Guest Blog: Scott Maidment On Lola's Underground Casino
Having performed Blanc de Blanc in the Hippodrome Casino for several months a few years ago, I jumped at the chance of creating a new work within this amazing space at Lola's Underground Casino.
The Hippodrome has a rich history of amazing performers. Houdini, Shirley Bassey, Charlie Chaplin, Sinatra, Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder...you name it, they've performed there. The venue really has theatre, variety and cabaret within the DNA of its walls!
Creating a show in Lola's which involves old-school variety, cabaret, magic, dance and music, combined with cutting-edge technology, has been a really exciting challenge for me as a director.
The Hippodrome have invested in a huge 10m curved video screen, which surrounds the theatre and allows interaction between the audience and the performers simultaneously, creating a unique atmosphere in this space.
In creating this performance, we storyboarded the acts and what would happen in the show, and how the performers would work with this screen. We came up with three main themes - Bond, Vegas and Circus - that will feature in the show.
Having worked with Bryn Harris Wathen from The Box on other Strut & Fret projects, we decided to work together on how to incorporate these themes, acts and artists to create a show over the past six weeks. We've both come up with ideas, as well as the artists themselves, so it's really been a collaborative process in bringing this vision together.
Many of the visuals you'll see on screen were conceived by Bryn, along with the Hippodrome technical team. Imagine doves appearing across the screen and then suddenly a magician appears to pull a real dove in front of your eyes. Hundreds of playing cards, first flying across the screen, and then across the audience. We also have an incredible array of aerialists, magicians and dancers from across the country on board who will be popping in and out of this space.
We were influenced by the amazing surrounds of the Hippodrome and the incredible history of this venue, and wanted to showcase this in the performance. The owners Jimmy and Simon Thomas have put so much work into restoring this place to its original 1900 designs as a premium entertainment venue, and we're really excited to be a part of this relaunch of the infamous Lola's. It's a spectacular pop-up show featuring world-class talent, and one of the most exciting projects we've worked on to date.
Photo credit: The Urban Snapper