12 April 2020

Isolation Interviews: Miranda Larson.

Our next interview is with Miranda Larson. Miranda is a director and writer working in both theatre and TV/Film. Her most recent project was the musical Friendsical - a musical parody of the ever-popular sitcom Friends. For the show, Miranda wrote the book, lyrics and directed the production.

Q - What was the first theatre show that you saw?
A - I can’t actually remember. When I was younger, I saw puppet shows, children’s shows, pantos and lots of local am-dram shows. I remember a traditional Punch and Judy type show when I was about 5. My first big west-end show was Starlight Express in about 1985. I remember being blown away by the set and lights. I had no idea you could do all that on a stage. No matter what type of theatre or scale, I love experiencing it all.

Q - What are your three all-time favourite pieces of theatre you've seen?
A -  Am I only allowed to choose three? Ha-Ha.

OK, first is “The Visit” performed by Complicite. I saw their production at the National and on tour.
This is actually my favourite play. I love stories about human nature and their adaptation was
artistic, comical, heartbreaking and scary.

Second is the production of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Lyceum, the mid-90s. It’s my joint-favourite
musical and for me the perfect interpretation of it. The characterisation and relationships weren’t
like any of other production I had seen. They really made it a personal story. And Steve Balsamo’s
Gethsemane will stay with me forever. I have never been so moved by a performance… And I was
lucky enough to see it several times.

The third is any production of Miss Saigon. It is my other joint-favourite musical. There is something
about the tragedy of that story that gripped me. And after 30 years, I still am obsessed with it. And
let’s face it, there’s a helicopter on stage!

Q - What inspired you to get into writing/director for the stage and screen?
A - Ooo that’s a tough one. I don’t think it was one thing. I have always loved being creative. I was lucky to have a childhood that encouraged play and games. I was constantly making up stories with dolls or dressing-up. My parents also loved old Hollywood movies, so I grew up watching classic musicals. I think all these things contribute to a creative mind.

Q - Whose has had the biggest impact on you during your career?
A - Ooo another tough one. Again, I don’t think it is one person. Writing-wise, I love John Hughes. He is a master at movie structure. I have a book of Walt Disney quotes for inspiration to achieve. I try to draw inspiration from lots of places, whether it’s a great actor, singer, politician or someone from
history. These all impact on how I move forward.

Q - What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
A - Don’t stop learning. I am always looking at how I can improve on things, whether it’s on a personal
level or to a script or production. Whether an experience is good or bad, I try to learn from it and
grow. (Although sometimes that is easier said than done).

Q - If you could tell your younger self something what would you tell them?
A - To be patient. I’m not very good at waiting on answers to things. I like to know things and plan. I
would like to think I have got better, but I don’t think I have.

Q - You've written for some of children's TVs most iconic programmes. Was scriptwriting
something you dreamt of doing when you were younger?
A - No. I always liked story-telling and creating ideas, but I had originally wanted to act (although my talents are quite limited – I can’t sing or dance for one). I had always written, though. During
university, I had written plays and my first (not very good) musical. A lecturer encouraged me to
keep writing, so it started from there.

Q - Your recent project Friendsical is a parody musical of the iconic American sitcom. How was the process of creating an original take on something so beloved?
A - At first, I was so excited. I was walking on air when I was offered the job. But then a lot of dread and fear took over. It is a daunting task to play around with something that already works. And the
writing on that show is some of the best in television history. But I had to forget the pressures of it
and just remember what I loved about the show, and start having fun with those characters and
moments. I still have to pinch myself that I have written a script about those characters.

Q - Away from the theatre what are your other favourite hobbies?
A - I walk my dog a lot. I love watching movies… any movies. And anything Disney related, I will read, watch or visit. Planning Disney trips is my favourite thing to do.

Q - Can you tell us something we might not know about you?
A - If I haven’t told you, then it’s probably because I don’t want you to know… ha ha!
Hmm… I don’t like swimming in the sea because I’m still affected by Jaws. And I don’t like fruit
touching. I have to separate my fruit. Fruit salad makes me shudder.

I'd like to thank Miranda for her time and her brilliant answers. You can follow Miranda over on Twitter https://twitter.com/1MirandaLarson. You can find out more about Friendsical by visiting the show's website https://friendsical.com/#about.

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