Stagedoor Discussions: Emma Kay and Sarah McPartlan

We’ve promised it, and it’s here. Following last week’s discussion, we have two new London theatre bloggers, Emma Kay and Sarah McPartlan, talking about their favourite theatre venues, actors to look out for, and must-see shows for this season. Sit back, relax, and…take notes!

First off: Emma Kay.

[Evi Triantafyllides] Tell us a bit about yourself.
[Emma Kay] Living in Crawley, I’m the poster girl for “You can take the girl out of London, but you can’t take London out of the girl”. I’m a theatre magpie and my blog is my nest. I’m a sucker for peppered mackerel, ketchup, cheese, pasta bake, dark chocolate and water (just not together!).

How did you first get involved with theatre?
Falling into the typical Sherlock fan girl mould, I followed an actor called Benedict Cumberbatch (ever heard of him?) into the National Theatre to see Frankenstein in 2011. It was like a light bulb moment; I really can’t describe the feeling as I sat there limp in my seat. Cumberbatch withering on the stage, bursting from a dirty sheeted womb, and then pranced around to the Underworld’s Dawn of Eden naked. Skip to 2015, I’m pleased to declare I’ve exchanged my “love” for Cumberbatch, for the theatre. Focusing on my blog and creative work, I constantly explore the world of theatre, and especially the wonders of fringe.

Benedict Cumberbatch in “Hamlet” at National Theatre.

How do you know when something is “good material” for your blog, worth reviewing / featuring?
When the heart thumps, hair salutes, mouth hangs, eyes water, cheeks lift and hands clap (and perhaps the feet stand)… That’s when I know something is worth reviewing.

Favourite theatre venue / hidden gem (think fringe)?
The Vaults — always a mission to find.

The Vaults, London SE1 7AD

Upcoming actor to look out for?
Danny Solomon. His character as the enthusiastic frenchman Raymond, in Consolation at Bridewell Theatre will never escape my mind. He whips out his…notebook…to capture snippets of English and provides the perfect comedy relief throughout his performance. Solomon was nominated for an Offie in the Best Male Performer category.

Recommended show for this season?
The State vs John Hayes at King’s Head Theatre — what a hardcore sixty-minute play!

One thing you look for in a theatre performance?
Direct eye contact. Being on the receiving end of an actor’s deadly stare, tension slices the eyeballs and inserts succulent words right into the hanging mouth, leaving you high and dry for the next stare down. The eyes are windows to the soul.

Eye contact creates tension. Daniel Radcliffe backstage, preparing for “Equus” on Broadway.

Dream person to interview?
I would love to interview Debbie Tucker Green and learn about her beautiful verbal execution of all the words I once knew, loved and lost, in Hang at the Royal Court.

If you could live in a theatre performance / be a character from a play, who would you choose?
Slightly depressing, but Headlong’s People, Places and Things at National Theatre. Denise Gough’s Emma, is the girl I’ve always wanted to be. She is an intelligent, feisty young woman, unafraid to disagree with medical professionals and challenge others during those cheesy “happy clappy” group therapy sessions.

“People, Places and Things” at National Theatre.

What do you love about Stagedoor?
I’m PATIENTLY waiting for the Android version of the mobile app, but I love how Stagedoor supports theatre bloggers, encourages daily discussions, and plugs theatre into every tweet. With such a friendly presence on my Twitter timeline, you do cater for the theatre lover!

Where can we find you?
You can follow me on Twitter @EmKRobertson and on my blog.

Next up: Sarah McPartlan.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
[Sarah McPartlan] I started working at the Churchill Theatre, in Bromley, when I was 17, and worked both front of house and on the stage door for 7 years. Ever since and up until now, I’ve been going to the theatre several times a week. Lately, I also perform and direct as a hobby and I am heavily involved in my local amateur theatre company, which gives me a different perspective on theatre.

How did you first get involved with theatre?
As cringe-worthy as this may sound, I was on stage before I was even born! My family has a history in amateur theatre, so it was only natural that I’d end up on stage with them.

How do you choose when something is “good material” for your blog, worth reviewing / featuring?
I love all kinds of theatre so I’m normally happy to review most things. My passion, however, is musical theatre, so if I get asked to review a musical, then I always jump at the chance. I’m also keen to support upcoming shows and new writing — that always gets my attention.

Favourite theatre venue / hidden gem (think fringe)?
When thinking of fringe, I love Landor Theatre and The Union Theatre, although these aren’t really hidden gems anymore! As I said, I’m also a big advocate of supporting amateur theatre, and Bob Hope Theatre in Eltham is great for doing just that.

The Union Theatre, London SE1 0LX

Upcoming actor to look out for?
I saw a production of The White Feather at The Union Theatre, and I was extremely impressed by Abigail Matthews, who played the lead role in the show — definitely one to look out for. I also saw Grand Hotel at Southwark Playhouse, where it was Durone Stokes’ professional debut. I have seen a lot of him on the amateur circuit and I’m positive he will be fronting shows at the West End very soon!

Although not an actor, a theatre production group that I also think is worth keeping an eye out for, is Folio Theatre Production. I was fascinated by their production Unearthed, and I am very keen to see what they have in store for us in the future.

Recommended show for this season?
Bewitchment on Black Ice at Landor Theatre sounds really interesting and something I’m looking forward to see. Then, of course, there’s also Elf, that will surely get you into the Christmas spirit.

“Bewitchment on Black Ice” at Landor Theatre.

One thing you look for in a theatre performance?
I love something with originality and passion. That was why I absolutely loved Tommy at Greenwich Theatre; it had both of these qualities in spades!

Dream person to interview?
I am a huge, HUGE (did I say huge?) fan of Imelda Staunton. Not only is she amazing in Gypsy, but she also shines in every show — take for example, Sweeney Todd. Not only is she so talented (please, just give her the Olivier now), but she also seems like she would be such a laugh in person.

Imelda Staunton in “Gypsy”, at Savoy Theatre.

If you could live in a theatre performance / be a character from a play, who would you be?
I would be Elle Wood — my day job is a legal executive and I am also a blonde with a passion for shopping — so, basically, an English Elle. I am directing Legally Blonde for my local amateur dramatics group in 2017 and I can’t wait to get started on it.

What do you love about Stagedoor?
It feels like I have the West End at my finger tips and always helps me keep track of what is happening, where and when.

Where can we find you?
You can follow me on Twitter @sarah_mcpartlan and on my website.

What’s coming next…

Stay tuned for part three and get more insights into the best of London’s theatre scene, as seen from the eyes of some of our favourite and well-respected theatre bloggers.

In the meantime, for the ins and outs of London theatre, download the Stagedoor app (if you haven’t already): apple.co/1C4IvnY

If you have questions for the bloggers or want to share your thoughts, reach out on Twitter @StagedoorLDN and let’s discuss theatre!

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