This month we have a very exciting theme to celebrate the month of loooove. (yes, it is Valentines Day month if you haven’t remembered.) Here on The Phoenix Remix we like to take the ideology of that love day that the month is famously known for an actually focus on topics and passion projects of others.
This month we talk to Jenni Winter who is part of the Musical Theatre Cabaret. She has done many live shows as well as performing as a musician alongside improv shows in Newcastle with The Suggestibles. Since the United Kingdom has been in lockdown Jenni has been hosting live shows through Facebook taking requests and performing them live. Today we speak about adapting to performing online.
Recently the theatre scene has been very different – how have you adapted to doing shows online?
It now feels completely normal, after almost a year. This time last year I was co – devising a play which went on to be performed at Alphabetti Theatre in February 2020, and on the back of that I had some exciting opportunities and commissions (which have been on hold now since last March). I still fear the technology involved in online performances, and am always relieved when I get to the end of the show and the technology hasn’t failed!
How have these shows gone?
They’ve been great for me. I had been devising a solo cabaret show prior to lockdown so I’m not afraid of performing alone, and having the comments of the audience throughout the show is really wonderful. Of course I’m often joined by Maurice, who hosts when he is there, and it makes such a difference performing with even just one other person. Phil, who plays Maurice, is a lot of fun to work with, and the show has grown organically based on what we have brought to it together.
Tell us about some unusual suggestions for songs that you have had?
There was a week when one of our audience members decided the quiz I’d set was too boring, so he just set his own in the comments, and the audience all joined in with him! Of course it was filthy
What have been some of your favourite shows that you have done online?
I’ve mainly been performing my Musical Theatre Cabaret online. I have done couple of other improv gigs, but the way my show works means I can rehearse entirely alone, which is helpful during a lockdown. There is also Maurice ,the fabulous host, but the whole thing is totally improvised so he just turns up on the night and hopes for then best! From my point of view I do rehearse but I can rehearse all the songs alone. I MUCH prefer working with other people, but as we have mostly been in lockdown over the last year, and have had to work alone, my show works fine in this way. I think my favourite of the cabaret shows was the week the audience were playing to win a mini keg of Northern Alchemy Beer. It got VERY competitive!
What are the challenges you face performing a show like this online?
I’m terrified the technology will fail, or the backdrop will fall down. Also I worry about things like the phone ringing or the doorbell going, or the neighbours hammering on the wall saying just can’t take it anymore!! (as I just live stream from my kitchen).
What has the feedback been like?
The feedback has been really humbling. Lots of people get in touch to say how it brightens their mood or their week, and that they really gain something from the show. I really do too- you can feel the connection with the audience, which I feel very lucky to have.
Have you had to make any adaptions to your show to make it work online?
I only created the show in order to be online. Previously I have hosted and accompanied cabarets with some wonderful singers, mostly at Northern Stage and Prohibition Cabaret Bar, and I can’t wait to play for them again. But this specific cabaret only really works as an online show, as it relies so much on audience comments.
Most requested song?
Suddenly Seymour, anything from Hamilton, The Time Warp.
What are your plans for this year for the shows online?
I will continue to do monthly shows, on the first Sunday of every month, For the first 7 months they were weekly, then when the schools went back in September I changed them to monthly, and for now I will keep doing them monthly. Having said that, the February show will be towards the end of the month, and not the first Sunday, for technical reasons, so watch this space!