A Witty Theatrical Sitcom
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Philip Joel’s hilarious lockdown characters and sketches.
The Story So Far
The Fosse Forest Ballet began during lockdown when it was first mentioned ‘off the cuff’ in some hilarious social media sketches by choreographer & actor, Philip Joel.
At a time where many of us were starved of theatrical content, Philip’s videos struck a chord with hundreds of thousands of viewers, one of which was David Muscat.
With a feeling that Philip’s genius creation could be expanded upon, David reached out and pitched the idea of developing the concept into a TV series. Over several Proseccos and cheese-boards, the two agreed to join forces and develop the project further.
David began writing the script for the ‘pilot’ episode. His writing experience had previously been limited to things like shopping-lists and reminder notes to housemates such as ‘Please don’t clip your toenails at the kitchen table’. Nevertheless, after drawing upon years of working in West End shows and productions around the world, a script was completed and what evolved was a witty sitcom following the journey of the latest smash-hit pantomime about to open in London: The Fosse Forest Ballet.
Armed with script in hand, David hit the virtual streets (it was lockdown, so he couldn’t actually leave his house) in search of a production company to help produce the pilot. He quickly realised that he himself was Co-Artistic Director of Emerge Production House and decided to fund the project himself. After transferring his life savings into a different account and, in essence, securing a budget… from himself… the task of putting together the pieces of the puzzle lay ahead.
First, the job of filming it. After meeting with several prospective candidates, one of which offering a 2012 iPad to film on, accompanied with an old self-tape lighting stand (no lightbulb), David finally found Freddie Hill of Graded Films. An actor himself with an established film company, whose credits include projects for outlets such as Amazon Prime. A partnership was formed.
Second, secure a director. Whilst the options were plenty, the ideal candidate was Racky Plews (American Idiot). With a vast experience in directing West End and touring productions, coupled with a similar comical flair, Racky’s added attention to detail was a marriage made in Heaven. Assisting Racky and joining the fold, Blair Anderson (Mary Poppins) was also welcomed into the Fosse Forest family.
A formidable team was formed which took to the streets (again, virtually) in search of a cast.
What happened next was truly humbling. Seven actors joined Philip and David, each of which not only superstars in the theatre industry but also phenomenally talented, funny and committed. Amy Bailey (The Producers), Zoe Birkett (The Bodyguard), Nuwan Hugh-Perera (Side Show) and Tosh Wanogho-Maud (Dreamgirls) joined the cast of, what would be regular cast members. Whilst the pilot episode also features guest star appearances West End powerhouses, Kerry Ellis, Louise Dearman and Oliver Savile.
A suitable location was swiftly secured and, given the global pandemic situation, the opportunity to film everything under one roof in a controlled environment was crucial. One of the leading Off-West End venues, Upstairs at the Gatehouse, opened their doors to be taken over and transformed…. Mainly with several rolls of gaffer tape, black cloth and printed posters of cucumbers (which will make more sense when you watch the episode).
The cast were organised, the location set, the script was reworked and rehearsed. Following that were many, many hours developing a schedule to acquire all the footage needed for a 40-min episode, in just two days of filming.
On the 8th & 9th of September, a miracle occurred in North London. After 5am starts and 11pm finishes, the team had completed the required filming. Everyone involved could enjoy a well-earned day off before the next step was to begin: the editing.
So that should hopefully bring you up to speed. Editing of the episode is currently in progress and some further team members have been added to Fosse Forest family. Adam Langston (Films: Cats, Les Misérables and Alien: Covenant) joined to compose the music, Jason Broderick (Wicked) is developing the online side of the project, and Bruno Collins (Treasure Island) is creating the animation.
The main aim of this project has always been two-fold. Create opportunities for theatre professionals during a time where opportunities are few and far between. But also, and most importantly, try to help an industry that we all love in its time of most need.
Once the episode is completed it will be made available online to be viewed for the price of a West End coffee (£3.49). Funds raised will help replenish David’s life savings, will go towards the running costs and future life of the project and ALL PROFITS will be donated back into the theatre community.
The Fosse Forest Ballet team have nominated two theatre charities: Acting for Others who do incredible work supporting artists, and Theatres Trust who are working tirelessly to ensure venues across the country are supported throughout this time of uncertainty.
It’s our goal to raise £10,000 to donate between the two charities to help in the work they do.
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