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July 2019

Q&A With Kerry Ellis As The West End & Broadway Star Gets Ready To Join Rock Tribute Royalty

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She is one of the UK’s biggest musical theatre stars – and has forged a career in music with the guidance and mentoring of Queen’s Brian May – and now Kerry Ellis is preparing for a brand-new show which will premiere at Scarborough Open Air Theatre this summer.

The all-new show Queen Machine Symphonic featuring Kerry Ellis will see Queen’s greatest hits performed by leading European tribute band Queen Machine accompanied by the London Symphonic Rock Orchestra and conducted by Matthew Freeman, creating an unforgettable night of rock anthems.

Kerry Ellis is the UK’s leading lady of musical theatre, who originated the role of Meat, in Queen musical We Will Rock You. Since then, she’s forged a long-standing musical relationship and friendship with Queen guitarist Brian May, who describes the stage star as having “Britain’s most beautiful voice”.

Brian produced Kerry’s debut album Anthems, and they jointly released the follow up Golden Days in 2017, as well as extensively touring the UK and Europe together. The Scarborough Open Air Theatre premiere on August 31 comes ahead of the UK tour in April 2020.

We caught up with Kerry for a chat about her long-standing relationship with Queen’s music, preparations for the Queen Machine Symphonic show, and open-air performances.

 

HOW DOES A MUSICAL THEATRE LEADING LADY END UP LINKED TO ONE OF THE GREATEST ROCK BANDS OF ALL TIME?

I met Brian May a long time ago. Before I auditioned for We Will Rock You I was in My Fair Lady and he ask me to audition for the show. I met him and Roger Taylor and worked with them closely, developing the musical. I have gone on to work with Brian for almost 15 years now, touring the UK and Europe, writing songs, putting albums together. I feel comfortable, grateful and special to be singing those songs in that environment, and that I have Brian’s blessing to do it.

SO, TELL US ABOUT QUEEN MACHINE SYMPHONIC…

There are orchestral versions of Queen’s music out there, their music has been translated for an orchestra, and people do concerts celebrating Queen – but this set up hasn’t been done before; an orchestra, the rock band and then me singing. I’m so excited about it.

It’s going to be really unusual. It’s going to be something quite special, and I can’t wait to get started. When the offer came along, it sounded interesting and like a unique experience, and I love singing these songs and in different environments, and with passionate groups of people – which I know the band and orchestra will be.

YOU’VE DONE A LOT OF WORK WITH BRIAN MAY, HOW DOES HE FEEL ABOUT BANDS PAYING TRIBUTE TO QUEEN’S MUSIC? HAVE YOU SPOKEN TO HIM ABOUT THIS SHOW – AND WILL HE BE COMING ALONG TO SOAT?

When the Queen Machine Symphonic opportunity came up, I let Brian know about it and asked what he thought. The Queen Machine guys have played for one of the Freddie celebrations and are very much welcomed in the Queen family. They’re very well established, and they are huge in Europe.

Brian enjoys that people play their music still today and embraces that tribute bands are able to take it out there around the world. And that’s another reason why the music is so timeless – that so many people are still performing it and honouring Queen.

I hope Brian will be coming. He does come and support a lot of what I do, whatever he can get to, so I’m sure if the schedule permits, but it’s often a nightmare – with touring the world.

HOW ARE PREPARATIONS GOING FOR THE SHOW?

It’s not easy to put all that together, a band and orchestra will naturally pull in different ways, so it’s going to be challenging but really interesting as we get into rehearsals. And then there’s putting a rehearsal schedule together for everyone to come together… It’s a logistical nightmare, but there’s already a huge amount of work going into everyone’s preparations and pre-production and I can’t wait for it to come together.

YOU’VE BEEN SINGING QUEEN’S SONGS FOR MANY YEARS NOW. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE?

The song that is very close to my heart is No One But You. I sang that in We Will Rock You way back when and have recorded it and performed it with Brian around the world. We did it on our tour and at one point he said to me ‘It’s your song now, love it and enjoy it’. I’ve just got so many connections with it now – and it works brilliantly with an orchestra, so I’m sure we’ll be creating new memories with it in this show and tour.

WERE YOU A FAN OF QUEEN’S MUSIC BEFORE WE WILL ROCK YOU CAME ALONG?

I grew up with it; my dad was a fan and played a lot of rock music, and I listened to bands and acts like Meat Loaf, Status Quo, Bon Jovi, but also artistes like Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion. I was brought up with it but it became such a part of my life.

But really, everybody knows Queen’s music. The interesting thing today, is there’s a new generation of people interested in the music, because of the Bohemian Rhapsody film, with Queen touring with Adam Lambert, and the music is always used in films and adverts – you’re always hearing it.

I’m very proud that have a very deep connection with the music and the band and I’m very grateful for that. I always feel honoured and privileged to be doing their music with their blessing.

It’s been a big thing for me too; I always had a music career alongside musical theatre, but it probably wouldn’t have happened in the same way without that connection with Brian. He has influenced me in so many ways. Performing together on tour, and in the studio, he has educated me on putting an album together, something I had never done before. He’s been a kind of mentor to me and has helped me use the tools to make my own music.

HAVE YOU VISITED SCARBOROUGH OPEN AIR THEATRE BEFORE AND DO YOU ENJOY OUTDOOR SHOWS?

I’ve done a few open-air shows in the past and really enjoy them. It’s quite a British thing; we like braving the elements and hoping for the best. It’s exciting as a performer too, I don’t get to do them too often though. One which sticks in my mind was Lytham Festival a few years ago, and the heavens opened as I was singing Defying Gravity from Wicked – it was just a crazy moment, and so many people seem to remember it. I haven’t played the Open Air Theatre in Scarborough yet – but I’ve looked it up, and it’s beautiful so I can’t wait.

BESIDES PREPARING FOR QUEEN MACHINE SYMPHONIC, WHAT ELSE ARE YOU WORKING ON?

I’m working on some new music. I’ve not done an album of all originals before, so I’m working with writers again now. And I’m in talks with Brian again about touring or new music. A lot of concerts are in the diary throughout the summer, and I’m off to Japan again next year – I went earlier this year and it was magical, as well as the Queen Machine Symphonic tour.

ALONGSIDE WE WILL ROCK YOU, THE OTHER SHOW YOU’RE BEST KNOWN FOR IS WICKED; AND A FILM IS IN THE MAKING…

Wicked was a huge show for my career. It took me to Broadway – that was on my bucket list but I never thought I would actually get to do it. And to be the first British girl to play Elphaba, amazing. It has been a big part of my life, and it’s a show and role which resonates with fans all over the world, who go on supporting you for years after too; it’s a worldwide phenomenon. I’ll always be grateful to Stephen Schwartz and to director Joe Mantello for that opportunity; people still want me to sing that song [Defying Gravity] even though I left the show years ago.

I would love to get involved with the film! I’m sure it will be cast in America, and of course they are young girls at school – and I’ve just had a big birthday so maybe it’s not going to happen, but maybe a little cameo would be wonderful.

Tickets for Queen Machine Symphonic at Scarborough Open Air Theatre are on sale now via www.scarboroughopenairtheatre.com or in person from Scarborough Open Air Theatre Box Office (01723 818111) and the Discover Yorkshire Coast Tourism Bureau (01723 383636).

Lewis Capaldi plays sensational show at Scarborough

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Lewis Capaldi played a sensational sell-out show to 8,000 fans at Scarborough Open Air Theatre.

Lewis’s stunning set – packed with hits from his Number One album Divinely Uninspired To a Hellish Extent – included show opener Grace together with Bruises, Hollywood,  Headspace and Fade before he closed the show with a spine-tingling rendition of his global smash hit Someone You Loved

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ROD STEWART 2019 UK TOUR – More Dates Added to Biggest Ever UK Tour

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Rod Stewart is adding more dates to his biggest ever UK tour.

The international rock legend has today announced he will head north to Scotland’s newest and biggest indoor arena P&J Live Aberdeen on Saturday December 7th and he is adding a third date at London’s O2 to end the tour on Friday December 20th.

Rod Stewart Live in Concert has already seen Rod sell out football stadiums, outdoor venues and arenas across the UK from May through to July.

He will return to the UK to play 11 headline shows at indoor arenas across England and Scotland kicking off at Manchester Arena on Saturday November 23.

Tickets for the extra shows in Aberdeen and London go on sale at 9am Friday from www.livenation.co.uk

Announcing the extra dates, Rod said: “We have had an absolute ball with the summer shows and I’ll be ready to do it all over again in November and December.

“We always love playing The O2 so I am delighted we’re able to add a third date and, of course, I love to head north of the border to Scotland so get ready to see me Aberdeen.

“We’ll be counting down to Christmas so what better way to start the holidays. Get ready to party!”

 

The winter dates in full:

Sat 23 November – Manchester, Manchester Arena

Tues 26 November – Glasgow, The SSE Hydro

Thurs 28 November – Glasgow, The SSE Hydro

Sat 30 November – Glasgow, The SSE Hydro

Tues 10 December – Liverpool, M&S Bank Arena

Sat 07 December – Aberdeen, P&J Live

Weds 11 December – Leeds, First Direct Arena

Fri 13 December – Birmingham, Arena Birmingham

Tues 17 December – London, The O2

Thurs 19 December – London, The O2

Fri 20 December – London, The O2

 

Rod’s biggest ever UK tour is presented by Live Nation.

With his signature voice, style and songwriting, Rod Stewart has transcended all genres of popular music, from rock, folk, soul, R&B, and even the American standards; making him one of the few stars to enjoy chart-topping albums throughout every decade of his career.

Rod’s 2019 shows are filled with both classics and new hits in his dazzling signature style. As one of the best-selling artists in the history of recorded music, with more than 200 million records sold worldwide, his performance includes show stopping classics from his glittering career as well as his most recent album Blood Red Roses – a deeply personal 13-track collection of originals and three covers.

Rod has earned countless of the industry’s highest awards, among them, two inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the ASCAP Founders Award for songwriting, New York Times bestselling author, Grammy™ Living Legend, and in 2016 he officially became ‘Sir Rod Stewart’ after being knighted by Prince William at Buckingham Palace for his services to music and charity.

WEST END PRODUCER (and Guests)– FREE WILLY! Naughty new show to make Edinburgh Fringe debut

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Theatreland’s anonymous cult figure West End Producer will take on Edinburgh this summer with his first hilarious show – as he auditions special guests for his Free Willy musical.

Come and join WEP, as he is known in theatrical circles, as he flips theatre on its head with theatrical secrets, stories, musings and songs – he will teach you the perfect jazz hand technique, how to bow properly, and will even give one lucky person some genuine worn West End show pants. You may even get the chance to audition and become WEP’s Willy of the Day.

This is no ordinary show, in West End Producer – Free Willy! the audience are on the panel as auditionees are invited to sing such iconic whale-based hits including – My Willy Needs to be Wet, Why is there a Whale in the Hot Tub? and One Sea Mammal More.

West End Producer – Free Willy! is showing at the Edinburgh Fringe Assembly Rooms 2 July 31 – August 6 and Assembly Checkpoint 12 – 26 August. For tickets and more info go to: www.assemblyfestival.com

Speaking about his Edinburgh debut WEP said: “Dears, I am beyond thrilled to be spending the summer in Edinburgh as I search for my perfect Free Willy.

 “You wonderfully gorgeous people will help me find my lead performer, as we decide if my guest has what it takes to be a singing sea mammal.

 “I’ll even introduce you to one of Michael’s Balls and give you some tips on how to succeed in entertainment – but be warned, I expect some of the auditionees to be dreadful. Come and help me find my willy, dear”

West End Producer is the anonymous masked man of theatreland and author of two hugely successful books. Usually getting sloshed at West End press nights with his Jean Valjean teddy bear – Free Willy! sees WEP ball leaping into Edinburgh with his very first show.

Free Willy! will be filled with special guests, whale costumes, theatrical diatribes, WEP’s piano fingering skills, and possibly one of Michael’s Balls.

Tickets are on sale now and for more information go to: www.assemblyfestival.com

HOT WHEELS MONSTER TRUCKS LIVE 2020 EUROPEAN TOUR

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Live Nation and Raycom-Legacy Content Company is partnering with Hot Wheels® to launch HOT WHEELS™ MONSTER TRUCKS LIVE, a new European tour that will create an immersive experience for Monster Truck fans.

This new live entertainment tour will visit European arenas beginning on Friday, January 3 in Manchester at the Manchester Arena and will run through to Saturday, February 8 in Glasgow at The SSE Hydro.

Tickets go on sale Friday, 5 July from www.HotWheelsMonsterTrucksLive.com

Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live will bring everyone’s favourite Hot Wheels Monster Trucks to life, combining Hot Wheels’ iconic jumps and stunts with epic crashing and smashing to deliver an exhilarating family entertainment experience for kids of all ages. In addition to the Trucks, each show will feature specialty acts like the superstars of freestyle motocross, world record attempts, and Megasaurus – the massive, car-eating, fire-breathing prehistoric robot who loves chomping on anything with four wheels.

Offering unrivaled entertainment value for Monster Truck fans, each event will feature affordable ticket prices, the Crash Zone Pre-Show Party with Monster Truck photo opportunities, driver meet-and-greets, VIP autograph sessions, and other special prizes and promotions.

The first stop of the tour will be January 3rd – 5th in Manchester at the Manchester Arena, UK and the tour will travel to four cities across Europe. Scheduled stops include Manchester, Lodz, Birmingham and Glasgow with early show options available on select dates.

Conceived in 1968 by an innovator, a rocket scientist and a car designer, Hot Wheels 1:64 scale die-cast cars were designed to look awesome and perform. Five decades later, Hot Wheels is the number one selling toy in the world* with more than 16.5 cars sold every second. The brand has evolved from a simple, yet beloved, toy car with orange track system into a global franchise  powerhouse that offers fans of all ages multi-channel play experiences. “Mattel is always exploring new and innovative ways for fans of all ages to play and engage with our portfolio of iconic brands,” said Julie Freeland, Senior Director of Mattel Global Live Events & Attractions.

“We are delighted to tour the Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live experience in Europe and to bring our fans into the real-life action in an arena.”

Raycom-Legacy Content Company is a world-class event operation, promotion, television production, licensing, media and public relations firm. The company is a partnership between Raycom Sports – a leader in sports marketing, event management and production – and Legacy Motorsports Events – led by executives with unrivaled experience operating large-scale entertainment tours.

“We’ve experienced unprecedented success in our first year delivering Hot Wheel Monster Trucks Live to fans in North America and we’re excited to expand to Europe under this new partnership with Live Nation,” said Ken Hudgens, President & CEO of Raycom-Legacy Content Company.

“We look forward to immersing a new group of international fans in our authentic Hot Wheels experience and providing them unmatched entertainment.”

Senior Vice President Touring, International Music, Live Nation, Tim McWilliams added: “As the world’s largest live-entertainment company, we’ve been part of many incredible shows, but we are especially thrilled to be working on Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live, which combines a thrilling family orientated spectacle with the iconic Hot Wheels brand.”

 

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