Tuesday, July 16

Relive the playlist of your life as Craig Revel Horwood brings NOW That’s What I Call a Musical to Liverpool

Get ready to relive the playlist of your life at the brand new NOW That’s What I Call A Musical. Celebrating 40 years of the iconic and chart-topping compilations brand NOW That’s What I Call Music, which has sold an estimated 200 million copies worldwide, this fun-filled production is bursting with hits from Whitney Houston, Wham! Blondie, Tears For Fears, Spandau Ballet and many more.

Written by award-winning comedian Pippa Evans, and directed and choreographed by Strictly Come Dancing legend Craig Revel Horwood, the heart-warming and funny story takes audiences on an uplifting journey down memory lane

Here, director and choreographer Craig Revel Horwood reveals all about the show…

What sort of night are audiences in for when they come to see NOW That’s What I Call A Musical?

They can expect some fantastic tunes, a blast from the past, some amazing dancing, some great singing and a great story. It’s a little bit like Stephen Sondheim’s Follies in the fact that it’s set at a reunion and there are flashbacks. The main characters flash back to how they were as teenagers, the music they listened to back in the 80s and the things that led them to live their lives the way they have. It explores all of that and we also have a twist towards the end where we go ahead in time too. It goes through various time zones [laughs] so it’s a little bit like Back to the Future.

How does it tie in with the NOW brand?

The flashbacks are all about the time when the NOW albums were so famous and so beloved, and the story is about two girls exploring how they’ve lived their lives through music. So those albums and that music were a big part of the leading characters’ teenage years.

The show is written by Pippa Evans. How is it collaborating with her?

She’s fun and she’s funny. She’s got a really great sense of humour and she’s a fantastic writer, not to mention a fantastic comic writer. She’s come up with some great twists in the tale and she’s quite sensitive as a writer towards young teenage girls and their relationship with their parents  whilst they’re growing up.

It’s a brand new musical. That must be an exciting thing to be a part of?

It’s really exciting because with a brand new musical there’s nothing to really base it on, so when you get into the rehearsal room you can be really creative and you have an open mind. That’s what I love about doing new work. With this it’s about weaving all the great songs through the story. That’s one of the challenges, as well as making sure the story is strong. Comedy is a huge element in the show as well as a lot of heartfelt moments, and we’re using songs from the 80s to help push the story forward. There are so many creative opportunities with a new show and when I’m directing I really let everyone have a bit of a say. We all create the show together in the room and I think that’s really important. The actors can bring their creativity and their thoughts and ideas for the characters, then it’s about structuring it.

How are the guest artists like Sinitta, Sonia, Carol Decker and Jay Osmond weaved into the story?

It’s sort of a moment of madness really, where the musical goes into a little bit of fantasy. The singers the girls idolised and were totally in love with come to life to offer them wisdom and advice. It’s a bit like Beauty School Dropout from Grease only the advice they give is much kinder!

Why do you think pop music is so important to everyone’s lives?

The 80s was a great time for pop and music in general helps people through lots of emotional journeys in their lives, especially with teenagers because their hormones are running riot. As an older person you look back to those moments that made you happy and music is a huge part of that. This show taps into that nostalgia but it will also appeal to younger audiences because a lot of the 80s tunes are coming back or they’ve been covered by other artists. There’s something in it for absolutely everyone and I think teenagers will associate with the two girls – how they’re living their lives, their hopes and their dreams, and their aspirations – as much as adults will. Those are themes that are universal.

NOW That’s What I Call Music is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Why do you think it’s such an iconic brand?

Again it’s because music is so important to people’s lives and also the NOW albums first came along at a time when people would make compilations for friends and lovers. They were like ready-made mixtapes, where you’d get so many amazing hits on one album, cassette tape or on CD whereas before you’d have to buy individual singles or albums. I think a lot of teenagers now will be shocked and surprised that we had tape decks back in the day! Before the NOW albums you’d wait for a song to come on the radio, then record it onto a cassette, and you’d never manage to get the full version of it.

What was the first single and the first album you ever bought?

The first single I ever bought was Monster Mash, bizarrely, when I was growing up in Australia. And I think the first album I totally fell in love with was Dare by the Human League. I loved all the songs on that album, the tone of it and the freedom of it. It was like a whole new experience because it was so modern.

Which pop pin-ups did you have on your wall during the 80s?

Coming after ABBA and going into the 80s it was Whitney Houston because I thought ‘How can someone sing like that and look like that?’ She was like a supermodel with this incredible voice. I loved Annie Lennox and the Eurythmics as well, plus Duran Duran.

What were your 80s fashion choices?

I used to have headbands and I had a long side parting, sort of like curtains. Looking back, my fashion was pretty bad actually but of course at the time I thought I was cool. I used to tie rags around my feet as well, around my calves, over my boots. It was a bit weird. I never got completely punky with it but I used to love that trendy headband and long hair combination. That and baggy jeans.

Have you ever met any of your popstar idols? And who would you most like to meet?

I’ve met Boy George, who was a real inspiration to me growing up. I just loved how outspoken he was and how he dressed. I’ve met him a few times actually and he’s great company. I got to meet Whitney Houston before she died, which was amazing, and Olivia Newton-John. I’ve also met Liza Minnelli, Bette Midler, Annie Lennox… quite a few people, in fact. I haven’t met Barbra Streisand yet but I’d really like to because I’ve been listening to her music my entire life.

You work a lot on TV but what do you most love about the theatre?

I grew up with theatre and the first show I saw was Jesus Christ Superstar. Then I became a professional dancer and my first musical was West Side Story. I’ve been in the theatre all my life really and I’ve never, ever given it up. I’ve either been directing, choreographing, dancing performing or whatever. My favourite thing is directing and choreographing. I only started performing for panto, then in 2015 I was asked to do Annie and this year I’m doing The Wizard of Oz as the Wicked Witch. I love performing but, as I say, directing and choreographing is what I enjoy the most.

What do you hope people take away from seeing NOW That’s What I Call A Musical?

I think people will learn something about themselves. The story will prompt them to reflect on their lives to date and how it’s all worked out for them – what their hopes and aspirations were and how that fuelled whatever passion they had to help them become who they are today. People will see themselves in the show and that’s one of the many things that’s really great about it, along with the story, the costumes, the dancing, the comedy and all that fantastic music.

LISTINGS

NOW That’s What I Call A Musical

Liverpool Empire Theatre

Tuesday 4th March – Saturday 8th March 2025

Tickets can be found at https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/now-thats-what-i-call-a-musical/liverpool-empire/ or visit the show’s website at https://thenowmusical.com/ for other venues on the 2024/2025 tour.

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