Club 24601

All posts tagged Club 24601

As you know, here on thoughtsofjustafan I like to bring you new music from time to time and this is one of those times!  This week, I featured an interview with former Jean Valjean Dan Koek as part of the Club 24601 series and as he’s a lovely bloke he kindly gave me a free track to share with my lovely readers (that’s you, in case you’re wondering!) so click here to get it before the offer goes away.

In order to bring you this free track I partnered with Angry Baby who alongside Dan, featured an up and coming artist on her blog this week.  I listened to his music and I liked it a lot so here is Angry Baby’s review of Robb Murphy:

A couple of weeks ago I found a message in my Angry Baby twitter account from Robb Murphy, inviting me to listen to his music. I clicked the link without any great expectations for what I would hear, but within a few seconds I was captivated by his sound. My little sister, who is not known for being particularly engaged with music, even began to fairy dance around the room, so I knew that this was an artist that I needed to hear more from and share with you.

I reached out to Robb, who told me a bit about his music and his influences.

Although Robb’s music has a traditional feel and rhythm to it that must come from his Irish heritage, he told me that he takes inspiration from “normal day to day life, the ups the downs we all go though, and always try to have a positive element in them”.

He went on to explain that he is influenced by nature and his surroundings, both his home in Northern Ireland and elsewhere. He was lucky enough to write much of his current album in a small town in Tuscany, which provides an opportunity to explore the contrast to those influences from album to album. Since Robb is an artist whose music is worth spending time with, I am looking forward to spotting where Ireland meets Italy in his music.

Here is a video of Robb’s new single Headstrong for you to listen to. Robb explained that Headstrong is taken from his current album, Sleep Tonight and describes the video:

“The video is a glimpse into my crazy head; people dressed in animal costumes who stage a break out from a zoo and are chased around by the zoo keeper getting up to mischief along the way.” Now that has to be worth taking a look at!

The song Headstrong is about keeping your focus, not getting distracted and sticking to your goals, so take a listen, and maybe try out your own fairy dance!

Robb’s musical influences are varied. He explained that “lyrics draw me in mostly, even more so if with an emotive melody. And I love a good upbeat pop song too. Bands like U2, REM, Del Ametri, Bon Iver, Counting Crows, and singer songwriters like Paddy Casey, Damien Rice, Ben Howard and Ryan Adams. I also love 60s and Motown and I am a vinyl collector!”

The reference to a preference for vinyl makes even more sense when you realise that Robb has a background as a producer and engineer, which may also explain the beautiful, melodic arrangements and attention to detail that shine through in his recordings.

Robb is currently touring in the Netherlands and returns to Northern Ireland for two scheduled performances early in November. I’ll certainly be keeping a look out for any more dates across the UK as he is an artist that I would love to hear ‘live’. I’ll keep you posted if I hear from him!

Finally, here is Robb’s advice for anyone who is just starting out with music:

Love what you do, create what you are proud of, don’t get too influenced by other current music, and write / play as much as you can. If your music happens to catch a few ears along the way that is great, but for me it is secondary. Music is a good way to express creativity and to meet like minded people so just keep at it and rewards will come!

If you like Robb’s music, Angry Baby has a FREE track available so don’t forget to click here to go through and claim your free track.  It’s fab!

Thank you to Flo at Angry Baby for allowing me to re-blog and share Robb’s music.

Les Mis has passed it’s 30th anniversary date and we are continuing to celebrate Club 24601 with our series of interviews with former Jean Valjeans.  This week, it’s the turn of Australian Dan Koek who played the role in 2013-2014.

Dan first heard about the possibility of playing JVJ in early 2013 when he was back in Australia getting ready to reprise his South Pacific role in Melbourne and Sydney.  After an initial meet and greet audition, he then went through a total of nine auditions before he finally landed the role.  However, he first served his JVJ apprenticeship as he calls it, starting in the ensemble for twelve weeks before the creative team were sure he would be ok in the role.  Dan says that there were “a lot of notes after each performance” but after the first month or so he relaxed into the role more and that he just had to “make my own decisions about how to play the role”.  Fans have their favourite JVJ but Dan found he couldn’t think about that although he was sometimes conscious of following on from other stars.

In common with all the other JVJ actors I spoke to, Dan said that the best thing about the role was the “sheer exhilaration of singing that amazing score everyday.  I never tired of it.”  However, also in common with the other actors, the amazing score was also the worst thing about the role.  Dan comments “the pressure is always to be amazing, especially if you’re tired…it can start to eat away at you”.

When I started this series of interviews I wanted to know how similar the experiences of being JVJ would be, in particular, would they all choose the same song as their favourite?  Apart from Bring Him Home, of course, named as the “pressure song” by Dan, the most popular favourite song was the soliloquy.  In Dan’s case he chose it as it was “very satisfying from both an acting and singing point of view”.  On one occasion, however, the soliloquy was definitely not a good moment; in his first couple of weeks as JVJ, Dan was pretending to eat the bread before the soliloquy when a crumb shot up his nose and lodged in the back of his throat.  To his horror, the crumb stayed there and audience members may have been impressed by the emotion apparently shown by the tears streaming down his face when in fact, it was just that piece of bread!

In terms of favourite songs by other characters, Dan chose Eponine’s On My Own, mainly because of the incredible voice of his Eponine, Carrie Hope Fletcher. That is also my favourite song of the show, and Eponine is my favourite character too.

Earlier this year, Dan released his second album, High, after leaving the show last year.  He would love to go back at some time in the future, Cameron Mackintosh said he “looked forward to bring him home” but left in order to further his recording career.  As mentioned above, JVJ is very demanding, takes all the actor’s energy and it was also Dan’s fifth year of being in a long running musical, so time for a change.

Another reason for the change was the chance to make himself more employable and so the album, High (click here to buy) is what Dan terms popera, pop with a classical twist as opposed to “someone like Alfie Boe who does more classical with a pop twist”.  The tracks work well together, with highlights being Remember Me (duet with Carrie Hope Fletcher) and Always and Forever.  Of course, being a former JVJ, Bring Him Home features on the album – which is a duet with Jonathan Ansell.  Now, on top of being a fabulous singer Dan is also a lovely bloke who has given me a free copy of Bring Him Home to share with thoughtsofjustafan!  To share this with you, I’m partnering with the Angry Baby blog, so to add this free copy of Dan’s Bring Him Home just click here.  This iffer won’t be around forever, so do it now!

In the meantime, here is a video trailer for High:

thanks for reading and sharing

don’t forget to get your free download!

click here

xx

On the eve of the 30th anniversary of Les Miserables in London, let’s take a look at 26 highlights and facts from Alfie to Miz!

A is for Alfie Boe of course! Alfie played the role in the West End for six months, having first taken the role at the 25th anniversary concert, and is now Jean Valjean on Broadway

B is for bread.  JVJ is jailed for stealing a loaf of bread but the onstage bread was once responsible for almost choking Dan Koek! Whilst pretending to eat the bishops’s bread, a crumb went up Koek’s nose and lodged at the back of his throat…and stayed there for the whole of the soliloquy!

C is for Carrie Hope Fletcher. London’s current Eponine, is the younger sister of McBusted’s Tom Fletcher…who appeared with Alfie at the Royal Festival Hall on the Bring Him Home tour

D is for Do You Hear the People Sing? We can and we can’t imagine ever stopping!

E  is for Eponine, brilliant character – surely, I can’t be the only one rooting for her over Cosette in Marius’ affections?

F is for Frances Ruffelle, original Eponine, winner of a Tony award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical and mum of singer Eliza Doolittle

G is for Grantaire, a glorious character who spends most of his time onstage in an alcoholic glaze

H is for Hans Peter Janssen, the only Belgian actor to play JVJ in London

I is for I Dreamed a Dream, iconic song from Fantine, memorably performed by Lea Salonga at the 25th anniversary concert.  Went into the entertainment stratosphere with Susan Boyle’s Britain’s Got Talent audition

J is for John Owen-Jones, the youngest Jean Valjean (he was 26).  He most memorable Les Mis moment came in rehearsal with Claude-Michel Schonberg for the 25th anniversary tour.  John says “I was rehearsing Bring Him Home with Claude-Michel in a room backstage at the Barbican. We were running through the song when he suddenly stopped playing the piano and looked slowly around the room with a quizzical look on his face. Then he looked at me and said in that wonderful French accent of his: “Wait…zis room…it is where I wrote zis song!”

K is for Karrie, Peter who played JVJ for three years from 1986.  In a recent interview he told me that he worked with one Javert who made him corpse one day at the end of the cart scene: “he clicked his heels together and turned to walk off, his microphone was already off, and he said so only I could hear, if you don’t have that cart moved, I’ll have it clamped!  I laughed so much I had to feign a coughing fit and run off stage quickly!

L is for Lea Salonga who played Eponine in the 10th anniversary concert and Fantine in the 25th anniversary

M is for Mackintosh, Cameron, the producer of Les Mis as well as many more musicals around the world

N is for Norm Lewis, picked as his favourite Javert by Alfie Boe in his Club 24601 interview with thoughtsofjustafan

O is for One Day More – best ending to a first act in musical theatre bar none (the combination of Michael Ball and Ramin Karimloo is superb here):

P is for Peter Lockyer, current London JVJ –  first played JVJ whilst directing an amateur production in Hawaii

Q is for the Queen’s Theatre, home to the London production

R is for revolving stage, no longer in evidence in the Broadway show.  Dave Willetts remembers several shows in the early days where the stage stopped revolving at awkward moments, notably at the end of the barricade scene when all the dead actors had to get up and walk off stage in the full glare of the lights!

S is for the Soliloquy, favourite song of several of the Club 24601 JVJ’s

T is for Thenardier – a villain we love to love

U is for understudies – Dave Willetts understudied for Colm Wilkinson before taking over the lead when Wilkinson originated the role on Broadway

V is for Valjean, one of the most iconic roles in modern musicals and the Valjean Quartet from the 25th anniversary:

W is for writers, Claude-Michel Schonberg, Alain Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer

X is for Enjolras’ xylophone vest at the barricades (trust me, it’s real) – big thanks to Debbie Bannigan for telling me!

Y is for young performers – Little Eponine, Little Cosette and Gavroche

Z is for Miz which is the twitter spelling for the Broadway production

 

thanks for reading and sharing

if you like what you see, why not subscribe?

all your Alfie info straight to your inbox

plus 4 exclusive photos

xx