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EDINBURGH 2018: BWW Interview: Ian Stroughair and Eliza Jackson

EDINBURGH 2018: BWW Interview: Ian Stroughair and Eliza Jackson

BWW catches up with real-life besties Ian Stroughair and Eliza Jackson about the shows they've brought to the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

How did you two meet?

Ian: So I've had a class at Pineapple Dance Studio for years and years and about five years ago Eliza came to a class.

Eliza: I did, I came to a few classes and I was absolutely terrified of him. I mean that in the best possible way. I was like, we're going to be pals, I'm going to make this happen- and then I did! Now we're best pals, aren't we?

Ian- Yes! And then Eliza started doing a jazz duo called Jackson and George.

Eliza: And now we've done backing vocals for Ian at a few gigs.

Ian- It happened organically.

Eliza- And now I refuse to let him do a show without me.

Ian- Eliza is here with her show The Voice Behind The Stars which worked out perfectly because she's in Iconic doing support vocals.

Eliza- He refuses to call me a backing vocalist!

Tell us a bit about your shows.

Ian: Iconic: A Brief History of Drag is a journey through my most favourite moments in drag history that inspired me to be a drag queen. It's things that people automatically think of when they think of drag. Whether it be a David Bowie number or Queen doing "I Want To Break Free".

It's basically a big revue of all my favourite drag moments in movies, musicals and popular culture but twisted around in ways you might not expect.

So since you've done London, New York, Australia, UK tour and now the Edinburgh Fringe is that it for Iconic?

Ian: There are some more dates on the UK tour after this and then hopefully another run in London either at the end of this year or early next year. And then it'll be back to Australia to do the rounds again but it'll be my new show which is about witches. Or it might be half Iconic and half new show.

Ooh. Can you tell me more about that?

Ian: I'm obsessed with witches in films, books, Harry Potter, musical etc so that's happening next year.

Eliza- tell me a bit about The Voice Behind The Stars.

Eliza: It's the story of Marni Nixon who was the ghost singer for all the famous Hollywood stars in the 50's and 60's. So Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe - none of them could actually sing or could only sing a little bit.

So Marni would come in and manipulate her voice to sound like them. She had to sign away her life on contracts that said she was never allowed to tell anyone about her job and she got paid absolutely nothing and wasn't credited. Her story is pretty incredible.

Are you planning anything for the show after the festival?

Yes, so we have plans to do a UK tour and hopefully, a London run as well. I'm taking it to Australia, I'm going to do Perth and Adelaide and also a run in Sydney because that's where I'm from.

What have you seen so far at the festival?

Ian: The Voice Behind The Stars of course! I also saw Decadence starring Ali McGregor.

Eliza: I think she has something like five octaves.

Ian: Oh it's ridiculous, her voice is amazing.

Eliza: It's never-ending.

Ian: We also saw Stripped with Johnny Partridge and he was a massive inspiration for me when I was growing up.

Eliza: His version of "Chandelier" is stunning.

Ian: That's it so far. My day off isn't until the 8th so I just want to get through the first week. Once I'm rested we'll hit the town.

What else is on the list?

Eliza: Hot Brown Honey.

Ian: Briefs- I know the boys from when I was in Australia.

Eliza: Six.

Ian: Yes, definitely. Courtney Act.

Eliza: Maureen Lipman.

Ian: My favourite quote about Maureen Lipman's show is something like "I did the Fringe 20 years ago and I can just now afford to come back".

Lazy Rizo of course, my old friend.

Eliza: Choir of Man, Burn The Floor, Michael Griffiths. I definitely want to see Showstoppers. And I really want to see Shit-faced Shakespeare.

Are there any West End shows you'd still like to do?

Ian: I would like to do the London run of Iconic: A Brief History Of Drag.

You know that's not what I meant!

Ian: I'd like to be the first male Elphaba. And I don't want to tempt fate but I'd love to play Hedwig.

Since you've done it before, what are your tips for surviving the Fringe?

Ian: Carrying water with us. Swimming laps every day. Actually, for any singers out there there's a thing to loosen and strengthen vocal chords where you blow into water. When you're swimming, if you wear goggles every time I go up and down I blow out water and I do that for forty minutes which is how long I swim for.

We had planned to eat really healthily but we've eaten everything today.

Eliza: The food is so great here though. Eat a lot of food and sleep a lot.

Ian: Last night was the first night I'd had a couple of drinks which is not like me but our shows are too full on so there's no way we can rock out really.

Next week is a good one because I've only got five shows next week. But then I have 12 after that.

You didn't take any days off in 2014 when you came here did you?

Ian: No.

So you've learned from that?

Ian: That was (Christina) Bianco's fault. She had to leave three days early and we had to fulfil the venue!

See Iconic: A Brief History Of Drag at Assembly Checkpoint at 21:30

See The Voice Behind The Stars at 14:00

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