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In Conversation with... A Song, a Sip and a Sandwich

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Oliver would not be the musical that it is without its cast salivating for "Food, Glorious Food" at its opening. It's a relief, therefore, that A Song, a Sip and a Sandwich, Glasgow's yummy new celebration of musical theatre, serves a fresh and tasty lunch alongside its fresh and tasty line up. We caught up with artistic director and creator of the show Paul Harper-Swan ahead of their latest culinary cabaret.

Tell us about A Song, A Sip and a Sandwich.
A Song, a Sip and a Sandwich is an intimate evening, or perhaps afternoon, of song, banter and a little tipple and a munch. Our talented professional performers come together to put on a superb showcase of hits from the best musicals and from the charts. We tie it all together with some friendly audience interaction and welcome everyone to dance along in their seats. It's a fresh, fun and hugely entertaining show.

You've got Olivier winners, soap stars and West End performers in your ever-changing cast. Who can we expect to hear on any given week?
We like to keep the show fresh and interesting so we change the cast on a regular basis. Nonetheless, we have a core bunch of stars that have been involved with A Song, a Sip from the beginning. These include Britains Got Talent's nursery-rhyme-pop-crafter Edward Reid and River City's Pamela Byrne and Gary Lamont. We've also had Channel 4's Musicality winner Donna Hazelton and West End performers Gayle Telfer Steven, <i>Jekyll & Hyde</i> leading lady Sabrina Carter and Jacqueline Hughes to mention but a few.

Which shows do you cover? Are you Thoroughly Modern or more attuned to the golden era musicals?
We cover everything from Avenue Q to Les Miserables, Little Shop of Horrors to Wicked. It is nice to bring back the classics but we are a relatively young cast so love to bring new and exciting songs to the show as well as some contemporary pop songs. We try to have a good variety to put our own twist on them.

How does a typical set list sound?
It all depends on the theme of the show but we like to start very West End and Broadway and mix it up to a party atmosphere by the end of the second act.

Does the performance vary from month to month?
Yes. As well as introducing new cast members we do have our A Song, A Sip Specials. Our Diva Special is a meeting of five amazing woman belting out songs and sharing stories of their own divadom. We also have Halloween specials where the cast and audience dress up and we perform songs from The Addams Family, The Rocky Horror Show and other spooky shows. We've also tipped our hats to Sondheim and other composers, helping to keep the show fresh and interesting for our audiences.

You're a very nomadic show, performing in surprising venues all over the West of Scotland and beyond. Does this affect the dynamic?
No, not at all. We are very much in demand at the moment as the shows have been so well received. It can fit into a 50 seater or a 500 seater. Our intimacy remains.

The Tron's Victorian Bar is one of the city's most intimate venues. How do big Broadway showstoppers translate to such a small audience and space?
It is an amazing space. The audience are so close to the performers and they get to feel the actors' emotional involvement with the music. There is something brilliant about a performer with a huge voice and talent belting out a song when they can touch the audience. My staging attempts to makes the audience feel part of the show: a singer could literally be sitting beside you performing. It is quite magical.

What inspired you to establish A Song, a Sip and a Sandwich?
This type of show is really popular in Broadway and in London. There was not really anything like this in Scotland and it seemed that there was a demand for it with audiences but and performers who wanted to try out new material and perform in Scotland. Everybody loves music, eating and drinking so A Song, with a Sip and a Sandwich seemed the perfect combination.

The Bard nearly wrote "If musicals be the food of love, play on" but thought better of it. On that note, how are the sandwiches?
They're delicious! We have a great variety and they're tasty, fresh and leave you wanting more.... just like our show.


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