Top 9 Memorable Moments of 2019
Updated: Jan 8
✨ LUCY EATON
1. Sweet Dreams in the Shard
Let's start at the very beginning with some uber-luxury. In January 2019 we had 2 shows at the Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard on consecutive nights. Seeing as it was a quiet time at the hotel, we were told that if we behaved like very good little boys and girls we could stay overnight in the signature suite, seeing as it was booked out for our shows anyway.
The signature suite at the Shangri-La Hotel goes for £10,000/night and boasts the most magnificent panoramas in the whole city. It has the best view of the Tower of London and provides a surprisingly hypnotic experience watching the trains snake into London Bridge station, worm-like on their tracks. There's a living room, dining room, kitchenette, study, bedroom, 2 bathrooms and a walk-in wardrobe and having acted in there many times, it was a joy to be joined by Mel and associate artist Greer Dale-Foulkes, to actually sleep there for the first time. We had a preposterously good girly sleepover, snuggling into bed together (1000-threadcount linens dontchaknow), with a gulf of space between each of us it was so big, and then waking up bright and early to watch the sun rise over Canary Wharf. It was an unforgettable start to the year, only made better by the fabulous reception to our shows the evenings before and after.
If you would like to book a stay at the Shangri-La signature suite, click here.
2. Joe Egg Press Night
At Revels in Hand, we have always prided ourselves on our ability to forge ahead as a company whilst enabling each individual founding member to continue pursuing their own personal acting and directing careers. And this year, I enjoyed my own personal milestone of appearing on the West End. I played Pam in the Trafalgar Studios production of A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, and on press night my guests were - of course - Mel and Freddie. To have them cheering me on and by my side at the after-party was a great treat, a source of huge pride and a reminder of just how much we can continue to achieve both together and apart. One particular highlight was meeting Alan Brodie after the show who we have worked very carefully with over the last few years to produce some lesser-known Noël Coward work but never met, until Joe Egg press night. To put a face to a name we have become very fond of was wonderful.
3. New York Times Spotlight
We've been delighted to have appeared in a string of broadsheets and cultural websites since our re-launch in 2018 (The Times, the Telegraph, the Guardian, Forbes, Vogue, FT: How to Spend It, The Handbook etc - who's counting?) but this year marked the start of something very new: a profile in publications over the pond! An appearance in the New York Times made us feel like the coolest kids in town and set us up nicely for some major US plans we have for 2020 and beyond. If you'd like to see our top billing in NYT's list of top Christmas attractions in London, click here. It's not a bad place to be.
4. Commission and Premiere
Without a shadow of a doubt, one of our most memorable moments of 2019 was premiering an original piece, written especially for us, for private theatre. We've been pursuing the idea of commissioning an original piece for a couple of years now, but never found the right occasion or the right writer. Enter Oliver Rose, stage left... Oliver is an ex-theatre director turned writer with a great knowledge of how we work. We gave him the brief: keep it funny, keep it under 90 minutes, make it domestic in setting, cast of 5 or 6, preferably period in style (our audiences love fabulous costumes) and he delivered with panache. Four Calling Birds was a huge success in the lead-up to Christmas and we were immensely proud to have premiered this spectacular farce on the 39th floor of the Shard!
5. Dream Rehearsals
During rehearsals for a special Midsummer Night's Dream birthday party in the Cotswolds, we experienced one of those rare but wonderful tears-streaming-down-the-face, belly-aching-with-laughter moments. Director Simon Evans gave Mark Donald the note of playing Bottom's Pyramus speech as though Bottom believed he were above all of this. "Try just phoning it in," Simon said. And what Mark did was theatre magic. The note didn't actually stay in - it was an odd energy to bring to the final moments of a celebratory private performance - but it had us in absolute stitches in the rehearsal room.
6. That Gunpowder Plot Gig
We couldn't possibly do a run down of memorable 2019 moments without mentioning the crazy gunpowder plot gig we did in Dorset. Remember, remember the 5th of November, we'll never forget it again. Hired to create and perform a 30-minute original comedy about Guy Fawkes accompanied by Queen songs, for the owner of London establishment Annabel's, and all pulled together in 48 hours before the event: it was easily our most ambitious commission yet, but just went to prove what Revels can do when we put our minds to it.
7. Miss Baby Sol
In September we were hired by the Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge (one of our absolute faves and an old client) to help celebrate the opening of their new bar Nolita Social. We brought them an extract of Noël Coward's Private Lives, to be performed betwixt the velvet sofas and the sumptuous bar, with a backdrop of saucy wallpaper (honestly, you have to see it). Then we stuck around for the remainder of the event and danced til our feet were bleeding to the life-giving music of Miss Baby Sol. Exquisitely crazy and totally infectious, we now want to spend every night out shimmying and shaking to her incredible singing. It is no exaggeration to say: our new religion is Miss Baby Sol.
8. VR Vanity
This year also marked the beginning of our relationship with VR company LIVR, who specialise in bringing theatre experiences to your very own living room (much like ourselves...) but using the medium of Oculus goggles! We did a trial shoot in the summer during one of our Theatre in the Clouds shows at the Shangri-La Hotel and watching the footage back was amazing. Let me tell you something, it is the strangest thing to see yourself perform in VR. It is the closest you will ever get to actually meeting yourself and vanity totally took hold; I was trying to keep a producorial eye on everything but really kept thinking "Is that really how I walk?" and "Is that what the back of my head looks like?" Surreal but wonderful. Look out for us on the platform later this year.
9. A Wedding to end all Weddings
Last but not least, this year saw the eagerly anticipated nuptials of founding director Freddie Hutchins and his Mr Right. We were all very excited for the big day, and just in case you thought we'd get the day off from professional duties, think again: we all had a part to play. I struggled through a reading of Virginia Woolf's The Waves, the rising emotion blocking my throat like a boulder, and Mel absolutely smashed a solo in 'Seasons of Love', accompanied by a flash mob choir of various Bristol Old Vic friends of Freddie's and Revels in Hand alumni! Associate artist Mark Donald (see Memorable Moment 5) sang 'Only You' from Starlight Express too, complete with pictures of wheels stuck to his shoes. In short: it was perfectly camp and positively bursting with love. And Freddie and Oli were the best looking grooms we've ever seen; all velvet blazers and Liberty-print bow-ties to match the floral accents of their Kew Gardens surroundings. Can we do it all again please...?
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