Morphic Graffiti, Part 40 and the imminent project for 2015!

Well where has the Summer gone? I can’t believe it has been so long since the previous blog entry! Not that we have been sunning ourselves on holiday and putting our feet up (Stewart had a lovely time in Greece!!). Things at Morphic Graffiti HQ have gone a little crazy as we are looking towards future projects and working out our next steps as a company!

Firstly, we could not go on without thanking everyone who worked on, came to see and supported Carousel at the Arcola. What an incredible experience we had creating the production and have been overwhelmed with the response from audiences and critics alike.

One particular highlight was having Ben Brantley from the New York Times come and review the production. Ben was over reviewing London Theatre and asked to review Carousel. Here is a link to his review, but suffice to say the entire team were thrilled!

New York Times

After an emotional final performance where even the Director shed a tear (!) and many tears were shared all round, work began immediately to clear the theatre. 5 hours later and the Arcola was returned to her neutral state ready for the next production! It’s always a sad moment to look round and think that what was created will never again be exactly the same, in that space, at that time. But that is one very wonderful reason why we do theatre, I guess!

On that note, we had to share a photo of Team Carousel from the last day at the Arcola. A very special group of people indeed!!


The costumes have gone in to storage, the myriad of props boxed away and returned and the giant C structures of Stewart’s design currently create a steel arch in my garden. Not wanting to throw anything away, we believe in reusing and recycling as much as possible!
We have updated the Morphic Graffiti website to include updates to the Carousel page in our Production Archive. They include some ‘never seen’ production shots and a summary of the production and reviews. Take a look

So what is next? Well, we will shortly be announcing the first Morphic Graffiti project of 2015 and it promises something wonderful. We can’t say too much but it is coming in January (that really is not far away!!) and will be at a fabulous venue we have not yet been to as Morphic Graffiti. It will be the perfect, post Christmas theatre outing when the winter kicks in and Santa has been and gone! It also sees one very new thing for us. Ooooo…what could it be?! Pre production work is underway and we hope to be able to say what it is in a couple of weeks.

What we can say is that we are both very excited, and is a project that we have both wanted to do! As the company has grown, so Stewart and I wish to keep the scale of productions growing and maintaining the quality of each production. After a wonderful few months rehearsing and creating Carousel, we are our harshest critics and do not want to disappoint our loyal audiences. You will not want to miss it!

So this is just a teaser blog to remind you we are here and that things are, as always, going on behind the scenes!

Will tell all soon,

Luke x

Ps 40 blog entries!! That is a mini landmark! Here’s to 50 and then we may have some cake!!

Morphic Graffiti, Part 39 and a moment to reflect…..*breathe*

Well, Carousel at the Arcola has finally opened! For the first time since we arrived at the theatre on Sunday 15th June (that feels like months ago!) I have been able to sit down, get myself a lovely coffee from the Arcola Café/Bar and take stock of what has happened in the last two weeks!

Anyone who is following us on twitter or facebook has probably been inundated with updates and reviews from us! We have been overwhelmed with the incredible response to Carousel, both from critics and audiences. I feel tremendously proud of the entire team that has given every ounce of love, time and talent to get where we are.
But it wasn’t all quite the easy ride (pun intended!) to get there. But then what theatre production was ever completely ready by the first preview, had an uneventful tech or didn’t push even the calmest of souls to question their sanity at some point in the manic three days leading up to opening night! Carousel, for all of its simplicity and beauty has a lot of technical points to it, well over a hundred props, large volumes of costumes and accessories and a complicated rabbit warren of access points in order to make entrances in the auditorium.

Joel Montague (Enoch Snow) and Vicki Lee Taylor (Carrie Pipperidge)

Joel Montague (Enoch Snow) and Vicki Lee Taylor (Carrie Pipperidge)

As I sat in said auditorium working through the show during technical rehearsals, back stage a military operation was taking place to ensure the smooth running of the show and safety of the cast and crew. I tip my hat to Zoe, Heni, Natalia and Beth for literally making the cogs of this show turn. What is now effortless and a seamless running of the show, was a long complicated puzzle that took time and, above all, patience to solve.
Putting this show into the Arcola space in three days was always going to be manic and being a Morphic Graffiti show there was no opportunity we wanted to miss. Our Lighting Designer Cat Webb has been able to work around this in a way that defies belief. She plots the lights around the chaos, tweaks at moments when no one is looking and delivers results that are stunning. Again, I tip my hat!

Also, a big shout out to the man with the largest array of power tools I have ever seen – Thomas Moore (production manager) who at the many different voices shouting ‘Tom’ was there and ready to drill, screw, safety check and fix just about everything.
I should also like to thank the cast of Carousel personally for their patience at getting this juggernaut on to the stage. Both myself and Andrew (MD) were blown away with everyone’s grit and determination to get the show on and to rework things for the space that inevitably had to change after leaving the rehearsal room.

So tech led to a dress rehearsal where photos were taken and are now in our beautiful programme that is on sale during the show (shameless plug!). We had a few stops during the dress rehearsal, primarily to do with overseeing the scene changes were safe and everyone was clear the pulleys/boxes/ropes they were using! At no point did anyone have a moment to blink, but the focus on getting the show from A to B was incredible.

Then came the opening preview with yours truly making the customary director speech at the start of the show to the audience. We were delayed by about 15 minutes (not too bad for the craziness of the prior three days!) and the show went up. For the first time we were able to see the fruit of all our labours come to life and it was truly awesome!
Something happens in a first performance that I know from being a performer. After the tech period, the world becomes about costumes/ lights and remembering to walk to a certain point holding a certain prop. Suddenly, the performances and the band feed into these technical points and the whole thing lifts a level.


Over the next 4 previews, we basically tweaked moments, ruthlessly cut moments that were not clear for the good of the entire show, polished choreography, balanced the sound between the band and the cast and generally tightened the show to what is now currently on stage to a jam packed Saturday matinee audience. It is incredibly humbling to sit here (I can’t watch the show every night but will make notes once a week!) and be able to share the journey.

Not that the journey has ended. We are here until July 19th and the weeks ahead will involve everyone keeping the show focussed and tight. We were fortunate enough to get to perform at West End Live last Sunday which was incredible. Check out YouTube to see bits of our performance (sadly they missed off the cast singing You’ll Never Walk Alone’). It was great to see the cast performing in front of 15,000 people so brilliantly.
Now the show is in, Stewart and I take on full time producorial duties and oversee the running of the show, keeping tabs on the box office, the show and all the ‘business’ elements. There is no rest or chance to relax until the run comes to an end and even then, the question ‘what are you doing next?’ keeps being asked and (despite both wanting to hide our heads away like a pair of ostriches!) we want to push the company further forward. Quite how and with what remains to be seen, but watch this space! Our focus for the next three weeks is here at the gorgeous Arcola Theatre and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

We have been blessed with incredible reviews too and for Stewart and I, as Morphic Graffiti, having two amazing 5* reviews in print in the Evening Standard and Telegraph on Wednesday was a moment to cherish. For us personally though, the proudest moment is being able to say we are part of this Carousel team of like minded people who have given there all. Tickets are flying out the door (the Arcola team’s words not ours!!) so please book up. We are on until July 19th. Come visit us!

Luke x

Morphic Graffiti, Part 38 and the Tech begins for Carousel!!

It wouldn’t be tech/get in period without the simple fact I got to bed last night at half past midnight and my body clock was awake at 6am – even after thirteen hours of painting, painting and more painting!Yesterday we had the ‘get in’, meaning it was all hands on deck to put the set, props, lighting and costumes in to the Arcola. Now this is no mean feat on any production, however, with the large amounts of component parts going in, it is an epic task. Our production manager has, I believe, started work at 6am this morning – talk about dedication!

I, on the other hand, have put down my paintbrush and am now writing a blog entry before I get to the theatre and chaos ensues. I love tech periods. No really……… honestly……….I do! Actually, I am very excited if a little nervous of the fact the first 8 minutes of the show will probably take all of today to tech. Still, I am in safe hands with the team around us. Cat Webb, our lighting designer, is already making headway with the lighting department. Cat and her team worked thoughout yesterday to rig and begin focussing the lights. I will admit my knowledge of the terminology is basic, but Cat is positively superb at working with me, as director, to tell the story through light. Having been on our last two projects (and dealt with a broken lighting board during The Revenge of Sherlock Holmes!) we are so lucky to have her back.

Yesterday was the ‘sitzprobe’ for the show, where the band and cast meet and sing through the show with all the music. Stewart and I had been fortunate to hear the band practising the day before, but to hear the show coming together musically was sensational. Mark Cumberland (Orchestrator) has created a small miracle with his arrangements and the work being done by Andrew Corcoran (MD) and Phil Cornwell (Associate MD) is genuinely breathtaking. The beauty of this 5 piece band is quite incredible. They are, as we hoped, a chamber ensemble of instruments that had everyone with tears in their eyes at some point yesterday.

The music department for this production are nothing short of extraordinary and I have no shame in saying that what is being achieved at this Off West End level defies belief. Fans of Rodgers and Hammerstein are in for a treat and those who don’t know the score will marvel at why they had never heard it!!

I should just mention that we finished our final run through on Friday after 4 weeks of rehearsals. What an emotional run through it was and a testament to everyone’s hard work over the last four weeks. We have had Kim Poster, our creative consultant for Caorusel, come and watch two of our runs of the whole show, offering an incredible insight into Carousel and drawing things from the text and score that take it to the next level.
Our wardrobe team that includes Natalia and Beth are working tirelessly on costumes. They have now settled in backstage and are working through the incredible amount of detail that has gone into Stewart’s costumes. This morning I had a chance to look at the wardrobe bible for each character (a document that shows the actor and wardrobe team the finished look for each costume). Wow! There are literally hundreds of component parts to the massive array of costumes. These are a feat in themselves and the details for each character are amazing. From bags to brooches, to hats, gloves, jewellery and shoes, every detail is there.

We are so excited to be in the Arcola as of today, finding our way around the building and learning how the theatre works. The set is almost in and we have a long three days ahead of us gearing up the opening performance on Wednesday evening. I cannot stress to people to make sure you book! If you can get to see what is happening right now with this beautiful piece, I can assure you you won’t be disappointed!
£15 preview seats at

Morphic Graffiti, Part 37 and news from the rehearsal room

Well its half way through rehearsals in the rehearsal room! That’s not including the time for the get in, sitzprobe and all the technical rehearsals and final dress rehearsal but the time we have as a company to stage everything and learn the show! Where is time flying to? Crazy but already we have seen an incredible amount of work and dedication to the production happening.

So what can I report? Well, Act One is ‘blocked’. We have staged it (with a few gaps!) and on Friday we staggered through the whole act from start to finish. A fantastic, if exhausting day, as it included working through the scene changes that have to be as fluid and clear as the scenes that they link. I don’t mind admitting that this is a complicated show and already we are working through technical details in the rehearsal room. This will hopefully save time and tantrums when we get in to the Arcola and everyone wants more time than will ever be available!

Dance wise, Lee Proud (choreographer) and Anthony Whiteman (Associate Choreographer) are crafting up a storm. Work started in week one on the Act 2 ballet and will continue right up to opening night and, indeed, beyond. Fans of Rodgers and Hammerstein will know of their famous Act 2 ballets, a trend that started with Oklahoma and carried on into Carousel. This beautiful section of the show will be like nothing anyone has seen before! It is simply beautiful!

Choreography and staging is going from strength to strength. I am genuinely in awe of the work that those in these numbers are doing. Lee is blending the traditional with a real sense of edge and dynamic, matching this new “bold” approach to the piece. He is also adding a bit of Agnes De Mille (the show’s original choreographer) so for fans of the traditional, there is some very clever links.

Elsewhere, Andrew Corcoran (MD) and I, together with assistant director James Hume, have been working through scenes and songs. Our cast are truly extraordinary and it is a true honour to work with people so passionate, intelligent and committed. It is incredible the complex, detailed story within the script of Carousel. Each character is incredibly detailed and, what I hope will be unique to this production, we have uncovered moments that will shock, entertain and move people.
It is thrilling and frightening working on such an established piece. So much trust (quite rightly) is laid with the material while making sure that an audience, who are watching it 70 years on from when it was first written, will be engaged and connect to the story. Unlike other musicals, Carousel is told with subtlety and grace. There are painful moments and moments of light relief. It is very much like a rollercoaster (pun intended!) and by the end, you feel you have been on a journey with the characters that walked on stage at the start of the piece. The tragedy and finale of Carousel are famous enough and known by many. To those who do not know the piece, the story must be compelling and hold them to the very end. No pressure then!!

Costumes, set and props are growing in the rehearsal room, to the point that we are looking more and more like the set of Noises Off! It really is so exciting and plenty is going on for you all to watch out for. We had “official” rehearsal photos taken on Friday. We have yet to see them but we will be getting them out next week and have also been visited by a New York One. This US TV channel are doing a programme on American Musicals in London and were over filming and interviewing last week! All very exciting. If we get a link to it, we will put it on our website.

Plenty more to come as we head towards the opening (gulp!) night. Tickets are selling and we are starting to nudge people to think about booking. Preview tickets (first five shows) are at a reduced price of £15 don’t forget! I can assure you, you will not be disappointed. As we start to move to Act 2, I am already ordering tissues for everyone for the emotional scenes!!

Don’t forget to follow us on facebook too for cast and creative interviews and lots of random Carousel and musical theatre info (some of which will be useful for a pub quiz at some point I am sure!!)

Morphic Graffiti, Part 36 and cast with a special sneak peak!

Well casting is finally announced and we are a week from rehearsals starting! Crazy! To think it was back in August when Stewart and I first started to mute the idea of doing Carousel and here we are 9 months later! It’s like our own little baby is gestating. Although that simile sounds a bit weird.

Anyway, in case you missed the casting here is the full cast in all their gorgeous glory (as taken from our Press Release drawn up by Mark Senior PR – thanks Mark)

Gemma Sutton will star as Julie Jordan and Tim Rogers will star as Billy Bigelow.The cast also features Amanda Minihan as Nettie Fowler, Vicki Lee Taylor as Carrie Pipperidge, Joel Montague as Enoch Snow, Valerie Cutko as Mrs Mullin, Richard Kent as Jigger Craigin, Paul Hutton as The Starkeeper, Susie Porter as Louise and Michael Carolan as Enoch Snow Jr. The cast also includes Joseph Connor, Katrina Dix, Anton Fosh and Charlotte Gale.

Gemma Sutton most recently appeared in Blues In The Night at Hackney Empire. Other recent credits include Drunk at the Bridewell Theatre, Roxie Hart in Chicago at Leicester Curve, Amber in the UK Tour of Hairspray, covering the role of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde at the Savoy Theatre, Laurey in the UK Tour of Oklahoma! and Gone With The Wind at the New London Theatre. Tim Rogers was last seen on stage as the title role in Morphic Graffiti’s production of Jekyll and Hyde at the Union Theatre. Other credits include the UK Tour of Aspects of Love and Whistle Down the Wind at the Palace Theatre. Amanda Minihan is currently filming the feature film adaptation of London Road. Recent theatre credits include Merrily We Roll Along at the Harold Pinter Theatre, She Loves Me at Chichester Festival Theatre and Sister Act at the London Palladium. Vicki Lee Taylor recently played Amber in Hairspray at Leicester Curve. Other recent credits include Maggie in A Chorus Line at the London Palladium and the UK Tours of The Witches of Eastwick, Guys and Dolls and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Joel Montague has just appeared in Urinetown at St James Theatre, with other recent credits including the UK Tours of The Rocky Horror Show and Sister Act. Valerie Cutko recently appeared in Cabaret at the Savoy Theatre with other credits including Gay’s The Word at Finborough Theatre. Valerie has also previously appeared in My Fair Lady and The Phantom of the Opera in the West End, and Grand Hotel on Broadway. Richard Kent’s recent credits include Anything Goes at Kilworth House, The Go Between at West Yorkshire Playhouse and Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. Paul Hutton’s recent credits include the UK and New Zealand Tour of Unmythable and Mack and Mabel at Southwark Playhouse. Susie Porter’s recent credits include Le Nozzi di Figaro and La Rondine at the Royal Opera House. Michael Carolan makes his professional debut in Carousel having recently graduated from Arts Educational Schools.”

If only that was everything done!! That is in fact the very beginning. As mentioned the rehearsals begin next week with so much work to be done in the rehearsal room working with the cast directly. Perhaps the most complicated sequence so far is the opening Carousel Waltz. Eight minutes of blissfull music but with no lyrics sung or dialogue written for it, it is a huge piece of storytelling that will take an immense amount of rehearsal and patience!!

As director, my main priority at this precise moment is the rehearsal schedule. Not going to lie, I dread it a bit as you suddenly realise how short a four and a half week rehearsal period is, but at the same time, its great to make sure every moment has the time to be explored, discovered and perfected. We have to balance acting and music calls with the huge amount of dance rehearsals needed for a show like this (think about ‘June is Bustin Out All Over, Blow High, Blow Low and the ballet to name but a few!!) but everything is achievable! The great thing about working with Lee Proud, after last year’s Sherlock project, is knowing how each other works and with the addition of Andrew as MD, we are all on the same page about direction we are heading and how everything will work to telling this one, amazing story.

So what else is going on? Well the design is signed off and currently under construction, being overseen by our Production Manager, Thomas Moore. Aspects of the set are being constructed in his workshop up in Leicester while other bits are being constructed in London. Owing to the demands of the production, by the end of the first week, all major pieces of set and all props will be in the rehearsal room so the cast and creative team have plenty of time to work everything through.

Costume work is in full flow. No sooner had the cast agreed to join us on the journey, than measurements were being taken, sewing machines started up and wardrobe plots finalised. This ‘plot’ is a giant (literally!) spreadsheet that says who is wearing what, wear and gives us time to make sure costume changes can happen in time.

To give our loyal blog readers a sneak peak, I have twisted Stewart’s arm for one of his beautiful designs:

Mrs M

Intrigued?! Hope so! I won’t go into any detail about the design but it is going to be something a little different.

What else is there to report? Well, we now look to the programme and how that is going to work. After the success of our programme for The Revenge of Sherlock Holmes! (so many lovely comments about our huge ‘newspaper’ style layout) we are now working on something even more special for Carousel.
That brings quite nicely to our Kickstarter campaign.

Kickstarter is a new and innovative way for people to invest in events and products in return for gifts and rewards. If you have never heard of it, give it a google or click on the link below for our Kickstarter page. We are striving to raise £4000 towards the cost of staging Carousel and there are some very special rewards to our backers. Any support is very very gratefully received. No matter how big or small!

Plenty more exciting Carousel bits and pieces to follow in the next few weeks. Look out for our online adverts, pieces of editorial and if you have not yet seen our teaser trailer check it out on the Carousel official website

Don’t forget to book your tickets! June is hurtling ever closer and it is definitely gonna be Bustin!!!

Luke x
Twitter: @carousel2014

Morphic Graffiti, Part 35 and seven hour pork!


Firstly, Happy Easter to all our blog readers. I have sat down post Sunday Roast of ‘seven hour pork shoulder’ (as good as it sounds!) and in my gentle food coma thought I would write an update.


If you follow us on twitter or facebook, and you definitely should (#carousel2014 and /carousel2014), then you won’t fail to know that we had our auditions for Carousel last week. Benjamin Newsome, our wonderful casting director, was at the helm and we were genuinely blown away with everyone that came to audition. Thank you to everyone who came and saw us, and thanks to Nathan and Rebecca for playing and reading for auditions.


We had a fantastic week with the creative team. Andrew Corcoran (MD) was on all things musical and had the difficult task of ensuring that the cast not only work as individuals but that as a whole, the complex harmony work in Carousel is fully achieved. Lee Proud and Anthony Whiteman oversaw the dance calls with Lee’s choreography pushing our auditionees to the max! The short excerpt was taken from June is Bustin Out all Over and my goodness, bustin out it certainly was! So much so one dancer popped out to be sick, grabbed a swig of water then threw themselves back in to the audition room like a pro.


With a huge selection of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Bernstein and Noel Coward being sung, the audition days whizzed by and left us with a very difficult chat at the end as to which casting direction to take. With the vocal and dance demands of the show and the complexities of the characters in the story, it is going to take an extraordinary cast to pull it off. We have no doubt we have found them and cannot wait to formally announce them. You will not be disappointed!!


Aside from the ‘glamour’ of casting, this week also saw Luke and Stewart sitting around the set model with Production Manager Thomas Moore to work through the logistics of Stewart’s design. This particular meeting was six hours long and fuelled with mini eggs and tea but each meeting is integral to understanding how the set and on stage action link together. Unlike any other Morphic Graffiti production, this is by far the most complex. Anyone who knows Carousel and the stunning opening to it (the seven minute ‘Carousel Waltz’) there are already a million and one things to consider, not least the Carousel itself! That is before we have involved any on stage action with the cast!


So you can see it’s a hectic but very exciting time behind the scenes. We are working closely with QNQ with some more marketing material which is coming out soon, as well as the very exciting Casting announcement. Everything on the physical production side (set, costume and props etc) is being budgeted and finalised with key set components being signed off for full scale construction! We have also been fortunate Thomas has created some CGI renderings of the set (very exciting and high tech for my little brain!) so we can see how the set model can actually be securely realised.


What we can say for now is there are a few surprises coming with this production, as promised! It wouldn’t be a Morphic Graffiti show without some twists and turns! I am desperate to show you some of Stewart’s designs but he will kill me so I shall just, for now, sign off and go back to my chocolate egg!


Happy Easter and check out our show website



 ps. Seven hour pork shoulder – the easiest recipe and the best results EVER! Two easy steps

1. Take a pork shoulder. Score the fat and season. In oven at 210 degrees for 30 mins. Cover in foil and bake in oven at 150 degrees for 6 and a half hours. Baste half way through. Perfection.

2. Book your Carousel seats before you forget!

Morphic Graffiti, Part 34 and the BIG announcement!!

Carousel1Hoorah!! It is with enormous pleasure and relief that Stewart and Luke can finally announce that the next Morphic Graffiti production will be Rodgers and Hammerstein’s CAROUSEL! Wow – all that waiting! You’d think we had been planning global domination and a revival of Cats or something!!

In all seriousness, the past few months have been a labour of love and we have been working alongside some incredible people to get the production lined up for a season at the Arcola Theatre. This beautiful venue is perfect for our ‘reimagining’ of the story of Carousel and are looking forward to a brilliant time over in Dalston with the team at the theatre!

So what can you expect from Morphic Graffiti? Well, the answer is hopefully something that is going to shed a new light on this classic story of Julie Jordan and Carousel barker, Billy Bigelow. Working with Rodgers and Hammerstein Theatricals, we have been exploring this piece ever since Stewart and I hung up our deerstalkers and smoking pipes at the end of The Revenge of Sherlock Holmes!

We have an incredible creative team with us on the show. As with the others, Stewart is designing and I am directing Carousel. We are beyond thrilled to have Lee Proud back choreographing the show which is going to be nothing short of breath-taking. Our music team includes Andrew Corcoran, orchestrations by Mark Cumberland and renowned orchestrator Larry Blank as our Musical Supervisor. Larry’s credits include orchestrating for the Olivier and Tony awards and West End productions of Singing In The Rain, as well as Catch Me If You Can and The Drowsy Chaperone on Broadway. Lighting will designed by Cat Webb (known to Morphic Graffiti followers for her gorgeous work on both Jekyll and Sherlock) and completing the team is West End/Broadway producer Kim Poster as Creative Consultant to the production. Bit of a self-pinch moment there as we both are blown away by the line up!

Casting has yet to be confirmed and auditions are imminent. Ben Newsome is on board as Casting Director and doing a brilliant job. A few people have mentioned casting to us and we would love to hear from anyone who is interested. Drop us an email at or contact Ben directly.

So what do people make of the poster? It’s a little bit different, but then so is the production! We have been allowed to relocate the setting to 1930 amidst the start of the Great Depression after the Wall Street Crash of 1929. That’s all we’re giving away right now – just to whet your appetite a little. The poster indicates much more about the production than we are saying and there are evn more surprises to come!

The Arcola have only just changed their seating policy and tickets are now being sold for specific seats and not as a ‘general admission’ ticket. This means no queuing up by the entrance for a good seat and you can come to the Arcola and know where you are sitting. It does, however, mean you should book early to avoid any disappointment!
Tickets are available at the Arcola website online at or over the phone on 020 7503 1646.

So there we are! That’s the news from Morphic HQ! We of course have a million and one things to work on and to share with you as we move towards casting, auditions, set construction, wardrobe fittings, rehearsals…!! The list is endless!
Thank you for your patience and we look forward to seeing you at Carousel

Luke and Stewart