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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 You can find out more about Friendsical by visiting the show's website

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