Barry Church-Woods celebrates the music of the Andrews Sisters at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Name: Barry Church-Woods
Name of Edinburgh show: Bugle Boys: A Salute to the Andrews Sisters
Venue: Assembly Hall
Performance time: 19:40
Show length: 60mins
Ticket price: various from £9

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I trained as an actor in the 90s, started directing quite soon after and eventually diversified into producing my own work, and now that of others with my company Civil Disobedience. Last year we produced a bunch of shows on the Fringe; Hans: Mein Camp, Peter Michael Marino’s Show Up, Sasquatch The Opera and Courtney Act’s The Girl from Oz. As a director it’s been a while since I took on a project of this scale – the last notable show where I had complete creative control was a national tour of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart – so this is quite a departure for me.

Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
Bugle Boys: A Salute to the Andrews Sisters is first and foremost a celebration of the incredible music of the Andrews Sisters. Of course it’s a drag show so it’s brash and comedic, but what we hope that we’re creating will be seen as a ‘happening’. More of an ‘event’ to hinge your night out on, with loads of banter, bawdry and a giant nod to old school female impersonations. In our post-RuPaul’s Drag Race society we think it’s pretty important to highlight that the girls are singing live and have epic comedy chops. True, at least one of them may be considered ‘fishy’, but that’s mainly because she was blessed with the face of a 1940s starlet. Our cast are brilliantly talented. The auditions were rigorous in terms of ensuring that we attracted real triple threat performers so we’ve ended up with what is essentially a drag girl group to stage the show. The writer John Livings has created a wonderful script that again we feel balances perfectly the expectations of a traditional working class Scottish audience and seasoned cultural attenders. It’s a perfect show to kickstart a night out on the town.

How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
Personally, I got introduced to the show creator and producer late last year by a colleague who thought we’d make perfect bed fellows. So far they have been right. In terms of this being relevant to audiences in 2018 – music and comedy are universals. The fact that the show is structured around songs that have a timelessly enduring legacy really helps, but ultimately we’re creating a moment of escapism in a warm room where we hope our audience will laugh together.

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
I worked for the Fringe Office for a good 8 years so all of my advice is boring. Drink water, eat vegetables, know that in the grand scheme of things, hardly anyone knows about the Fringe – so if you get a shitty review, let it sink and don’t sweat too much about it. Remember that in September it will all be over and you’ll be left with opportunities to nurture into something great or memories that you can cherish – or let go of. Perspective is key. If you think of yourself as one performer in 30,000, then you’ll spend your entire time worrying about being a grain of sand in a sea of people and not about your work.

For audiences – go to bed early at least once – there are as many hidden gems being performed at 10am as there are at midnight. Take risks. See stuff people recommend.

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
When I was 7 I was in a primary school production of Beowulf the Warrior. I shat myself on stage. 35 years later I can almost laugh about it.

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
Really, anyone that loves what they are doing and strives to get better. It’s a really tough industry so dusting yourself off after commercial or critical failure takes real balls. People who raise each other up too. I’m always disheartened when I hear artists being overly critical of peers. Those who strive to celebrate success always end up being the most fun to share a cocktail with.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Not yet… but I imagine it will involve Febreze.

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
Because she likes to talk about it so much, we’re currently hatching plans to celebrate Madonna’s 60th Birthday during the festival with a top-secret gig with one of my favourite artists on the planet. So I am very much looking forward to that moment. We haven’t invited Madonna. We don’t think she’d take it very well.

Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
It will be riot. I love the script, the cast are awesome and the raw material of the music means we’re already starting at a 10.

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