Monday, 30 August 2010


We're back in London, totally exhausted. But the important thing is that WE DID IT!!

What a year. I still can't quite believe it. Since September 2009 we've all aged a year older, and if anything manufactured pop is even worse - when we first had the idea for 'Popping Stars', the likes of Jedward, Olly Murs and countless extra singles from JLS, Alexandra Burke and Cheryl Cole were still to come. To get a four-star review of a show by a brand new company, completely own-funded, is mindblowingly awesome.

Didn't always go as clockwork. On Friday night's show, through no fault of our own, the laptop suffered a complete breakdown. So at the big climax of the play, when we're meant to hear 'White Motown's song (the name of the band that makes up our audience), instead all we hear is a load of computer glitches. HUGE credit to Karina and Dunja, who along with me had to ad-lib our socks off for what seemed like forever. Eventually, at the end of the play we got it sorted, and we were able to play the final rockumentary and proper song. Thankfully our final night on Saturday ran without a hitch, and felt like the strongest performance of the week too.

A huge thank you to everyone who's helped us over the year, and of course everyone who came to see us. It's been quite the year and I still can't quite believe that it's all over. This blog will remain as a record of our journey.

I'll leave you with this video from the show, and one of my proudest ever achievements - 7 United's cringeworthily bad 'Love In My Heart'. The time it took to make this sums up the whole year really - originally written and composed by me in October 2009, photos taken in Clapham Common in April 2010, vocals recorded earlier this month (me, Karina and Paul), audio-post production by Paul, and the photo-montage seen here finished by me just days before we opened.

Enjoy, and thank you for reading!

-Billy :)

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Four stars

I'm absolutely thrilled to announce that Popping Stars has been given a four star review in Threeweeks!

Popping Stars
Mischievous Childhood
The first ten minutes of this production were bad; the next forty were so bad they were good. A sharp critique of the music industry could not come at a better time and this show combines live theatre with well-made mockumentary footage to relate the demise of a manufactured pop band and the record company's search for a new one. The audience becomes this new band in the best audience-participation scenario I've ever seen. As one of just two audience members, I had to join in; I can only imagine how hysterical this could have been with a bigger audience. So go. Seriously. Take your friends and embrace this show that is interactive theatre at its spontaneous and uncomfortable best.
theSpaces@ Surgeons Hall, 23 - 28 Aug, 8.00pm (8.50pm), £5.00 - £7.00, fpp 281.
tw rating 4/5

So just as we're about to finish, we get a review - and to our delight it's a good one. The night we only got two people in as well!! Our audiences are pretty strong now, with another good number coming yesterday, so hopefully this'll be an extra push to get loads tonight.

I can't believe that after tonight, this incredible year of devising, writing and performing will be over. We're currently deciding the future of Mischievous Childhood - it seems it'll continue in some form, but that's to be announced. For now, the seven of us are here in Edinburgh - and a four star review for our troubles.


Friday, 27 August 2010


And suddenly the audiences increase. On Thursday we had our biggest audience by far, there must have been about twenty people there. Not the best in terms of reaction though, the audience who seemed to enjoy it the most were the two people who came on Tuesday. And we're still changing things around, the rockumentaries have been re-ordered and make much more sense now.

Promoting is hard. On Tuesday we dressed up as 7 United and did a few dance routines on the Royal Mile, which got absolutely loads of attention but didn't translate into audience. We still have thousands of flyers at home, and it's just a case of giving them to as many people as possible, as out of that thousand, one might just work. It's gruelling stuff, especially by now on Friday, but if we want an audience it's needed.

So hopefully Thursday wasn't just a one off - Friday and Saturday tend to be busier for audiences, so as we approach the end of our time in Edinburgh, let's storm it!

Thursday, 26 August 2010


It's here. On Monday night, Popping Stars was performed for the first time.

Being a new company with a new show, getting an audience is tough. So far we've been lucky, but the most we've had is about six people. On Tuesday we seriously thought we were going to open to no one, but luckily we got two people in at the last minute.

Up to the last minute, the show's been changed and swapped around. Funnily enough the lines that get the biggest laughs are either ad-libs, or ones that started out as ones. It's your classic case of a debut fringe show really - if we were more established, and promoted more, then we'd get a better audience. But for now it's simply a case of hoping even just one person comes through the door every night.

Eleven months of devising all comes to its conclusion this week, and although it's only Thursday as I type, I'm already exhausted. Gotta keep up the energy for the rest of the week.

Is it wrong that already I'm starting to think of ideas for next year?

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Four days to go

We. Are. SO. Close.

Everyone's learnt their lines and are so on form - the journey we've all come in developing our characters since those first script readthroughs is huge. We finally have an ending, completely different from the one before but it works. The script has been tweaked even more to the point where it's at utter, brilliant perfection.

It's almost 2 in the morning as I write this, I need to be up at 7, and I'm putting the finishing touches to the photomontage to go with 'Love In My Heart'. I heard the finished version of it on Sunday and it got me quite emotional. A silly little song that came to me in my head one boring October night is now a reality. We rehearsed the Scientist scene and Karina absolutely dazzles as the character, and I felt that it was the best I'd ever portrayed Dave. I've played him a million different ways in rehearsals but I feel I've finally found his character.

Thursday evening is our dress rehearsal, still hundreds of miles away from Edinburgh at the faithful Battersea Arts Centre that has been our rehearsal home all this time. Then, we gradually make our way there. Some of us will be going on the Saturday, I'll be heading up on the Monday. Yep, the day we perform.

Path to completion - 99%. After the dress, let's hope we can add that extra 1...

Sunday, 15 August 2010

The final push

This time next week, we will be in Edinburgh. Our final few tasks are gradually being completed in the nick of time:

*Love In My Heart is complete.

*All rockumentaries are recorded and are awaiting editing.

*The flyer design is complete.

The script is now absolutely perfect. Hayley took a look at it on Monday and any little unclear or disjointed bits that remained have now been re-written, and now it really sparkles. We've had a few rehearsals this week and they'll probably be one tonight just to really get things sorted.

From tomorrow things get tricky. Some of us are off to Edinburgh early to be in other shows. I'm doing a course in Sidcup so rehearsal times are tricky for me too. It really is going to be a challenge, but I'm confident we can do it. Eleven months (eleven!!) of devising, writing and creating will soon come to life.

Keep calm and carry on...

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Love in my heart for 'Love In My Heart'

It was me, Billy, who wrote and composed 'Love In My Heart' all the way back last October. Unfortunately I can't sing, so it was quite scary actually recording vocals for my own song at Karina's house yesterday.

We're very lucky to have Paul as part of our company, he's in charge of all music matters and had brought along all the recording equipment. I was first up recording the vocals, and to hide my lack of singing talent I sung them very quietly, hoping I'll be low down in the mix. Karina was up next, who's one of the most talented singers in the group and put me to shame by absolutely belting them out, even the extremely tricky high notes I wrote into the song. I feel a bit guilty as I wrote the song in the style of the Steps/S Club 7-esque tunes I adored as a kid (in our play's universe, it's meant to date from 1998), complete with high notes of Jo O'Meara/Faye Tozer/Claire Richards standards. Thing is, they probably had autotune to help them, while we don't.

The vocals still sound brilliant though, especially Karina's. To my delight, despite the many hundreds of times I've heard it since I wrote it the song still holds up nicely. It's very much inspired by the Steps classic 'One for Sorrow', although that was very much inspired by the ABBA classic 'The Winner Takes It All' so it's nothing new. So from the 23rd August you'll be hearing that song in Popping Stars - and hopefully you won't be able to get it out of your head!

19 days to go...