Tag Archives: edinburgh

EXIT EDINBURGH 2013

We’re baaaaack! Yes, “Desperately Seeking the Exit” is back on US soil after kicking arse at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe. With great press, sold out houses, special events and a slew of 4-star reviews, it was even better than last year. Whew!

I really didn’t know how EXIT would do in its second round in Edinburgh. After all, this years’ festival was officially the largest Arts festival in the world to date – hosting 45,000 performances of 2,871 shows in 273 venues across the city. Uhm, that is A LOT! But somehow, EXIT managed to find its way and audience. 75% of the 21 performances were standing room only and we often had to turn people away (which is a good problem to have). Most of the attendees were there from word-of-mouth … not only from last year’s run, but from hearing about the London run this past winter. Many people simply stumbled upon it due to the venue I was in with comedy-seekers literally just popping in to check out the show.

The Counting House

The Counting House is a large bar complex made up of four venues, connected to a beer garden and another popular pub. I would gladly return to it, even though I fought with the sounds of the band and clicking bottles in the beer garden below the window of my very hot venue.

It was great to meet up with so many fellow performers from last years’ Fringe, as well as new friends I made in London and at the Adelaide and Brighton Fringes where I performed the show this past year. Everyone is so supportive of each other and we don’t even blink when asked to see the same show again and again because some important reviewer is in the audience that day. I think one of the best things about doing the Fringe, is seeing others’ work. I am almost always moved to tears at the sheer creativity that goes into these kinds of shows. Most shows are an hour long, so I squeezed in about 2-3 shows a day starting at 10AM and going until 2AM. Plus, doing my show every day at 6:15PM. I lost some weight, crediting the “Fringe Diet” and the many hills of Edinburgh. I highly recommend it!

Alan's Yard

I stayed with my old pals Alan and Victor who live in Edinburgh and treat their guests like hotel guests. The flat is only a 30 minute walk to my venue, but I did learn to master the bus system to save my energy. It was nice to come home to some paella cooking on the stove every so often and I treated them to a proper Yankee BBQ on my last day.

The show received three 4-star reviews and was named Top Five Solo Shows by Fringe Review. I did an interview with the BBC, spoke on a panel about World Fringe festivals (having now participated in five) and learned about the American college touring circuit which is the next phase for EXIT. Not only can I perform the show at these colleges and universities, but I can also teach. And this means an income doing something I love to do. I’m doing the show in Buffalo the weekend of October 18 on the same weekend as the National Association for College Activities is having a big convention. Here I plan to land a booking agent, and it’s also going to be fun to bring the show “back” to Buffalo. I actually did the first workshop/reading of EXIT in Buffalo about 18 months ago! So much has happened since then. Kind of shocking to think that EXIT has now played on three continents in 10 cities in about one year. Oh! And I just added a performance of EXIT in NYC at the Triple Crown on Sunday Oct 13 at 8PM. Pay what you may, as always!

Madonna’s birthday landed on the third weekend of the show, so I threw a spontaneous birthday bash in the middle of the three shows – complete with cake, candles, balloons and streamers that magically appeared; getting 50 people to sing “Happy Birthday” to the Material Girl. If I do EXIT again next year, it will only be for that weekend and will absolutely have a Madge party. There is also talk of showing the DVD of the musical in Edinburgh one night, and a pop-up-drive-in theater where I might show the original film. We will see!

The Wee Stage

The good news is that EXIT has reinvigorated an interest in the musical Desperately Seeking Susan which my lawyer and I are working hard to get published and licensed by 2014. We hope the show will then be performed by regional theaters, UK tours, colleges and high schools. It has taken a long time to get this far with the musical. Working with pop stars is not easy.

One of the highlights of the Fest for me was the crazy event I created called the Critical Mass Tomato Toss.

Set up in a large park in Edinburgh, performers who received rotten reviews were encourage to throw rotten tomatoes at the poster-sized faces of 33 critics. It was a hoot! Most of the supplies and printing were donated and we collected money from the roughly 40 onlookers and participants which went to the local homeless charity Streetwork. “Making something good from something bad” was the slogan…and it was a total blast; ending with me dumping a HUGE bucket of tomato-goo over my head (think CARRIE). The event got some great press and will definitely be back next year. And maybe  every year. Ironically, The Scotsman (who gave EXIT a 1-star review last year) asked me to write a piece about the Toss for them!

The 2013 Edinburgh Fringe was one of the highlights of the year, and I cannot wait to go back. I’ve been asked to direct and develop three shows – one from the US and two from London. I’m not sure if I will be doing a new show next year, but there is some talk of Hollywood Nurses (the play I cowrote with Sheila Head) making its way to the Fringe in 2015 direct from Manchester. This. Would. Be. Awesome.

In the meantime, I’m back in NYC working hard on the novel version of the show, which a publisher in London is keen on publishing. I will be running my Edinburgh Fringe Starter Kit workshops this winter to help folks get ready for next summer’s Fringe and I hope to perform the show a few more times in NYC and hopefully get chosen for the Orlando Fringe in May. If you haven’t already “liked” the EXIT Facebook page, please swing by and give it a click. This way you’ll get updates that are a lot shorter than this. To date, over 1,700 people have seen the show on three continents, and we hope to double that this year – alas, one or two continents will suffice. : )

Finally, thank you gentle reader for your support and encouragement these past 18 months. It might be a solo show, but it’s nothing without an audience and readers like you. The tide is high … let’s get into the groove!

xo Pete

EDINBURGH

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London Called!

disaster

Well, I’ve been back in the States for almost 4 weeks since the end of the 4-week run of Desperately Seeking the Exit in London – and it feels like it all happened yesterday. Apologies for the delay in blogging about the London run, but since I returned I had two new shows opening that I directed – one at Ars Nova and one in Los Angeles. Good times!

Joan & Pete; together again.

Joan & Pete; together again.

It was a thrill to perform at the lovely Leicester Square Theatre every night for four weeks (at the same time as Joan Collins); plus two shows in Brighton as part of the Brighton Fringe. Many shows were packed, many not so much; but each audience brought so much to the show which continues to change and grow. We had celebs there, former cast & crew members who participated in post-show talk-backs, gossip-hungry theatre people, and regular folks out for a good time. The talk-backs went so well and people wanted to know so much more, that I added a Q&A at every performance. This will also be a part of the show when it returns to the Edinburgh Fringe this August.

Original DSS cast & crew at opening night party.

Original DSS cast & crew at opening night party.

The show received excellent reviews in London and Brighton, but we learned that 4 & 5-star reviews in Edinburgh translate to 3-star reviews in London. Still, we got tons of pull quotes, lots of press, and a bunch of radio interviews. EXIT continues to be a show that people like to talk about. (see reviews here)

I saw a bunch of fabulous West End shows including One Man, Two Guvnors (starring Kelly Price who played Roberta in SUSAN), A Chorus Line (starring Victoria Hamilton-Barritt who played Maria in SUSAN) and The Bodyguard (another jukebox/movie mashup). In between teaching my Flying Solo classes at the Actor’s Centre, I met up with many old mates, had brunch at Sir Ian McKellen’s house(!), and had many meetings about the future of EXIT. One of the most exciting developments was with a UK publisher who wants to turn the show into a book which would trace the story of the making and unmaking of the musical as well as the story of EXIT.  We hope that this unconventional book will work both as an entertaining journal and as an educational tool. The format will be quite unique and I can’t wait to get started on it.

The London run was certainly a once in a lifetime experience. When EXIT was hatched 18 months ago, I never dreamed that the show would play for a month in London. The story has really come full circle. I’m grateful for my producer Kat Portman who was with me every step of the way and continues to be a champion of the show. My UK publicist, Ann-Marie Baptiste, worked tirelessly to get press for the show. The Spice Girls musical announced its closing while I was there, so all these papers were calling me to get quotes about my “take” on a jukebox musical closing early. Crazy! Oh, I saw that show too and I can see why it closed early. : (

photo credit : David Rodgers

photo credit : David Rodgers

Prepping now for the return to Edinburgh this August. The show will be a bit different from the run last summer as it now has the Q&A, new stories and a pre-show video. We are also in a different venue called The Counting House which is in a much better location than last years’ venue. And again it’s pay-what-you-want. The show is at 6:15 every night for the whole month, save two Monday nights where I can get some rest and see other shows. Quite a few Yank mates are going this year and I’m ready to rock it. This year there are over 2,800 shows at the Fringe! So I am doing more flyering and postering, placing some ads, and creating a huge media event called the Critical Mass Tomato Toss where fellow performers who’ve gotten sour reviews can toss spoiled veggies at large photos of the critics. This outdoor event will certainly get some press and we hope it erupts into a huge food fight. Stay tuned!

beefeater

Thanks again for all of your support. If you’re feeing philanthropic and want a tax write-off, please consider donating to the shows’ Fractured Atlas campaign. Your Yankee dollars will help pay for posters, ads, flyers, food and lodging. And it’s all tax-deductible.

See you in the UK, soon!

xo Pete

 

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Manchester, England Across The Atlantic Sea

Here’s the poster design they did at Vertigo Theatre Productions. Vertigo is presenting the show for 2 nights at Taurus Bar at the end of July before I head north for the festival. I thank Craig Hepworth for his interest, enthusiasm and ingenuity.

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