Social media star, columnist and masked-man of Theatreland, West End Producer, has a new book called Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Going to the Theatre (But Were Too Sloshed to Ask, Dear), published by Nick Hern Books.
The book starts with preparations (what to see, how to book, who to take, what to wear, etc.), before guiding you through your trip itself (how to find the theatre / your seat, how to beat the queue for the ladies’ loos and bar at the interval, how to behave – and what to do with fellow audience members who aren’t doing the same!), and then how to share your experiences and stay engaged (whether that’s blogging, joining a forum, taking part in your local am dram group, and so on). It also includes lots of backstage insights and gossip, and show synopsis that lay bare the secret (and definitely true) histories of some of the most popular West End shows.
Like WEP’s popular first book on acting, it’s knowledgeable, funny and brilliantly wry – here are some of the celebrity endorsements received so far:
Craig Revel Horwood: ‘West End Producer is back. His book is full of all the crucial facts, naughty wit and insider knowledge that every theatregoer needs to have. Hysterically accurate, bitingly savage. Read this before buying your theatre ticket. Fab-u-lous, darling!’
Meera Syal: ‘This book had me snorting prosecco out of my nostrils, dear. Hilarious yet chock-full of insider tips – and some stuff we all think about the theatre we know and love, but wouldn’t dare say whilst sober. Glorious.’
Paul O’Grady: ‘Sober or drunk, this book is a hilarious, invaluable education into all things theatrical!’
Kerry Ellis: ‘Entertaining and funny – I loved it! That’s showbiz #dear!’
Jamie Lloyd: ‘I always have problems working out the difference between backstage and front of house, the wings and the flies. Thanks to this very funny book, I have found the solutions to all my theatrical problems.’
Reece Shearsmith: ‘West End Producer goes to the theatre so you don’t have to. But if you find you do have to, then this is the book for you. From what sweets to take to leaving discreetly in the interval – this important guide is a vital addition to your theatrical bookshelf.’
West End Producer recently answered a few questions that we put to him.
Q: Was there a catalyst for you sitting down and writing your new book?
WEP: Yes – seeing an audience member attempt to eat some fish and chips during a matinee of Matilda. It was absurd and downright rude. Particularly as he didn’t offer me a bite.
Q: How does writing a book compare to being a producer of West End shows?
WEP: Well, it’s a lot harder as it is quite a solitary sport. Whereas putting on a show means you are surrounded by wonderful, camp and sometimes wonderfully camp collaborators, sitting on my own staring at a blank computer screen can be quite lonely. So I always make sure my Jean Valjean teddy is there to keep me company (and I’ll occasionally ring Lloyd Webber and get him to tell me some jokes).
Q: If you were all-powerful, what would you change about the modern theatre experience?
WEP: I am – and I intend to make it less expensive.
Q: What was your most entertaining theatre experience?
WEP: There have been many. But possibly seeing Patti Put-Your-Phone-Away-Lupone shouting at an audience member halfway through Gypsy. Marvellous! Everyone loves a good diva, dear.
Q: How about your most embarrassing theatre experience?
WEP: Seeing a rather drunken Ugly Sister fall offstage, run down the aisle, rip off her costume, and start vomiting at the back of the auditorium. These X Factor celebs are a liability, dear. Oh, and witnessing Oscar Wilde: The Musical. Good God, dear.
Q: What is your ‘must have’ item when visiting the theatre?
WEP: A cattle prod, for using on naughty audience members who can’t seem to put their mobile phones down for two hours of drama. In fact, I’ve launched a scheme to help address the recent alarming slide in auditorium behaviour. It’s called the Theatre Prefect Programme, and will see an army of wonderful, noble, heroic vigilantes on patrol in venues across the West End and beyond, protect audience members, ushers and actors alike from all manner of scandalous, etiquette-breaching crimes. Noisy eaters, snorers and over-enthusiastic couples will be ejected from the theatre, and if necessary, banned for life. I encourage everyone reading this to sign up now – together, we can Make Theatre Great Again, dear!
Q: If you could take anyone to the theatre with you – who would be your two guests? (one either side)
WEP: The inventors of British Theatre: Laurence Olivier and Louie Spence (with Judi Dench within arm’s reach so I can nick some of her champagne).
Q: What makes theatre so special?
WEP: It is a place where you go to escape, to forget, to glimpse into another world. Witnessing a live performance is truly uplifting – and if done well can move and make us change.
Q: Why should EVERYONE buy your book?
WEP: Because it is THE theatre book of the year, if not the decade! Anyone who loves theatre needs this book on their theatrical bookshelf. It’s cheaper than a ticket, even in the balcony – and it will last a lot longer, dear.
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Going to the Theatre (But Were Too Sloshed to Ask, Dear) by West End Producer is out now, published by Nick Hern Books. Get a free Theatre Prefect badge with every copy when you order at www.nickhernbooks.co.uk/goingtothetheatre.