Wonderland show explores Hollywood characters

Simon Gray
Simon Gray

Music Theatre 2000 offer Lights, Camera… Wonderland! as a sequel to their highly-successful productions of Wonderland (2013), Return 2 Wonderland (2015) and Once Upon a Wonderland (2016).

This new incarnation of the show reconnects the creative talents of Emma Edwards (director), Nathan Potter (choreographer) and Simon Gray (musical director) and will be performed at The Barn Theatre in Southwick from April 25-28.

The show whisks us back to a time when movies were movies at the illustrious Paramount Pictures Studios – a journey that darts through the winding corridors and bustling movie lots of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Dictatorial directors, colourful costumiers, rattled writers and camp choreographers abound as stars-to-be face the trials and tribulations of Tinseltown.

Simon is promising a cinematic extravaganza, packed full of song and dance numbers from musical-theatre shows, classic and contemporary. As with all Music Theatre 2000 presentations, the cast features a mix of experienced professionals alongside some of the best local performers.

“I work with Nathan quite a lot. He is a great choreographer, and we had been putting on a few musical-theatre concerts, and we were just getting a little bored with the old concept of coming on, singing a song, going off, coming on, singing a song and going off again. We decided that we would try to do things in a different way and came up with this concept of a costumed and staged show incorporating lots of songs from all different musicals and putting them together as a new show.

“The first one we did didn’t have a through story. We played it like a bunch of circus performers. They all had their own little characters, but it was not a story running though. The second one we did had a little bit more of a story to it, and the characters were more defined. The third one we did had a very definite story. But this one, the fourth one, is now much more little vignettes. We see the stars-to-be and the has-beens and the costume designers and the directors and the writers, all little vignettes showing the various characters from that world of movie-making, with songs from a lot of contemporary musical theatre and also a few classics in there as well.

“This time we are performing it in the round, which gives everyone a different perspective. From the audience point of view, it gives you lots of different angles, and from the cast point of view, it will be different playing to the audience on all four sides.”

“For the songs, obviously we were looking for songs that were appropriate to the themes of the show. There are a lot of songs that reference movies or dressing up. In addition to Nathan, we also have Emma who came on board for the second show that we did, and she is very much involved in the creative process, putting the show together, and between the three of us we came up with all these songs, some of them that were obvious, some of them that we had to research. Often when you find one song you want, it leads to another.”

Simon set up Music Theatre 2000 in the year 2000 with a title which meant he didn’t have to stick to musical theatre and that he didn’t have to stick to opera. It was a name which meant he could do the things he wanted to do: “We do a pantomime every year and we also do a lot of concerts. I don’t do as many productions now as I used to because they are very time-consuming and also very expensive to put on, but in the past few years we have done the Wonderland shows, the pantomimes and the concerts.”

April 25, 7.30pm; April 26, 7.30pm; April 27, 7.30pm; April 28, 5pm and 8pm. The Barn Theatre, 24 Southwick Street, Southwick. www.southwickcommunitycentre.org.uk.

For other stories by Phil, see: https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2

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