Tag Archives: Eugene McCoy

10 Questions with Eugene McCoy

12 Sep

Eugene McCoy trained at ArtsEd. He has appeared in shows like Mamma Mia, American Psycho, The Pajama Game, Guys and Dolls, Oklahoma, They’re Playing Our Song and Little Shop of Horrors. Eugene played the part of Nick Massi in the West End production of Jersey Boys from 2010 to 2013. At the moment you can catch him at the Old Vic Theatre in the world premiere of Groundhog Day.

Eugene kindly took some time out of his busy schedule to talk about his musical theatre journey so far, Groundhog Day, annoying audience behaviour and what the future might hold.

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How did you get into musical theatre and did you always want to be a performer?
I started performing when I was three years old – not professionally, of course. I left drama school when I was 21 so that’s when I started professionally. But I started singing, dancing and acting when I was 3. I danced until I was 12, four times a week, did lots of competitions and festivals but then I got really bad knees and had to stop. So I did more acting and singing from then on. I went to drama school when I was 18 for three years. I honestly don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to perform. I always said as a kid: “I’m going to be on the stage or on tv – this is what I want to do.”

What has been your favourite performing job so far and why?
I don’t have a single favourite one. Jersey Boys was amazing because it was my first big lead (role). The prestige of wearing that red jacket was so huge and I came in at the big first cast change for the Seasons. And I got to rehearse in New York, learn the show out there and then we came back and we were constantly doing PR, tv gigs, press and exciting events outside of work. The theatre was the best theatre and it was an amazing character to play and the audiences were crazy (in a good way). That was brilliant. But equally I loved The Pajama Game in Chichester in the small Minerva Theatre: I was very free on stage performing a character as extravagant as he was and got to sing, dance and act more than I’d done for a while. And then American Psycho at the Almeida was amazing. That show felt incredibly unique. So I have to say those three are the ones I remember most really.

How does it feel to be a part of Groundhog Day, working with people like Tim Minchin, Matthew Warchus and Peter Darling?
It feels so great to be part of Groundhog Day. I first auditioned last August and it was for the workshop. We did this big workshop in October and November last year for four weeks. So I auditioned for that originally with a view to doing the show. It was a case of if you did well in the workshop and they liked you then you got to do the show. I remember hearing about the project and I told my agent “I want to be in that show.” And when I knew I was going to be in it all just felt great and I was so excited. The prospect of working with this team was incredible – and in that theatre – it was a no brainer! It’s proved to be brilliant. It’s a hard show but it’s worth it. The team is lovely and they are making groundbreaking new theatre and not “just” old revivals. That’s what so exciting. It’s new theatre that will last.

Do you think people watch the show with very specific expectations (having seen the film)? How is the show different from the film?
I’ve never seen the film! Ha! But yes, people have expectations and most people I know who have seen the show and the movie actually say they prefer the show. Interesting! I will be watching the film in a week’s time (when the show is done).

What’s it like working with Andy Karl?
Horrendous! He stinks, he never washes…. No, joking! He is lovely, a very nice man, very hard working and brilliantly talented. I think he is going to become quite famous. And I think he is going to win every award for this show and he deserves to.

You’ve been in various shows over the past years. If you had to choose one show to go back into which one would it be?
I would like to do lots of my shows for maybe a week and no more. I’d love to do Mamma Mia for a week because I did it when I was much younger and it was really fun. I’d love to go and do Guys and Dolls again because the Donmar production at the Piccadilly Theatre was so special. It was a brilliant production and I’d like to go back and do that now that I’m a bit older. And I’d like to go back and do the big three and “Who loves you” at Jersey Boys because I never got bored of those. They were amazing to do every night.

Do you have a dream role or a show you would love to be in someday?
I’m not sure I do. It’s difficult for me being a bass singer. There are not many roles for me especially in new musicals so I’m often limited in what I can do in that sense. I always wanted to play Bert in Mary Poppins but I wouldn’t be able to dance it because my knees would concave and I would never be able to walk again. I would maybe like to be Miss Trunchbull in Matilda. I saw Jesus Christ Superstar recently and I’d like to sing Caiaphas because it’s a really low bass but it’s not a very exciting part to play if I’m honest. And I always wanted to be in The Producers because it’s amongst my favourite shows. In fact, I’d like to play any of the knights in the original big West End production of Spamalot as well. And playing Geoffrey in Stepping Out would be great.

What are the last musicals and/or plays you watched and which ones are on your “to see” list at the moment?
I’ve not seen anything because Groundhog Day has basically taken over my life for five months (apart from Jesus Christ Superstar as mentioned above!). The last thing I saw was People, Places and Things with Denise Gough which was the most amazing performance I’ve seen for so long and she was just outrageous and incredible. And that inspired me and had me buzzing for days and weeks. I want to go and see Yerma with Billie Pieper but I won’t get the chance unfortunately. She’s supposed to be incredible. And I’d like to see Funny Girl but I’m not sure I will get round to. I’d also liked to have seen Deep Blue Sea at the National with Helen McCrory because I think she’s brilliant. What else? I want to see Hamilton.

What are your top three pet peeves when it comes to (bad) audience behaviour?
I guess one is people who don’t throw flowers at me at the end because everyone really should…. Haha.
People who have their phones on and you can see the light when you’re looking out into the audience. That is really, really annoying. In a way, latecomers: If you are doing a scene and it’s really quiet and latecomers come in it’s really frustrating. And when I’m in the audience and people are eating sweets (those with the noisy wrappers). That drives me insane.

Why should people go and see Groundhog Day?
Because I don’t think you will see a better new musical for quite a while. And that might sound biased but I think it’s the best new musical for a long time. And it’s inspiring and it’s funny, it will make you cry, it will make you laugh and it’s clever. It’s really, really, really clever and witty. And the ensemble are the hardest working ensemble – I keep saying this but we really do work so hard. And if you want to see people sweat and you want to see me tap dancing in winter boots, a parka jacket and a woolly hat with a big smile – come and see Groundhog Day!

Groundhog Day is playing at the Old Vic Theatre until 19th September. Public booking for the last performance on 19th September opens this Thursday.
http://www.oldvictheatre.com/whats-on/2016/groundhog-day/

Follow Eugene on Twitter @McCoyEugene  .

Groundhog Day at the Old Vic Theatre

16 Aug

I admit I was in doubt about Groundhog Day the moment the musical version was announced: Another film to stage production – as if we haven’t had enough of those already. Plus we are talking about Groundhog Day here. The film is a classic in my eyes and the main character Phil Connors – the man who has to live through the same day over and over again – has been defined by Bill Murray’s portrayal. However, I am happy to report my doubts vanished the moment the show started.

I’ve seen Andy Karl (Phil Connors) on stage before. He was my highlight in On the Twentieth Century on Broadway last year. So having him in London is a treat in itself. But seeing him in the West End doing such an incredible job playing what must be one of the hardest male leads in town right now is downright mind-blowing. Andy Karl is not trying to be Bill Murray. Andy Karl is Phil Connors – funny, a bit of a prick, arrogant, sometimes downright nasty but in the end someone who learns to use second chances to become a better person. I cannot fault his portrayal in any way. I do not say this often but he is 100% perfect in this role.

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It is not easy to shine next to a lead performer who basically commands the stage throughout the show. Carlyss Peer does well as Rita Hanson but sadly the character itself seems a bit underdeveloped in comparison to Phil Connors. And even though the show is all about repeating things I found myself being a bit bored by her singing the same song over and over. This is not Carlyss Peer’s fault at all but simply the way the character has been written.

The whole ensemble is working amazingly hard in this show and there is no weak link to report. I am not convinced by the act two opening number which – despite being sung beautifully by Georgina Hagen (Nancy) – seemed a bit pointless and out-of-place. Andrew Langtree as Ned Ryerson has a lovely song in act two which I really enjoyed even though I wish we had learned a bit more about the character himself. Eugene McCoy as camera man Larry is perfectly cast and provides some wonderfully dry humour. Stand outs in the ensemble for me are Kieran Jae (Fred) and Ste Clough (Jeff) – both great to watch in the ensemble scenes and their solo bits.

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A set that is simple but imaginative makes sure the narrative does not get pushed into the background. Some of the scene changes are beyond clever – I am still trying to figure out how they are done. I am not going to spoil it but if you watch the show and can tell me how the shower to bed scene change works – comment below (with a spoiler tag).

The music in the show drives the story forward with clever lyrics and nice melodies. I have not been humming the songs since but Tim Minchin has written a score that fits in perfectly with the tone of the show. It is not a score I would listen to at home but I really enjoyed the music while watching the show.

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All in all Groundhog Day is without a doubt one of the most exciting new musicals I have seen in the past years. It is like a breeze of fresh air in the world of musical theatre. I highly recommend you go see this show while you have the chance to catch it in the West End. Hopefully I will be able to watch Groundhog Day on Broadway next year – this is a transfer that just needs to happen.

Groundhog Day is running at the Old Vic Theatre until September 17th 2016. For more info and to book tickets go to http://www.oldvictheatre.com/whats-on/2016/groundhog-day/

Ryan Molloy live at the Electric Carousel – 29th August 2015

30 Aug

Ryan Molloy’s long-awaited first public appearance after starring as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys on Broadway took him to the Electric Carousel, an intimate concert venue in Central London. Advertised as “The New Jersey Songbook” the evening turned out to be a diverse journey through the music history of Jersey – from Frank Sinatra to Ben E. King to The Isley Brothers right to the hits of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons Ryan treated his audience to a collection of some of the finest songs that were ever written.

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The special thing about Ryan is his ability to give every song a completely unique touch. You may have heard all of them a thousand times by various artists but you will always discover something new when you listen to Ryan’s take on them. And while there is no question that Ryan Molloy has one of the best voices in the business he also knows how to entertain and engage his fans making all of them feel part of the evening.

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As expected Frankie Valli / Four Seasons’ hits like “Can’t take my eyes of you” and “Beggin'” proved to be favorites amongst the audience along with a mini reunion for which Ryan was joined on stage by former Jersey Boys Matthew Wycliffe, Eugene McCoy and Chris Gardner singing “Who loves you”, “Oh what a night” and a Jersey Boys Medley.

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But it was the tender “Stand by me” (Ben E. King) and the powerful “This old heart of mine” (The Isley Brothers) that stood out for me. Here Ryan really showed that he is not just “the guy who sings Frankie Valli”.

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Those songs might be what he is best known for but over the years Ryan has proven that he can sing anything from Frankie Valli to modern-day Rock, Pop and Funk. And this concert at the Electric Carousel proved that he is just as comfortable singing a whole collection of classic hits that have their origin in Jersey.

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I could keep on praising the undeniable talent of Ryan Molloy for hours but instead I am going to let music speak. Below are some videos from last nights’ concert. Watch, listen and enjoy.

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Check out ryanmolloy.com for all the latest info about upcoming appearances and get in touch with Ryan on Facebook and Twitter @molloyofficial .





American Psycho at the Almeida Theatre – 11th January 2014

13 Jan

American Psycho is most likely one of the most controversial books of our generation. I admit I never got round to reading it (I’m on it at the moment though) but obviously I do know the story of Patrick Bateman, the rich Wall Street broker / psychotic serial killer. When I first heard about a musical adaption of the story I was curious but doubtful. However, first reports and a great casting (so it seemed) suggested this was a fresh and interesting take on the story.

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First of all, yes there is murder in the show but no, it’s not a complete bloodbath. In fact the actual murders only take up a very small part of the stage adaption which focuses more on the character of Patrick Bateman and his relationships with the people around him. We see episodes of Patrick’s life and get to hear his thoughts on things that are happening in his life. There’s humour and anger, confusion and fury – a whole package of emotions that is thrown at the audience throughout the show.
And while I do think it is an interesting approach I ended up feeling something was missing. Now, it’s not that I enjoy a bloodbath but the pure horror and cruelty of Patrick Bateman’s murders are a key symbol in American Psycho. Without them the story is a dark satire without the needed edge.

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My main problem with the show lies with Matt Smith’s Patrick Bateman. As much as I wanted to I wasn’t able to form any kind of emotional connection with the character. I didn’t like him, I didn’t sympathise with him, I didn’t loathe him – just nothing. That obviously made it next to impossible to be drawn into the story. If I don’t care for the main character, I simply don’t care what happens to him either.

Having said that, Matt Smith does a good job with the material he has been given. I admit I was expecting him to be more charismatic but judging from other reviews and word of mouth I’m definitely in the minority with this opinion. His singing isn’t great but it works for the part. He definitely shouldn’t start a second career as a dancer though.

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The stand out performance in this show is Cassandra Compton’s Jean, Patrick Bateman’s secretary who is secretly in love with him. Cassandra plays the character with such a sweet vulnerability you can’t help but feel for her.

I really enjoyed Ben Aldridge as Paul Owen and Susannah Fielding as Evelyn Williams. And a special mention for Eugene McCoy who does a great job as Patrick Bateman’s friend David van Patten and to Holly James who always manages to catch my eye.

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So, what do I make of American Psycho? I am still not completely sure I have to admit. I think it is a brave and interesting project. The 80s/Electro score is appealing and I really like the staging at the Almeida Theatre. However, I am missing something vital in this show: An emotional connection to the main character.

And one last thought: How did Patrick Bateman manage to get a fancy flat screen tv in the 80s??

American Psycho is running at the Almeida Theatre until February 1st 2014. The run is sold out but day seats are available. For more info go to: http://www.almeida.co.uk/event/americanpsycho

The Pajama Game at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester – 24th May 2013

31 May

The Pajama Game is one of those shows that are not put on stage a lot. And at first view the story does come across as a bit too simple and foreseeable and its characters seem slightly too one-dimensional. However, if you take a second look you will understand that this is indeed a musical gem that deserves to and should be seen.

The Pajama Game tells the story of Sid Sorokin, the new superintendent of Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory, and his love interest Babe Williams, the leader of the Union Grievance Commitee. Their relationship is put at risk when the employees are denied a seven-and-a-half cents an hour raise.

As mentioned before, the story is simple and its ending is crystal clear right from the start. The characters are stereotypes but this works for the show. What really stands out in this show is the score by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. I still catch myself humming songs from the show now and then and considering I’ve never listened to any of them before watching the show that is pretty remarkable.

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The star of this production is the complete cast. They are what makes The Pajama Game such a wonderfully entertaining show. Hadley Fraser shines as Sid Sorokin. He seems so completely at ease with the character he plays and everything he does looks absolutely natural. You get the feeling he doesn’t even have to put a tiny effort into portraying Sid – which is probably not true but it’s great to see an actor so completely on eye-level with the character he plays. His singing is flawless and he manages to capture every aspect of Sid perfectly. Plus everyone who sings such a stunning duet with himself deserves extra praise And I have to mention his outfit for the bows and the encore – nice! I’m not saying anything more about that in case you haven’t seen the show yet.

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Joanna Riding plays Babe and she is just as perfectly cast as Hadley. Her Babe is feisty, stubborn and lovable. Her and Hadley portray a couple who face the struggle of combining a relationship and being in different “teams” at work. Their on stage chemistry dominates the show and gives The Pajama Game the needed depth.

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Peter Polycarpou is the obsessive factory timekeeper Vernon Hines who is struggling to contain his jealousy when it comes to secretary Gladys (played brilliantly by Alexis Owen-Hobbs). His “I’ll never be jealous again” proves to be one of the show stopping songs in the show.

Eugene McCoy finally gets to show off his funny side (much-needed after playing the rather stoic Jersey Boy Nick Massi for three years) and manages to steal more than one scene as Prez, the head of the Union.

The talent in the whole cast is visible throughout the show. From the leads to every single ensemble member – these boys and girls can sing, dance and act. They make Stephen Mear’s choreography a complete joy to watch. And they are the ones who bring every scene to life, from the pajama factory to a sleazy night cub – the audience is transported into the world of Sid, Babe and co.

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The sets are quite simple but effective. And it’s great to see how a rather tiny performing space like the Minerva Theatre can provide room for a show with quite excessive dance routines without ever losing the intimacy this show needs to work properly.

If you love shows like Guys and Dolls you will most likely adore The Pajama Game. This show bursts with energy and just the chance to see such an amazing cast work together in an intimate venue alone is worth the trip to Chichester. So, count yourself lucky if you have a ticket to one of the few remaining performances. Otherwise I’m sorry to inform you that the run is sold out – but you never know, Chichester is known for transferring popular shows to the West End.

The Pajama Game is running at the Minerva Theatre until 8th June 2013. For more info visit http://www.cft.org.uk/the-pajama-game#-Overview

Jersey Boys at the Prince Edward Theatre – 18th August 2012 (matinee)

21 Aug

A lot of you are aware that Jersey Boys is one of my favourite shows of all time. I have been watching the London production pretty much from the start and a trip to Jersey is usually on the agenda when I fly over to London.

After reviewing the new cast just a week after they had started in the show I thought it was time to look at the show again and give my views on the Jersey Boys and Girls after they have been performing on stage together for about 5 months.

On this occasion the cast was led by Jon Lee as Frankie Valli. Now, I admit I have always been a Ryan girl when it comes to Frankie Valli in this show. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy seeing a different Frankie now and then. I adored Jye Frasca’s Frankie and loved both Michael Conway and Dan Burton in the role when I saw them earlier this year.
The problem with Frankie Valli is that the part itself is very one-dimensional for a lead role. The character hardly develops throughout the show. So to make the part interesting the actor playing Frankie needs to have a great stage presence, a brilliant voice and a ton of charisma. I think Jon Lee does fine in the acting department but just doesn’t have the voice for this part. He struggles with the high singing parts and often cuts notes short (the last one can be interpreted as a personal take on the songs but to me it sounds as if he simply can’t hold the notes long enough). And Frankie is a vocally demanding part so it’s no crime to have a problem with those incredibly hard vocals – only if you are alternate Frankie Valli you should be able to deliver the falsetto bits or – if your voice just isn’t suited to that – just adapt the singing accordingly. Jye Frasca did just that by singing parts of the songs just that tiny bit lower and it worked perfectly.
I know a lot of people really rate Jon Lee’s Frankie but I have to say personally his take on the role bores me. He doesn’t manage to interest me in anything Frankie says or does. So I have to say his Frankie just isn’t for me.

Ben Wheeler was on for Tommy at this show. What can I say? He was my very first Tommy back in 2008 and I completely adore his take on the role. Ben’s Tommy is the perfect mix of flirty and dangerous and with him no show is ever exactly like the other. Ben keeps changing little bits of his performance which is wonderful for a returning visitor to the show. You can see that he does everything to keep the part fresh and interesting. I love Jon Boydon’s and Mark Isherwood’s Tommy and also loved Glenn Carter in the part but if I had to choose my number one Tommy of all time Ben would definitely win the gold medal. His take on the part is diverse and I just need to look at him to know what Tommy is thinking at that exact moment.

Bob Gaudio is played by Matt Wycliffe who has taken over from Stephen Ashfield in 2011. I admit Stephen’s Bob will always be impossible to top for me but Matt has definitely made the part his own. He has a brilliant voice and I love how his Bob goes from that slightly insecure boy to the confident man who stands up against Tommy. He manages to portray the change in Bob Gaudio’s behaviour and personality perfectly. Plus he comes across as the nice boy next door which makes the audience fall in love with him straight away.

Eugene McCoy’s Nick Massi is funny, there’s no doubt about that. And his take on the part has grown on me by now. I still prefer Nick to be more reserved but then I am definitely biased because I adored Philip Bulcock’s Nick and no one will ever manage to convince me that there is a better way to play that part. The audience clearly loves Eugene which is wonderful. He has his own unique way of playing the part and I do enjoy seeing him on stage. When I want to be reminded of how Nick should be played in my opinion I can always watch the show when Mark Isherwood is on for the part as his Nick is almost similar to Philip’s Nick.

Nicola Brazil does a wonderful job as Mary Delgado. Her Mary is feisty yet vulnerable at the same time. Trina Hill has really grown into her role. Her Francine is less tough now and I really enjoy her take on “My boyfriend’s back”. I’m still not happy with Howard Jones as Bob Crewe. In my eyes he is just wrong for the part and doesn’t look comfortable on stage. His Bob Crewe is played for the jokes and nothing else and lacks the authority and dignity the character needs (and deserves) to have.  Dan Burton has to be the most confident performer in history (I’m exaggerating here but that’s what it looks like). His Joey Pesci was brilliant right from the start and he’s managed to become even better over the past months. And he never shows the slightest hint of nerves.
I still love having Tee Jaye back in the show. His Barry is wonderfully entertaining and his facial expressions are priceless. Special mention for Mark Isherwood who was on for Donnie at this show. No matter what part he plays he always manages to draw my attention to him. The man oozes charisma on stage no matter if he’s playing Tommy, Nick or the third guy on the left in the ensemble.
The rest of the cast did a great job. It’s especially nice to see how much Chris Gardner has developed as Hank in the last 1,5 years. Mark Carroll was on for Gyp de Carlo and while I do prefer to see Stuart in that part Mark did a great job.

What’s left to say? I love the Jersey Boys! I have seen casts come and go over the years and I will always have my favourites in all the different parts. But the show itself remains one of the slickest productions I have seen in my 15+ years of theatre going.

Go and see Jersey Boys at the Prince Edward Theatre. For more info and to book tickets go to http://www.jerseyboyslondon.com/.