Charlie & Stan – The Ultimate Silent Movie Live On Stage
How much of a comedy lover are you? Did you know that two of the greatest of all time, Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel, toured America together in their early years, long before they became household names?
This fascinating news snippet forms the basis for a new production arriving Monday at The Lowry.
Charlie & Stan was written and directed by Paul Hunter and is presented as if it were a silent film. There is no dialogue, just live piano accompaniment as the relationship between the two characters is observed.
“I was vaguely aware that their paths had crossed and the more I looked, the more I was drawn to the story of these two great comedians sharing a cabin as they crossed the Atlantic before touring with the Fred Karno’s circus, ”said Paul.
“I knew I didn’t want to write a biodrama, there are a lot of factual shows and movies about the two men. As we went along, I realized that I preferred fantasy to reality and fiction to reality, even though there is a solid basis in the truth.
Writing a script without words proved to be a challenge and Paul had to produce a storyboard of ideas.
“I would take the storyboard for the rehearsals and I would rely on the actors to bring the situations to life,” he said. “That was exactly how Chaplin would work on his first films, but it takes really skilled performers to be successful.”
To go further against the convention, Danielle Bird was chosen to play Chaplin and Jerone Marsh-Reid for Stan.
“It was very important for me not to just ask two people to do impressions of Charlie and Stan,” Paul said. “In the end I had a mixed race wife and actor. They were the best actors for the roles, but it also keeps the audience from worrying about the original characters, they can relax a bit and not have them. compare directly.
Any die-hard fans hoping to see classic movie scenes recreated will be disappointed.
“It would be pointless,” said Paul. “How can you expect to get them out?” What was most satisfying was that the scenes we designed turned out to be so realistic that after the shows members of the audience came to ask us what movies they were from.
Music is at the heart of the show with Sara Alexander performing live – and often improvising – throughout the performance, as they did with the silent films.
“Zoe Rahman’s score is great, but it also allows Sara to react to the actors,” Paul said.
“There is so much to this show, but deep down it had to be entertaining, which is sometimes looked down upon in the theater. ”
Charlie & Stan, The Lowry, Salford Quays, Monday September 13 to Saturday September 18. details on www.thelowry.com