester. We interviewed Dmytro and asked him about his latest venture among other things.

Thank you for talking to Break A Leg Review, can you tell us why you chose ‘Nosferatu’ to compose for and what the inspiration was for selecting this film in particular?

In 2014 I was asked to create a new score for Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Having only 8 weeks to create the work, I looked to my existing compositions to re-engage with the film and was surprised by the results.  After the success of Metropolis (it has currently been performed 15 times), I was then encouraged by fans to create a score for Murnau’s Nosferatu, which I initially resisted, even though I’ve been a fan for years. Metroplis was such an intense and all-consuming experience that I couldn’t envisage working on another score so soon. However, whilst composing some new work (The Glen Suite), I decided to try it with Nosferatu and the process began, in earnest.  With Nosferatu, I was able to experiment with mood and create a different aesthetic to Metropolis. Murnau’s Nosferatu is not shot in the ‘horror’ genre as such, it is more gothic, even romantic, which achieves a truly sinister feel.

When you watched the film, what were the over-riding themes that you felt you needed to incorporate in the composition?

There is a feeling of inevitability running through the film, a feeling of eventual doom; the undoing of someone’s good intentions. The seeds are sown early in the simplest ways, a romantic gesture of giving flowers is corrupted. To create this musically, is something I do well – it played into my hands!

What are your favourite films?

The Innocents, Metropolis, Blade Runner, Sunset Boulevard, Delicatessen, A Touch of Evil, The Birds, 39 Steps, Dolce Vita, Boris Karloff, Dr Zhivago, there are so many, and of course, Nosferatu.

Is there another film that you are keen to compose for?

Yes, but it’s not been made yet. 🙂

What inspires you when you’re watching a film and gives you the passion to compose for it?

The ability of film to transport the senses (and the music is crucial) and not necessarily written for the film. It frustrates me when a good image is flawed by music which is inappropriate. Too much music mimics and reacts rather than compliments. A good image can dance with a piece of music and both should be able to stand alone.

You can book tickets to see ‘Nosferatu’ at Royal Centre Leamington Spa, here: http://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/royalspacentre/events/event/447/nosferatu_live_-_with_new_score_by_dmytro_morykit

You can also use this link for tickets to see it in Leicester: https://www.ents24.com/leicester-events/leicester-guildhall/nosferatu/4510215

Disney on Ice Worlds of Enchantment ~ Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham

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The joy of Worlds of Enchantment which is the latest tour from Disney on Ice, is that it takes four incredible Disney films and explores them in depth. The popular stories are performed by highly skilled ice skaters, (some of whom have exceedingly large costumes to contend with) all of whom bring Disney magic to life, beautifully.

Toy Story 3 opens the show where an abridged version of the film unfolded before our eyes. Spectacular moves were displayed by Buzz Lightyear and Woody and a cornucopia of impressive costumes were featured. It can’t have been an easy feat to skate as Ham the piggy bank, Lotso Huggin’ Bear and Slinky Dog – an amazing sight to behold. The pair work from Barbie and Ken was a highlight and it made a change to see new characters on the ice.

The Little Mermaid, followed with Sebastian taking us on the journey under the sea. Popular songs from the film moved it along as the talented company provided the effects of the setting and Ariel’s desire to live above the sea was explored. The piece de resistance was undoubtedly, Ursula, scarily life-like, the villain dominated the ice in her plight to bring about Ariel’s downfall.

In act two we are transported to Radiator Springs courtesy of Mater and co. and Arundel with Anna, Elsa and Olaf. Resplendent on the ice, the sisters and their snowman friend provide the ultimate finale.

The sets and backdrops used throughout the show are magnificent and truly are reminiscent of all of the Disney animations represented. The transitions were fluid and the scenery appears to glide as smoothly and effortlessly as the dancer themselves.

Compered by Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy, Worlds of Enchantment is fun for all the family and definitely pitched at all age groups. If you choose to go and join the gang, you’re in for a treat! Tickets can be booked here: http://www.disney.co.uk/disney-on-ice/worlds-of-enchantment/

Avenue Q ~ Malvern Theatres

Reviewed by Helen McWilliams

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The latest tour of ‘Avenue Q’ has pitched up at Malvern Theatres, this week and it’s a ‘must see’ to cheer up dull autumnal nights. Premiering on Broadway in 2003, this innovative ‘adult’ musical has been delighting audiences ever since and last night’s performance only served to demonstrate that it remains as popular as ever and can also draw in new audiences, too.

It was my first time entering the world of ‘Avenue Q’ (cue innuendoes which would not be out of place in the script) I was familiar with the soundtrack and I’d seen a few scenes, already, but otherwise I had no idea what to expect from a musical containing adult themes from puppets. What I witnessed was a fast-paced cornucopia of talent as the skilled ensemble played out an honest and tantalisingly naughty tale.

The story revolves around Princeton (one of the puppets, performing courtesy of the superb Richard Lowe) who has moved to ‘Avenue Q’ to find his purpose and along the way befriends fellow puppets;  Nicky, Rod, porn-obsessed Trekkie Monster and Katie Monster (who becomes Princeton’s love interest). Added to the mix are humans; Christmas Eve (a Japanese therapist with no clients), her fiancé Brian (a wannabe comedian) and Gary Coleman from ‘Different Strokes'(!). What ensues is a chaotic meander through their lives which includes unemployment, the use of the internet, requited or unrequited love and input from the bad idea bears (they’re right, beer is always a good idea – isn’t it?) and Lucy the Slut (a favourite of Trekkie Monster’s from porn films!).

Moving the show along are numbers such as ‘It Sucks To Be Me’, ‘If You Were Gay’, ‘The Internet Is For Porn’ and the more subtle ‘There’s a Fine, Fine Line’. All of the tunes are catchy, mostly with smutty under-tones (some more overt than others!) and it’s an overall laugh-a-minute piece of theatre. Joining Richard Lowe, who also works with Rod, is Sarah Harlington who seamlessly swaps between Katie Monster and Lucy the Slut and has an exceptional singing voice. Then there’s outstanding performances from Richard Morse as Brian and Arina II as Christmas Eve, as well as Stephen Arden who worked Trekkie Monster and Nicky in addition to one of the bad idea bears, no mean feat. Working in tandem (at certain times) with Arden was Jessica Parker, and the pair were in synch at all times, they were a formidable duo, indeed they demonstrated this even more so when they both play the bad idea bears.  A special mention must go to Etisyai Phillip who played Gary Coleman in act one and was a joy, it was a pity that she could not carry on with the show after the interval, but the role was in safe hands with Cleopatra Joseph who took over. Well done to both ladies!

The set is innovative in itself, it offers windows into each resident’s home and also turns into the nightclub which plays host to Lucy the Slut’s show. Congratulations to set designer, Richard Evans for creating such a ‘Pandora’s box’.

To book tickets to see the show in Malvern, please visit their website for details : http://www.malvern-theatres.co.uk/ or to find out where the subsequent stops are for ‘Avenue Q’ use this link: http://avenuequk.com/tour-dates

Please note this show is not suitable for Little Monsters!

And This Is My Friend Mr Laurel ~ Mill Arts Centre, Banbury

Reviewed by Helen McWilliams

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Heart-warming, informative and a superb evening at the theatre, ‘And This Is My Friend Mr Laurel’ is a one-man and one-act play written by the talented combination of Gail Louw and Jeffrey Holland (who stars as the man himself). It’s an autobiographical piece, as much about Oliver ‘Babe’ Hardy as it is about the ‘much-married Mr Laurel’.

With an extremely minimal set which encourages the audience to use their own imaginations (in more ways than one, given that this is a single-hander), the story takes place during one of Stan’s visits to Oliver’s bedside after he has suffered a stroke (Stan suffered a stroke, too – the previous year). We are almost led to believe that this was a one-off visit, whereas (as we are told at the end of the play) Stan actually visited a severely debilitated Oliver for eleven months, until his side-kick’s death.

Holland has Laurel’s characteristics to a tee, the play cleverly switches seamlessly between Mr Laurel as himself and Mr Laurel in one of his ‘Sketches’ where Holland plays both Laurel and Hardy, to astonishingly accurate effect. It’s astounding how a spotlight and a bowler hat alters the atmosphere of the piece, entirely.

A variety of emotions are conveyed while Stan is engaging in his one-sided conversation with Oliver, Holland is able to move the audience from laughter, to tears, to stunned silence.  It was clear that he held everyone’s attention, indeed at times one could have head a pin drop.

This truly was a memorable theatrical experience and a fitting tribute to both actors. The Q & A with Jeffrey Holland (after the interval) is an added bonus and his passion for the duo is evident. The show recently triumphed at the Edinburgh Festival and it’s easy to see why!

For tour dates, please see this link:  http://www.jeffreyholland.co.uk/Jeffrey_Holland/Mr_Laurel.html

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