9 March 2014

Broadway Baby gives us the heads up on this year's Brighton Fringe

~ Thief by Liam Rudden ~
  Having just launched a brand new website I thought it a great opportunity to catch up with Pete Shaw at Broadway Baby, find out what they've been up to and get a few tips for this year's Brighton Fringe 2014.

First, a bit of background about you Pete and Broadway Baby.  How long has it been going, why and where is Broadway Baby going next? 

The history of the site goes back to 1996 in a very different form.  Originally launched as a site for actors to publish their CVs online for free, I'd written all sorts of code to link credits with shows so it would grow organically into a sort-of IMDB for theatre.  To be honest, there wasn't massive take-up for this service, but when I started adding reviews to the site in 2004 the game changed.  Ten years on Broadway Baby has become the largest reviewer at both the Edinburgh and Brighton festivals and we've just started to expand into the USA and Broadway.

Which have been the funniest, quirkiest and best performances that you've ever seen and why?

I guess my favourites are the ones that surprise me; the unexpected delights.  I once saw a USA school production of Les Miserables which I was fully expecting to hate, but which totally blew me away - helped a great deal by the fact they ambitiously had 70 in the cast, and could actually sing.  Then there was the first time I saw Lights! Camera! Improvise!, which after an endless list of improv shows I wasn't looking forward to, but the ingenious concept of the show still marks it out as one of my favourites of the genre.  There have been less successful shows, such as one physical theatre piece performed by a man a bit too mature to carry off the graceful veil dancing that his show mostly consisted of whilst wearing little more than a smile. It was when he went off stage and announced the second half would involve audience participation I made my exit. Having scanned the room and realised there were only three of us, I figured the odds were not looking good.
Worbey and Farrell

Which five performances are you interested in seeing / looking forward to this year and why?

One show I know I'm going to enjoy is Worbey and Farrell.  Their prestigious talent on the piano is juxtaposed with their marvellous self-effacing comedy.  

I'm a sucker for a Sondheim musical, so good to see Company on at the Brighton Little Theatre.  It's one of the composer's best works, and I really hope they can do it justice.

Another musical that is on my must-see list is Hedwig and the Angry Inch, playing at the New Venture Theatre this year.  If you've not seen it before and if you like a ballsy show with heart, it's a good option.  For good value I'd recommend The Big Bite-Size Late Breakfast, a collection of 10-minute plays.  They pack a lot in.
The Big Bite-Size Late Breakfast
For a bit of late night filth, EastEnd Cabaret at Komedia are a safe bet.  Raucous songs served up by diva Bernadette Byrne and half-moustachioed musician Victor Victoria.  Yes, pure filth, but I love it.

For theatre I'm intrigued by Liam Rudden's new show Thief.  Rudden's a playwright that has delivered in spades in his previous productions, so I have high hopes.

What else are you looking forward to?

Glad to see the return of the Spiegeltent to Brighton. It adds a real sense of the festival actually happening when you see that on Old Steine.

Any tips?

As with any fringe festival, my biggest tip is to take risks.  Buy a ticket to a show because you like the poster, or the description made you smile, or just because it's on in the venue you're having a coffee in next. Take risks because the people creating the shows are taking risks.  Sometimes the show doesn't pull it off, but fringe ticket prices are affordable enough for you to forgive them and try another.
East End Cabaret -
Bernadette Byrne and Victor Victoria

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