Anne-Marie Piazza

Actor / Writer / Musician


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Wicker Husband (Other Palace)

Rhys Jennings and Darren Clark won the MTI Mentorship Award from Stiles and Drew which meant a years mentoring culminating in a showcase at the end of the year directed by Charlie Westenra.  It has been on a long journey already and will now be going over to New York having been selected as 1 of just 8 shows by the National Alliance for Musical Theatre’s showcase this fall. Here’s what we did with it in 2017 at the Other Palace Showcase:

WestEndWilma gives a great synopsis:

The Wicker Husband is based on the short story by Ursula Wills-Jones. It tells the tale of a woman known as Ugly Girl. A local town fish seller who  is told she will never have a husband because she is too ugly. A chance encounter with an Old Basket Maker reveals the chance to have a husband made for her out of Wicker. But when the local women of the town meet the handsome new husband they are overcome with jealousy and hatch a plan to destroy Ugly Girls relationship and her happiness.

And also thoroughly enjoyed it:

It’s an interesting story and one that doesn’t drag. The climax of act one leaves the audience begging for more, wanting to find out what happens next and the songs are well written. With a cast of well established and award winning actors including Tyrone Huntley, Rebecca Trehearn and Clive Rowe, The Wicker Husband has a lot of support behind it to help the show take its next steps towards a full scale production.

A review from the MusicalTheatreReview.com

This showcase was a delightful sneak peek into the beginning of The Wicker Husband’s journey.  The show has been through a full year of developmental support including a writing retreat and two panel-led progress labs. The presentation, directed by Charlotte Westenra, demonstrated the progress of that work; and with only three days of rehearsal behind them, the cast members did an extraordinary job of bringing this tale to life.

It was hard to consider Anne-Maria Piazza as the Ugly Girl as she managed so flawlessly to pull out all the beauty and goodness of her character, not to mention she has a beautiful singing voice that seems to take on any style thrown her way.

Thank you BroadwayWorld for a full company list:

This one-off showing by Darren Clark and Rhys Jennings features a cast including Tyrone Huntley as the Wicker Husband and Olivier Award-winners Rebecca Trehearn (pictured, left; Tailor’s Wife) and Clive Rowe (Old Basket Maker).

The cast is completed by Anne-Marie Piazza (Ugly Girl), Sebastien Torkia (Tailor), Roger Evans (Cobbler), Elexi Walker (Cobbler’s Wife), Loren O’Dair (Innkeeper’s Wife) and Jamal Andréas (Innkeeper). The presentation will be directed by Charlotte Westenra with musical direction by Mark Aspinall.

 


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Fight exam

A quick update on my love of swords and fighting: the swashbuckling Jeremy Barlow has  taught another APC stage combat course, following on from his unarmed combat course last year. This time broadsword. Paired with the glorious Gloria Sanders and a scene from “Love for Love” by Congreve we both passed with distinctions! Woop. Hopefully it’ll mean more of this:

(Treasure Island, Iris Theatre 2016)


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Thisbe

Last winter (February-April) I toured with A Door Ajar and they’re gorgeous show Thisbe which imagined life for the lovers of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” after Puck’s intervention.  It beautifully incorporated BSL (British Sign Language) throughout the production and was a musical tour de force.

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Here’s what A Door Ajar said about it:

Fourteen years have passed since the fateful night Thisbe’s parents, Helena and Demetrius, were lost in the woods. The only thing they remember is waking up completely in love with one another. But as their love becomes obsession, where does this leave their neglected and confused daughter, Thisbe?

Cue the prankster Puck and his fairy flunkeys who love nothing more than to meddle with the mortal world. With the promise of solving all of her problems, they lure Thisbe into the woods where it isn’t long before she finds herself embroiled in their roguery. Intoxicated with magic and adventure, has Thisbe gone too far this time? Can she stop her family falling apart? And does she even want to? Featuring creatively integrated BSL (British Sign Language) and with an original score, this play is full of playful wit and boisterous theatricality.

Here’s the reviews opinions:

**** Music is utilised extremely well, with the actors all playing some kind of instrument, these instruments are used to not only produce music and song but also as sound effects, the bubbling cauldron and magic ball a particular highlight.

The characters are portrayed very much as a modern day dysfunctional family, with the task of healing wounds falling to the teenage Thisbe, who appears wise beyond her years.  The audience are treated to an in-depth view of her psyche with the help of the other cast members who represent her conflicting feelings…the entire cast commit wholly to their multiple roles, switching back and forth at sometimes rapid pace. (theatreweekly.com)

Fluidity is the buzzword for this production, everything cleverly designed to reflect the intricacy and vibrancy of human life. The multi-talented cast – Rosalind Burt, Joey Hickman, Anne-Marie Piazza, David Osmond, Samantha Sutherland and Jennifer Wilson – slid not only from song to speech but also from the comic to the operatic. Each actor demonstrated the impressive scope of their talents by playing both a medley of characters and an original score on an array of instruments. The inclusiveness of the play must also be applauded: British Sign Language, led by Jennifer, was elegantly melded into the performance. (Burnleyexpress.net)

*** The show was great fun and drew stellar performances from the cast, particularly Rosalind Burt in the title role, Joey Hickman as Puck and Anne-Marie Piazza as Helena.  It was also refreshing to see a BSL signer featured as a member of the cast. (Everything-Theatre.co.uk)

Six accomplished and beautifully directed (by Roberta Zuric) performers are variously the trouble stirring fairies in the wood and – very imaginatively – the multiple voices in Thisbe’s head pulling her in different directions and representing a range of conflicting viewpoints as she struggles to think things through. ….Everything is very visual and physical so that sometimes the BSL movements are echoed by other cast members. (SardinesMagazine.co.uk)

*** The company is made up largely of actor-musicians which allowed for regular interspersal of music and instrumentals to add humour or atmosphere accordingly…. nobody can doubt the talent and versatility of the cast… a well-acted and credible sequel to Shakespeare’s original work leading to an enjoyable evening. (Londontheatre1.com)

Roberta Zuric’s lively production makes sure there is always something to laugh at and, with designer Helen Coyston’s cut- out forest and David Hewson’s music emphasising the theatricality of the presentation, the emphasis is on entertainment.

It is an entertainment that is widely embracing, for the signing is beautifully integrated in the playing. However, with this very wide thrust stage and a full house, non-hearing punters should ask for a seat with especially good sight lines. (Britishtheatreguide.info)

At just 75 minutes, the show moves very fast, with cast members switching roles in the blink of an eye (and the change of a hat), playing a variety of instruments – not just on the catchy, toe-tapping musical numbers, but to create sound effects too – and constantly rearranging the set as the action changes location. This is a very physical show, which requires its cast to be on the move (and in the right place) throughout, and they all throw themselves energetically into the action without missing a beat. (theblogoftheatrethings.com)

The whole cast are spectacular,.. The cast switch roles effortlessly to personify Thisbe’s inner thoughts, which are embodied as different characters by each cast member. This physicalizes Thisbe’s turmoil and anxiety to show her frustrations and worries at being unseen and feeling unneeded by her parents.

Thisbe is a deliciously juicy performance, delivered in a multi-layered way using live instrumentation, voice, chant, BSL interpretation and chorus that pulls out the modernity of Shakespeare’s comedy into a fully accessible show. (disabilityarts.online)

 

 

UK Regional Tour 2017;
CAST COMPANY
Thisbe Rosalind Burt Director Roberta Zuric
Demetrius/Lysias David Osmond Musical Director David Hewson
Helena/Tryphena Anne-Marie Piazza Producer Euan Borland
Hermia/Aequitas/Hesper Samantha Sutherland Designer Helen Coyston
Lysander/Puck/Koros Joey Hickman Lighting Design William Ingham
Mnémé Jennifer Lisky Stage Manager Harrison Brodie
Writer Samantha Sutherland

Tour Venues:

Theatre Royal Stratford East
The Cast, Doncaster
Pound Arts, as part of Rural Arts Touring
York Theatre Royal
Norden Farm, Maidenhead
Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford
The Shelley Theatre, Bournemouth
Burnley Youth Theatre
The Seashell Trust


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Dirty Tap Funk

As part of the InMotion Festival at the Bunker Theatre last year I performed with a wonderful band (MD Nick Pike on keys and sax, Dan Smith on percussion and Alex Karski on bass). We accompanied and performed with fantastic dance company Old Kent Road

Here’s what the show said about itself:

Summer 2017 Theatre Bench presents

DIRTY.TAP.FUNK

as part of the InMotion Festival

What happens when you combine four of the most talented dancers in the U.K. with a heavy duty pop funk combo in the heat of a London summer’s night? We’re about to find out, as Dirty.Tap.Funk. takes over the late night slot at the Bunker for a three week residency. With sassy moves and sultry sounds, Dirty.Tap.Funk will have you on your feet dancing to the beat! With a Dirty Martini from our bar, it’s the perfect way to finish your night out.

We are proud to be collaborating with Theatre Bench to present the InMotion Festival this August. From tap to physical theatre, funk music to jazz bands, the Festival will have something for everyone and will get you up and moving this summer.

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And here’s the review feedback:

The lights dimmed at Bunker Theatre as the band (a sub-set of LATIMO, led by MD Nick Pike with vocalist Anne-Marie Piazza) entered the stage and the party atmosphere began. Launching straight into the well-known Funk Soundtrack which framed the performance, the audience instantly felt they had stepped back in time to a martini filled funk/tap club.

As a dancer, this performance was incredibly fun to watch and I can’t wait to see what else Old Kent Road brings to the stage! A must group, they will be on tour in early 2018 with their new production ‘Fall Out’, I’ll see you all there!

(Londontheatredirect.com)


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The Royal Shakespeare Company

Exciting news this spring! I have just started rehearsals for “Day of the Living” which will be part of the RSC’s Mischief Festival. Day of the living is about the cartels, the division and the disappeared of Mexico.

Ayotzinapa, Mexico, 2014. Forty-three students are forcefully disappeared. No one is brought to justice. An anarchic, musical tribute to life and the Mexican spirit with urgent, global issues at its heart.

#NosFaltan43 #HastaEncontrarlos #AyotzinapaSomosTodos

 

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Creative Team

Director: Amy Draper

Set and Costume Designer: Charlie Cridlan 

Writer: Juliet Gilkes Romero

Composer/Lyricist: Darren Clark

Sound Designer: Jon Lawrence

Lighting Designer: Matt Peel

Movement Director: Andrea Pelaez

Mask Director: Rachael Savage

Dramaturg: Nic Wass

Producer at the RSC: Claire Birch

 


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A Scarborough Christmas Carol

“Four superb actor-musicians, Joey Hickman, Anne-Marie Piazza, Elliott Rennie and Alicia Mckenzie, create a galaxy of screwball characters, tumbling and busking in the round and spellbinding the audience. They end up engaging everybody in the house in a huge snow ball fight and create an atmosphere of mirth and cheer.” (The Stage)

“Elliott Rennie, such a hit in Pinocchio last Christmas, now plays dogsbody Pod; Alicia McKenzie is chambermaid Clara Winks and Anne-Marie Piazza, the cook, Mrs Grubb. All manner of roles come their way, from Rennie’s Marley to the Cratchits and assorted Ghosts of Christmas, and the playing from start to finish is gloriously inventive, funny and multi-skilled.

York Press:

Two scenes work especially well, the first requiring an increasingly exasperated Piazza to play all the family around the Cratchit Christmas table, moving ever faster among puppets improvised from kitchen utensils as she argues with herself in a whirl of wool.” (York Press)

Four actors – Joey Hickman, Alicia Mckenzie, Anne-Marie Piazza and Elliott Rennie – play the members of the household and all the characters from Tiny Tim to the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. Their versatility – they sing and play musical instruments – is jaw dropping. This results in some hilarious scenes – particularly the Cratchits’ Christmas dinner when the four have to fill the stage with at least 12 characters. The music by Slater is first rate and putting Scarborough in the title is not merely a way of selling it to the locals. This is Scarborough to its core. Street names, Christmas traditions, local rivalries and its rich and famous are all in there.” (Yorkshire Post) (The Scarborough News)

“Musically another outstanding feature is the instrumental support of the four cast members, constantly switching between trombone, flute, accordion, double bass, cello, banjo, guitar and ukulele. Helen Coyston’s designs add to the general merriment.” (Reviews Hub)

Perhaps the most remarkable demand falls on Anne-Marie Piazza who, as the Cratchits sit down for a meal, plays Mrs Cratchit and the entire squabbling family. This bravura performance drew spontaneous, but isolated, applause from me.(Musical Theatre Review)

 

 

 


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Arcola Theatre: These Trees are made of Blood

“It is bold and different; the actors are horribly good, and the band members deliciously so (my favourite is Anne-Marie Piazza on ukelele and many other instruments, whose voice absolutely shone).” (Hazy Dazy) 

The music (Darren Clark) is sensational and too good for the fringe, brought to life by overwhelmingly talented actor-musicians who all mix and match between harmony singing, upright piano, accordion, guitar, ukulele, cello, double bass, percussion, French horn, slide whistle, and everything in between.(The Pickle)

“But the real triumph of the evening is indeed Clark’s musical invention that draws its inspiration across a range of Latin American/Argentine rhythms and styles and is played with  sensational passion, virtuosity and sensitivity by musician/singer-actors – Anne-Marie Piazza, Josh Sneesby, Rosalind Ford and drummer-percussionist Eilon Morris. They are the drivers of Draper’s production and Clark’s music and lyrics where horror finds satirical/ironic expression in upbeat songs….A magnificent, sobering, entertaining indictment that makes you want to cheer and cry with rage at the same time, its relevance is not least in the light of our own recent tragedies, political and civil. ” (Carole Woddis Reviews)

“Backed by a four-piece civilian house band, Robert Castell sings Darren Clark’s witty revolutionary ditties: “Elections are unnecessary / When you lead the military.” Imagine a putsch led by Noel Coward…Draper’s concept thrives on the compelling side to cabaret. Like any crowd-pleasing art-form, it can manipulate its audience and, as it whips us into a frenzy, the line between collusion and coercion all but disappears.” (What’s On Stage)

“The music, by Darren Clark, is richly infused with South American rhythms and a complete delight; the lyrics are sharp, too…it’s a musically rousing evening – with a class band – and never loses sight of how important it is to be alert to the trickery of politicians. ” (The Guardian)

“The performers were delightful…they all sang and played instruments, to an unexpected level of excellence. The whole experience was both entertaining and emotional. Some of the key numbers are very memorable and evocative, such as a lullaby called ‘My little Bird’, and ‘Empanadas’, which is more up- tempo.  The band and the singers sang throughout.  The music was unusually good and varied. The cabaret humour and music did not detract from the narrative, as might have been expected, and in the end, the powerful storyline and presentation had many in the audience in tears.” (Latino Life)

“The musical score throughout, is breathtaking.  Anne-Marie Piazza has a stunning voice that fills the club setting with her soaring despair…Combining such a serious issue as ‘the Disappeared’ with a cabaret setting is a risky prospect, but the contrast between the jollity and the harrowing scenes does heighten the audience’s emotional response.  These Trees Are Made Of Blood, directed with passion by Amy Draper, won’t be to everyone’s taste, but the production will hit a nerve with many.  Viewers can’t help but be entertained and horrified in equal measure.” (Camden Journal)

“So let me introduce you to the Coup Coup Club in Buenos Aires. It has got a band, with a mean French horn player, and a drag artist with fishnetted buttocks, black nipple tassels, and enough blue ostrich feathers to fan most of Las Vegas. ” (The Times)

” The show slips between immersive cabaret and naturalistic flash back scenes and the joins are seamless, Darren Clark, Amy Draper and Paul Jenkins spectacular tale is expertly woven.  Everything is beautifully multi layered and particular mention must go here to Darren Clarks music and lyrics. The gorgeous ‘My Little Bird’ which we hear near the start is just beautiful but when reprised delivers a real sucker punch.  ‘These Trees’ is an arresting piece of theatre which brings the plight of the ‘disappeared’ and the resilient ‘Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo’ into sharp focus, leaving not only entertained but utterly devastated.” (West End Wilma)

“The transition from comedy to horror is excruciatingly uncomfortable and deliberately so. It’s jarring and inappropriate as befits state terror.  This emphasises the shock and isolation felt by the victims and pricks the grotesque pomposity of the autocrat.” (Socialist Worker)

The multi-talented, multi-tasking cast switch from farce to tragedy and back again with jaw-dropping panache and conviction. These Trees Are Made of Blood is a mutually entertaining and deeply haunting triumph.(Fringe Frequency)

These Trees Are Made of Blood is an epic show, one that shows why – in the age of video content, live streaming and 3D film – theatre is still relevant. The music is live and loud, the audience is involved, engaged and amused, but it still captures the realism of true stories and honest portrayals. These Trees bridges the void between farcical satire and honest, emotional storytelling.” (The London Economic) 

The woozy Latino-soaked songs, written by Darren Clark, are well performed though the cast is quintessentially British and the vibe is ultimately not that authentic. Still, its subject matter deserves every attention and the cast commit to the task with unflinching vitality. (Islington Gazette)

 

 


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New Showreels

For 2018 I’ve updated my showreels and have two to share with you here:

The acting showreel includes clips from “Strings & Mortar” directed by Jonathan Bowers, “Pond Life” directed by Alex Kirby & “Tomorrow” directed by Deborah Paige.

The musicians showreel includes:

Accordion: “Keep the Home Fires Burning” from “Oh What a Lovely War”
Cello: “Man of Constant Sorrow” version adapted from “O Brother Where Art Thou”
Cello: “My Little Bird” from “These Trees Are Made of Blood” music and lyrics by Darren Clark
Double Bass: “All About the Bass” Postmodern Jukebox’s version of Meghan Trainor’s song
Ukulele: “Les Feuilles Morts” by Yves Montard
Guitar: “There is Power in a Union” by Billy Bragg
Singing: “My Wicker Man” from “The Wicker Husband” lyrics, music and accompaniment by Darren Clark