I started writing up profiles of non-principal cast members from West End shows a few years ago with the intention of bringing to light some of the performers I knew of whose talents were somewhat overlooked in the shadow of their ensemble roles. They quickly caught on and became popular with readers, so much so that In Profile became a regular weekly feature on this website. The most recent individual to feature in its spotlight was the highly talented Matthew Rowland who is currently to be found at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane as an ensemble member in the Charlie and The Chocolate Factory musical. In detailing his various stage appearances in his career thus far I made mention of a cabaret he was involved in at Crazy Coqs, named Emerging Artists.
Emerging Artists holds similarities with In Profile, not only through the common thread of their featured performers but also in the fact that they have been so well received they’ve become regular occurrences. The cabaret event first appeared in November 2013 as part of the inaugural London Festival of Cabaret and was produced by Simon Greiff of SimG Productions, a well-known supporter and nurturer of new talent in theatre, both writers and artists. Following its successful launch, a new series of evenings were organised to create the Emerging Artists Season which would consist of four separate cabaret performances to take place throughout 2014.
In Profile alumnus Matthew Rowland was invited to perform at one of these events, the second of the season in fact, where he sang the award-winning song ‘Excalibur93’ from new musical The Confession Room. This April cabaret night was dedicated to three up-and-coming British musical theatre writers, one of whom was the composer and lyricist for The Confession Room, Dan Looney. Jonathan Eio and Ella Grace rounded off the trio of writers, who showcased their work with the help of such West End stage stars as Rowland at The Crazy Coqs. The Emerging Artists Season was presented in association with The Crazy Coqs, the intimate performance venue in West London which is fast becoming a popular choice for theatrical events.
Preceding this night was the cabaret which kicked off the 2014 season on 15th March and brokered an introduction to the work of Garry Lake and writing team Rob Archibald and Verity Quade. The cabaret which followed the two was held on 7th June and featured the writing talents of Christopher J. Orton, Richard Beadle and Neeve (Niamh Perry).
The fourth and final night of the series comes around this Saturday (17th July, returning to the stage of The Crazy Coqs for one more display of the hidden talent which is present in the UK theatre industry. This last cabaret will include guest singers Lizzie Roberts, Nigel Richards and Alex Young, and presents the work of musical theatre writers Tim Connor and Andrew Fisher, who more than fit the ‘emerging artists’ bill as two promising names in the world of new writing.
Tim Connor is a composer and lyricist who has written the musical The Stationmaster (with librettist Susannah Pearse) and Heart of Winter (with director Lia Buddle) which has been seen at Leicester Square Theatre and Union Theatre. He has also had his songs featured in cabarets at such venues as The Pheasantry, Soho Theatre and Wilton’s Music Hall.
Andrew Fisher has composed for film, musical theatre, concert music, pop and jazz, and as an orchestra has worked on BAFTA nominated and Emmy winning projects. His musicals have been seen at Greenwich Theatre, Nuffield Southampton, Soho Theatre, and his latest project, The Weird Little World of William Willow, is soon to have a workshop performance at Omnibus. He was also shortlisted for the Stiles & Drewe Best New Song Prize last year.
In addition to these exciting writers are two newly discovered talents in the singer/songwriter department. BroadwayWorld UK launched a competition to last month to find fresh, original songwriters to guest spot at the Emerging Artists cabaret. The winning contestant was Natalie Gray, who will perform two of her songs at The Crazy Coqs this Saturday, and George Pelham as runner-up will also be offered a platform to showcase one.
Natalie Gray is a London-based singer/songwriter whose recent gigs have included supporting Haircut 100, Gareth Gates, Ricky and the Hats, Lemar and Zrinka Cvitesi. She is currently working on her debut EP with several producers, including Storm Music.
George Pelham is a 20-year old singer/songwriter from South West London who was a finalist at Open Mic UK at the NEC, beating 10,000 other hopefuls from around the country to get there. His music is a mix of funk and RnB and he is currently at work on his debut EP.
This industry is a hard one to succeed in or even get noticed so finding ways in which to highlight new talent is such an important task. In Profile and Emerging Artists may be very different beasts, but they both aim to draw attention to new talent, and right now, looking ahead to the future of the industry is more imperative than ever.
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Tuesday 15th July 2014