Category Archive: Broken Biscuits

Broken Biscuits: #nowplaying Birmingham

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It’s the last week of our BROKEN BISCUITS tour. Tom Wells‘ heart-warming comedy finishes at Birmingham REP this week after touring for three months. We’re going out in style by listening to some of the best bands from Birmingham.

Black Sabbath

One of the most famous heavy metal bands in history, what more can we tell you about Black Sabbath? We know former lead singer Ozzy Osbourne ate a bats head live on stage but did you know they’ve won two Grammys? They also used to be named the Polka Tulk Blues Band after a brand of talcum powder. Very metal. MTV ranked them as The Greatest Metal Band of All Time. We highly doubt the BROKEN BISCUITS gang will be inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame for their songs about working in Sainburys.

Judas Priest

There must have been something about Birmingham in the 60’s because not only did it spawn Black Sabbath but also Judas Priest. MTV has them in at second place in the Greatest Metal Band of All Time rankings. The name comes from the Bob Dylan song The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest. Over the years they’ve had 8 different drummers. BROKEN BISCUITS currently have 0. Although Megan is doing her best to make it 1.

Electric Light Orchestra

Birmingham wasn’t just churning out heavy metal bands though. They were also the home of the Electric Light Orchestra. Also known as ELO. The band with the dubious honour of having the most hits in the Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 without ever scoring a number one. Despite not being quite as rock n roll as Black Sabbath and Judas Priest the prog rock boys will be inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.

Duran Duran

The dance-rockers so good they named them twice. Duran Duran have sold over 100 million records world wide, 14 singles in the UK Top Ten, 21 in the US Billboard Hot 100 and have won numerous awards including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Not bad for some lads from brum. There are so many good Duran Duran videos that we struggled to pick one to post below. In the end we went with Rio because honestly, what’s going on here?

Ocean Colour Scene

A band so proud of their roots they named their second album and their record label after Moseley where the band formed. They were part of the Brit-pop wave alongside Oasis, Blur, Pulp and Suede the band had numerous Top Ten album in the 90’s including their second album Moseley Shoals. We’ll leave you with one of the most Brit-pop videos ever made. Check that bucket hat out.

And so end our musical journey round Birmingham. We’ll see you at the REP for the latest chapter when BROKEN BISCUITS take to the stage. Tickets here.

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Broken Biscuits: #nowplaying Bristol

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This week Tom WellsBROKEN BISCUITS is in Bristol at Tobacco Factory Theatres so we’re listening to bands from Bristol and the surrounding areas. We’ve picked out some of our favourites – including a few blasts from the past.

Massive Attack

First up are trip-hop pioneers Massive Attack, consisting of Robert “3D” Del Naja, Grant “Daddy G” Marshall and formerly Andy “Mushroom” Vowles AKA Mush. The Massive Attack boys have sold over 11 millions records worldwide and have two albums in Rolling Stones’ list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (Blue Lines and Mezzanine). Our BROKEN BISCUITS band members have equally cool names: Megan, Holly and Ben.

Portishead

Portishead are named after a coastal town in Somerset – just eight miles west of Bristol. Despite being together since 1991 the band have only released three studio albums: Dummy (1994), Portishead (1997) and Third (2008).

Fun fact: The opening track of debut album Dummy is named ‘Mysterons’ a reference to popular 60’s TV show Captain Scarlet.

The Pop Group

The Pop Group were a short lived post-punk band from Bristol – releasing two albums Y (1979) and For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder (1980). The band split up to pursue individual careers but reunited in 2010. We hope BROKEN BISCUITS embarks on a similar trajectory. See you in 2046.

Tears For Fears

Technically from Bath (only 15 mins from Bristol on the train) we couldn’t resist including Tears For Fears mainly so we could listen to Everybody Wants to Rule the World. The smash hit single went No 1 in the US and No 2 in the UK. It’s been covered by everyone from Lorde (remember that Hunger Games soundtrack?) to musical comedy duo Ninja Sex Party.

BROKEN BISCUITS plays at Tobacco Factory Theatres on Friday 25 and Saturday 26 November. Tickets available here.

Broken Biscuits tour blog

This week we’re laying down the baton and handing our blog over to our very own Andrew Reed, who plays Ben is BROKEN BISCUITS, for an insight into the world of touring and performing on the road with PP. Over to you, Andrew…

Broken Biscuits tour blog

Scarborough. For a little coastal town lad like myself, I feel right at home. Energy is high, temperature is low as we set up shop at the Stephen Joseph Theatre which is certainly our snuggest fit for Megan’s shed from our venues so far. First night’s audience were ace. They were really responsive and you could just tell they were all there ready to have a good night. We spent Wednesday morning working with ‘Beyond the Stage’ an over 50’s theatre group based at the SJT. We got to show them the first couple of scenes from the play and had a canny little chat and a cuppa.

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Sprogs and dogs allowed

You find yourself with a lot of spare time on tour, and what better way to spend that free time doing your laundry. Just last week, Faye and me hauled our backpacks full of washing to Spring Bank laundrette and as we were staring at our 40 degree cycle of spinning socks we clocked good old Mr Tom Wells’ walking past in his beanie and thick winter coat. Classic Tom. We ended that afternoon back at his flat drinking tea and tucking into sausage sandwiches and it was nothing less than bloody delightful. I’ve learnt it’s good to keep yourself busy when not working on tour. However, if there is a trampoline park next to your venue and you have a show the same evening, do the sensible thing.

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Three little frogs bouncing around Hull

With doing a show for so long there’s always the risk of becoming a bit of a robot actor. It’s really key to keep listening to what’s being said on stage and keeping everything genuine rather than being there just to speak some lines you’ve memorised. James has reminded us to always keep this in mind when moving about with the show as we can quickly lose lots of the lovely moments in the play if we forget to enjoy them.

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Band prep in Hull

Our warm ups can be key to us tapping into the souls of these three 16 year olds. We’ve had plenty front of house members and techies witness our pre show dance and karaoke numbers. Me and Faye attempted the final song from Dirty Dancing on our last night in Scarborough. There was some bickering over who was playing Baby but that’s all water under the bridge now (it’s me).

One strange thing being on tour is rocking up to whoever you’ll be living with each week. I am pretty notorious for booking my digs very last minute, with James sending a photo of a lovely little tent in a field to our WhatsApp group joking that’s where I’d be nestling down when in Plymouth. I’ve found that if you’re lucky with your digs, there’ll be an arrival cup of tea on the cards. If you’re extra lucky, they may even help take your case to your room but beggars can’t be choosers. Usually a quick food shop has to be done so you can awkwardly make a Pot Noodle in a stranger’s kitchen but I’ve struck lucky with the places I’ve stayed so far. So no horror stories to report. Yet.

Now though…it’s 2am and I have an early train to Sheffield tomorrow. Adios Scarbados.

Broken Biscuits: #nowplaying Sheffield

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This week we’re listening to bands from Sheffield and there are a lot of them. And they’re all incredible. There’s an argument to be made for Sheffield being one the UK’s most important cities when it comes to music but we’re not here for arguments. We’re here for great music and there’s plenty of it.

Pulp

We had to start with Pulp. Firstly because we love Pulp. Who doesn’t? But perhaps more importantly, BROKEN BISCUITS was inspired by Pulp’s song Mis-Shapes, which featured on seminal No. 1 album Different Class. The opening lyrics:

Misshapes, mistakes, misfits
Raised on a diet of broken biscuits, oh
We don’t look the same as you
And we don’t do the things you do
But we live around here too, oh really

We’re big fans of Jarvis Cocker. Did you know he honed his front man skills with a job as a salesman in a fish market? We’re such big fans that BROKEN BISCUITS includes a cover of Mis-Shapes. Not to be missed(shapes).

Arctic Monkeys

It wasn’t going to be long before these boys got a mention. They’ve gone from playing their first gig at The Grapes in 2003 and 13 years later they’re filling some of the biggest stadiums on the planet. They’ve won countless awards, headlined Glastonbury twice and their debut is the fastest selling debut in British chart history. Well, until BROKEN BISCUITS release their debut of course…

Fun fact: Drummer, Matt Helders, took part in boxing training so he could drum fast enough for their single Brianstorm. Faye Christall went through similar training to play Megan in BROKEN BISCUITS.

The Human League

We couldn’t resist including The Human League, one of the most iconic bands of the 80s. Their hits go beyond Don’t You Want Me with 8 Top Ten singles and a US No. 1 with Human. Their first gig was the Wham Bar at Sheffield Hallum University. We can’t promise as many synths and fringes in BROKEN BISCUITS but we can promise just as much attitude and pop magic.

Def Leppard

80s rockers Def Leppard are still going strong. Their 1987 album Hysteria is one of the most successful albums of all time going to No. 1 in six countries and spawning seven hit singles including US No. 1 Love Bites and Pour Some Sugar On Me. The band were a huge hit on both sides of the pond. Watch this space to see if BROKEN BISCUITS can crack America.

Reverend and the Makers

Rumour has it that after the Arctic Monkeys stormed the UK charts ‘Reverend’ Jon McClure (front man of Reverend and the Makers) was offered up to £150,000 by major record labels to try and replicate the Monkeys success. McClure being McClure refused the money and Reverend and the Makers remained unsigned, by choice, for years until the release of their 2007 album The State of Things. McClure is known for his down to earth nature and can often be found playing acoustic gigs in the car park after Reverend and the Makers gigs are finished.

Fun fact: Jon’s brother Chris is the face of the Arctic Monkeys debut album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.

Richard Hawley

Briefly a member of Pulp, Richard Hawley is one of Sheffield’s lesser-known gems. He’s released seven solo albums to date and collaborated with: Jarvis Cocker, Paul Weller, Arctic Monkeys and Lisa Marie Presley (yep, Elvis’ daughter). Hawley once played a gig in a cave in Castleton – the cave is called The Devil’s Arse. The album is called Richard Hawley Live in the Devil’s Arse. Richard Hawley is our kind of musician.

And that concludes our musical odyssey in the steel city. We could go on forever. Sheffield has plenty to give.

See you at The Crucible for BROKEN BISCUITS. Tickets here.

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Broken Biscuits: #nowplaying Scarborough

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This week BROKEN BISCUITS by Tom Wells is on the East coast at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough so we’ll be listening to bands who started life along the beautiful Yorkshire coastline.

Little Angels – Scarborough 

Prolific 80s rock band Little Angels formed in Scarborough back in 1984 (previously named both Zeus and Mr Thrud). They started life with their brilliantly titled debut album Too Posh To Mosh. During their prime they supported Van Halen and Bon Jovi.

Arthur Brown – Whitby

I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE AND I BRING YOU… Arthur Brown of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Who remembers ‘Fire’ which reached Number 1 back in 1968 (both here and in Canada)? The eccentric frontman was famed for his operatic singing style which he has sustained through a long career, continuing to record to this day. His followers refer to him as The God of Hellfire in reference to the opening lyrics to Fire.

Ben Parcell – Bridlington

Ben Parcell couldn’t be further from Arthur Brown in terms of style but only comes from down the road in Bridlington. Parcell describes his sound as Pop Folk – which is a similar sound to the BROKEN BISCUITS gang. Although we don’t think Ben has any songs about working on the checkout at Sainbury’s.

We’re at the Stephen Joseph from Tuesday until Saturday – come and rock out with us (in a gentle geeky way). Tickets here.

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Broken Biscuits: #nowplaying Hull

With Plymouth still tapping its feet, we’re brushing off the sand and getting back on the road. This evening BROKEN BISCUITS lands in Kingston upon Hull at Hull Truck Theatre, ready to shred those skins.

 

The Housemartins

An unlikely collision of Marxist politics and Christianity, The Housemartins are an alternative backing track to the 80s. Originally buskers on the streets of Hull, their single ‘Happy Hour’ landed them at the top of the UKs music scene. Whilst members Paul Heaton and Dave Hemingway went on to form The Beautiful South, did you know that Fat Boy Slim and Beats International’s Norman Cook used to be their bass player?

 

The Beautiful South

Former members of the Housemartins, Paul and Dave formed The Beautiful South in 1988, joined by former roadies and guest vocalists Briana Corrigan and Jaqui Abbott. Their hilariously frank lyrics and soft melodies, mean there’s always one line of ‘Don’t Marry Her’ that always has to be yelled at the top of your lungs.

 

Fatboy Slim

After he moved to Hull to join The Housemartins, the group split in 1988 and Norman Cook created the musical sensation that is Fatboy Slim. Technically a DJ and not a band, we’re going to give this one to Norman because Christopher Walken moves are truly something else.

 

The Paddingtons

With a similar sound to bands like The Cribs, The Libertines and Alex Turner’s The Last Shadow Puppets, indie rock band The Paddingtons are one of the 00’s grungers out there. Messy hair, eye liner, ‘cool’ hats and tattered jeans… some of us have all been there.

DID YOU KNOW… back in 2012 Paines Plough presented Paul Heaton’s soul opera THE 8TH in a co-production with Manchester International Festival and on tour across the UK.

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Broken Biscuits: #nowplaying Plymouth

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Broken Biscuits at Live Theatre (cred. Richard Kenworthy)

This week BROKEN BISCUITS by Tom Wells is in Devon at Theatre Royal Plymouth (in an aptly named space – The Drum) so we’ve decided this week we’ll be listening to bands and artists who started out in Devon. Here’s our list:

MUSE – Teignmouth

The Grammy Award winning stadium rockers started out life at Teignmouth Community College where they all played in different bands. Much like our gang in BROKEN BISCUITS they struggled to settle on a name going through the following: Carnage Mayhem, Gothic Plague, Fixed Penalty and Rocket Baby Dolls before settling on MUSE. Twenty million album sales later and we’d say they’ve done pretty well.

Chris Martin from Coldplay – Whitestone

That’s right. Not only is Devon home to MUSE but also Chris Martin who with Coldplay has sold over 80 million records world-wide. This makes them one of the biggest selling artists of all time. All that thanks to a boy from Whitestone.

Ben Howard – Bantham

The Brit Award winning boy from Bantham started writing songs when he was eleven and things are going pretty well for him. In addition to international fame and recognition his face was chosen to be on the Totnes 10 pound note  in 2014. Hopefully our Ben from BROKEN BISCUITS can get his face on a tenner too.

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Broken Biscuits: Reviews Round-up

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After playing for three weeks at co-producers Live Theatre in Newcastle, Tom WellsBROKEN BISCUITS hits the road. We thought we’d do a quick round up of all the brilliant feedback our young rockers have received so far.

“A sweet meditation on the fierce, fragile alliances formed on the cusp of adulthood… incredibly endearing.” ★★★★ The Guardian

“Wonderful, funny and original ★★★★ The i Newspaper

“Funny, confessional and well-crafted… Matthew Robins’ music and Wells’ lyrics feel like Victoria Wood for a new generation.” The Stage

“Quirky, warm and hugely entertaining.” ★★★★ The Chronicle

“It’s funny. It’s engaging, even heart-warming.” British Theatre Guide

“Great atmosphere.” ★★★★ The Reviews Hub

“A funny script and rocking soundtrack… filled with warmth.” Narc Magazine

“A brilliant script… may well be the most uplifting thing you’ll see all year.” ★★★★★ Once Upon a Tyne

“Charming and recognisable… provided laughs along the way in its feel good message about growing up.” North East Theatre Guide

“A new play by Tom Wells is always a welcome event.” The Northern Echo

We’re touring until December visiting all of the following places. Are we coming to you?

25-29 October
The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth
01752 267222
theatreroyal.com

01-05 November
Hull Truck Theatre
01482 323638
hulltruck.co.uk

08-12 November
Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough
01723 370541
sjt.uk.com

15-19 November
Crucible Studio, Sheffield Theatres
0114 249 6000
sheffieldtheatres.co.uk

25-26 November
Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol
0117 902 0344
tobaccofactorytheatres.com

29 November – 03 December
Birmingham Repertory Theatre
0121 236 4455
birmingham-rep.co.uk

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Broken Biscuits: Previews

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Broken Biscuits (cred. Richard Kenworthy)

As a creative team, we spend countless hours in the lead up to a show attempting to create and hone an audience’s experience of the play. We coordinate and plan how all aspects of the production will come together. Rehearsals are held in preparation for an audience but without them present we can never have a full understanding of the production’s workings.

If you think of it as preparing for a dinner party: you can plan meticulously what you will cook; what you will wear; what music you will play, but the evening is an unknowable thing until your guests have arrived.

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Broken Biscuits (cred. Richard Kenworthy)

This is where previews play a part.

Previews allow the team to see the production with all elements in place, the final element being, you, an audience. While the changes between first preview and opening may be barely perceptible to a first time viewer, there are also occasions where much bigger changes are made in this period. It is in these intial runs that the final pieces click into place.

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Broken Biscuits (cred. Richard Kenworthy)

Every audience brings something slightly different to the show. They’ll discover a moment of absolute belly laughter at a point the previous night’s audience gave out a small titter. Every audience will relate to the play slightly differently and previews help actors to become acclimatised to this changing reception.

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Broken Biscuits (cred. Richard Kenworthy)

We were incredibly happy in the Broken Biscuits previews to play to some really varying audiences. The actors got the chance in previews to feel how an audience response to the play can vary. The creative team had chance to tweak and perfect the lighting and sound. Previews are a perfect reminder to us all of how important an audience is in shaping a production. Now they are finished, the show is up and running and we can’t wait for you to see it!

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Broken Biscuits (cred. Richard Kenworthy)

Anna Ryder, Assistant Director.

Broken Biscuits Tech Week

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Broken Biscuits at Live Theatre Newcastle (cred. Richard Kenworthy)

Hello! Team Biscuits here, all the way from sunny Newcastle (you may think I jest, but the sun has done nothing but beam up here).

For weeks now an eavesdropper of rehearsals would have become familiar with patient phrases such as:

‘In this bit of the show there will be an effect where…’

‘This is when, during the show, you’ll hear…’

‘Once we have the lights…’

No more!

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Broken Biscuits at Live Theatre Newcastle (cred. Richard Kenworthy)

Tech week is here and the imaginings of the creative team are leaping into reality. It truly is glorious.

For all very practical and sensible reasons, rehearsal rooms never begin with all the elements in place. We have to wait for the wonders of tech week before we can stop talking in possibilities and start working with all the practical components of the show. Lights, sound, props, this is your time.

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Broken Biscuits at Live Theatre Newcastle (cred.Richard Kenworthy)

Tech week is a hectic, fast paced and brilliant period in the world of a production. It’s the sort of week that if someone reminds you of a conversation that you had that very morning, your brain spends a good five minutes computing how it can possibly have taken place on the same day as now. You’ve been to the world of fairy-lights and back since then.

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A world of fairy lights (cred. Richard Kenworthy)

It’s a week of high-speed naps, delirious green room conversation and a huge amount of hard work. It’s safe to say caffeine consumption is at an all time high, but the results are well worth it!

We are so excited to share Broken Biscuits with you all, in the immortal words of Megan ‘You will be wanting to spend the next two months in this shed, I promise.’

Anna Ryder, Assistant Director.