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Behind The Curtain: An Interview with ‘I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical' Writer Alexander S. Bermange



Following critically acclaimed seasons at Wilton’s Music Hall and several Edinburgh Festival Fringe's, the hugely popular revue, I Wish My Life Were Like a Musical, heads out on its first ever UK & Ireland tour.


I got the chance to speak to writer and also performer of the show Alexander S. Bermange ahead of the tours opening!


 

What is ‘I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical’ about?


It reveals everything you could want to know about being a musical theatre performer – if only there were any who’d admit it – plus everything about the devotees, detractors and disruptors they perform to!

 

What was the inspiration for the show?


Being on a cruise on which one of my shows was being produced, and seeing passengers plying our cast with questions about their professional lives. It struck me that a show comedically yet truthfully providing such answers could be relatable to industry folk, revelatory to “lay people”, and amusing to both!

 

The show is a musical ‘Revue’ could you explain what this is, for people who don’t know what a musical revue is, and why it was the route you went down when creating the show?


It’s a series of songs and musical sequences, with the cast members embodying different characters in each; there isn’t a conventional narrative, but in this case there is a chronological through-line charting the course of a performer’s career. I adopted this format because it provided me with an opportunity to depict a wider variety of scenarios and characters than a more overtly story-based approach would have done.

 

You have written a few shows, how would you describe your style of writing and could you tell us your process of writing new shows?


My style of writing varies from show to show, the musical and lyrical vocabulary that I deploy in a piece being informed by factors such as setting (both time and place), concept, and a collaborator’s vision. (So, in line with its subject matter, the soundscape of I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical is influenced by the songs and music of musical theatre.) Having come up with the idea for a new show and undertaken any necessary research, the stylistic decisions are generally made shortly afterwards, in tandem with the development of a structure and storyline. Only after that can the actual writing begin!

 

What is it like performing in a show you have written? And what is your preference writing or performing?


I’m performing in I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical in that I’m at the piano (and make the odd cameo!), but I consider the cast to be the “real” performers. That said, it’s very instructive and illuminating being part of the company. One learns so much from observing audiences’ reactions, and how performers tackle the material, from one night to the next. And of course it’s deeply rewarding to experience the enthusiastic responses we’ve been fortunate enough to generate. At heart I’m more a writer than a performer, but one skill certainly complements and benefits the other.



photo credit: Rod Penn

 

With so much critical acclaim, how do you feel about the responses from the critics and audiences who have seen the show?


I’m thrilled that it appears to have brought so much joy to so many people!

 

‘I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical’ is set to head out on its debut UK and Ireland tour. What would you say is the most exciting and what are you most nervous about taking the show on the road for the first time?


I’m tremendously excited at the prospect of it reaching new cities, venues and audiences – and I’m nervously hoping that it’s embraced as fondly as it has been elsewhere!

 

What would you say is your most memorable and proudest moment of creating the show?


It’s difficult to single one out. Receiving the show’s first award, seeing the spectacular trailer for its first foreign-language production (in Seoul), and reaching our 50th five-star review are certainly all contenders. But there was something particularly magical about the opening preview of the show’s first Edinburgh run. I’d been warned to prepare for low numbers, both that night and thereafter. But I remember watching the audience just pile in. It was a delightful surprise and we ended up selling out the entire run.

 

What would you say your biggest advice is to anyone who wants to get into the industry, on the creative side of the business?


Keep at it, and try not to let disappointments and disreputable types hamper your creativity or enthusiasm.

 

Describe the show in one sentence or three words


Side-splitting, spine-tingling, and stagey!



photo credit: Rod Penn


 

I Wish My Life Were Like a Musical will open at Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester on 2nd of July, before heading out on UK and Ireland tour!


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