He is also the creator of Britain’s only annual festival of horror theatre and Grand Guignol and is artistic director of thestickingplace.com, currently celebrating its 10th anniversary.
We caught up with him recently to tell us about the world premiere of Burlesque, a gritty new musical he wrote with Roy Smiles and directs at Jermyn Street Theatre, where it runs until 18 December 2012.
What's Burlesque about?
It's set in a run-down Burlesque theatre in America, 1952. Popular comedian Johnny Reno is trying to get his life and career back on track having been blacklisted by the McCarthy anti-Communist movement. The opportunity to clear his name may save him but may also tear his world apart. Oh - and showgirls...
Is it a relief to be working on a scripted musical again?
No - it really is much easier to make the whole thing up as you go along. I don't like working with scripts anymore - except for this one because I wrote it (with Roy Smiles).
Showstopper! has been enormously successful - what's its secret?
No secrets - simply talent and hard work. The group is exceptionally gifted and everyone trains hard to improve their skills, play as a team and support each other. It's all about commitment and trust. And its important to be naive - allowing yourself to be revealed in front of people and not care. Our brilliant musicians help transform the show from impro comedy into a proper musical. And Keith Strachan of course - who has supported the project since he saw it in the early days at The King's Head Theatre in Islington.
Is it an extra challenge directing your own work?
Sometimes - usually trying to show people that you are not too close to your own material.
What kind of night can people expect at Burlesque?
Great gags, big songs, glitz, glamour and grime. A real homage to the 1950s American book musical. Showbiz meets politics head on.
You're going from the Ambassadors Theatre to Jermyn Street Theatre - quite a shift in scale?
We are building a proscenium arch in Jermyn Street to give that intimate space the grandeur of Burlesque's 'Palace Theatre'. Designer Martin Thomas has done a great job.
What else have you got in the pipeline?
The London 50 Hour Improvathon. 50 Hours of non-stop improvised comedy drama at Hoxton Hall in May 2012. The best improvisers fly in from all over the world to take part and many people come to watch all 50 hours. It is a life changing event. The 2012 event will be set at the first ever Olympics in Ancient Greece. You have to come and see it. After that I have scheduled a short nervous breakdown...
Burlesque continues at Jermyn Street Theatre until 18 December 2012
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