Andy Reiss is the co-founder and performer in the show ‘Beyond the Barricade’, it comes to The Hawth Crawley 13th Feb 2015.
I caught up with Andy last week and asked him to tell me about the show.
Tell me about Beyond the Barricade and what to expect.
We have been touring with our show Beyond the Barricade for 16th years now. The show was formed when my friend David Fawcett and myself were working together in Les Misérables. Together with two others we began to perform charity concerts on Sunday evenings. By the time we had both finished our contracts in Les Misérables, the concerts were going really well and so we carried on promoting and performing ‘Beyond the Barricade’.
The show is based around show tunes and in particular the music of Misérables, all four of us in the cast have been past principal performers in Misérables, so it is not surprising that a large majority of the Act 2 is given over to the fantastic musical that occupied our lives for so long.
Did you all meet in Les Misérables?
David and I were in Les Misérables together in the West End and then in Manchester. Eventually I became the director for two years which was when we met Rebecca Vere who played Cosette. The 4th member of the cast is Katie Leeming who was at the time playing Eponine in the West End who then came out to join us.
There are some big numbers in Les Misérables can you recreate them with only four of you?
All the musical arrangements in Beyond the Barricade are quite clever. Although Les Misérables is obviously a major connection between us all, there is a lot of other material that we perform in the show. We sing songs from Phantom, Wicked, the Lion King, We Will Rock You, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia and Blood Brothers and more.
All of these shows are a major part of the Beyond the Barricade production. We sing a quintet from West Side story, although we are one person short we get around it! We finish the show with a rousing finale of One Day More and the four of us take on all the principal roles including the Thenadiers, Javert, and Enjolras as well as Valjean, Marius, Cosette and Eponine.
With such a wide variety of musicals would you say this is a show for Musical Theatre fans or would you say there is something for everyone?
We get terrific feedback after the shows. We have a lot of people saying that we have introduced them to new shows. In particular about Wicked, even though it has been running for over ten years there are a lot of people who haven’t seen it yet. With our show we can go further afield to where the big touring shows don’t reach. People tell us that we have persuaded them to go and see more theatre which is great.
It is the same with Les Misérables, amazingly even though it has been going for over 25 years we still get people writing saying that we have introduced them to the music of this phenomenal show.
Believe it or not – you were the person who actually introduced me to Les Misérables and in turn began my love of Musical Theatre when you ran a showchoir in Stafford 25years ago called Ovation. In a roundabout way you are responsible for Theatre South East!
That’s amazing, Ovation was the start of it all for me. I was involved for many years. David originally asked Ovation to do a concert in Tunbridge Wells in aid of MENCAP but it was impossible to organise. In the end David and I did the concert together with one of the singers from Ovation, Gemma Sandy and another girl we both knew called Alison Williams.
The concert went down extremely well, Gemma and I continued with Ovation concerts while I was working in Manchester with Misérables. Gemma subsequently auditioned and was cast in the London production eventually playing the role of Eponine. Now I had another link between Ovation and Les Misérables. She wasn’t in Les Mis when she started singing with Beyond the Barricade but she was eventually.
So much came out of the Ovation years, so many people out of Ovation could have made it, as a group and as individuals they were all incredible.
Beyond the Barricade obviously takes up a lot of your time, do you have time to do anything else?.
Beyond the Barricade runs throughout the year except from mid July until the end of August. At that time I work at Malvern Theatres and I direct their summer show. We’ve done Les Misérables of course and Jesus Christ Superstar and this year I am directing Oliver.
I also occasionally go to theatre groups and run masterclasses on Musical Theatre.
It all keeps me very busy
To tour with the same show for 16 years is very impressive, do you perform nationwide?
We go all over the UK and we have also performed in Europe. We have performed in Denmark, Spain and Malta amongst other places so we have travelled a fair bit. I think the furthest we have travelled is to Tahiti which sounds a lot more glamorous than it was.
Doesn’t constant touring get tiring?
Yes a little, you can do a show and then have a three and a half hour drive home so it can be exhausting but it is also terrific. You wake up and although you feel tired, you don’t complain.
Beyond the Barricade will be performed at The Hawth Crawley on Friday February 13th.