Saturday 8 October 2011

Consett: Sore Throats & Breakdancing!

♫ Cole Porter and Gershwin too.
Irving Berlin and Sondheim knew.
Y'gotta kick some butt before you go.
Or it's no show. ♫
Friday night of this week saw the final performance - for 2011, anyway - of Monopolise! at yer actual Consett Empire Theatre in good old County of DurHam. We got a very nice preview from Gordon Barr in the Crocodile.
The last Monopolise! of 2011 went off with something of a bang-ette. A decent-sized (and very enthusiastic) crowd, probably the second best performance so far (nothing was going to quite match South Shields) and all this despite poor old Mark having a terrible time with his vocal chords (to be honest, he was under doctor's advice not even be talking let alone singing). So, Shecky was a wee bit more husky than usual when singing his verse of 'It Wasn't Me' this time around.
This, obviously, necessitated a few minor script changes (like, it being Chief Danno O'Hara who did all the - off-stage - shouts during 'The Latino Hypnotist Song'). We also benefited hugely from the debut performance of Chief Constable Victor Foxtrot's grandson, Fortescue, played by young Connor Joseph who did a bit thoroughly sharp body-poppin', with the hippin' and the hoppin' and the baseball cap on backwards and all that during 'The Cop Rap.' Clearly, when we transfer the show to the West End, we're gonna have to drag Connor along with us as he got the biggest round of applause of the night.
So, that's it for 2011, folks. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping and Mister Alfred Joey OBE ended the night scoffing a very nice bag of chips n gravy on Consett High Street (from the chippie next door to the, ahem, 'Gentleman's Club') before retiring back to our respective gaffs to plot our next move. Ah, it's a rock n roll showbiz lifestyle we lead, ladies and gentlemen.

♫ We've had the laughs,
we've had the cheers.
It's time to get the heck from here.
At the Big Finish of the Big Finish song! ♫

But remember, dear blog reader, like James Bond Monopolise! will return. In 2012.

Saturday 3 September 2011

South Shields: The Corpse On The Stage (Rather Than The Copse)

So, dear blog reader, Monopolise! had its first post-Edinburgh performance south of the banks of the bonnie River Tyne at the legendary Customs House in South Shields. This was the first public performance of the extended two-act version including all of the various bits and pieces which we'd dropped to get the length down to fifty eight minutes for Edinburgh. ('Oh Mr Daniels', the On The Town sequence, Leslie Whicker's Guide To Londinium, more Parkie, more Hansen and Lawro, more Lucky and Mabel, more Boris and more Victor Foxtrot).
At least that was the plan, although audience laughter managed to set Alfie off on spectacular fit of corpsing during the Hansen and Lawro bit meaning the audience were deprived of half-a-dozen lines - including, tragically, the Brokeback Mountain allusion. It mattered, frankly, not-a-jot however, dear blog reader. Because, if you happen to have seen any of the previous performances - at Liverpool, Newcastle or Edinburgh - and also caught this one, that, ladies and gentlemen, is how it's supposed to be!
Thank goodness that the Customs House was the version we chose to have videoed for posterity. The two-act version allows, obviously, for more breathing space, more characterisation, more songs and more silliness. All of which meant a far less manic delivery than at Edinburgh. A relatively last minute addition - a slow reprise of 'Murder Is Around Me' at the start of the second act - was a useful indication of the necessary differences in tempos between the one and two act versions. There's time for reflection, for subtlety, for a bit more soul in the longer version.
We had a super audience - lots of support from Mark's friends and family and from the BBC contingent - all of whom, gratifyingly, seemed to get the general idea and laughed in all the right places. (And a couple of the wrong ones, like when Alf's laughter went walkabout, admittedly!) and the Customs House itself is a lovely space. Warm, encouraging and with beautiful acoustics - aided, this time, by Alf being mic'd up for the first time. Mind you, he did have a bit of trouble with the radio mic during rehearsals. Particularly every time he took Boris's hat off.
Thankfully, however, passing taxis didn't interfere with the radio mic (we had speculated before hand on what to do if, for example, 'Moonlight and Chocolates' had been interrupted by a sudden burst of 'Fred, I've got a pick up for ya on Ocean Road').
For those who asked afterwards, and there were a couple, the songs are, in order: 'Murder Is Around Me', 'I'm Lucky', 'Moonlight and Chocolates', 'Don't Go To London', 'I'm Gonna Take Myself Shopping', 'The Policeman's Song', 'The Latino Hypnotist Song', 'I Should Be So Lucky', 'Monopolise!', 'Murder Is Around Me (Reprise)', 'The Cop Rap', 'It Wasn't Me', 'Oh, Mr Daniels', 'I'm Under London' and 'The Big Finish.' Lyrics by A Joey (with occasional assistance from yer actual K Telly Topping), music by M Deeks. Except for 'I Should Be So Lucky' which, erm, wasn't.
So, a very successful evening all round it would seem. Certainly the reaction in the bar afterwards, and subsequent feedback on Facebook and Twitter has been hugely positive. The blog will bring you any reviews as and when we get them. By the way, please note in the next picture the use of a feather duster to replace the proper Fred Astaire-style cane that Alf had acquired, but managed to leave in Edinburgh. Needs must, and all that ...
Oh, and of the course the single most important point of the night, this time Chief Danno O'Hara got his line in uninterrupted. Equity rates, and all that, be fair ladies and gentlemen.
Right, before we go a few necessary bits of housekeeping and a few links to which your attention should be drawn. Firstly there was a very good Northern Echo interview with Alf from earlier in the year in which Monopolise! was mentioned at length. Shortly before the Edinburgh sojourn - there you go, didn't know this blogger was barely monolingual, did you? - the Chronicle's Gordon Barr did a short preview piece. As did the Fringe Preview webpage. And, finally, we highlighted this after the Newcastle show but it's worth highlighting again, Ed Waugh gave us a delightful review which was published in both the Northern Echo and the Shields Gazette.
The next performance of Monopolise! - the last of 2011 - will take place at the Consett Empire Theatre on Friday 7 October. So that gives Alf plenty more time to fiddle with the script a bit more! Book online or call the Box Office on 01207 218 171. This was a public service announcement.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Beyond The Fringe (And, Indeed, Sanity)

'I've never seen as much go into one show!'
Justin Moorhouse on Monopolise!

So dear blog reader, the almost mythical and legendary one-off performance of Monopolise! at the 2011 Edinburgh Comedy Festival passed off on Monday evening. Not without incident, admittedly. Whilst Mark pootled up to Scotchland under his own steam, Alfie and Keith's Thelma & Louise-style road-trip began at some bleeding obscure hour of the ... night, frankly. And included, en route a brief stopover on the hard shoulder near Dunbar so that Alf could report in to The Breakfast Show - hosted, in Alfie and Charlie's duel absence, by Simon Pryde. Check it out here at approximately two hours and twelve minutes into the show. After a light breakfast near Arthur's Seat (Arthur himself wasn't too bothered, apparently), the day continued with Alf's appearance on the great Fred MacAulay's MacAulay and Co on BBC Scotland at the BBC Village in central Edinburgh.
Listen to ensuing - highly radio unfriendly - chaos here (about fifty one minutes into the show). Various other malarkey and shenanigans happened thereafter, including Keith proving that whilst he might be 'a singularly world famous (in Newcastle) TV reviewer,' his skills at 'walking in a straight line without doing anything stupid' leave much more to be desired when he managed to trip over his own feet on the Royal Mile and injured his wrist. Much to Alf's obvious amusement.
The venue for the 8:30 performance was upstairs at The Pleasance Courtyard.
After the very lovely Justin Moorhouse had used an appearance on 5Live last week to give the show a plug and some quality leafleting from Mr Joey in the afternoon whilst Keith sat in the pub and whinged about his poor hand (and watched some cricket, admittedly), we had a more-than-decent-sized audience for the performance.
Unfortunately, being the middle one of three shows on the night in the venue meant that we didn't have as much time as usual beforehand to set up. And, thus, one or two props weren't where they should've been, necessarily, when they should've been there. It was all a bit discombobulating but, hey, what can you do?
The show must go on. And, indeed, it did. 'Manic, but entertaining,' was the three-word review from those on stage. Though, yer actual Keith Telly Topping' climactic appearance as Chief Danno O'Hara was somewhat ruined when, in the words of his own four-word review the legend that is Mr Joey 'cut my mother******* line!' Ooo, he was cross, so he was. Some truncheon action could've followed. But it didn't.
Words, however, were spoken on this matter, at length, on the car journey back to Tyneside. Anyway, we brought the show in on time - fifty eight minutes on the nail - Sheckie Le Geordie even having time to stop and have his picture taken.
And, The Marxist Brothers found that Harpo had, once again, been silenced by The State.
We had the laughs, we had the cheers, it was, indeed, time to get the heck from ... there. But not before we got the following, ringing, endorsement from the very lovely Jim Little on Facebook: 'Really enjoyed Alfie Joey in Monopolise! in the Pleasance CourtYard this evening. A cracking good show, well worth seeing. It was good to see Keith Topping reading the paper and keeping out of mischief!' Well, almost, Jim. Although I could tell you a few stories about wrist injuries and cut lines. Satnfatnrantbatnsatndockdasterdly.
An hour in the bar, a dodgy kebab in Leith and then it was off home. We briefly paused in the Purdy Lodge Service Station (check it out, if you're passing, it's great) to have a look at Facebook and Twitter for messages of support, sympathy, or chastisement for that matter. Briefly, we considered lying to all of our friends that we were, at that very moment, in bed with a bottle of brandy, a nose full of blow and a couple of hookers. But, then we thought better of it and made in back to Newcastle, vaguely, in one piece.
So, for those interested, the next performance will be at South Shields Customs House on Friday 2 September. That will be the slightly longer two-act version which will include Keith's Leslie Whicker bit, the entire On The Town sequence, the 'Oh Mr Daniels' routine which we dropped at Newcastle and then put back in at Edinburgh cos it's 'the best bloody song in the show' .... and a few other tiny bits and piece which you might not have seen before if you caught either the Liverpool or Newcastle shows. And, hopefully this time, the Carmeena Veranda mask will be where it should be when Lucky does the big reveal at the end. And, also, Keith won't have his mother******* line cut again. I'm just sayin', I'm not bitter nor nothing.

If we get any reviews from the Edinburgh show - other than, you know, 'the biggest load of tripe I have ever seen. That's an hour of my life I'll never get back' - then they'll be posted in due course.
This mildly-self-deprecating description of real-time events was provided in written evidence by Officer Danno O'Hara Telly Topping (available for panto). Who had his mother******* line cut! And has slept about three hours in the last twenty four. I'm never doing that again!

Thursday 18 August 2011

Pre Edinburgh Rehearsals

And lo, dear blog reader, it did come to pass that on the eighteenth day of August, the Sainted Mr Joey sayeth onto his unwilling cohorts (particularly Keith Telly Topping who wanted to get home and watch the cricket), 'verily, let us go therefore onto BBC Newcastle - in a room well away from anybody broadcasting anything - and, there, let us caterwaul our way through a full (not dress) rehearsal of the Edinburgh shenanigans. For, is it not written that thou shalt not get a half-way decent four-line review in the Daily Record if thouest art not prepared?'
And, so they did. And it was ... well, I'm not going to say 'good' necessarily, but you know ... At least Alf remembered the 'do you expect me to talk?' 'No, I expect you to dice!' line this time around.
We're not sure you're quite ready for the Oscar yet, Alfie.
Mark looks bored whilst waiting for his bit.
Introducing The Legendary Marxist Brothers.
Oi, Groucho, there's a member of the proletariat in my soup.
Don't say that too loudly, sir, or he may be oppressed by the crushing forces of capitalism.
She is The Great Carmeeeeena, with a look that can simply hypnotize.
Get ready to boo and hiss, ladies and gentlemen, it's Boris the Bad Russian!
Music, maestro please!
'Oh, Mr Daniels. You've gotta help me with my fall.'

Remember, if you're up for The Fringe, Monopolise! is on for one night only - 22 August upstairs at the Pleasance Courtyard.

Thursday 11 August 2011

The Housewife's Choice

There's a rather appealing interview with the legend that is Alfie Joey his very self at North East Life
Michael Hamilton asks the questions.

Thursday 21 July 2011

Newcastle - The First Review

The authors are indebted to Ed Waugh for the following:

Alfie Joey: Monopolise!
Live Theatre, Newcastle

Alfie Joey's daytime job is co-hosting BBC Newcastle's breakfast show. Before he took up that position a few years ago he was Derrick in all seven series of BBC3 cult sitcom Ideal (with Johnny Vegas) and had built up an illustrious record on the national and international stand-up comedy scene; I last saw him sharing the bill at the Customs House with Sarah Millican.
It's obvious from this funny one-man show that Mr Joey has never lost his desire to entertain a live audience. With a nod to Mel Brooks, Monopolise! is a comedy musical about murder, mystery and mayhem.

Over the years, many 'pre-Edinburgh Fringe' shows have left me wondering why people of no discernable ability waste their time, energy and money aiming for that particular Holy Grail. This is different.
The central figure, a guy called Lucky Schwartz, narrates in the manner of Raymond Chandler’s Victor Marlowe. A murder has been committed in Atlanta, USA, and the trail leads to London where a murder takes place in Mayfair during the world Monopoly®™ championships. The tale eventually winds up in Newcastle.

Joey sings a dozen or so songs and plays around twenty characters, impersonating Fred Astaire, Bruce Forsythe (a hotelier!), Groucho Marx and Michael Parkinson en route.

It's silly and good fun. A few first night glitches were seized on by Alfie to wring out more laughter. Despite referencing murder, this is suitable for family viewing and well worth a visit when the show comes to the Customs House on Friday 2 September.'

Thanks Ed.

In other news, Alf and Keith just spent another lengthy writing session doing some trimming for Edinburgh (although, Mark will be happy to know that 'Oh, Mr Daniels' is back in for next time).

Remember, if you're up for The Fringe, Monopolise! is on for one night only - 22 August upstairs at the Pleasance Courtyard.