Caro Meets Musicals Interview

Andrew Norris: Summer Street – The Hilarious Aussie Soap Opera Musical!

By | Published on Friday 3 May 2019

Opening at Waterloo East Theatre this month is a new and fab-sounding musical performed by an excellent cast that includes some long term TW favourites. And if you’ve ever been a fan of Australian soaps, or look back on their UK success late last century with some nostalgia… then this is definitely a show to add to your to-see list.

To find out more about the show, I spoke to the talent behind it – writer and director Andrew Norris.

CM: Can you start by telling us what story the show tells? Who is it about and what happens in it?
AN: ‘Summer Street – The Hilarious Aussie Soap Opera Musical!’ tells the story of four fading Aussie Soap Opera stars from the 1990s who try to resurrect their failing careers by filming a one-off, nostalgic TV special of their long forgotten soap, ‘Summer Street’, in which they made their names. Old rivalries and relationships soon bubble to the surface and ‘art’ begins to imitate life as they rehearse and shoot their soap opera scenes. They eventually find out that, just like the facade of soap, everything is not as it seems in their own lives and things are about to get very bumpy! ‘Summer Street’ is a loving, comedic homage to the Aussie soaps of the 1980s and ‘90s and explores stardom, celebrity and just how much some people are prepared to pay for fame.

CM: What kind of music can we expect in the show?
AN: All the songs pastiche ‘80s and ‘90s music. We even have our very own homage to Kylie’s ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ called ‘Lucky Plucky Me!’. There is a rich mix of musical styles including Stock, Aitken and Waterman, ‘80s power ballads, Erasure and Sondheim. There’s something for everyone!

CM: Does the show explore any specific themes?
AN: The shows explores the addictive nature of fame and celebrity and the reasons why, even though it can often be a destructive force, some people still crave it.

CM: What was your inspiration for this? What made you want to create this particular story?
AN: I grew up in the 1980s and 90s and I was always fascinated at the huge popularity of the Aussie soaps of the era; they had such a massive impact on our cultural landscape. Aussie soap celebs were hot property and they popped up everywhere from supermarket openings to panto and everything in between! Arguably the popularity of the Aussie soaps in the UK made bigger stars of the actors appearing in them than they would have been otherwise. Jason and Kylie to name but two!

CM: It sounds like you have a great cast – can you tell us a bit about them and how you brought them together?
AN: They are all absolutely terrific! Most have been with the show through workshops for the last 3 years and Simon Snashall did the first ever workshop of the show back in 2010. I’m very lucky to have such amazing talent. Julie Clare and Sarah-Louise Young are both ‘Showstoppers – The Improvised Musical’ veterans and I got to know them though our first MD, Duncan Walsh-Atkins. Myke Cotton and I both appeared in ‘Martin Guerre’ in the West End in 1997 and I know Simon Snashall though my corporate work. They have helped shape ‘Summer Street’ into the show it is today.

CM: Your company AJN Productions has been going for quite a while now – what made you decide to create your own company?
AN: I have always been passionate about theatre and creating my own work. I love musicals so all my shows have a musical angle. I wanted to write and produce under my own banner so starting a company seemed the perfect way to do that.

CM: How did you end up working in the arts? Was this what you always wanted to do?
AN: My mother always tells me that at the age of five I came home from school one day and said that I had been talking to a school friend who was having drama lessons and that I wanted to have them too. From the very first lesson I got the bug and have wanted to be involved in theatre ever since.

CM: What aims and ambitions do you have for the future?
AN: In the long term I would love to keep producing my own work, but on a larger scale. In the short term I would love to tour ‘Summer Street’ and perhaps transfer for a run in London’s West End… there’s no harm in thinking big!

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this?
AN: A rest! After that though I will reflect on ‘Summer Street’ and plan where next to take it. I also have a few other musical projects in the pipeline so I may well start the long process of bringing another show to the stage. Watch this space!

‘Summer Street – The Hilarious Aussie Soap Opera Musical!’ is on at Waterloo East Theatre from 13 May-2 Jun. See this page here for more info and to book tickets.

LINKS: www.waterlooeast.co.uk | www.ajnproductionsltd.co.uk | twitter.com/SummerStMusical



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