Originating in the Cabaret Lounge at Above The Stag Theatre in 2021, Eurovision (Your Decision), devised and directed by Tim McArthur is back for a third year! This year it’s bigger, bolder and camper, true to the Eurovision style.
Join your hosts, the hilarious Katie and Demetrius as they introduce iconic hit songs from past Eurovision Song Contests, performed live by a cast of four West End performers.
During the interval the audience vote for their favourite and winning act of the night. At the top of Act Two a special guest artist will perform before we travel around Europe collecting votes from the juries. Those votes are then added to the audience votes and the winner takes their crown as the new Kings or Queens of Eurovision (Your Decision) 2023.
Eurovision (Your Decision) has played at Above The Stag Theatre for the past two years. This year in addition to playing in London at Wonderville, the show will be performed at the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton (opposite the actual venue for Eurovision this year) and at the Ironworks Studios in Brighton.
YASS Magazine met the people involved in this amazing performance and here are all the answers to your questions.
Tim McArthur you are the director of the show. Where did the idea behind this performance come from?
Tim: I have been a fan of Eurovision Song Contest for as long as I can remember. I first performed a 50 min cabaret version of this show way back in 2003 at the Jermyn Street Theatre, the days before multimedia. How-ever as times have changed and technology has moved on especially in theatre, the opportunity arose for a revisit and explore the format of the show fit for today’s audiences. When the world started to re-open after the second lockdown I was programming the new Cabaret Lounge at Above The Stag Theatre, and our reopening show was Eurovision Your Decision. It seemed the perfect show, fun, silly and the perfect show to entice people back to theatre. 2 years later here we are…
What is the message that you want to share with this show and what shall we expect to see?
Tim: Love, Love. Love. The Eurovision Song Contest has special place in my heart. Eurovision Your Decision is not mocking Eurovision in a horrible way, but a celebration of its magnificent bonkersness (if that’s a word). The fifteen songs we perform and everything that happens on the stage has happened at some point in Eurovision history, but its just slightly heightened for dramatic and comedic purposes.
What was the easiest and the most difficult part with regards to making this show come to life?
Tim: Logistics and planning. At least 35% of the show is video clips of the idents before each song, the voting sequence around different countries in Europe and then matching that all with the voice overs from Matt Richardson. The choice of the songs come first, then I write the voice overs which then represents the idents what is going to be filmed. This is before we even start staging the songs. I then have to liaise with the costume designer Michelle Taylor Knight about what is needed for the shoot and the show. Then I sit down with Joseph Dewey our videographer and we then work out what is going to be on the screen. The performing of the songs is the easiest part in a strange way.
Eurovision your Decision is a big show, the costume changes are epic sometimes we finish one song and have 30 to 45 seconds to then change and be back on stage and perform a new song in a new frock and wig. As the director I feel when all the technical elements are done and all the tracks are loaded on the technical Q lab I can breathe and then worrying about the live elements of the show.
What was the reaction of the audience the two previous years?
Tim: We first performed the show in 2021 for 4 performances, with audiences of 50 people per show. 102% People loved it! In 2022 we performed the show for 10 performances with 70 people per show. 98% houses. I think audiences were expecting a tribute show, and Eurovision Your Decision is a piece of theatre. With full on choreography, 4 west end singers and oddles of comedy. People were coming up to me in the bar and saying we were not expecting this, I know my mate would love this.!! If you love Eurovision then our little show is for you. Full of heart, love and campery!
Lucy Penrose, Steven Serlin and Leigh Pollard are the protagonists of this show. We met all of them and this is what we asked them.
Is it the first time you are participating in such an original and interactive show?
Lucy: This is the 3rd time I have been a part of Eurovision, Your Decision. However, every year we put in new material, go a little further and develop into something even bigger, the sky really is the limit, and that’s what makes it feel like a whole new show every time.
Steven: It’s the first time I’ve done a show about Eurovision but I’ve done numerous shows that I teach with the audience. It’s something I love doing in theatre. It’s rare to break the 4th wall so when your allowed too, I grab it!
Leigh: I performed as Pseudolus in ‘A Funny Thing happened on the way to the Forum,’ which I thought was mental, but it was a completely different kind of crazy!
How is this experience?
Lucy: For a week before the beginning of rehearsals, I can’t sleep because I am so excited. When we are in the rehearsal room we sing and we dance to fantastically joyful songs and best of all we laugh. Through us having fun with each other we discover things and those moments end up going into the show. When on stage we get to enjoy and share all the fun that we have been having with the audience, making it an incredibly enjoyable experience for everyone. Plus, because the audience decides the winner, it’s a unique show every time.
Steven: We are in our 1st week of rehearsals and so far the experience is great fun! Mad songs, mad routines and very enjoyable. You just have to be crazy like most of the routines.
Leigh: Fantastic! There has not been a single rehearsal where we aren’t in fits
What is the part that you enjoy most?
Lucy: Behind the scenes. This show moves at a glorious pace and it needs an incredible amount of team work and endurance from cast, creative team, crew and venue staff to pull off. With a cast of 4 performing 15 songs in the first act, each with unique costumes, wigs and props, and with just a matter of seconds to conduct changes, you can probably imagine how backstage could get a little manic if left unchecked. However, as part of the rehearsal process, the changes are choreographed with precision and I enjoy that the audience is unaware that there is practically a ballet happening backstage. We often joke that backstage could almost be a second show in itself.
Steven: As much as its been a challenge I’ve really enjoyed learning the Italian for one of the songs. I love the language and so to sing in Italian Is great fun. I’ve nearly got it. Watch this space. # apologies to the Italians for my pronunciation!
Leigh: I love ‘Making Your Mind Up!’
What is the best reaction of the audience so far?
Lucy: We have had people come back many times and say many wonderful things, most often that they had an unbelievably fun time, or words to that effect. However, the most poignant is that they didn’t feel as divided. Like the real competition, Eurovision, Your Decision is a celebration of all the things that unite us as people and to know that our audiences have left the show feeling closer to one another in a fractionate society brings an extra joy.
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