That’s Entertainment

WOKING-born rock star Rick Parfitt has been honoured with a BBC Music Day Blue Plaque.

The tribute to the Status Quo legend, who died on Christmas Eve last year, was unveiled in Jubilee Square, Woking by his son, Rick Parfitt Junior, and singer-songwriter Newton Faulkner.

Dozens of people, including Rick’s second wife Patty, original Status Quo drummer John Coghlan and Woking Mayor Graham Cundy, watched the unveiling ceremony on this year’s Music Day, last Thursday.

Rick Junior said as the plaque was revealed: “He absolutely would have thought that he wasn’t worthy of this.

“Perhaps that’s the nicest way to think about it. He wouldn’t be in any way arrogant, he wouldn’t be thinking that he was deserving in any way, he would have just been immensely humbled and immensely honoured.”

Rick was chosen for the honour, one of 47 Music Day plaques awarded, by BBC Surrey after a vote by listeners suggesting people or places that have influenced the musical landscape across the country.

The tribute commemorates Richard John ‘Rick’ Parfitt OBE 1948-2016, guitarist, singer, songwriter, who was a member of Status Quo for 50 years.

WHITNEY – Queen of the Night is a tribute to one of the greatest singers of recent years and is heading to Guildford’s G Live on Thursday (8 June).

Producer Paul Roberts carried out hundreds of auditions to find the right person to be the voice of Whitney Houston and eventually settled on Rebecca Freckleton. Rebecca has toured internationally and worked alongside Macy Gray, Paloma Faith, The Noisettes and Jools Holland.

Now she’s being joined by a company of singers and musicians to deliver all the Whitney hits including I Wanna Dance With Somebody, I’m Every Woman, I Will Always Love You, Saving All My Love, Where Do Broken Hearts Go, Greatest Love Of All and many more.

NOT  many people would dare to stage a theatrical performance inside the mind of a girl in a coma – but Mark Murphy loves a challenge.

You’ve probably seen one of his shows without realising it. A master of major spectacles – he was the brains behind many a European Capital of Culture opening show and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony which included a cast of 1,500, including Kylie Minogue.

For a decade he wowed audiences with events mounted on a global scale. But now, he’s bringing the show inside. If you think theatre is not for you, Murphy says his new production, Out Of This World, will change your mind.

He says it’s about taking back control (a phrase we’ve heard a lot of recently).

“With big events you have so many people involved, so many hoops to jump through and usually only one chance to get it right,” he explains. “I love them, but it’s great to get back to a form where I have a hand in everything.”

Out Of This World is a mix of theatre, film, music, aerial movement and medical dilemmas that challenge the audience. With a cast of five led by Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah Swire, the action unfolds as the audience takes a journey through the mind of a woman locked in a coma following a car accident.

“She’s given a choice,” Murphy says of his heroine. “She wants to get away from the trauma and the pain – but in doing so, is faced with either losing her life or her love.”

Murphy cut his creative teeth as director and choreographer of V-TOL, the dance company which found fame in the 1990s with shows like Headshot, 32 Feet Per Second Per Second  and Without Trace.

V-TOL’s shows were renowned for visceral thrills and challenging subject matter and Out Of This World is true to that template. Without giving too much away, the story centres on the moral choices the central character faces as she hovers on the thin line between life and death.

Murphy insists: “It’s a rehearsal for what life could be and touches on a moral dilemma – how far will you go to be with the one you love?”

It’s a tough challenge to bring it into a very 21st century theatrical spectacle, but he draws on both his dance roots and elements from his events work to get it right. He’s setting his sights high, saying his ambition is to create an all-consuming experience.

“I want the audience to be barely able to breathe, I want them to have the time of their lives,” he says matter-of-factly.

Using his celebrated mix of scripted dialogue, breath taking aerial movement, large-scale projection and muscular staging – the audience experiences the chaos that ensues after Ellen’s injured brain literally takes over the show.

Murphy picked the brains (ha!) of a neuro-surgeon and air ambulance doctor to get the medical procedures spot on, and adds: “If I could have had any other career, it would have to have been emergency medicine.”

He promises eye-dazzling visuals and sophisticated scenarios, but says at its most basic Out Of This World operates on a simple emotional level – it’s a love story.

“It’s about a time when two people who love each other have to face a life changing moment,” says Murphy. “The moment they have to let go…”

Out Of This World will be at G Live in Guildford on Friday 2 June.

PUPILS from Winston Churchill School, Fullbrook School and a youngster from the Woking Community project all performed well in the Status Quo and The Jam LP album cover competition, organised in advance of Party in the Park 2017.

Fullbrook’s Izzy Mordell came Second for her work Rockin’ All Over the World, ahead of schoolmate Molly Wilson Fullbrook School for That’s Entertainment, while Jolie Straner from Winston Churchill School, Fullbrook’s Niamh Allington, Jeru Roberts and Chloe Smith and Tammy Wickenden from Woking Community Project were all highly commended.

Their pieces were chosen from 65 submitted from seven schools and community groups.

(Left to Right) Neville Godwin, Karl Newman, Patty Parfitt, Mike Read, Peter Hall

All their pieces, alongside winner by Debbie Taylor for the Guildford Office Project, will be on display in a pop up exhibition at Party in the Park on Saturday 8 July. This year the event is themed swingin’ 60s and psychedelic 70s in honour of Woking’s musical legacy.

The judges were Patty Parfitt, ex-wife of Woking’s Status Quo frontman Rick Parfitt,  broadcaster Mike Read, Peter Hall, The Lightbox curator, screen printer and local music expert Neville Godwin and Karl Newman, Arts Programme Manager for Surrey Arts.

Tara Stevenson from, Woking Borough Council Party in the Park Organiser, said: “It was great to see so many participants in this year’s competition. Although it was a tough choice, a number of the pieces stood out above the rest for their attention to detail, their bold, attractive artwork and resonance with both the bands and the era. All of the pieces will be framed for presentation and I’m looking forward to seeing them all on display at Party in the Park.”

Patty Parfitt said: “Rick would have really loved to see these. He loved Woking and he was a huge advocate for empowering young people. I think it would have really touched him to know that so many people from his home town are remembering him.”

The brief was to design an album cover that captured the essence of either of the two bands, using any medium the entrant preferred. The winners will be notified and there will be a presentation ceremony where they will receive prizes of hobby craft vouchers, to continue their art development.

ENGLISH National Ballet and English National Ballet School have combined to create a new version of Cinderella especially aimed at young dance fans.

My First Ballet: Cinderella is a reimagined version of the classic fairytale created especially for children as young as three – adapted to an hour in length and with a narrator to help young audiences follow the story.

The show comes to Woking’s New Victoria Theatre on Friday 26 May and Saturday 27 May and tells the story of Cinderella, tormented by her stepsisters and not allowed to attend the Prince’s ball. Left behind to an evening of chores, she is visited by her Fairy Godmother who transforms her into a Princess who shall go to the ball.

Choreographed by George Williamson, Cinderella is the latest of the My First Ballet series which has included Swan Lake, Coppélia and Sleeping Beauty.

The series is performed by second year students of English National Ballet School, providing them with valuable rehearsal and performance experience within a professional touring company.

To coincide with My First Ballet: Cinderella, English National Ballet will host on-stage creative dance workshops, aimed to provide a gateway into the world of ballet. Children and their parents/guardians will be able to learn extracts from the production with ENB dancers. The workshop at the New Victoria Theatre will take place on Saturday 27 May from 3.45pm. There will be five performances of Cinderella across both days.

IT MAY have been written in the 1840s, but Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre covers issues and themes that are every bit as relevant today as they were at the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign.

So says director Sally Cookson, who has adapted the novel for the stage.

“Firstly, it is a superb story – a real page turner, with a protagonist who you root for from the start,” she enthuses. “Secondly, despite the fact that it was written over 160 years ago it deals with all the things we still find ourselves struggling with – ‘where do I fit in, who am I’?

“The intensity of the novel’s search for identity is something we’ve all experienced. Surrounding the heroine are characters grappling with their own individual identity crises. I don’t think there’s one character who is not struggling in some way to come to terms with their circumstances and wrestling with the very idea of what it is to be human.

“Whether it’s Rochester or Helen Burns, Mrs Reed or Blanche Ingram, St John Rivers or Bertha Mason – all these characters are flailing around in an attempt to discover who they are. In the middle is Jane, taking responsibility for her life and always taking action to change her circumstances when her integrity is threatened.”

Jane Eyre tells the story of one woman’s fight for freedom and fulfilment. From her beginnings as a destitute orphan, the feisty heroine faces life’s obstacles head-on, surviving poverty, injustice and the discovery of bitter betrayal before taking the ultimate decision to follow her heart.

“Re-reading the book now, I’m struck by the weight the novel places on individual human rights,” says Sally, an associate artist of Bristol Old Vic. “Jane understands from a very early age that in order to thrive she needs to be nourished – not just physically but emotionally, spiritually and intellectually.

“These basic human needs are central to our wellbeing and Jane has a fundamental understanding of this. Like any fine piece of writing, Jane Eyre is multi-faceted and, whoever you are and whatever your age, each reader will gain something slightly different from it.”

The book is still a big seller and Sally says she felt a huge responsibility in reimagining it for the stage.

“Adapting a novel for the stage is a challenging prospect – especially when that novel is cited as many people’s favourite of all time,” she explains. “It’s always daunting when you’re working on a story which everyone knows so well, because you want to surprise and maybe challenge people’s expectations, without losing any of the things which make them like the story in the first place.

“Our job has been to turn it from a book into a piece of theatre. Essentially that means creating something new – the experience of reading a book is very different to watching a play.

“Rather than approach the novel as a piece of costume drama, I was keen to explore the themes and get to the heart of the story and characters in a theatrical way. I didn’t want authentic set and period costume to suffocate it.”

The new production is performed by seven actors and three musicians. Apart from Nadia Clifford who plays Jane, the actors play more than one part and are onstage most of the time. The set is wooden made up of platforms, ramps and ladders – far from a literal interpretation of the Victorian period.

“It’s minimalist but provides the actors with a playground on which to perform,” says Sally. “The band are placed in the middle – I wanted the music to be central as it’s intrinsic to the production. Benji Bower, the composer, uses folk, Jazz, sacred, orchestral and pop to create the world Jane inhabits.”

She describes the latest production as “really exciting”, adding: “I certainly never expected it to have the life that it’s had. Bristol Old Vic took an enormous risk when they originally agreed to produce it, and all I thought about when we first started working on it was ‘hold your nerve – keep going’…”

Jane Eyre will be at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, from Monday 29 May until Saturday 3 June.

ANYONE who’s encountered Count Arthur Strong on BBC TV or on his long-running Radio 4 show will know that, if there’s a chance of using the wrong word, he always does.

So, it’s no surprise that his latest touring show is called The Sound Of Mucus. It started out as a tribute to the classic Julie Andrews film of almost the same title – but went wrong of course …

Steve Delaney has been playing the deluded trilby-hatted variety performer from Doncaster for more than 30 years and recently he’s gone from cult to the mainstream with two acclaimed BBC series under his belt and a third due this spring.

Count Arthur has made a career out of getting his words mangled. He doesn’t do topical jokes. Or, as he would call it, “tropical” jokes.

“Like all of Arthur’s shows The Sound Of Mucus is not the show he intends to give, but he thinks he is giving a pretty good account of himself,” explains Delaney. “It starts with the best of intentions and falls apart. That’s the essence of an Arthur live show.”

Without giving away any spoilers – “I like people arriving not knowing too much about it” –he plays, among other things, the Mother Superior and there is a version of Sixteen Going On Seventeen. Although, Delaney concedes, things go so badly that we never actually see the main characters.

It is all done with love for the original Sound Of Music though: “It’s the only film I remember my father going to see. Everything I do with Arthur has to be from a starting point of affection.”

It is not a big cast but it is not a solo show either. He is joined by long-time collaborator Terry Kilkelly as Malcom de Tinsell and Dave Plimmer, who features in Count Arthur Strong on BBC1 as Allan Leslie. But the Count is always centrestage when catastrophe comes calling. Not that he will ever accept responsibility.

“It’s a defence mechanism,” says Delaney. “I think it’s a northern thing where if you make a mistake you blame something else – even an inanimate object.”

The Count is an amalgam, says Delaney, of various people, including one of his eccentric neighbours when he was growing up in the Leeds suburb of Harehills. The Count’s anecdotes are peppered with references to old stars such as Vince Hill, Cliff Richard and Lulu, the kind of people Delaney used to watch on television on a Saturday night.

Delaney/Strong recently got the chance to record a version of the Frank and Nancy Sinatra duet Something Stupid with sixties icon Anita Harris, and he says: “I remember her from the telly when I was just old enough to appreciate her legs. She always got a mention in shows so to end up recording with her was wonderful.”

The Count clearly touches a nerve in the nation’s light entertainment psyche. The sitcom is watched by millions of all ages, as well as celebrity enthusiasts, including Paul McCartney and Pete Townshend.

Delaney likes the fact that his performances attract people from different generations, saying: “There’s nothing better than looking at an audience and seeing grandparents, parents and children together.”

Count Arthur Strong: The Sound Of Mucus tour arrives at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, on Wednesday 24 May, and at G Live in Guildford on Saturday 3 June.

STAND-UP comics usually herald their latest tour by telling fans it’s a brand new show. Jimmy Carr has decided to do things differently by retelling old jokes.

The host of Channel 4’s 8 Out Of 10 Cats has named his latest jaunt, The Best Of, Ultimate, Gold, Greatest Hits Tour.

“I wanted to see if it was possible, to see if you could do a stand-up show where you just played the hits like a gig from a classic band,” he explains. “I wanted to do a show where you have that first opening salvo of bang, bang, bang and it never lets up. I love the idea of just dropping bombs for two hours. One liner after one liner – all killer, no filler.

“Also I really love these jokes and, unlike a musician, I don’t usually get to perform them once a show’s finished touring. You just sort of put them away forever. That always struck me as kind of a shame.”
Jimmy, who’s performed more than 2,000 shows in his 15-year stand-up career, says even though the jokes are “pre-used”, no two nights are likely to be the same.

“Obviously there will be a lot of written stuff, but I like to find a balance between the guaranteed laughs of jokes I’ve come up with in advance and the off-the-cuff stuff,” he says.

“I think on a good night it is 80/90% of jokes that I have written and am performing to the best of my abilities. But the best bits always involve the audience, the bits where I don’t know what’s going to happen or where it will lead.

“Why go and see a show live?  Why not just watch it on Netflix?  It’s because the funniest bits are always the things that happened in the room that night. You’ve got to have a show ready though, just in case the crowd is reluctant to get involved.”
The audience can expect Jimmy to touch on some controversial subjects – in the past he’s made jokes about everything from cancer to gypsies, as well as his own difficulties after being accused of tax evasion.
“Comedy is all about building up tension and then releasing it,” he explains. “Talking about taboo topics is a fast way to build tension and the more tension, the more laughs when you finally release it.

“I’d also say that one of my favourite sounds in the world is laughter turning into shock. I’m obsessed by cognitive dissonance – the idea that you can make people laugh and be disappointed in themselves for laughing at the same time. And as long as the laugh comes first, even if it’s half a second before, it’s fine.  I like the idea that you don’t choose what you laugh at, it chooses you.”
He insists that no subject should be off limits for comedians, adding: “It’s all about the intention, the meaning behind it. My jokes are just that, jokes. There is no grand vision, no political or social message. If the joke is funny enough then the ends justify the means.

“Look, I say some horrific things in my act and, yes, if you take those things at face value then clearly they’re unacceptable. But I think it’s pretty obvious that, in context, those subjects or ideas are merely vehicles for comedy, that they are designed to elicit laughter and nothing more.

“If I was using my shows to put forward a manifesto on how we should live our lives then maybe it would be a different story, but I’m not. I’m just trying to make you laugh.
And he won’t care if he offends you or – horror of horrors – you don’t find him funny.

“If you believe in free speech, you have to be prepared to hear things you don’t like – that’s kind of the deal. If you say someone is ‘offended’, what you’re really saying is that they’re feelings got hurt.

“That doesn’t put you in the right. If you’re not laughing, you’re well within your rights to just not listen. That’s absolutely fine.”

 

Jimmy Carr brings his The Best Of, Ultimate, Gold, Greatest Hits Tour to the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, on Sunday (30 April) and then returns on Sunday 6 August.

 

IT WAS a classic one-hit wonder. Anyone who was around in 1981 will remember the Department S single, Is Vic There?

The single reached No 22 in the charts and eventually sold more than 200,000 copies, meaning that now the band has been revived, it’s a must-play part of their set.

However, original Department S keyboard player and now frontman Eddie Roxy insists it’s not a pop millstone around their necks.

“We have a classic song that everyone remembers,” he says. “That’s not a hindrance, it’s bonus because people take a bit more notice.

“It started life on a small indie label, Demon Records, and was then released on Stiff so it sold in large quantities but over a long period of time. It still made the Top 30 and got us on Top of the Pops.

“It’s a door opener, it’s our key. Most people know it, especially people of that generation. It’s better to be well known for one song than none!

“Anyway, our second single, Going Left Right, sold 80,000 – today that would make it No 1!”

All the band’s early success came in 1981. They disbanded the following year and original singer Vaughan Toulouse died in 1991. Department S reformed in 2006 when Eddie bumped into original guitarist Mike Herbage and they decided to “have a bit of fun”.

“There was a, er … resting period,” says Eddie. “Essentially what happened was the band disintegrated. We were signed to Stiff Records and it went bust so the debut album we’d recorded wasn’t released.”

When the band reformed Eddie offered to replace Vaughan up front, mainly “because I was a rubbish keyboard player!”

The reformed band recorded a cover of the Alvin Stardust song, My Coo-Ca-Choo, as their first single and decided to start playing live dates.

“We all liked the song and we just thought ‘Let’s have a bit of fun’,” recalls Eddie, who now splits his time between Godalming and Battersea.

“Mark Bedford from Madness played bass on it. Then we recorded Wonderful Day with [former Sex Pistol] Glen Matlock on bass and Marco Pirroni from Adam and the Ants on guitar, and the next single, God Squad Saviour, had John Keeble of Spandau Ballet on drums. They were all just people we knew.

“When we got back together properly we said if we’re going to do it properly we need to write new material.”

“Nowadays the set consists of the three old singles and the rest is new. Occasionally will throw in one of the other old songs but it’s more about being a new rock and roll band.”

Department S are throwing their full weight behind the fund-raising drive to create the Fiery Bird, a new live music venue in Woking based in the former Quake nightclub. They will play at the venue tomorrow night (Friday 21 April), joining Eddie and the Hot Rods, Eddie Tenpole-Tudor and Surrey band Phoenix Chroi.

Eddie explains: “I’ve known Elaine McGinty, the singer with Phoenix Chroi, for a while and I saw the project on her Facebook page.

“I thought we should try and support this because it’s in everyone’s interest. A 900-capacity venue is exactly what bands like us need and Woking needs.

“I grew up near Reading and we always suffered from being a satellite town of London. Bands never came to our town.

“It’s a really good thing to have a decent venue and there’s a huge audience in Surrey. It’s up to people like us to try and help because we can.”

THREE great music acts have been announced as part of the line-up on the Seymour’s Main Stage for the 2017 Party in the Park.

This year’s event is marking 40 years since Woking band The Jam released their first album In The City and paying tribute to the late Rick Parfitt of Status Quo, who came from Sheerwater.

Partygoers are being invited to get into the groove with a swingin’ 60s and psychedelic 70s theme and enough free entertainment to fill a pair of platform shoes is promised at the event in July.

Zany six-piece band King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys are back by popular demand to open the show.

The band have been on the road for two decades, playing every European country as well as the USA. They have dazzling musicianship, riveting stage performances and also, more than 50 TV appearances and 75 radio broadcasts under their belts.

Also ready to set the soundtrack for the day is the UK’s Number One The Jam tribute band, The Jam’d. They will give an unforgettable, authentic performance with all the energy, passion and style of Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler.

Status Quo’s original drummer, John Coghlan, will headline, with his band John Coghlan’s Quo. Their homage to former bandmate Parfitt, who died in December, will take partygoers back in time, recreating an authentic 70’s Quo sound and playing classics including Rockin’ All Over the World!

As well as music on the Seymour’s Main Stage, Party in the Park’s Rockin’ All Over the Park’ offers something for everyone.

This includes Dance Woking gathering an eclectic mix of dance, the fun-packed Children’s Zone, Freedom Leisure’s Sports Zone and shopping in the Chill Out Field. The Ambassador’s Big Screen will also be back, even bigger than film star Audrey Hepburn’s beehive hairdo.

Party in the Park 2017 is on in Woking Park on Saturday 8 July from noon to 9pm. Families are invited to dig out their tie-dye fashions, fire up your flares, flick back their hair and indulge in a day of love, peace and rock ’n’ roll.

For more information about the event visit www.celebratewoking.info/partyinthepark.