Friday, 11 June 2010

Cheeky Charming Close Harmony Cabaret

Once my degree has finished, I'll post the full transcript of this interview, it was so full of irreverent conversation I felt I had to edit it somewhat for Felix. Alex, who has previously been mentioned in this blog, won the Sondheim Student Performer of the Year award last week so hoorah for that! She's been a friend of mine since my first spring show and I met Jen whilst performing in West Side Story directed by Alex. My first memory of Kate is at a fancy dress party where I was dressed in a very short pair of dungarees as Lucy from the Raggy Dolls... So here's the article:

The Three Leo

I joined Jen Woodward, Alex De Lyckefold Young and Kate Marlais, otherwise known as The Three Little Maids for a chat at the Royal Academy of Music, a place they all have ties to, to chat about their upcoming concert, comedy cabaret and whether scientists are good in bed.

How did you meet and where did the name Three Little Maids come from?

Alex: I met Kate at Kings College where we both studied music, I went up to her on the first day and said “I think you’re really pretty” in her specs and floral shirt, Kate replied “Ok…my names Kate” and we went from there.

Jen: I met Kate and Alex through Kings Musical Theatre, which they were ruling over at the time and I would then be passed the crown for. They were living in a house on Old Kent Road with my new boyfriend and ended up liking me more!

Kate: And then we did a cabaret show called “And Then There Were Six” with three other boys, we dropped the boys to make Three Little Maids.

Alex: Then I discovered our very handsome pianist Leo when he was repiteur for IC MTSoc’s spring show How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying which I appeared in.

Kate: We’re called the Three Little Maids because there’s three of us, and we’re girls

Alex: The Three Little Maids song is from the Hot Mikado, a jazzed up version of the G&S classic.
How would you describe your style and who do you think you appeal to most?

All: Cheeky charming close harmony cabaret!

Jen: We’re like the Poo-poo (Puppini) Sisters and the Andrew Sisters but better.

Alex: There’s lots of three part girl groups but they’ve all jumped on the retro bandwagon and niched themselves. They just do one style or a novelty thing like jazzing up pop songs. We do a bit of everything

Jen: We do just what we want to do, we try not to do things others could do, we put a bit of ourselves in it.

Kate: It’s a cross between cabaret and comedy! Our rule is for every serious song, we’ll do three funny songs. And we do always pay homage to our true love musical theatre. But the 60’s pop songs have been going down well in our Old Vic Pit Bar gigs.

Alex: The thing I’m proud of is not taking ourselves seriously, we’re a little bit silly and have remained true to our individual personalities and our loves, I’ll wank over some Sondheim, Kate will pay homage to Judy Garland…

Most of you have links with Imperial through MTSoc and MTSoc tour, so can scientists make good performers/lovers?

Jen: My boyfriend is a scientist and he loves Musical Theatre. Scientists are good because there’s a connection between Maths and Music.

Alex: Well, mines a wannabe scientist, he’s a bit of a geek and reads the New Scientist.

Kate: My dad is a scientist and he loves the Maids, secretly he wants to be one of us. I’ve heard he’s an excellent lover.

Jen: Scientists work very hard so they need some relief

Alex: They have to think creatively , be brave and take risks just as actors do.

All: Our conclusion is…yes!
What do you enjoy most about performing together and what’s your favourite venue and dream venue?

Kate: The Old Vic pit bar!

Alex: Royal Festival Hall would be my dream as I have fond memories of playing in orchestras when I was little. The Albert Hall would be amazing too but we also work well in small intimate venues so I think the Menier Chocolate Factory would be great. We did some gigs in Jen’s hometown of Norwich at the Sewell Barn which was lovely and intimate.

Jen: I like working with these two because they make me laugh. My pleasure is to work with such talented people as these guys. They have these amazing arrangements and I’d never get the opportunity to work with people like them anywhere else.

Kate: I enjoy our banter, we’re never quite sure what we’re doing next. Alex generally plays Mum and I’ll talk until someone tells me to stop.

Alex: I feel we have a real partnership so that we can trust our instincts to know what to do on stage. We can be ourselves with people we trust.

If the Three Little Maids could be joined by 3 Little Men, who would your dream men be?

All: Oooh!

Jen: Philip Quast! And Hugh Jackman (Alex intercepts with a cry of “No not Hugh Jackman!”) And Zubin Varla! He was in Jesus Christ Superstar and he’s in Warhorse at the moment.

Kate: Can he be dead? Gene Kelly, and we’d choreograph all our numbers.

Alex: I would have the Australian god Philip Quast too. Or, I think we’d push all of those in the sea if Stephen Sondheim joined us on the piano. Leo can join in and clap along, or turn the pages.

What’s your favourite song to sing?

Kate: I know what I like- Chattanooga Choo Choo.

Jen: Send in the Clowns as that was the first thing we arranged. Also, Wash that Man as I’m a real Rodgers and Hammerstein geek, it goes in from Oklahoma so its just like I’m cumming everywhere. Plus Leo does an awesome version of Sesame Street so that’d be his favourite.

Alex: I like Drive My Car too, we do a great version ala Lilly Allan which the audiences love. Three Little Maids obviously, our title song. Everyone loves it when we do it as an encore as we can just mess around and it goes down really well. The other two don’t agree but I like closing with Better from A Class Act (Lucy at this point cries I love that song!).

Kate: I’m totes over it. It went down like a sack of poo last time. I know my favourite! Man in the Mirror! How did we forget that? It’s the best thing you’ll ever see ever! Jen gets all black on us

Alex: Kate rives around on the floor

Jen: Alex bursts out from a curtain
Whats in store for the Three Little Maids and yourselves individually?

Kate: Worldwide fame, millions in the bank, lots of lovers
Jen: This summer is packed with private gigs. The good thing about these is that as we arrange our own songs, if someone has a favourite song, we’re happy to accommodate. Plus from each gig we get another gig.

Alex: We’re hoping to have some sort of Industry launch in London, invite anyone who’s interested to see us or manage us or hire us!

Kate I’m doing a musical at the Young Vic, The Human Comedy in September. And I’m also musically directing Romeo and Juliet at the Leicester Square Theatre.

Alex: I’m singing in the Stephen Sondheim performer of the year final, hopefully that’ll go nicely. Plus I’m playing Desiree in A Little Night Music at RAM.

Jen: I’m starting RAM in the Autumn but at the moment I’m a primary school teacher.

Leo: I’m Musical directing Hamlet the Musical at the Edinburgh Fringe. We were hoping it would star Tim Minchin but sadly he’s turned down the role. But we’re currently in talks with Karl Kennedy from Neighbours, and they’re casting as we’re speak.

Alex: I want to play Ophelia! If Leo can wangle it. And if it pays.

Some crafty umbrella work there
The comments from my companions as we reached the Old Vic Pit Bar were ranging from “ooh, this is a nice theatre” to “if Jeff Goldblum is there, I’m going to go up to him and ask him if he wants a blowjob”. And I guess these two remarks sum up what the Three Little Maids are all about- charming and nice with a naughty irreverent edge. The bar itself is small and cute, no more than a anteroom to the Old Vic staircase, with some rather reasonably priced drinks on offer (if you’re feeling really posh there’s Tatty for £7.50 a glass). The crowd varies from trendy young things to elderly theatre goers with the odd celebrity chucked in for good measure (Omigod it’s Neil from the Inbetweeners!).

But to the Three Little Maids themselves, all look charmingly gorgeous and well complemented by some custom made bunting and their pianist Leo. The set didn’t exactly start with a bang but the ‘60s medley performed was nice enough, including a Lilly Allen-esque rendition of I’m Into Something Good. The Lilly Allen style was later echoed in an uptempo arrangement of The Beatles “Drive My Car” both with some effective shakey egg and cowbell action from the girls. Highlights of the first set included an authentic trip back to the ‘40s with Chatanooga Choo Choo ala The Andrews Sisters, an impromptu cameo from Leo singing Cabaret and a very smooth Moon River with an almost dreamlike quality with it’s lilting melody. The downside with this first set for me was the sound quality which made it difficult to hear the Maid’s sparkling wit and ad libbing as well as many of the intricate harmonies. Another issue with the venue was the many people pushing past to get to the bar, but again, there’s not much you can do about this in a bar.

The second set contained my absolute favourite number of the night: Maid in the Mirror. Yes, you heard me right; a girly take on that Michael Jackson classic Man in the Mirror complete with impassioned hand gestures, a few sch-mos and he-hes and some very impressive riffing. Also rating highly was a rather unique version of Sesame Street, I’d never have expected to find a children’s TV theme tune in a Cabaret set but it was charming and very well done.

After a short break, the Maids were back for their final set which took on a more musical theatrey tone starting with a few Sondheim classics- the well performed, if slightly predictable You Could Drive a Person Crazy and a beautiful arrangement of Send In The Clowns. This was followed by another highlight that caused most of the crowd to burst into fits of laughter- a well judged I Know Him So Well with brilliant impressions of Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson by Kate and Jen respectively.

The Three Little Maids definitely stood up to their motto of Cheek Charming Close Harmony Cabaret, it was a fun evening filled with perfect harmonies and some great comedy moments. I’d love to see them in a Cabaret orientated space so that their personalities could really shine. If you’re interested in where the Maids will be next, check out their website!

1 comment:

KATE said...

Ha ha this just popped up on google!

How are you lovely lady?? Kate