Sunday, 31 August 2008
Saturday, 30 August 2008
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
As Can't Smile Without You Starts on Thursday , In order to promote the show Our Fran along with Chesney will be doing an interview on BBC Breakfast tomorrow Morning (Wednesday 27th August).
Thursday, 21 August 2008
Friday, 15 August 2008
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Thursday, July 31, 2008; Posted: 7:26 PM - by Robert Gould
The magic of Manilow is about to hit the stage across the UK with Bill Kenwright’s production of the new musical Can’t Smile Without You. Joining pop/rock singer-songwriter Chesney Hawkes in the show’s leading roles will be BBC’s How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? finalist Siobhan Dillon and I’d Do Anythingcontestant Francesca Jackson.
Hawkes is best known for his role as the title character in the 1991 film Buddy’s Song and for his number one hit recording of the song “The One And Only” from the film’s soundtrack. Ms Dillon recently played the role of Patti Symcox in Grease at the Piccadilly Theatre andFrancesca Jackson delivered a sensational performance as Joanne in the 2007 production of Rent at the Duke of York’s.
Barry Manilow is one of the most successful singer-songwriters of all time, having sold more than 75 million records worldwide, and he is also the composer and co-writer of the musical Copacabana, which began as a TV movie in 1985 and was later adapted for the stage for a West End run in 1994-6, followed by tours in both the UK and USA.
Can’t Smile Without You, which has a Book by Tim Prager based upon an original idea by Bill Kenwright, draws upon Manilow’s extensive songbook of hits, including “Could It Be Magic?”, “I Made It Through The Rain”, “I Write The Songs” and “Mandy”. The show will be directed by Keith Strachan and Bill Kenwright, with musical direction by John Maher and choreography by Carole Todd. The UK tour commences at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley (from 28 August 2008) and will then embark on a national tour (Liverpool, Bristol, Manchester, Hull, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Northampton, Stoke and Newcastle) prior to a planned West End engagement in 2009.
Photo by Sara De Boer / Retna Ltd.
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
Here at Frans Blog we aim to go further to bring you more information on the very talented Fran Jackson and we have been very lucky to have received the following exclusive piece from Fran's friend and fellow performer CJ Johnson. Fran and CJ worked together in Rent Remixed on the West End in 2007/08.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank CJ for her time in writing this piece and providing another great picture for the site.
Working with Fran... Rent Remixed, Duke of York's Theatre '07/'08.. CJ Johnson
I've been asked to say a few words about Fran. But I'm sure it'll turn into a novel! Fran and I had no choice but to become close friends very quickly, as I was rehearsing Maureen (her girlfriend) for the first 2 weeks of rehearsals. Had I a choice.....! But seriously though, I felt such a deep bond with Fran in those few weeks that it was very difficult to hand her over to Denise (Van Outen)! I had to refer back to Stanislavsky to decipher whether it was mine or 'Maureen's' jealousy appearing every time they held hands! Ha ha. Really, she gave me so much in the rehearsal process. In terms of her commitment to the growth of both our characters and their complex relationship and as a warm, beautiful friend.
Fran's one of those people who makes you feel wonderful about yourself. She gives you her undivided attention, and as long as you're with her, you're the centre of her world! And that's why I would happily spend every single matinee day over the road in 'Med Kitchen' with her and Rhoe (Oliver) Thornton. In the safety that as long as we're there, discussing who made who laugh in the show that day over Fran's 'burger with no bun' and "three hot waters with a slice of lemon', then we're the funniest and most talented people in the world! Ha ha! She is ridiculously self-effacing when it comes to her own talents and achievements. She is so very true to herself. All cliches aside, she's genuinely a beautiful, dedicated and giving actress and such a refreshingly, powerfully unique voice. I love that about her. I also love her 'woolly grey' wardrobe, her pink steamer attached to her face and her belief that lemon bon-bons are 'good for the voice'. She will go from strength to strength and deserves this wonderful support from all her lovely fans.
Keep checking back for more news and updates on the incredibly talented Fran Jackson, including a fan review on Can't Smile Without You at the end of the month and much more.
Wednesday, 6 August 2008
Left with no memory his dreams are all but shattered. His only hope lies in the power of the music he loves and his feelings for a girl he once knew called Mandy…
Bromley Churchill Theatre - 28 Aug - 6 Sep
Dartford Orchard Theatre - 8 Sep - 13 Sep
Liverpool Empire Theatre - 15 Sep - 20 Sep
Bristol Hippodrome Theatre - 22 Sep - 27 Sep
Manchester Palace Theatre - 29 Sep - 4 Oct
Hull New Theatre - 6 Oct - 11 Oct
Glasgow King's Theatre - 13 Oct - 18 Oct
Edinburgh Festival Theatre - 20 Oct - 25 Oct
Northampton Derngate Theatre - 10 Nov - 15 Nov
Stoke Regent Theatre - 7 Nov - 22 Nov
Darlington Civic Theatre - 24 Nov - 29 Nov
Sunday, 3 August 2008
- How have you been since I’d Do Anything?
Lots of auditions and meetings but also plenty of relaxing, and even a little holiday… its been nice – lots of great opportunities but I have been careful about the next step after I’d Do Anything.
- Favourite solo performance and why.
Somebody to Love – Because it’s a song that makes a point and is in a style that I love singing.
- Favourite mission and why
Acting with Bill Sykes – it went SO well and he was my Bill when I played Bet back in 1994 so it felt amazing to be doing a scene with him as Nancy.
- Favourite Group performance
Never Forget in the final week – the pressure was off so it was easier to enjoy.
- Did you get to choose any of your songs or were you told what you would be singing each week?
We were always told. We weren’t allowed to choose our own.
- What song would you have chosen if you could have chosen anything to sing?
If I could have done musical theatre I would have done Maybe I Like it This Way from The Wild Party. I would love to have done Hurt by Christina Aguilera as well.
- How much of a say did you have in your wardrobe and makeup on the show?
Again we had no say – it was always decided for us
- Which costume did you most like / dislike? How did you feel about having to wear pink each week?
Well there is no pink in my wardrobe… hee hee… My fav was the Week 2 dress and the long pink one on my last week was pretty horrific!
- What happened with the makeup in week 4? It’s widely felt that the makeup artist disliked you that week.
Ha ha ha… I didn’t realise til I came offstage what had happened – Keisha and I had the same makup artist that week and literally before I went on she retouched my makeup with Keisha’s blusher by accident (I hope). Oh dear.
- How hard was it continually being singled out as the professional by everyone, including Graham he seemed to introduce you as the professional actress every week?
It was really difficult – especially as I wasn’t the most experienced but I tried not to focus on it or let it get me down. There was nothing I could do to change it and it definitely made my time on the show harder.
- If you could play any role in any musical (not Nancy) what would it be?
So many – but Elphaba, Fantine, Ellen in Miss Saigon, Linda in Blood Bros, Queenie in the Wild Party. I want to do everything!!
- Who is your dream leading man sorry Tom she can’t chose you?
Johnny Depp – need I say more.
- If you couldn’t do musical theatre what would you do?
Anything with children or animals – but I would be devastated if I couldn’t continue my career!
- What was the role that made you decide this was what you wanted to do?
I suppose playing Bet in the 1994 Palladium production of Oliver confirmed that this was my dream career but I can’t ever remember NOT wanting to do it
- Who is your role model/idol
Julie Walters and Emma Thompson – I love them both!
- Favourite Meal?
My mums Shepherds Pie.
- What do you like to do in your spare time – if you ever get any?
Coronation Street and Eastenders… I love Monday nights.
- Favourite musical of all time?
Tom is making me say Jersey Boys… But maybe Rent – this is difficult… Blood Brothers… Oh I don’t know!
- What 3 items would you take with you to a desert island?
A Steamer – Nasal Spray – Vocalzones – I live off that stuff... ha ha!!
- If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?
- If you have looked on Digital Spy you would see that most of your fan base is slightly crazy does that worry you? – They have also somehow decided that because your CV states you can play the drums to associate you with the bongos – check out bongos and teapots unite – do you play the bongos or Drums regularly.
I’m afraid I haven’t looked on Digital Spy as I try to not read forums because I’m scared of reading the negative stuff. It is difficult in this profession not to take criticism to heart as you are so exposed so I try to minimise the risk… for my own sanity!! As for the drums/bongos I played the drums at college (A-levels) cos I wanted to be a rock-chick but I haven’t played for years.
- Sam has ‘Sam’s Lambs’ and ‘Barketeers’, Niamh has her ‘Niamphers’, Rachel has 'Team Tucker', Sarah has ‘Larkabouts’ your fans are struggling and the best they can come up with is ‘Frans Fans’ as the other names are dangerous if read or spelt wrong do you have any other ideas?
I can’t even believe I have fans – let alone name them!!!
- How does it feel to be the 3rd finalist from IDA to start work in a production, (not counting Edinburgh Fringe festival or Sarah's Hits of The West End) you beat Sam in to third place by 1 day
Sam actually got Cabaret a few days before me but its just fantastic to be working again
She May have got the part first but you go on stage the day before.
- Was it any consolation to know that your exit was one of the most controversial decisions of the series and is still talked about now?
It was great to know I had done my best that night and that people thought I should stay but hopefully everything happens for a reason.
- What was it like doing a concert back in Swansea with Peter Karrie? (And what happened to the DVD that was being produced of the event that Jay promised me? (It was just to costly to get from hear to Swansea at that short notice a week before going away)
The concert was fantastic – I couldn’t believe how many people were there and it really amazed me to see how much support I had. I got quite choked up at the end. I’m not sure about the DVD I’m afraid.
- How excited are you about ‘Can’t Smile Without You’ and can you tell us anything about the show and your role?
I’m very pleased to be a part of it!! It’s a really good script and Barry Manilow is a massive star so hopefully we will do well. My part is called Lucy and she is the fiancée of Tony (Chesney Hawkes) but is having an affair with his best friend, Scott. Its really exciting!!
- When will we know if the show is going to be on the west end at the end of the tour as is predicted?
I’m not sure really – as soon as I know, you will!!
- If Rent Remixed was to come back and go on tour would you reprise your role of Joanne if asked?
I would absolutely love too. I loved every minute of Rent.
- How does it make you feel to know that a lot of your fans spend most of their days listening to your IDA performances on their ipods.
It’s such a lovely feeling and slightly bizarre that people have ME on their ipods!! Although I would rather they had Rent Remixed (hee hee)… I wasn’t too confident with most of my I’d Do Anything songs.
Saturday, 2 August 2008
Francesca was always destined for a career on the stage - ever since she took on the role of Percy the Polar bear in nursery school! She began taking dance classes at the age of five and soon afterwards began performing with a local theatre group in Ystradgynlais in the Swansea valley, the Glantawe Players. At a very young age she sung the Alan Menken/Howard Ashman song “Part Of Your World”, in full Mermaid costume, and stunned the audience with the power and tone of her voice as well as her immense stage presence and ability to “sell” a song.
As a member of the National Youth Musical Theatre company in 1991, Fran appeared in Whistle Down The Wind and in 1994 she made her West End debut at the age of 13, playing Bet in the Sam Mendes production of Oliver at the London Palladium. The following year, again with the NYMT, she was in the cast of Bugsy Malone and she continued to perform with the Glantawe Players as well as in school productions at Maesydderwen School, playing Sandy in Grease and later Nancy in Oliver. After taking her GCSEs, Fran went on to study Performing Arts at Neath College, where her roles included Carmen in Fame.
In 2002 she wowed audiences at the Swansea Grand Theatre as silent screen star Mabel Normand in the Swansea Amateur Opera production of the Jerry Herman musical, Mack and Mabel. She went on to train at the Mountview Academy in London, performing in shows such as Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens.
In 2006 she was in the UK touring ensemble of Rod Stewart’s Tonight’s The Night, covering the lead roles of Dee Dee and Mary. And in 2007 she thrilled West End audiences with her stunning vocal performance as lesbian attorney, Joanne Jefferson in Jonathon Larson's Pulitzer Prize winning musical, Rent.
Shortly after the closing of Rent, Fran began to demonstrate her talent to a wider audience as a contestant in BBC’s I’d Do Anything. Though she failed to win the coveted role of Nancy in Cameron Mackintosh’s new production of Oliver, she clearly demonstrated that she belongs on the West End stage, especially with her incredible rendition of the torch song As Long As He Needs Me during her final moments on the show.
Thanks Again for the article Robert its good to see where it all started and look forward to the bright future ahead of her.