Entertainers on a train vs Vertigo ride: no contest!
For the 15th year in a row, The London Toast Theatre is shacking up at the Tivoli Glassalen theatre throughout the wintry months to bring their time-honoured Crazy Christmas Cabaret to the Danish public. And this year, to celebrate 30 years of the CCC, the master of suspense is being reinvented by the mistress of suspenders, as writer, director and leading lady Vivienne McKee tackles the genius (and eccentricities) of legendary director Alfred Hitchcock in this year’s production of Hitchcock-Up!
Following last year’s Below the (equatorial) Belt, which was hot with environmental satire, and the preceding Oh My Goth at the height of Twilight mania, the choice to tackle Hitchcock in 2012 was, for McKee, a simple one.
“Each year I write the show about issues that are relevant to the public,” McKee told InOut. “And Hitchcock, being a master filmmaker, is as influential today as he was when he was alive. Just look at the Danish film and TV industry, with series like The Killing and Borgen being such huge successes both in Denmark and abroad. They have that Danish Noir quality that is undoubtedly Hitchcockian.”
Arguably the father of the psychological horror genre, Hitchcock boasts a whopping 67 titles to his name, with sequels, remakes and reinterpretations of his work constantly in production, some better than others of course, including Disturbia, DJ Caruso’s 2007 take on Rear Window (better) and Gus Van Sant’s 1998 stab at Psycho with a kinky Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates (others). This year there was Hitchcock, a star-studded biopic with Anthony Hopkins in the title role, and HBO miniseries The Girl, which saw Sienna Miller playing Tippi Hedren and Toby Jones as Hitchcock during the tumultuous filming of The Birds. Additionally, Vertigo was recently voted the Greatest Film of All Time by the British Film Institute, a title previously held by Citizen Kane for five whole decades.
In the plot of this year’s Crazy Christmas Cabaret, ‘Vivienne’ (McKee obviously) decides she’s had enough of the traditional triple C production and opts instead to adapt a long-lost Hitchcock script she finds in an abandoned brasserie of a Hollywood studio. Her troupe of actors are none too fond of the idea, feeling that ‘The Psycho Birds who flew too much’ sounds like the recipe for a flying cock-up. They vow to dispense of Vivienne as soon as possible.
“So many people have asked me how I plan to show the filming of a Hitchcock movie on stage,” says McKee. “And it has been a real challenge! We’ve integrated these huge LED screens that we’ve never used before, and they are in addition to the regular sets, props and costume changes that we usually do. As actors we’re used to just getting up and doing our routine, but now there’s a whole new dimension that’s being introduced.”
But die-hard CCC fans, do not despair! For McKee’s crazy brand of Danglish humour hasn’t flown the coop just yet. The core of the show− with its political satire, music, dance and annually recurring jokes – hasn’t changed.
“I write for the Danish public and, having lived in Denmark for so long, I know what Danish people find amusing. We’ve been doing the show for 30 years, and really it’s got a cult following that sees the same people coming every year. It’s important for me that they recognise the show’s characteristic components, but that each year we bring something new and innovative for them to enjoy.”
McKee’s personal Hitchcock favourite, Rebecca, is an almost obscure title behind such famous works like The Birds, Psycho, Marnie and The 39 Steps.
Though it’s not a main component in this year’s Hitchcock-Up!, McKee has made sure that each of Hitchcock’s titles is given a shout-out in the production.
“All the titles are somehow mentioned and incorporated into our show … though some are more subtle than others. I’d forgotten to include The Man Who Knew Too Much, so the other day I had to go back and do a little re-write,” McKee admits only a week before opening night. “A show like this is always changing; we have to mould it after the audience as well − their reactions can be so different than expected!”
It’s difficult to say what the audience should expect from the Crazy Christmas crew this year, with murder and suspense being added to the menu. It will, however, undoubtedly deliver a bombastic, hilarious show that will please both newcomer and veteran fans alike.
Crazy Christmas Cabaret presents Hitchcock-Up!
Glassalen in Tivoli, Vesterbrogade 3, Cph V; starts Tue, ends Jan 12, performances Mon-Sat 19:30, Sat 15:00; tickets 100- 370kr, www.teaterbilletter.dk; www.londontoast.dk