“There’s real sincerity in this project,” says Steve Grant, lead performer with fun and exciting new Fringe show Barockestra.
His wife and co-producer Deena Payne nods.
“It’s a real labour of love,” Deena says, who as well as playing Viv Hope in television’s Emmerdale, is a trained dancer and singer, having played with BA Robertson, Alan Price and Cats UK; and appeared in London West End musicals.
“It’s a brand new show,” she continues. “We’ve had no chance to do the ordinary circuit of small gigs and appearances, so we’ve decided to start with a bang!”
And Edinburgh is certainly in for a bang when Barockestra hits town at Universal Arts on August 5th.
A musical and theatrical extravaganza, it features Steve and four other rock musicians, accompanied by opera singers and ballet dancers, bringing down the house with their unique interpretation of familiar classical hits from Beethoven, Mozart, Bach and more.
“There’s a lot of fun in the show,” says Steve, who as a multi-instrumental rock musician has played with George Harrison, David Essex and Suzi Quatro; and after having played in The Animals reunion tour is now a member of the reformed The Sweet.
“Although it’s loosely based around the history of classical music, we uncover some little known stories along the way – such as the time Tchaikovsky met Bob Marley, or the story behind the Artist Formerly Known As Beethoven…”
“And don’t be surprised to see some familiar friends and faces pop up on the giant video screen at the back of the stage,” says Deena, smiling.The couple have been bouncing the idea for Barockestra around for the past 8 or 9 years.
“It started off as an idea for an album,” says Steve, “then grew from there.”
“We’ve really had it ready in its current form for a year or two,” says Deena. “We’ve been fine-tuning it since then, and although we’ve played a couple of preview shows – which got standing ovations – Edinburgh will really be its debut!”
By now, it’s obvious the couple are passionate about Barockestra, and have an enthusiasm for it which proves infectious.
“I’m thrilled with the journey so far,” says Steve. “And I can’t wait to bring it to Edinburgh. People who like We Will Rock You or The Rocky Horror Show are going to love it!”
“Especially the cancan routine!” says Deena.
Whilst Steve has been responsible for the musical side of things, his wife has used her extensive dance training and organisation skills to take care of things behind the scenes.
“I auditioned ballet dancers in London,” she says. “I ended up with a pool of twelve great girls. And I sourced all the clothes and wardrobe too, using some of my theatrical contacts to find frilly shirts, peasant outfits and all sorts of great costumes. Now, we’ve got a great visual show – a real mix of rock and classic outfits, with the visuals on the big screen adding to the spectacle.”
“I want the audience to be entertained but also intrigued by the show,” says Steve. “But above all, I want people to have fun.”
“Although we’ve rehearsed loads and lot of the show’s scripted, there’s still a real frisson of excitement for us as performers playing a brand new show for nearly a month – things could go wrong.”
“But that’s all part of the fun!”
Deena will be taking a month off and will be promoting the show as hard as she can.
“I’m touting demos, organising CDs and t-shirts, doing radio interviews,” she says. “I’ll be up in Edinburgh for the first two weeks of the show doing everything I can to get the word out!”
“We’re on in the evening, so we’ll be bringing the band and the ballerinas up to the Royal Mile to advertise it too.”
As we leave Steve and Deena to take a well-earned break from their schedule to relax, they’re still talking about the show and their plans for it in Edinburgh.
We get the impression they’re going to enjoy Barockestra just as much as the people who come along to see it.
Barockestra runs at Universal Arts in George Street from 5-29 Aug (not 17th), 10.10pm-11.20pm. Tickets are available from Universal Arts’ website.