An Interview with Rosie Houlton

RosieHoultonBlackDress.jpgHello Rosie, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?

Hey Mumble! Well I was born and bred in the land of roundabouts (the beautiful Milton Keynes) in Buckinghamshire and I loved it so much there I decided to move Edinburgh, which is where I now live and call home.

When did you first realise you could sing?

I was a late bloomer. I’d say I didn’t realise I could sing until my early teens. It was my own little secret, I wouldn’t dare sing in front of people. I always wanted to perform from a young age but I actually wanted to be a dancer for a long time – which is HILARIOUS if you’ve ever seen me dance…

You have toured the UK and Europe as a vocalist and actress in musicals, plays, cabaret and concerts. Why have you suddenly decided to go solo?

Well, being your own boss and playing by your own rules is so much fun, if a bit stressful. It’s just me until I hit the stage when I’m joined by my lovely musical director, Douglas Price (who is so awesome I genuinely can’t believe my luck)! I just want to sing what I enjoy singing, say what I want to say, be playful and have fun. I just fancy doing my own thing for a little while. If you want to do what you truly enjoy, you have to start by making it happen on your own, right? At the moment my only choice is to do that solo. No one knows who I am yet and hopefully by the end of August I’ll meet some people who understand me, where I’m coming from and humour me in spite of it. I’m finding myself again but it’s a newer more interesting me and I’d like to share that with people.

This will be your debut show at the Fringe. What have you been led to expect what will happen during the month-long mash-up by other performers?

I’ve actually found people keeping their cards closer to their chests then I thought they would. So I’m currently expecting to see what the minions in my head are showing me and it’s colourful I’ll tell you that! I’ve ordered as many pairs of support pants and eyelashes my bank account will allow. I’m going to put my heart and soul into the experience and let the universe do the rest.

Can you tell us about your act?

I try to bring an element of different styles of music that I enjoy from Musical Theatre to Pop. I’m naturally a lyrical soprano who might sing eight bars of gangster rap, just because. As a person my outer layer is Disney Princess but the core of my onion is a massive chav and yes I’m singing ‘The Girl in 14G’ right now but at 5am you can see me bumping and grinding to old school garage in a warehouse that’s been turned into a nightclub for the night. Cabaret legend Jamie Anderson described my show as ‘The Voice of an Angel, Mouth of a Sailor’ at Cabaret Confidential back in February. So take from that what you will!

What does Rosie Houlton like to do when she’s not being all musical?

I love love love to eat cheese, and travel, preferably at the same time! Japan has had a big effect of my life, which you can find more about in my show. There’s still a lot more places I need to visit and I’m getting through them one pair of sequined sliders at a time. I also spend hours watching videos of fat cats, baby goats and chowchow puppies rolling around.

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Storytelling at the piano is a classic art-form, who are your inspirations?

I like to story tell, next to, the piano (haha). There is usually someone talented and amazing sat at it, so I get to watch them safely from afar. You know I’m actually just starting to learn who my inspirations are because putting on my own show is very new to me. I trained in Musical Theatre so obviously I could name some awesome artists who sing and entertain like Christina Bianco, Kristin Chenoweth and Bette Midler, which is the tiniest tip of the iceberg.

I grew up travelling in the circus with Daddy Houlton (Cousin Timoni is his official clown name) and I think that’s where my roots lie in terms of how I set up my stories and I like to say the unexpected. I’m always learning, all the time and I watch a huge amount of stand up and many sitcoms. I love all sorts of humour from the likes of Kevin Hart, Larry David and Katherine Ryan. They’re all completely different but more importantly they all teach you to just be yourself and then find a structure within that which works well for you. I’m never trying to be a stand up. I’m a singer at heart but these people help me to understand comedic storytelling. I could give you a massive list of vocalists who I truly admire but we’d be here for hours.

I would be nowhere without the composers of the songs I use … NOWHERE! It blows my mind how these beautiful people just create these amazing songs. I’ve done a lot of work in helping composers develop new musical theatre so I try to bring in a song or two from writers who aren’t as well known to show off their talents.

Your subject matter, storywise, is a little risque, perhaps. Whyever did you choose this particular route & what do your parents think?

Well I found starting with ‘facts about me’ was a subject I already knew about and a great way to introduce myself to the festival for the first time. I have quite a blunt sassy humour. Although I’m just telling facts about myself because I’m very dry, honest and open, it can be taken as quite risqué which doesn’t really match my cute name and appearance and so people don’t exactly expect it from me. I’m a fan of innuendo but sometimes I don’t leave much to the imagination. I’ve always laughed through my hardships and when I’m telling stories about my personal life, I suppose it just comes out that way. My dad is a circus clown and my mum is a psychic so they’ve got some stories themselves to be fair. They are my best friends and they know me better than anyone else. There’s nothing I could bring up that they don’t already know…

What will Rosie Houlton be doing for the rest of 2017?

I will be doing more ‘Rosie Sings’ Cabaret shows at the Dirty Martini in the Le Monde Hotel here in Edinburgh. I’m also planning on taking my show to Milton Keynes where it all began. You can always see me bobbing about singing at various cabarets at The Ghillie Dhu in Edinburgh and the Corinthian Club in Glasgow. I’ll then be running off to Panto Land to play Princess Jill in Jack and The Beanstalk at Rotherham Civic Theatre this Christmas and New Year (the sailor mouth will be truly locked away for that I promise)! And of course eating cheese whilst travelling.


Rosie will be strutting her stuff this August

@ Fingers Piano Bar

Aug 5-6, 8-13, 15-20, 22-27 (15.10)

An Interview with Ben Dali

Ben Dali Watch.jpgHello Ben, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?

Hello Mumble. I am both from, and at, North London. Somewhere between Finchley and Golders Green.  Although I left my heart in Edinburgh.

 

When did you first realise you were, well, magical?

My grandfather used to buy me magic tricks when I was a kid which was an early hobby but the tricks did all the hard work. I got back into it during my Psychology degree when I realised the aptitude I had for analysing and interpreting body language, so I guess in my early twenties I started honing in on that, then developed the skills to influence behaviour (strictly for entertainment purposes) a few years later. That’s the real magic.

 

There is a lot of showbiz front to your performances, does this come naturally?

I’ve always sought the limelight – in my first year of university I was doing radio shows, stand-up comedy, acting, quizmastering, karaoke and DJing in clubs and it’s all rolled on from there really. I guess the showbiz side of my personality has developed at a similar rate to the transition into adulthood, and being on stage was already a part of me before I learned hypnosis.  A hypnosis show is basically two shows in one anyway – one for the volunteers and one for the audience so if you don’t have a natural ability to perform to an audience then you can’t do the artform justice even if you’re a strong hypnotist. In fact, the stage skills are the harder of the two to master.

 

You know a good show when its happened, what are the special ingredients?

You know a good show from the moment the volunteers come up on stage.  You can read the room, get a feel for how the volunteers will take to the trance and the suggestions. To make a hypnosis show as good as it can be, you need a balance between a strong performance from the hypnotist and volunteers. The onus on me is selecting the right sketches to use, keeping the show flowing well, giving the right suggestions to the right volunteers. There’s a thousand decisions and they all have an impact.  But I only have so much control, for the show to be truly special I need creative volunteers whose imaginations and responses to the suggestions are bold, diverse and unpredictable. I set up the scenes but without volunteers with a natural talent to enter trance and deliver on the suggestions I’m merely more than a man on a stage with ambitions.

What does Ben Dali like to do when he’s not being, well, magical?

Outside of magic and hypnosis I’m a big fan of films and quizzes.  I present a couple of pub quizzes a week in London and appear on TV gameshows whenever opportunity presents (my main achievements being a one-episode win of Countdown in 2004 and The Chase in 2012, as well as Take Me Out last year).  To be honest though, I live and breathe Edinburgh Fringe year round, I spend autumn thinking, winter planning, spring writing and summer promoting so when I’m not being magical I’m preparing to.

 

One of your major coups was tricking a knight of the realm, Sir Ian McKellen, can you tell us about the experience?

Ah. You want secrets? OK I’ll share one with you.  One of my main effects, in fact the one which kickstarted my career in Mentalism is identifying which card someone has selected by asking them a series of questions while they respond ‘no’ to all.  I work out when they’re lying and deduce the card. Hopefully.  I met Sir Ian (or ‘Kellers’ to his mates) in a pub and asked if he’d like to try me on for size (not like that) and he was up for it.  There was so much going on with his responses it was enlightening to see how a lifelong thespian compared to people not used to lying, which is similar to acting. I couldn’t pick up on his tell so worked out when he was ‘acting’ the most and correctly called him on the 7 of Clubs.

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You are returning to the Fringe for another stint, can you tell us what you’re up to?

Of course, Mumble.  So I’m bringing Edinburgh a brand new hypnosis show written especially for the festival, called ‘Take A Trance On Me’.  The format is the same as last year – introduce hypnosis, invite volunteers on stage, hypnotise them, administer a series of sketches selected to maximise the quality of the show based on the volunteers, then wake them up.  What’s special about this new show is that all the sketches are set in Edinburgh around the festival to give it that extra personal touch – there’ll be bagpiping in the Tattoo, flyering on the Royal Mile, surviving a night in the haunted Edinburgh Castle and starring in Edinburgh’s Got Talent.  It’s gonna be a blast! I’ll also be hosting a nightly cabaret show with different star names in comedy and cabaret from across the Fringe called The Not So Secret Society. Details on facebook.com/NotSoSecretEd

 

You have been touring now for 5 years, how has your show evolved over that time?

My last show ‘Strictly Come Trancing’ was always evolving – I wrote the show in 2012 then added to my repertoire of sketches every time I thought of something exciting and new until the full show was a different landscape to the original set list. The introduction and format remain the same but the sketches have higher production value and are more topical and open to audience participation. With ‘Take A Trance On Me’ the whole show was written from scratch so I brought in a high profile Scottish cabaret artist called Frodo Allan (aka Rufus T) to direct and help develop it so it is well polished and has the benefit of his expertise as well.

Can you describe the Fringe experience in a single sentence?

The Fringe is a month-long rollercoaster where you wake up each morning not knowing what potentially life-changing events and encounters await you, only that interesting things will happen that you couldn’t experience in any other environment, any other time or place in history.

 

What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Ben Dali?

That’s a question nobody can answer before August.  Hopefully I’ll find an agent and some high profile bookings through Edinburgh Fringe and continue to tour Take A Trance On Me to any venues in the UK or abroad that are up for a contemporary hypnosis show.  I’d like to move closer towards student unions, corporate, cruise ship and holiday park circuits. I’d love to get more time performing Mind Reading on stage and close-up as well. I’ll continue running my monthly free cabaret show Not So Secret Society London in Elephant & Castle (facebook.com/NSSSLondon) and work towards Edinburgh Fringe 2018.


BEN DALI WILL BE PERFORMING HIS SHOW, TAKE A TRANCE ON ME

Aug 5-27 (13.35)

Liquid Room Annexe (Venue 276) ​

****

VISIT BEN’S WEBSITE HERE

Misirlou

Sweet The Grassmarket 
Today – Bootleggers (15.00)
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It was a warm Saturday Night as I strolled through the throng of revelers partying the last weekend of the Fringe, to bare witness to the last appointed Mumble mission of the month. The Sweet Venue is a nice place, a Hotel that has been transformed into a performance art venue, & sound enough to open their doors to Misirlou, from whose feet her original venue had pulled the rug from out of just as she arrived in Edinburgh. I collected my ticket and waited in the lobby for the performance to be called. Taking full advantage of the panini and coffee special at the bargain price of a fiver. Nom Nom. The performance was called and the audience took to the seats. My initial feelings brought the surreal feeling of being in a David Lynch film. Suspense and intrigue were hanging in the air.
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Misirlou is half-Greek, half-Superhero, who appears from behind a gold curtain hilariously riding a cardboard horse. Much of this performance was unprepared as she leapt from one amusing scenario to the next. Her demonstration of glitter and gravity had me laughing so hard, & all the while she was making full connection with her intimate audience to demonstrate her supernatural, mystical and philosophical wisdom. Representative of a true Greek Goddess, Misirlou summoned her audience members to the stage as she took us through a movement ritual that invoked the Greek Goddess and mother of the muses, Mnemosyne. Comedy and genuine supernatural Power, presented in 45 minutes of ground breaking entertainment.
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Reviewer : Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert
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Alice in Wasteland

Studio 24
August 26th

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Stagecraft : five-stars Performance : five-stars Gasps : three-stars

The excitement was rising as people queued for the final Alice in Wasteland performance and closing show after party; a lycra clad gentleman provided a wee warm up gig on the street, demonstrating his leather whip skills.  Soon enough we were ushered in to the industrial unit, home to Edinburgh’s back alley club venue, Studio 24, walking past performers operating a smoke circle machine and welcoming us down the rabbit hole.  The performance is marketed as a 2 hour show, however part of that involves easing the audience into the upside down world of Alice in Wasteland, buying a drink at the bar while enjoying some good drum and bass, appreciating the post-Wonderland dystopia stage set and participating in a pre-show game of pass the bin bag!  There was an eclectic mix of people in the audience and many had gone to special efforts to dress-up for the occasion, easily passing as one of the performers.

6d9ad8_72f3c2d260124c36a89d44fd2cf26785.jpgPresented by Pyratrix Circus, Alice in Wasteland is a musical circus bonanza!  They have wealth of exceptional dancers, live musicians, aerialist, clowns, acrobats, singers and rappers.  In a contemporary twist on the classic Lewis Carroll tale, Alice, a bored businesswoman ruled by consumerism and materialism ingests some strange substances and gets taken to another dimension of the weird and wonderful!  Utilising the traditional sequence of events in the tale of Alice in Wonderland, the performance explores societies relationship with waste and the environmental issues of today’s world and promote a radical social change.  This original tale creates a deeper message about our own wasteland we have produced with our urban sprawl.  How we waste time on consumerism, gluttony and materialism rather than acting on creating a collective change.  Images of poverty, war, consumerist culture, politicians, psychedelic graphics and the performing characters flash across two large screens either side of the stage.

Our senses are truly spoilt by the multi-media theatre experience.  The detail and creativity in the colourful surreal stage and strobe lights dancing around the set is hypnotising.  The cabaret / party circus style tricks are supported by live instrumentation and an electrical soundtrack composed by the cast themselves.  The creative costumes are far from average, each highly unique and an art form in themselves.  The Queen of Hearts costume is especially intricate.  The queen of buying, materialism and submission into obeying, consuming more and thinking less, had a part of a shopping trolley to attach the rear of her bustle dress.  The sinister looking Madhatter, a ‘rich’ man of experience, laughter and love, states “Quality of life is not measured on how much we consume”.  To which the queen replies, “Off with is head!”  Tweedledum and Tweedledee performed by two sisters with long blonde hair in skin tight lycra suits dance, tap and sing their way through the dream-like experience.  The white rabbit sports white brogues as ears and the beatboxing caterpillar lives in a wheelie bin.  The narrative spliced between circus arts can be a bit confusing in parts, however visually this production is very stimulating and surreal.  Nothing is quite as it seems at Alice in Wasteland and you will ask yourself “Have I gone mad?” and well, “I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”13346814_1101787709860396_4818530347827381146_n.jpg

Being the last performing night the madness carried on until the small hours, 5am. The closing show party saw performances from the performing cast Katch Pyro, My Bad Sister, Pauly Piper, Doghouse, Burdy and The Girobabies rounding off an exceptionally marvelous experience.  Pyratrix Circus was only performing at the Edinburgh Fringe for 4 days, however hopefully they will return next year.  They are ones to look out for!

Reviewer : Sarah Lewis
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The Raunch

The Lafayette Spiegeltent

Underbelly Circus Hub

Run Complete

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Stagecraft : five-stars Performance : five-stars Gasps : 4.png

 Yeehaa! The Wild West has rode into town on hoverboards. The Raunch is a self-proclaimed punk, panto, cabaret, circus, western pastiche on acid, and it does not fail to deliver. This is no ordinary cowboy themed cabaret show, it’s sexy and bad ass with some outrageous surprises. Definitely not a show for the kids, prudish or faint-hearted. The Raunch has all the usual hallmarks of a classic cabaret act, but this dynamic cast certainly takes it to new heights, all to the tune of a toe-tapping, leg-slapping, hair-flapping sound track. This show is high energy, with perfectly choreographed dance routines, audience participation, tongue-and-cheek humour as each cast member bringing their own personality to their character. There is never a tumbleweed moment with the magnificent seven-strong cast, brought larger-to-life by their outlandish costumes, creative visual backdrops and lighting.

Bringing a contemporary London twist to proceedings were the magnetic My Bad Sister twins as the Bar Room Beauties… This tap dancing, rapping, knife throwing, ukulele playing duo captivated the audience with their hypnotic synchronicity. International burlesque femme fatale Missa Blue as The Outlaw is the all dancing, leather clad, fire-eating, fearless sword-swallower… tipping us to the edge of our seats is circus superstar Jair Ramirez as The Bandit – mesmerizing the audience with his acrobatics, the man has amazing strength, balance and precision as he performs jaw dropping aerial contortion… competing in no ordinary dual are the villains of the show, The Bad Sheriff, played by legendary cabaret performer Empress Stah and Alternative Miss World Fancy Chance as The Condemned. A nipple tassel duel to the death was not what the audience were expecting but was certainly well received.

Narrator Mr Ted’s The Unwanted keeps us entertained throughout, bringing an element of goofy daft humour with his lip-synching, drag ventriloquism. A nice, personal touch was to find the cast outside meeting and greeting the audience as we left. A whip cracking, boot stomping show that leaves you dancing up the street, do not miss the opportunity to see this show when you get the chance, we loved it!!!!!!!

Reviewers : Laura & Ema Murray

5

Closer by Circa

3rd – 29th Aug 2016
Udderbelly, George Square
From £17.50

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Stagecraft : 4.png Performance : five-stars Gasps : five-stars

Circa’s award winning circus art, directed by Yaron Lifschitz, returns to the Edinburgh Fringe with ‘Closer’ to push the boundaries of physical ability and amalgamate movement, theatre, dance and circus.  Circa have been at the forefront of contemporary circus since 2004, creating influential performances that thrills, delights and captivates worldwide audiences.  The famous upside down purple cow, Udderbelly, commissions this sequel showcase as per last years ‘Close Up’.

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Australian circus company Circa’s latest production, is not about the thrills and glitz of cabaret circus, instead the four stunning, talented and versatile performers have paired it back, dressed in black on a bare stage.  Inviting the audience to get Closer and watch intently as they masterfully perform a series of energetic, body-contorting, gravity-defying skills within this ‘intimate setting’.  The acts have an almost delicate, silent-movie feel.  There is comedy, as well as finesse and charm.  The quartet push the extremes and limitations of the human body, in ways not known possible, leaving your heart in your throat!  Circa’s distinctive selling point is that they combine breath-taking acrobatics and aerial circus spectacles with beautiful contemporary dance.

During Lauren Herley’s fast-pace vertical rope performance, she energetically spins, flips, whips and literally walks up the rope then drops down as the audience gasps with fright!  The pounding dynamic soundtrack complements the vibrant performance. Lisa Goldsworthy (who has a striking similarity to The Fifth Element’s, Milla Jovovich) flawlessly flaunts her impressive and amusing trapeze skills.  London newcomer Jarred Dewey joins Goldsworthy for a trapeze duet; as their bodies melt effortlessly into outstanding contorted poses.  Dewey’s solo trapeze-hanging mime act to Oasis’s Champagne Supernova demonstrates his muscular agility and strength while blending clowning and circus.  The troupe performs a run of inventive group balance displays, each exceeding the last.  Using their signature square framed chairs, the finale involves stacking the chairs into a tall tower; Daniel O’Brien performs a handstand on top with perfect precision.  The sold out audience applauds and roars loud with a standing ovation.  Overall Circa has produced another outstanding performance of human feat acrobatics and theatre performance superseding the rest. Overall 5 stars, bravo

Reviewer : Sarah Lewis

5