Character profiling

Writing a character profile for a film

18th May 2017

My character profile for Riffkid in The Trench†

Physical appearance of the protagonist

Riffkid is 18. He is somewhat short in stature. He has a mop of black hair and very bright blue eyes. His face is pretty. He dresses how he thinks rock musicians should dress. His choice of clothes portrays his identity. He is an unemployed teenager living with his parents on a deprived housing estate. He is a dreamer; he has passions and associates with the outcasts who don’t want to be like the other working class kids who have their lives mapped out for them by their parents and community. He sees punk music as his ideal and in it he sees his values. Riffkid’s strengths are his good looks and his passion for music; his weaknesses are his lack of knowledge and skills in guitar playing and his dreams that are out of kilter with reality.

Background note: Riffkid joins the music scene at a time when punk is the predominant style of rock; but rock changes rapidly and soon fans start to prefer the edgier sounds of post-punk. All this is thrown in the air by the generation of the new romantics who come in with their new sounds – the indie bands. Musical tastes are fickle and change rapidly. All the bands play at the venue called The Trench, a dismal, damp basement that traps young musicians and exploits them mercilessly. The bands are trapped in the Trench and only the best manage to escape from it.

The story

Actions taken by Riffkid (include wants and needs) [How he thinks] {affect – consequences}

Act 1.

Riffkid goes to The Trench music venue to ask if he can join The Howlers – a big and successful punk band. His mates have told him that this is the best punk band in Portsmouth. The lead singer likes him and invites him to come for an audition. (Riffkid wants to be in the band he idolises) [He thinks he has to skills to hack it.] {Riffkid goes to the audition but he fails to prepare himself for it. He fails to study the songs of the band.}

Riffkid attends the audition with The Howlers but he is torn to shreds by the musicians. He realises that the invitation was a fake. He’s been strung along. [He thought he had enough skills to do the job but they prove to him how little he knows.] {Riffkid is rejected by the band. He is devastated. His dreams have failed.}

His best mate tells Riffkid not to give up but to go back to The Trench and try to find another band to join. Riffkid is driven by his dreams; his best mate is more practical and realistic. Riffkid goes back to the venue and, by chance, meets Sean, the bassist from the post-punk band Distorted. Sean just happens to be looking for a new guitarist. [Sean thinks that Riffkid would fit in; realises he is not that good as a musician but his personality would fit and make up for his weaknesses as a guitarist.] {Sean does not bother with an audition; he takes Riffkid on and hopes for the best.}

Riffkid joins Distorted. He decides he needs to get a better guitar and people help him to do this. (He is desperate to be in a band.) [He thinks that trying to get into the much bigger band was a bad mistake) {He gladly accepts the offer to be in Distorted as the rhythm guitarist. He buys the new guitar he needs.}

Act 2

Riffkid’s new band is a great success. Everybody loves them. They enjoy considerable popularity in their home town of Portsmouth. (They want to be popular and in demand for their music.) [They think their music will attract people in large numbers.] {They get booked at all the major venues and play to big audiences.}

Two years pass. Riffkid and Distorted become a successful post-punk band. But the scene is changing and fans are beginning to like the new wave of music coming from the new romantics.

Riffkid has an argument about musical style in the band and quits. (He wants to be a success.) [He sees the band failing because it clings to outmoded post-punk songs when the fans are moving over to indie. He thinks that the world of rock is changing and the band must change with it.] {He sticks to his beliefs and leaves the band.]

Riffkid and Jennifer enrol on the music course. (They need to learn about music.) [They think that having skills and knowledge will get them where they want to be] {They are exposed to a lot of new ideas and experiences they never had before.}

Riffkid makes new friends on the music course. He also goes back to his old friends – the ones who supported him when he needed them. (He wants people around him that can help him; people he can depend on.) [He begins to realise the importance of comradeship.] {He visits his old mates from the band he was in.}

Act 3

Riffkid and Jennifer complete the music course. He now has the skills and the knowledge to become a professional musician. (He wants to make a success of himself) [He realises that music is more than just image and passion.] {They both realise that they will get nowhere if they stay in Portsmouth.}

Riffkid leaves Portsmouth with Jennifer; they go to London to start a new career in music and a new life together. They are free of The Trench at last. (Wants a new life) [Thinks about the future] {Chooses to be with Jennifer.}

Explanation

This character profile was written because I am doing a course about screen-writing for films. The course is led by Michael Lengsfield of the University of East Anglia, whose article ‘Thoughts on character’ set out how to compose the profile. I chose to write about my novel The Trench. The protagonist, main character is Riffkid. This provides my choice of story for the exercises to do with script-writing.

Subjects

Articles I have written

ordered by subject

I have written about a lot of different things. In this list I have created a number of subjects under which I have placed links to pieces that are available on this blog.

This list is work in progress – further items will be added soon

Art

Lord of the Flies, Golding, play review

Business

Working with the web-o-sphere

See also ‘Internet and Web’ below

Economics

The economics of ageing

Films

Reviews of films

Brighton Rock

Finding Richard (2014)

The Black Swan

The Martian

Writing a character profile for a filmscript

History and archaeology

Brain size and evolution

Food in the 21st century

History of music in Leicester

Local music:  does it matter?

Housing

A place to live: a place to work

Buy-to-let schemes

Homelessness

Housing policy

Housing: approaches to policy (book)

What is a home?

Internet and web

Digital democracy re-visited

A place to live, a place to work.

Music

American Idiot (Green Day musical) review

An X-Factor for bands?

Band promotion

Bands and singers

Editorial bias in music journalism

Music education

New bands starting up

Thoughts on singing

What makes a good band?

Politics and policy

Referendum on the EU

Work in the 21st Century

Housing policy

Transport

Transport and cars

Urban transport

See also:

Contents listed alphabetically.

Cosmopolitan2016

6th August 2016

Leicester’s Cosmopolitan Carnival

2016

Coming up in August

Cosmopolitan Arts presents – Leicester’s Cosmopolitan Carnival
on Saturday 27th August 2016 – from 2.00 pm to 9.30 pm
Leicester City Centre: Jubilee Square, High Street, Clock Tower, Humberstone Gate and BBC Radio Leicester.

The Cosmopolitan Carnival arts festival is taking over the city centre hosting an impressive line up of live music, dance and art.

Calvin Jeffrey in 2010 Photograph: by Harjinder Ohbi
Calvin Jeffrey in 2010
Photograph: by Harjinder Ohbi

BBC Radio Leicester’s Kevin Ncube and Toni Finney, will compere the main stage in Jubilee Square. Artists include Leicester’s very own The Brandy Thieves, national awarding winning rapper Curtis Clacey, The Orator, UG and the world’s best DJ Jon 1st DMC will be performing an exciting collaboration, rhythmic Afrobeats by Afro-Kubanza, rising soulful star Dominique Brody will be singing, Jesse Wright will wow the crowd with her amazing voice, “Britain’s Got Reggae” stars from across the country will be performing.

London-based band Code Ninety will inject to pop music element to the stage, soothing gospel music from Kaine Mass Choir and the fabulous Illusive Quartet will perform stylish jazz.

A range of free arts workshops will be available including Chinese calligraphy, origami and dragon making and lantern making plus much more.

There will also be a grand finale performance “Cosmocular” in Jubilee Square 8.30pm – 9.30pm, conceived, project managed and artistically directed by Amanda Leandro of Cosmopolitan Arts. This dazzling performance will involve a fantastic large-scale film projection piece by Amanda Leandro, French and English pyrotechnic performances by Pyrox and Select Dance, beautiful lanterns and giant puppets from Same Sky, an amazing live music performance created by Lead Composer & Music Director Richard Everitt and Co-composed by John Berkavitch, Carol Leeming and Miranda Booth.

Astounding spoken word from Leicester’s best wordsmith  John Berkavitch and spectacular vocals from Carol Leeming, of which both have specially written new pieces of work for this performance.

The ensemble includes the best musicians from Leicester: Will Todd from By The Rivers will be playing bass, the highly acclaimed pianist Mike Sole, skillful drummer Malcolm D’Sa, well known jazz saxophonist Marcus Joseph, heavenly harp by Miranda Booth, exceptional tabla by Hari Trivedi and awesome trumpet by Julie Maxwell.

This dazzling and spectacular performance is a unique one off experience, showcasing Leicester’s most talented artists along side national and international artists, this is one not to be missed!

There will be a stage at the Clock Tower compered by well known comedienne Kirsty Munro, hosting a vast array of cultural music, comedy and spoken word, including: Euphoria a seven piece Chinese folk group, Hari Trivedi will perform amazing Tabla and Sitar music, Ian Hall and Lindsay Warnes-Carroll will bring side splitting comedy to the event, The Orator Rhetoric Literary Society Poetry will be present wonderful spoken word, from London AOA will perform a unique blend of hip-hop enthused songs, Billy and Jody’s acoustic experience will inject some fun to the event, Calvin Jeffrey and Deven Stuart will both sing songs that will lift people’s spirits and Mr Shay livens up the crowd with some MC’ing.

Andrea Kenny of The Brandy Thieves at Simon Says... 2015 Photo: Kevin Gaughan
Andrea Kenny of The Brandy Thieves at Simon Says… 2015
Photo: Kevin Gaughan

On the High Street there will be an exciting blend of activities and performances, including an amazing dance performance area hosting every imaginable genre of dance. There will be a humorous street theatre performance, African drumming workshop and activities from Talent Match.

On Humberstone Gate there will be a funky open top bus stage with live reggae and acoustic music and a range of free arts activities, hosted by “The Drinks Bus” and “Britain’s Got Reggae”. There will an art gallery in BBC Radio Leicester and lots of free arts workshops including a DJ master class with Jon 1st, DMC World Champion 2013.

This exciting FREE event has something for everyone and is one not to be missed.

 

Carnival2016

Saturday 6th August 2016

Leicester Caribbean Carnival

2016

The annual Caribbean carnival took place today in Leicester.

Leicester Caribbean Carnival 2016
Leicester Caribbean Carnival 2016

Blessed with hot sunshine throughout the day, the event attracted hundreds of thousands of people to see the process and enjoy the music and food on Victoria Park.

Dancers in the carnival procession, 2016
Dancers in the carnival procession, 2016

The procession started from Victoria park just after 2 pm.

DJ on one of the floats in the carnival procession, 2016
DJ on one of the floats in the carnival procession, 2016

A large number of floats played music for the dancers who followed behind.

Costume in the carnival procession, 2016
Costume in the carnival procession, 2016

Many of the dancers had large costumes support with wheeled frames

Large costume in the carnival procession, 2016
Large costume in the carnival procession, 2016

Many of these costumes would have taken many hours to prepare and assemble.

Dancer in the carnival procession, 2016
Dancer in the carnival procession, 2016

The procession took about two hours to weave its way through the streets of the city centre.

Costume in the carnival procession, 2016
Costume in the carnival procession, 2016

Throughout the whole of their journey along the route, the dancers had to keep moving in time with the music.

Dancers in the carnival procession, 2016
Dancers in the carnival procession, 2016

Dance troupes had come from all over the country, from towns and cities as far away as Leeds.

Thousands of local people lined the streets, together with many who had come to Leicester to see this event from all over the UK and parts of Europe.

Dancers in the carnival procession, 2016
Dancers in the carnival procession, 2016

After the procession, thousands of people gathered on Victoria park for the entertainment and to enjoy the many food stalls that served West Indian food.

Tickets were required to enter the event held on Victoria park.

On the day of the event ticket booths were open at all four entrances at Victoria Park from 9am.

Advance prices were:

Age 13-59 at £2
Age 5-12 at £1
Under 5 and 60+ free

On the day prices were:

Age 13-59 at £3
Age 5-12 at £1
Under 5 and 60+ free

Pinafore at Curve

21st July 2016

Review: Her Majesty’s Ship Pinafore

by Sophie Antunes

Our Rating: *****

I am very grateful that I got the chance to end my extremely long absence from the theatre, by attending the opening performance of HMS Pinafore, on Thursday 21st July; a truly memorable performance!

At first I was quite anxious, that I wouldn’t be able to appreciate the context and irony of the show, to the fullest extent, which was heightened by the much older audience I could see around me. Yet, I still thoroughly enjoyed myself and was rather amused by the comical performances from the male cast.

HMS Pinafore at Curve, July 21st 2016
HMS Pinafore at Curve, July 21st 2016

The realism of the performance was spot on, due to small actions, such as: torches used for light, cigarettes being smoked, actors changing on stage and the brotherhood displayed by the cast, which allowed us to accurately witness the lifestyle of World War II sailors.

Also, the vocals which filled the room, were very impressive and I was stunned by the variety of notes sung, melodically, by the male actors, who were even able to impressively imitate women for the show. I felt, that I further enjoyed the show due to the music and vocals, which helped to heighten the atmosphere and emotions being presented and in turn brought the whole show to life.

Personally, I loved this theatrical experience and would encourage fans of Opera, as well as people who are interested in history and class struggles, to hurry and watch this performance!

You will laugh, be immersed in breath-taking vocals, and emotionally connect with the talented male actors of the show, who are able to push aside gender barriers to create a performance of intimacy, presenting social injustice in our British class system. HMS Pinafore has helped me to fall in love with theatre again, and I can’t wait to return.

 

Religious theatre

25th March 2016

Leicester @ The Cross

Good Friday and Christians gathered in Humberstone, in Leicester city centre, for a celebration of Easter, the Christian festival that marks the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The audience in Humberstone Gate on Good Friday
The audience in Humberstone Gate on Good Friday

It was a bright sunny morning at Humberstone Gate began to fill with people. A large stage had been assembled at the Charles Street end of the wide pedestrian concourse.

Rap artist Jonezy singing on stage on Good Friday
Rap artist Jonezy singing on stage on Good Friday

On stage was a full live band and enormous puppets took part in the enactment of various parts of the easter story.

An actor playing Christ on the cross
An actor playing Christ on the cross

In a dramatic scene, an actor, playing the part of Jesus, was raised on the stage to portray the crucifixion.

Singer David Lewis leading the musical praise
Singer David Lewis leading the musical praise

The crowd was invited to join in with singing led by local musician David Lewis who had written a song especially for this event. David also sings with the local band Once Vagrant Souls.

Jonezy is a hip-hop artist from Loughborough
Jonezy is a hip-hop artist from Loughborough

A lively and inspriational performance was given by local artist Jonezy, the hip-hop singer from Loughborough who is well known in Leicester.

The acting Bishop of Leicester
The acting Bishop of Leicester

The act of worship was opened with prayers from the acting bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd John Holbrook.

A welcome address was given by the Archdeacon of Leicester, Revd Dr Tim Stratford.

The crucifixion is portrayed on stage
The crucifixion is portrayed on stage

Scenes from the Easter story were enacted by giant puppets, making it easy for people to see what was happened from a long distance away.

A dramatic moment in the event was when an actor, playing Jesus, was hoisted up on stage, on a large wooden cross.

Public performances of the Easter story have been taking place in Leicester since the middle ages.

Getting the message across with the help of a large screen
Getting the message across with the help of a large screen

The whole of Humberstone Gate was filled with people, on this bright Friday morning and the local radio station was there to provide a live report.

Sheets were handed giving the words of the songs enabling people to join in with the singing, led by local musician David Lewis and backed by a substantial live band.

One of the highlights of the event was a performance by local hip-hop artist Jonezy, who performed several of his own songs, with plenty of zeal and energy.  This proved to be a hit with the crowd, for people of all ages but especially for the youngsters who were there.

On stage, actors and puppeteers portrayed scenes from the easter story including palm Sunday and the Crucifixion.

The event was organised on an inter-demoninational basis, drawing in members of the Anglican and Methodist faith traditions.

Jonezy performed his song I’m Alive, a positive vibe affirmation of the way he feels and a testimony to his Christian faith.

See more about this event on Music in Leicester magazine.

 

American Idiot

24th March 2016

American Idiot Review
Curve Studio

Our rating: *****

Music by Green Day
Lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong
Director and Choreographer Racky Plews

Fifteen years ago I was watching Billy Joe Armstrong and his punk band Green Day performing live at The Reading Festival. I have been loving their music ever since. The audience in Curve Studio theatre tonight also loved it; they gave the performers a standing ovation at the end of the show. It was one of the best musical events I have seen at Curve, or anywhere else for that matter.

So many things stood out for me in this show: all the cast members danced, sang and acted and played guitars; in fact in one scene they are all on stage playing guitars – en masse. You won’t see that again in a musical in a long time. The cast were very ably supported by a live band; some of the band guitarists were on stage, on a platform above the main performance area. The three principals sang songs accompanying themselves on guitars.

Green Day's American Idiot runs at Curve from 19th March. Picture from 2015 London production. Photo: Darren Bell.
Green Day’s American Idiot runs at Curve from 19th March.
Picture from 2015 London production.
Photo: Darren Bell.

The moment that stole the show for me was Matt Thorpe singing Boulevard Of Broken Dreams; the Green Day song that has a special resonance for me; I quoted from the lyrics in my novel The Trench, were its sentiments epitomised what rock bands often seem to feel about working in live music. Not what the song is about but hey it seemed to fit anyway.

I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don’t know where it goes
But it’s home to me and I walk alone

American Idiot is a punk rock opera; its roots could be said to lie in the rich soil of Tommy, The Rocky Horror Show, West Side Story, Jesus Christ Superstar and various other productions that have broken the mould of musical theatre over the past few decades. Green Day’s album of the same name was released in 2004, the musical being premiered in 2009 at The Berkeley Repertory Theatre prior to the show moving on to Broadway.

Tonight’s show at Curve’s Studio was absolutely marvellous. The standing ovation given by the audience at the final curtain was well deserved. The singing was fantastic, the dance was massively good, the acting amazing and the whole show a complete sensation.

American Idiot was exciting, colourful, dramatic, engrossing, poignant, enjoyable… no shortage of adjectives to describe how good it was. The show opens with the cast singing and dancing to American Idiot, the hit title song Green Day’s album of 2004. A number that fizzed with unbridled vitality.

Well maybe I’m the faggot America.
I’m not a part of a redneck agenda.
Now everybody do the propaganda.
And sing along to the age of paranoia.

Everyone in the cast was good but Matt Thorpe (who played Johnny) was pretty amazing; Tunny (played by Alexis Gerred) was electric and Amelia Lily (as Whatsername) wonderful, Steve Rushton as Will, superb. The performance of the cast sizzled with energy. These guys really rocked out bringing it all to life on the stage.

We did not see the drummer Alex Marchisone until he came on stage for the curtain call right at the end. But the guitarists were visible for most of the show which was great because seeing them playing live gave the whole thing an extra resonance.

The show tells the story of three friends from a suburban area, following different journeys in search of their true selves. Through the songs they express their love, their rage and their struggles. The theme of the show includes a preoccupation with TV and a screen is lowered over the stage from time to time. The story line revolves around the lives of Johnny, Will and Tunny. Will’s girlfriend Heather becomes pregnant. Johnny wanders through the city streets pining for a woman he saw in a window. Tunny enlists for the army. Johnny starts to shoot heroin. Will feels trapped in life as a father with a baby and Tunny is shot while on active service.

American Idiot. Amelia Lily as Whatsername. From the 2015 London Production. Photo: Darren Bell.
American Idiot. Amelia Lily as Whatsername. From the 2015 London Production. Photo: Darren Bell.

Well there is a lot more to the story and I don’t want to spoil it for you; I just want you to see it. American Idiot is one of the best productions I have seen at Curve – and there have been a few of them. The show’s eight day run in Leicester is a great shame, for its brevity,   but it’s on tour and many other audiences in many other towns will want to see it. The show is moving on to several other cities in the UK between now and July.

Find out more about the show on the American Idiot website

American Idiot. Amelia Lily as Whatsername. From the 2015 London Production. Photo: Darren Bell.
American Idiot. Amelia Lily as Whatsername. From the 2015 London Production. Photo: Darren Bell.

See also:

Our coverage of Rent, the musical

Blood Brothers review

Rocky Horror Show review

Music Education

Music Education

This article was published in Arts in Leicester magazine on 23rd March 2016; it has been transferred to this blog.

Arts in Leicester visited Loughborough today (18th March 2016) to look at the work of The Loughborough Music School.

Loughborough Music School is part of the Loughborough Endowed Schools (LES) and is housed in a purpose-built building opened in 2006 by the composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

LES Music Scool. Used with persmission. Photo: Jake Hilder.
LES Music Scool.
Used with persmission.
Photo: Jake Hilder.

My host and guide today was Richard West, Director of Music. We visited several of the rooms in which classes and rehearsals take place; these are quipped with an impressive number of pianos, keyboards and drum kits. Richard showed me the IT room; again, another impressive display of equipment including computers that the students can use to compose music and edit the results.

LES music school interior
LES music school interior

The school also has a large hall suitable for staging concerts. Musical instruments were everywhere: guitars, cellos, harps… clearly this was a place where almost every imaginable musical instrument had a presence. Learning to play an instrument – any instrument – fosters a range of skills and a variety of mental facilities; these are things that stay with individuals throughout their lives.

Loughborough inside the Music School
Loughborough inside the Music School

The school focusses on the classical music repertoire but other genres also find a place in the many bands and orchestras populated by the students, including jazz. It’s not always about violins; there is plenty to suggest that students with an interest in rock music will have their needs met. These days musicians use a large array of things; gone are the days when only wood and cat-gut were all there was; now we have a a bewildering array of electronic gadgets, wires and boxes, all harnessing the new technology that has come to represent modern music-making.

LES Music School. Used with persmission. Photo: Jake Hilder
LES Music School.
Used with persmission.
Photo: Jake Hilder

The building had a light and airy feel to it; bright corridors and well lit study rooms made it welcoming and cheerful. The school is the second biggest specialist music department in the country, Richard told me.

Musician from LES. Used with permission. Photo: Jake Hilder.
Musician from LES.
Used with permission.
Photo: Jake Hilder.

I asked Richard about the career prospects of the more musically inclined students. The School provides musical education for all the students attending the LES. Only some of these will plan to make music their chosen career. It is clear that musical education needs to start at an early age and the classes begin at Kindergarten age, at around three years. Students continue to benefit from the work of the music tutors through to sixth form.

LES spring concert at De Montfort Hall, 2016
LES spring concert at De Montfort Hall, 2016

It was particularly good to see so many full drum kits; I have never seen so many in one room before. Pianos are, of course, stock in trade for music education and the school has the distinction of being one of a select number of Steinway partners.

Musician from LES Music School. Used with permission. Photo: Jake Hilder.
Musician from LES Music School.
Used with permission.
Photo: Jake Hilder.

Being able to see inside this prestigious school was a rare privilege for me. I was delighted to be able to attend the recent LES concert at the De Montfort Hall and was impressed by the high standard of performance shown by both the choirs and the various soloists who were on stage that night (see below for the link to our article.)

Music is an important part of the school curriculum; it always has been, even since the middle ages. There are many reasons why this important; not least the fact that the UK’s export of music is one of the country’s highest revenue earners. The music industry in this country has been thriving for several years and out-pacing several other sectors of the economy. Making music is good in itself but, as many teachers have found, it aids other aspects of children’s lives both personally and educationally. One more thing about music in schools is interesting, I think, it is a leveller. Children today come from a wide range of cultures and communities and all of them have their own musical traditions; being able to learn about the music of other cultures helps young people to appreciate and understand each other.

Loughborough is a town with a growing international notoriety in academia. Its University recently was voted top for students in the UK league tables and its contribution to sporting excellence has been known for a long time.

LES is not the only educational institution locally that has won positive acclaim. The work of Leicester College has also received many accolades, for its music courses and for its work in sound technology. The notable singer and songwriter Howard Rose, for example, is cited as one local musician to have benefited from its work.

We have also written about the work of De Montfort University in music education, technology and innovation (see the link below to our article about Arts Education.)

More information from

LES Music website.

The website for music education in the UK.

The website for Leicester-shire music education hub.

What music means for young people who are disadvantaged.

Leicester College music.

 

Breakfast At Tiffanys

Truman Capote’s
Breakfast At Tiffany’s
review

Adapted by Richard Greenberg
at Curve, Leicester

by Keith Jobey

Breakfast at Tiffany’s
3rd to 12th March 2016
Based on the novel by Truman Capote
Adaptor Richard Greenberg
Director Nikolai Foster
Designer Matthew Wright
Music Grant Olding

Our Rating: ***

Pixie Lott in rehearsals for Breakfast at Tiffanys. Photo: Sean Ebsworth-Barnes.
Pixie Lott in rehearsals for Breakfast at Tiffanys.
Photo: Sean Ebsworth-Barnes.

You’ve no doubt spotted the posters about town over the past few months. Sitting in the Exchange,  across the road from Curve,  we did. And I have to admit, Pixie Lott taking the lead role had an influence on deciding to buy tickets for it. Were we a bit hasty making our decision? After all, she’s a singer not an actress isn’t she?

This is an important production for Curve. A European premiere that is opening in Leicester before going on tour nationally. It concludes at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London’s West end. The first time a Made At Curve production to do so. A fact they’re quite rightly proud of.

Rumour has it that this theatre production follows the book more closely than the movie chose to. The brochure tells us that this is a more ‘faithful adaptation, which investigates themes of identity, sexuality, love and loss… while charting this extraordinary story of two young people finding their way in a rapidly changing world’.

The movie is legendary, Audrey Hepburn’s Oscar nominated role helping cement it’s place in Hollywood history. Not that I’ve seen it, so I’m watching the production without any preconceptions. I don’t even know the gist of the story. In fact I’m more aware of the single by Deep Blue Something of the same name, which my wife keeps reminding me will not feature in the show no matter how many times I sing its chorus.

It’s a full house for the Saturday matinee, and also my first time in the main theatre of Curve. I’m impressed. It’s a really nice theatre. And it’s great to see it thrive like it is. The stage has an art deco feel to it, reflecting the architecture seen in New York City from the 1940s. Think the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, the Rockefeller Center… and obviously Tiffany & Co.

As mentioned earlier the lead role of Holly Golightly is taken by Pixie Lott. She is of course famous for her music, having topped both the singles and album charts in the UK. Couple that with TV appearances on X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing and you have a well-known name. This, however, is her stage debut. A bit risky perhaps for such a key role in a performance? Especially a role that’s inevitably going to be compared to Audrey Hepburn. So how did she do? Well she can certainly sing, her rendition of Moon River far surpasses my attempts at the Deep Blue Something single. So no question whatsoever on that count. And I’m pleased to say she can act too. She seemed to relish the role and performed with great gusto. I did wonder about the accent at times, it seemed forced, but perhaps that intentional, after all, Holly is never really the woman you think she is.

Fred (played by Matt Barber) is particularly impressive as the other main character alongside Holly. He holds the story together, interspacing his dialogue with a narrative that breaks the fourth wall, bringing the audience in. It is his tale we hear and he tells it brilliantly. It’s a slightly seedy tale, a one of the underbelly of the high class society of New York during World War II. But that’s all I’ll say.

I have to say I was engrossed by the time the lights went out and the show closed. There was some discussion about whether there should have been more songs, but it is not billed as a musical, more of a play with songs included. So that’s mighty fine with me.

Keith Jobey writes for Music in Leicester magazine.

Background notes

Curve announced the full cast for the show that stars Pixie Lott.
The full cast was announced for the 2016 UK and Ireland Tour and the West End limited season of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, adapted by Richard Greenberg and directed by Nikolai Foster.
Matt Barber (Atticus Aldridge in Downton Abbey) will play Fred and Victor McGuire (the sit-coms Trollied and Bread) will play Joe Bell. They will be joined by Robert Calvert as Doc, Naomi Cranston as Mag, Charlie De Melo as José, Tim Frances as Rusty Trawler/Editor at 21, Andrew Joshi as Yunioshi, Melanie La Barrie as Mme Spanella, and Sevan Stephan as OJ Berman/Dr Goldman, with Katy Allen and Andy Watkins.
As previously announced, Pixie Lott will star as Holly Golightly for the UK and Ireland Tour, from 3 March to 30 April and 13 to 25 June, and at London’s Theatre Royal Haymarket from 30 June to 17 September.
Truman Capote’s classic novella has been adapted for the stage by Pulitzer Prize-winning Finalist and Tony and Olivier Award-winning playwright Richard Greenberg (Take Me Out, Three Days of Rain), and contains memorable songs from the era as well as original music by Grant Olding (One Man, Two Guvnors, RSC’s Don Quixote).
Based on Truman Capote’s beloved masterwork, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is set in New York in 1943. Fred, a young writer from Louisiana, meets Holly Golightly, a charming, vivacious and utterly elusive good-time girl. Everyone falls in love with Holly – including Fred. However Fred is poor, and Holly’s other suitors include a playboy millionaire and the future president of Brazil. As war rages on in Europe, Holly begins to fall in love with Fred – just as her past catches up with her.
Artistic Director of Curve, Nikolai Foster said, “It’s a testament to the beauty of Capote’s imagination, the extraordinary characters he created and Greenberg’s faithful adaptation, that alongside Pixie and Matt, we have assembled such an accomplished company of actors to bring this dazzling play to life. We are thrilled to welcome the company to Curve and our audiences in Leicester and on tour in the UK. Every week of 2016 will see a Curve production on a UK stage and we are thrilled Breakfast at Tiffany’s will be part of this commitment to sharing work that has been made at Curve.”
Breakfast at Tiffany’s will be directed by Nikolai Foster, the Artistic Director of Curve, with production design by Matthew Wright, lighting design by Ben Cracknell, sound design by Mic Pool and wig design by Campbell Young.
Nikolai Foster is Artistic Director at Curve. Recent productions include Roald Dahl’s The Witches, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good and Shakespeare’s Richard III (all Curve), Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (West Yorkshire Playhouse), the 20th anniversary production of Jonathan Harvey’s Beautiful Thing (Curve and Nottingham Playhouse), Calamity Jane (Watermill Theatre, Newbury & UK tour) and a major new production of the Broadway musical Annie (West Yorkshire Playhouse & UK tour).
Breakfast at Tiffany’s will begin performances at the Curve, Leicester on 3 March 2016, before embarking on a UK & Ireland Tour. There will be a 12-week season at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London’s West End from 30 June to 17 September 2016.
Visit the website for Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

See also:

Music from the Schools.

An Inspector Calls.

Outings (play review).