An Evening Without Kate Bush

The chaotic cabaret cult, An Evening Without Kate Bush is here. Enter Strange Phenomena, howl with the The Hounds Of Love and dance on the moors with Wuthering Heights. Kate’s not there, but you are.

Acclaimed performer Sarah-Louise Young (Cabaret Whore, The Showstoppers, La Soiree) has teamed up with theatremaker Russell Lucas (Warped at VAULT Festival) to explore the music and mythology of one of the most influential voices in British music. From releasing Wuthering Heights at the age of 19 to selling out the Hammersmith Apollo nearly forty years later, Bush has always surprised and confounded her critics. Through it all her fans have stayed strong. Young invites you to celebrate her songs with this unique and mind-blowing show in Soho Theatre. And just a few days before the premiere Young comes to YASS and speaks with us.

Photo by Steve Ullathorne

What are your pronouns and how do you identify?

She/Her. I identify as a Fish Person (aka a Kate Bush Superfan!)

What is the inspiration behind ‘An Evening Without Kate Bush’? Why Kate Bush?

I’ve aways loved Kate Bush’s music and as a child of the 80’s remember that first appearance on Top Of The Pops and all those amazing videos and songs which followed. Kate Bush is an icon: her music is unique, spanning over four decades, winning countless awards and selling millions of records, but the woman herself is something of an enigma. Not performing live for over 30 years between her 1979 Tour Of Life and 2014 Before The Dawn, she spoke to us through her music. In her physical absence, her fans created their own community: ’The Fish People’. They are at the heart of ‘An Evening Without Kate Bush’. We wanted to celebrate them through her music. That was the starting point of making the show. My co-creator, Russell Lucas and I had already had international success with ‘Julie Madly Deeply’ (our musical love-letter to Julie Andrews which has played West End and Off Broadway). In ‘An Evening Without Kate Bush’ we delve deeper into the musical landscape and emotional connection people have with an artist’s work. It’s a very different show but a natural progression for us as theatre-makers.

Kate Bush has always attracted loyal and devoted followers. How does this show celebrate their stories?

Imagine if Kate Bush made a tribute show about her fans and you come close to capturing the spirit of ‘An Evening Without Kate Bush’. We take well known songs like Babooshka and Cloudbusting and give them a twist. So if you come to see ‘An Evening Without Kate Bush’ you might find yourself suddenly singing backing vocals or slow dancing with your partner at the school disco. Every show is slightly different depending on who is in the room. I ask for stories at the start and weave them into the evening. You don’t have to get involved of course, but even if you just howl with the hounds or wave a hand in the air, you are still part of the experience. Russell and I were inspired by Kate Bush flashmobs and events like ‘The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever’ which have sprung up around the world, from Sydney, Australia to Folkestone, Kent. We’ve taken fans’ stories and paid tribute to them on stage. You’ll enjoy the songs you know and love but put through the lens of the fans’ story.

This critically acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe sensation is finally coming to London. How do you feel about that?

The show was created for the Edinburgh Fringe and winning QX Show Of The Year was an incredible feeling. We’ve been touring a two act version for the past few months and are really excited to be bringing this one hour version to the Soho, the home of new writing and cabaret. It couldn’t be a better fit for the lively basement space. I’m looking forward to seeing lots of friends too as I live here and filling Soho with the sound of Bush.

How would you describe this show?

We call it a ‘chaotic cabaret cult’ and it really is! It’s playful, anarchic, touching, funny, hot and sweaty and full of great music. We’ve had loads of fans come back to see it multiple times and endorsement from one of her 1979 backing singers as well as her friends and family. It’s full of love, music and eccentric delights!

Photo by Steve Ullathorne

You are an actress, writer, director, and among everything, an internationally renowned cabaret performer. How would you describe yourself?

I’ve always called myself a theatre-maker but that seems to be changing! I’ve recently published my first book, written with my partner Paul Chronnell. It’s called The RSVPeople and it’s inspired by the quest to reunite 24 teenagers seeking penpals in a 1984 copy of Smash Hits… 35 years later! We’re looking at turning it into a podcast too. Whether it’s though music, dance, theatre, improv, audio or on the page it’s all about telling stories so I guess that’s what I am: a storyteller (who loves to get dressed up in lycra and dance about!)

What are the most important moments in your career?

I think every time I’ve presented a new piece of work and felt the audience connect with it is the biggest buzz. Even though I’ve created 17 shows, every time you begin a new making period you have to start from scratch. There is no formula and every story needs to be told in the way which serves it and your audience best. I’ve won awards and travelled the world but the most important moments have been those opening nights when you finally know whether it works.  

How do you feel when you perform on stage?

People are always telling us we need to live in the moment and if you’ve read ‘The Power Of Now’ you’ll know it’s a lifetime’s work! On stage I have to be exactly where I am, reading the room, reacting to the people in front of me, feeling the groove. The more the audience give, the more energising the experience. It’s a privilege to do what I do and I love it. ‘An Evening Without Kate Bush’ is super playful too so it puts me in a mischievous place which is fun to be in. The songs are a joy to sing too.

Photo by Steve Ullathorne

How has this pandemic affected your life?

Like a lot of creatives I lost a year’s work over night. It was financially crushing but compared with front line workers I had it easy. I used the pandemic to make work. I finished a musical with my collaborator Michael Roulston, set in the Grand Guignol Theatre. We started a bespoke songwriting service. I taught theatre-making, directed and put on a bunch of shows online. I felt very lucky to be able to keep creating, although of course it wasn’t the same as before. ‘Twice the work for half the money’, as a lot of people have expressed. But I was safe and well and had space to make, which felt like a luxury. A lot of plans had to go on ice, like this Soho run. So this is third time lucky!  

What are your next plans?

After our 3 weeks at the Soho we take ‘An Evening Without Kate Bush’ back on tour. I’m also rehearsing a new solo show about voice loss called ‘The Silent Treatment’ for Summerhall this Edinburgh Fringe. Right now I am directing ‘The Bobby Kennedy Experience’, swapping places with Russell Lucas so he’s on the stage and I am in the director’s chair. That opens at Town & Gown in Cambridge in April. Two other shows I directed are on tour, including Mark Farrelly’s ‘Jarman’ which you can catch in a special 80th Birthday Gala performance, 31st January, Greenwich Theatre and ‘Looking For Me Friend: The Music Of Victoria Wood’, starring Paulus, which is all over the country. Oh, and then there’s the book… have I mentioned the book? This is the book…

More details of the show here:

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