In Rehearsal with the company of Miss Atomic Bomb
Yesterday we were invited to an exclusive rehearsal with the company of London's newest original musical, Miss Atomic Bomb.
Opening at the St. James Theatre in Victoria for a strictly limited run from 7 March to 9 April 2016, this is a rare chance to see a brand new musical comedy starring a fantastic cast of British musical theatre talent, and is, in my opinion, one of the most anticipated new shows of 2016.
Watch the rehearsal video by clicking below:
The show is exciting on a number of levels. It has been a long time since London has seen a thoroughly original musical of this scale, and one that isn't based on a popular film or the back catalogue of a famous band. Without an established 'brand name' to sell tickets, the whole venture is an incredible risk, but a move that should be wholeheartedly commended and supported. Developed over the past five years, the project has lovingly been brought to the stage by a talented production team and fearless producer Tanya Link, who has assembled a cast of the West End's finest performers to bring the weird yet wonderful story to life.
Written by Adam Long, Gabriel Vick and Alex Jackson-Long, Miss Atomic Bomb is set in Las Vegas in 1952 and is inspired by the real life nuclear tests and beauty pageants of the era. Whilst America was caught up in the Cold War and flexing their Nuclear muscles, tourists flocked to the Nevada desert to see the mushroom clouds from afar, whilst enjoying the lifestyle of Las Vegas culture. With hotels and bars capitalising on this new influx of tourism, the Atomic Bomb suddenly became fashionable, with budding entrepreneurs finding any method possible to cash in on the desert's latest attraction.
Miss Atomic Bomb brings together a variety of difference narrative threads - from the young man who is on the run from the Army, to the floundering bar owner desperate to catch a break. Vegas showgirls, farmers and gangsters combine to create a brand new musical in the classic style, with a nod to shows such as 'Guys and Dolls', whilst at the same time furthering the form into something truly original and memorable.
Simon Lipkin and Dean John-Wilson
Sitting down to watch the rehearsal, we were welcomed by co-directors Adam Long and Bill Deamer (who also choreographs the production) who were notably excited at the show's first performance to an external audience. The energy in the room was palpable, and the company looked excited to share what they have been working on with eager guests, as they come to the end of their time in the rehearsal room and prepare to move into the theatre for tech.
The first number shown was an exciting exposition song called "Atomic City USA", which introduces the main characters and sets the scene and tone for the entire production. The general rule of theatre is that the audience will buy whatever you want them to, as long as it happens within the first ten minutes, and this opening number really drives that idea home. The consistent vamp, complete with catchy melodic phrases connects the different worlds, giving snapshots of the young soldier, a funeral scene, and high-kicking showgirls cementing the world of the show that the audience have entered.
It's fast paced and frenetic, with every square inch of the tightly marked out space being used for Deamer's impressive choreography. You suddenly remember that unlike opening in the West End, the St James Theatre provides an intimate and up close view of a show, with a semi-apron stage removing all boundaries between cast and audience, something that this production will certainly use to its advantage.
Suzie McAdam, Kirk Patterson & Sasi Strallen
The tone changed as we were shown a more intimate number between Catherine Tate and Florence Andrews that occurs early in the show, operating as the 'I Want' moment for Florence's character Candy, a Utah salt of the earth farmer who goes on to become the eponymous Miss Atomic Bomb. We hear of her dreams to go to "California", and even in this smaller moment the humour is present, with Andrews bouncing off Tate's effortless charm and comic command.
As more characters are introduced, we were shown one of the biggest and most ambitious numbers of the show and one where each cast member casually slips on their tap shoes, and the energy begins to rise. Choreographer Bill Deamer is known for his incredible tap numbers, having won the Olivier Award for his work on 'Top Hat', and this number, "Miss Atomic Bomb", effectively builds from a small idea to save the hopeless hotel owner's life to an all-singing and all-dancing production number. Once again utilising the full extremes of the stage, there's not an empty second throughout the song and the number builds into a showstopping climax, complete with chorus line finale that both propels the narrative as well as lift the material into the realms of first rate musical comedy.
The cast for Miss Atomic Bomb includes musical theatre veterans Simon Lipkin and Daniel Boys, who both have experience creating new roles in London productions. As a truly original musical, each actor gets to put their stamp on their character, a process that's unique and quite special for any performer. Dean John-Wilson, London's soon to be star of 'Aladdin' also leads the company alongside Florence Andrews and Catherine Tate, bringing her unique style of physical comedy to her role of fashionista Myrna.
From just a couple of hours spent in the rehearsal room, it's clear that Miss Atomic Bomb is set to be something quite special. You could feel the confidence and dedication from every member of the company, striving to create what has to be the most difficult art form to get right - an original musical.
Make sure you don't miss out on what is set to be one of the biggest new shows of 2016, and look out for our interviews with the cast and crew coming out over the next couple of weeks.