Interview with Creatives and Cast of Miss Nightingale
You know how much I love new writing and even more so a new musical? Miss Nightingale is both, I caught up with its producer Tobias Oliver, writer Matthew Bugg and title character Lauren Chinery.
Here is a little about the show and the people.
This original British musical, set in 1940s London during World War Two, is created and written by Matthew Bugg and features 16 original songs, from innuendo-laden Music Hall style numbers to tender ballads and complex trios and quartets, which wonderfully capture the soaring spirit and biting wit of the 40s.
Matthew Bugg (Writer/Director/Harry Brown) is an acclaimed theatre composer. His work has been heard in theatres across the UK and in the West End.
Matthew’s credits include Dear Lupin at the Apollo Theatre, West End, Cirque Berserk at the Peacock Theatre, West End, UK & international tours, Volcano at the Vaudeville Theatre, West End, The Secret of Sherlock Holmes at the Duchess Theatre, West End, Northanger Abbey on UK tour, Dracula on Singapore & International tour, King Lear on UK tour, Our Man In Havana on UK tour, Black Coffee on UK tour, Barefoot in the Park at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, Go Back for Murder on UK tour, Quartet on UK tour, Some Like it Hotter at the Watermill Theatre, Murder on the Nile on UK tour, Polygraph at Nottingham Playhouse, The Father at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, League of Youth at Nottingham Playhouse, Three Men in a Boat on UK tour and The Handyman on UK tour.
Tobias Oliver’s (Producer/Clifford) stage credits include Miss Nightingale on UK tours and London runs (2013-2017), Love and Romance at Cast Theatre, Doncaster, Antigone at Baron’s Court Theatre, Half a Hamlet at Edinburgh Festival and Hamlet, The Revenger’s Tragedy, Two Noble Kingsmen, and Cracks at Drama Studio, Sheffield. Tobias’s screen and radio credits include The Maths Programme for Channel 4 and the monologue Trade for Spectrum Radio.
Lauren Chinery’s (Maggie Brown/Miss Nightingale) stage credits include Can’t Stop workshop, Gatsby at Leicester Square Theatre Lounge, Dreamboats and Petticoats on UK tour and Beauty and the Beast at Cast Theatre, Doncaster.
Tell me more about the journey of Miss Nightingale?
Well we started in 2011 and we did it at The Kings Head in Islington and at The Lowry Studio in Salford. That was a really small production only a three-hander at that point. Very small, very intimate and it was a good show, not fantastic but good. Then in 2013 we did some serious work on it and we booked a 13 week tour of it. (My goodness that was huge) Yes 14 venues, 13 weeks and often in thousand seater theatre’s. I think if we knew what it was going to be like and how hard it was we probably wouldn’t have done it? It was the steepest of learning curves. But the audience response we received had been fantastic.
I’m interested to know if you feel the audiences receive the show differently around the country?
Very much so. When we play up north it is very much Maggie’s show being a northern girl. Then when we bring it down south it is about the boys and Jewish refugees. You know, more around the upper class closeted man. So the power dynamics that people identify with change massively. Time and time again, “and this is gender specific”, we get the same comment “my husband hates musicals but he loved yours” Basically it’s a musical that people who don’t necessarily like musicals enjoy.
Fast forward to now and you are performing in the iconic Hippodrome and it’s intimate theatre Lauren how does that feel?
Exciting and it’s so intimate you are not removed from the audience at all, which you are in some places. Because there are times in the show when Miss Nightingale puts on her show the audience becomes the real audience. So it is more interactive and they respond to you, it’s really nice.
Whats your dreams and hopes for this show after this run?
We don’t know yet but we are hoping and planning to take it to America. That’s what we’d like to do and then who knows? Maybe a screen version? Where would you look to put it on in America? Probably off-Broadway in a similar size and setting of the Hippodrome, that would work really well.
Tell my readers why they should see the show?
It’s a great night out, we know because people have told us that they’ve never laughed more. They’ve cried with laughter, one man even fell off his chair he was laughing so much. It’s also a very moving, beautiful love story. There’s usually a good few sobs as people get into the love story. So people can bring their brain and absorb themselves in the themes of the show. Basically it’s beautifully moving and raucously funny.
How many songs are in the show and what genres?
Theres 18 and 25 instruments played by the cast of 6. It’s all actor musician with no clip tracks. The thing about 1942 was there was a real change in British music hall tradition and that met with European Jazz and of course American Swing was brought over at the time. So you’ve got a real mixture of sounds. And the show is very much about different cultures coming together, so all the different music comes together and it works well.
If you could go back in time when we you go back to?
Matthew – 1920’s Berlin because there was such intelligence and creativity in the arts at that time after World War 1. There was the breaking down of the class system and changes in social views. Very exciting times.
Lauren – I quite fancy the turn of the century around late 1800’s – early 1900’s Western America basically I want to be in Oklahoma (laughing). I’m also thinking of myself as 75 years old on the porch in a rocking chair.
Tobias – I’d go to 1880’s – 1890’s London to be with people like Oscar Wilde. I’d go ‘feasting with panthers‘ as he described it. Which is his idea of slumming it. I think just being in the contrast of the West End, the wit and Society and underground gay community would be really fascinating.
If you coul be a super hero or have a super power what would you choose?
Matthew – hmmm I’d have hair (laughing) To be able to grow hair.
Lauren – I think I’d like to have the ability to talk to the animals and understand them.
Tobias – I’d like to fly.
You can invite 3 dinner guests who would you invite and what would the theme be?
Tobias – I’m not sure they’d get on but I’d have Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe and Katherine Hepburn. I love strong women, it would be so entertaining and the theme would be ‘Incredible Women’.
Lauren – I would invite Carole King, Steve Irwin and Colin Mochrie. The theme would be ‘Eats and Beats’ everyone could lat down a rap that would be fun.
Matthew – Hedy Lemarr, Albert Einstein and Aristotle. Because I like clever people but also ones that can be very silly as well. The theme would be ‘Science and Silliness’.
We had so much fun doing this interview that in all honesty this is just a fraction of what we talked about.
Safe to say though, the overriding factor is they are passionate about their show and performing and their personalities really come over in the production.
So do please go and see it, you can book through this handy link.