INTERVIEW: Tom Stade

INTERVIEW: Tom Stade

Touring, for Tom Stade, is a double edged sword.

The self-confessed “road warrior”admits being on the road gives him a sense of freedom, but that freedom comes at a cost.

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“When you’re driving around from town to town you actually feel that you’re doing something with your life,” says the Canadian comedian, “when I’m on big tours, I miss things like dance recitals or football games but I figure my kids will get old enough to come touring with me one day.

“They are 16 and 12 so not really children any more, they’re little people who find dad’s ideas ridiculous.”

Tom, who lives with his wife, Trudy and their children in Edinburgh, is all about family.

“I really love family, and I like people who like family, it’s the most important thing in anybody’s life,” he says.

“But it’s tough being a parent, nobody knows what they’re doing half of the time – I don’t know what I’m doing but we do the best we can.

“My dad always said, ‘If you’re gonna work hard, work hard at being lazy’, he always had to explain that to me.

“I would say, ‘you want me to be lazy?’ and he would reply, ‘no I want you to work hard at being lazy, you need to make a lot of money to be lazy’. He was a very fun dad.

“I’m waiting for my kids to be 18 so I can take the ‘dad’ mask off and say to them, ‘Hi I’m Tom Stade, I’ve been playing your dad for 18 years.”

Following his sell-out tour last year, Tom is back on the road with his brand new live show Tom Stade Totally Rocks tour for 40 dates up and down the UK, making a stop at Preston’s 53 Degrees on March 1.

And each show has the potential to be unique.

“I don’t like to think about what going to happen or what’s not going to happen,” says Tom.

“I read a lot of spiritual books and try and just stay in the here and now at all times.

“If I pre-plan it and something doesn’t go the way I planned it then I get annoyed with myself and I cause myself suffering and I don’t like to suffer so as long as I stay in the here and now there’s no suffering.

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Photo courtesy of Trudy Stade

He continues: “I write jokes and have things I want to say but I always like going off wherever the audience takes me because I talk to them a lot during the show.

“It’s the kind of comedy I’ve always liked, when I feel involved in it, most of the time one person will say something and it will spark off a bunch of ideas that makes up and original show that can never really be repeated.”

Despite his appearances on BBC 1’s Live at the Apollo, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, and Lee Mack’s All Star Cast, Tom remains humble and seems genuinely honoured by the opportunities presented to him.

After honing his craft on the amateur circuit at 18 where “you’d be by a pay phone at noon with 30 other comics calling for the 12 spots that were available” he appears surprised that he should grace the same stage as past comedy greats.

“Those are the shows that change things,” he says. “If you do good on those shows all of a sudden things will change for you and I’ve enjoyed every one of them.

“For all those producers to sit there and say ‘Tom we’d like you to do the Apollo’ is a real big honour, especially as I’m a guest in this country and you’re asked to do this big show, it’s overwhelming at times, but it’s much appreciated.”

When he isn’t touring, Tom spends his time in Edinburgh visiting his peers’ shows and catching up with his friends on the circuit.

“I like to see a couple of shows a day when I can,” he says, “I’ll pick a couple of guys who I haven’t seen before and then I’ll maybe go see a friend.

“You’ve got support your peers and it’s always good to know you have a friend in the audience.”

Though surrounded by some of the best in the business, Tom’s comedy hero is a little closer to home.

“My dad, for sure, is my biggest comedy hero, he was the funniest man I’ve ever known.

“He introduced me to a lot of the greats as he was such a big comedy fan. My dad was just fun!”

One day, let’s hope his own children think the same.

Tom will appear at 53 Degrees, Brook St, Preston on March 1.

REVIEW: Hairspray, The Lowry Theatre, Salford

REVIEW: Hairspray, The Lowry Theatre, Salford

“Something inside of me makes me move…..”

And move I did.

As the opening bars of ‘Good Morning Baltimore’ began, as smile spread itself across my face and didn’t leave until the curtain dropped.

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Hairspray, started life as a movie back in 1988 starring now talkshow host, Rikki Lake as central character, Tracy Turnblad.
This time, the role goes to 22 year old Freya Sutton from Northwich, Cheshire, on what you might call home turf, for her professional theatre debut.

HAIRSPRAY Freya Sutton plays Tracy Turnblad Photo by Hugo Glendinning

However, the seemingly bubblegum musical has it’s roots in a real life event which prompted huge changes in American history.

Telling the story of the ‘Corny Collins Show’- a show Tracy and her best friend Penny Pingleton (brilliantly played by Lauren Hood – her comic timing was perfection) rush home each night after school to see – that saw only white teens perform on as regular dancers.

But Tracy wants to see change and with the help of her friend, (and later Penny’s love interest) Seaweed, sets about ringing in those changes, much to the dismissal of the show’s producer, Velma Von Tussle.

X Factor veteran, Marcus Collins reminded the audience of his vocal props but also showed off his dancing and utterly charming side.Image

Former Eastender Lucy Benjamin shook off her incarnation as miserable Lisa and made way for Velma Von Tussle in a big way, proving she had the pipes to tackle the tour as well as showing the comic book villain side we all love to hate.
And Waterloo Road’s Mark Benton removed the specs and beard and donned Edna Turnblad’s housecoat in spectacular fashion, pulling off a touching, yet fabulously hilarious turn alongside Paul Rider’s Wilbur.

HAIRSPRAY Mark Benton plays Edna Turnblad Photo by Hugo Glendinning

But it was the lesser heard roles that truly impressed.
Sandra Marvin as Motormouth Maybelle, stunned the audience with her showstopping number ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’ and Gabrielle Brooks as Seaweed’s younger sister, Inez, is clearly a future star in the making.
With wholesome family 60’s entertainment and a side order or cheekiness, Hairspray is a feel-good night out from start to finish.

As the encore of ‘You Can’t Stop The Beat’ kicked in again the audience rose to their feet both in joy and genuine appreciation.

Hairspray The Musical continues around the UK until September

REVIEW: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – Tour – Manchester Opera House

REVIEW: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – Tour – Manchester Opera House

There are fewer things in this life that make me happier than a disco ball.

So when I turned up for the opening night of Priscilla, Queen of The Desert at the Manchester Opera House earlier this week you can imagine my joy when said disco balls were in abundance.

The Company - Priscilla Queen of the Desert - Photo: Paul Coltas

The Company – Priscilla Queen of the Desert – Photo: Paul Coltas

The story behind Priscilla dates back to the 1994 when Australian writer and filmmaker, Stephan Elliott, released the film of the same name, starring Guy Pearce, Hugo Weaving and Terence Stamp as a group of cross-dressing misfits travelling around the Australian outback in a battered bus.

It became a cult classic and in the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics in 2000, a look-alike bus, flanked by drag queens in gigantic wigs and headgear proved to be one of the most memorable sections of the night.

This week, Jason Donovan returned to his role as Tick, a part he knows well. Having played the same role in the show when it opened in the West End four years ago, Jason looks as comfortable in a dress made from flip-flops and a a bubblegum-pink wig  as he does in a white t shirt and jeans with a guitar slung over his shoulder.

And with fellow ‘Neighbours’ alumni, Richard Grieve, playing ageing transexual drag queen, Bernadette, and BRIT school graduate, Graham Weaver as younger drag queen, Adam/Felicia, by his side, they put on an incredible show of glitter, inch-thick make-up and high heels.

With each show requiring 500 costumes, 200 hats, 100 wigs and 150 pairs of heels, Priscilla is a treat for the eyes as well as the ears with camp-tastic disco classics such as ‘I Will Survive‘, ‘Shake Your Groove Thing‘ and ‘Hot Stuff‘.

And for anyone who has ever felt esprit d’escalier, Priscilla is chock-full of one liners to call upon in times of need. (I’ve remembered a good few!)

Richard Grieve as Bernadette, Jason Donovan as Tick and Graham Weaver as Felicia - Priscilla Queen of the Desert - Photo: Paul Coltas

Richard Grieve as Bernadette, Jason Donovan as Tick and Graham Weaver as Felicia – Priscilla Queen of the Desert – Photo: Paul Coltas

Though Jason Donovan had been feeling under the weather on the night, there was no evidence of it as his vocals were as brilliant as they had ever been and the way he attacked the incredible choreography in the show’s number is testament to  his professionalism.

Special recognition must be given to Frances Mayli McCann  who gave an eye-popping show as Cynthia, a mail-order bride entertaining her outback friends with a rather ‘special’ ping pong performance.

And Emma Kingston, Ellie Leah and Laura Mansell as the ‘Divas’ who provide incredible vocals for our drag queens to lip-sync  to.

Who knew watching two ex-Neighbours stars could be so much fun?! If I told my four-year-old self she would be watching Jason Donovan dressed up as a woman 23 years down the line – and she’d love it – I’m pretty sure she’d tell me to “rack off”.

Priscilla is extravagent, gaudy, exuberant and incredibly naughty – I wouldn’t have it any other way!

The tour continues at Manchester Opera House until February 23 before packing up and setting off around the country.

Visit www.atgtickets.com/venues/opera-house-manchester for tickets