Five Guys Named Moe has already hit Edinburgh this Winter at Festival Square Theatre and director, Dr. Paulette Randall (MBE) spoke with The Fountain about how she got involved with the show as well as her long-standing career as a theatre director as well as her experience in TV comedy.
TF: Dr Paulette Randall, you are the director of the show coming to Edinburgh Christmas, Five Guys Named Moe? Are you able to tell us more about how you came on board this theatre production and your relationship with the show?
Well it’s a long relationship. I originally directed it twenty-odd years ago. It wasn’t the best experience for me but then six years ago I was invited to direct it with the Underbelly and that was fantastic and that’s why I am doing it again but in a very different way.
TF: Now coming back to the show after all that time, are you able to tell us more about the synopsis for those that don’t already know?
Basically there is a guy called Nomax, who is heartbroken, he is getting himself drunk and not really handling it very well and these five guys come absolutely out of nowhere and try and help him to get back on course and fix up his love life. Of course because they are magical and amazing, they do.
TF: And how is it to be working with a whole new cast and crew?
It is fantastic. Also, because we are doing it in the Spiegeltent it feels like a kinda different show. And in fact, Clarke Peters, our writer, has made a few changes as well so it really feels quite new so very exciting.
TF: It also seems to be having a fabulous run so far, produced by the Underbelly in association with one of the most successful theatre producers, Cameron Mackintosh. It must be great to be involved in this project, especially with that score and Louis Jordan’s music?
I know, it’s fantastic. You don’t really get the opportunity to do something this wonderful twice, let alone three times so I know I am really blessed.
TF: Looking at your own biography you’ve worked with some big names in the pass, notably Danny Boyle of the London 2012 Opening Ceremony your career must have offered many great experiences and opportunities. Would you like to talk about these?
Stop me if I am boring you, but I met Danny when I was going through my writing phase. He actually directed the first play that I wrote at the Royal Court. It was whilst in rehearsals with Danny that I thought “I think I want to do what he’s doing.” So I had a chat with him and I ended up being one of the assistant directors at the Royal Court and in fact assisted him on a show when he was running the theatre upstairs. And, well, it was really lovely twenty-odd years later to be working with him again but as an associate this time so that was wonderful.
In terms of all the other stuff, I sometimes just out of necessity found myself doing other things like script editing for TV shows, namely comedy.
TF: And you were the first female black director to bring a play to the West End? Can you elaborate on this, when it was and how that feels? It must illicit some feelings.
Oh it was 2013 I think that it happened. It was just one of those wonderful opportunities. I was directing Lenny Henry in his first kind of contemporary American piece, cause he had done a couple of Shakespeares by then so that was a biggie for him but also for me, and so for it to transfer to the West End was just glorious but yeah for some people it is kind of shocking that it’s 2013 before a play was first directed by a black woman in the West End. Before that there was a musical that had been done by Josette Bushell-Mingo and another musical by Clint Dyer. But it was a lovely thing to have done and a great thing to have been part of.
TF: It’s fab that you’re such an advocate of August Wilson plays. How did you first stumble across these and get involved with directing these?
Once again I was very very lucky. I had done a play at the Tricycle Theatre with Nicholas Kent, who was the artistic director, and he rang me one day and said that he had this play and that I would be terrific for it, please read it and tell me what you think. I hadn’t seen any of August’s work and I had never read any of his plays. I don’t know how I had managed to not know of him. But when I read this play, I thought that if I don’t do this play I will have to kill people and I was sent off to meet August Wilson. After my first meeting with him I thought to confess that I don’t know his work, who by then is of course the Tony-Award winning, Pulitzer-Prize winning writer. So I said to him, “So Mr Wilson, before I say anything else about the play or whatever, I am just thrilled and honoured to be doing this play but I must admit I have never seen any of your work” and he just lent forward and said to me, “don’t worry, I don’t go to the theatre much myself.” I instantly fell in love with him. And then after that, and our production of The Piano Lesson, he told Nick that if they want to do any more plays of his that they must be directed by me. It’s extraordinary, amazing. So for quite a few years I was the only one allowed to do his plays in England.
TF: And you mentioned before that you were involved in the production of television comedy, namely Desmonds. How did you find working on television compares with theatre, and was it a learning curve?
Massive learning curve because they speak a different language for a start, you know these TV folk. But because I have gone in primarily as a script editor it was kind of a gentle way of discovering how the floor works and all of that. And to be able to consistently work on a long-running super show, thirteen episodes each season, you really spent quite a lot of time with the writers and therefore with the actors so it was a massive learning curve but it was great. And eventually I ended up producing it.
Five Guys Named Moe
Festival Square Theatre
18 November 2016 to 7 January 2017 at 7.30pm
Matinee performances on Thursdays and Saturdays. Tickets starting from £15.50 are available to book here.