247 Magazine
1 Comment


Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

The Drum theatre, Plymouth, is doing Christmas a bit differently . . . . as regular visitors to the theatre would expect. Barbershopera comes to Plymouth with a fine history behind it, exploding out of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2008, 2009 and 2010 along with a West End run. The original show has spawned two sequels and this, the original show, Toni and the Guys has been reworked to incorporate a particularly yuletide theme.

247 spoke co-writer and performer, Rob Castell, about the show and what it could provide for a younger audience.

The important thing to take on board in the first instance, and I hope the play’s title helps convey this, is that it’s not a Barber Shop Quartet show. The merging of two quite traditional and perhaps even somewhat stuffy genres in the form of Barber Shop and Opera could only ever be played for laughs and that’s entirely our intention with the show. It’s a send up of Barber Shop taking place in our own very contemporary society. I like to think it’s got a little something for everyone. We look at gender roles with the unheard of addition of a woman to a Barber Shop quartet and while we’re using very traditional forms of music we tap right into current culture with some of our choices of music and imagery.

Can you give us an example?

Definitely, a good one is when the boys decide to “train” up Toni to take her place in the quartet. The music from that scene is an acapella version of the Rocky music and the audience will recognise it as a send of the scene in the movie when Sylvester Stallone’s character trains for the big fight.

And does the introduction of a woman to the group lead to some romance?

Yes between her and the bass singer but also there’s a sub plot where the two other guys come to realise their feelings for each other may extend further than being buddies. As I’ve said, there’s something for everyone in this show!!!

You must be proud that there’s been a demand for more show. Toni and Guys has been followed up with The Barber of Shavingham and, more recently, Apocalypse No!

That’s been a real compliment to what were doing. Also the fact that there’s a demand for this show to be reworked for Christmas is a real delight. The Eurovision style contest at the end is something that I think most people have some experience of but to add in the Christmas themes really allows for something different. It’s not just the traditional songs either, Toni and the Guys cover Last Christmas and Stay Another Day, so it’s another example of how the show can appeal to all audiences. The songs go to different places with hip hop riffs and a real sense of comedy.

So it’s a play that will make the audience laugh?

I certainly think so we’ve been compared, and I’m quite flattered by the comparison to the Mighty Boosh so if that’s your type of humour then I think this could well be the Christmas play for you. I think anyone who comes along will find some aspects within it that they can connect to and will, hopefully, make them laugh out loud . . . while feeling a bit more Christmassy than when they arrived at the theatre!

Barbershopera is running at the Drum Theatre until December 19, for anyone looking for a somewhat off the wall dose of Christmas cheer.