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Interview with Christie Lee Manning from UnCorked Theatre

Liza Poster The Grand
The Grand

James Harris and Christie Lee Manning are directing a new immersive cabaret production due to open on 30th May, 2018 in The Grand Clapham, a historically iconic venue right in the heart of Clapham Junction. The production Welcome To The Grand is an experience that unearths the lives of five legendary women: Joan Crawford, Cyd Charisse, Ginger Rogers, Liza Minnelli and Shirley MacLaine.

Christie Lee Manning chats to LondonTheatre1.com about Welcome To The Grand.

Q: How would you describe Jazz House Theatre?
Christie: Jazz House Theatre is a bold addition to the world of cabaret; a daring unison between myself and James Michael Harris and our journey through international jazz history. Our company has brought the history of jazz, cabaret, and music halls to the artistic forefront, starting with one of London’s most iconic entertainment venues, The Clapham Grand.

Q: Why ‘a new performance platform for jazz artists’?
Christie: Jazz is one of the oldest styles in dance history, and over the years it has often been left under-evolved and over-stereotyped. There is currently not a large enough platform to continue to evolve this style of dance. By producing ‘Welcome To The Grand’, we will be creating work for artists that likely would have been left without a career path in the arts. We are also taking a big step towards re-energising the love for jazz and continuing its evolution in the world of dance.

Q: Can you tell us about Welcome To The Grand?
Christie: Welcome To The Grand is an experience that unearths the lives of five legendary women: Joan Crawford, Cyd Charisse, Ginger Rogers, Liza Minnelli and Shirley MacLaine. Each woman represents one of the five elements of cabaret and plays a pivotal role in cabaret history.
Our audience will embark on an international journey through cabaret jazz, beginning in 1906 Paris, France, and continuing on to 1910 New York City, 1924 Chicago, 1931 Berlin, and finally 1966 NYC, before concluding in present-day London, England. Our story is told through the eyes of two young men, Jack and Steve, business partners and owners of The Clapham Grand. In an attempt to save this quintessential building, a glorious music hall built in 1900, the men decide to produce their own show. Their aim is to not only pay off old debts but to prove to their community that, legends aren’t built in a day.

Q: Can you describe the ‘immersive’ aspect of the production?
Christie: This is an immersive cabaret experience with traditional theatre seating. The action will happen around you. There will be no need to follow any of our characters, as they will come to you. To some, you will be invisible, and to others, you will not. We suggest you bring an abundance of energy and a fully flushed pocketbook.

Q: What excites you most about this production?
Christie: We are most excited to create a work of art that honours the historical value of such a monumental venue in entertainment history such as The Clapham Grand. An opportunity like this is so rare, and what a challenging and exciting one it is!
We are also very excited to accept the challenge of bringing the art of cabaret jazz back to the entertainment forefront, evolving the legacy that it has become and introducing its place in our present-day theatre community.

Q: What do you hope those attending will take away with them from the experience?
Christie: Together, Jack and Steve represent two roles in society: the tormented artist, and the stifled artist. One will do whatever it takes to create his work of art, while the other is left feeling more void of purpose than he ever has. Our story brings the two men together, inspired by their need for creativity, no matter what form it takes. Through their stories we hope to inspire our audiences to reconnect with their passion for creativity, and enjoy a seductive escape from reality; a true cabaret experience.

Welcome To The Grand
The Grand, Clapham Junction
Preview: May 30, 2018 Press Night: June 13, 2018 Closing Night: June 20, 2018


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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