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Saturday, 18 February 2023

REVIEW: Fishermen’s Friends at the Mayflower Southampton

The story of Fishermen’s Friend singers from Port Isaac in Cornwall began in 1995 but sprung to wider recognition with the release of their album in April 2010 which charted at number 9 on UK album charts and then became a charming film in 2019 with a sequel in 2022. It became a stage musical in October 2021 and after a trip to Toronto, the tour continues until 2023 May around the UK. If you are a fan of their sea shanties or looking for a feel-good night out it is worth catching the tour but don’t expect anything new or groundbreaking. It is simply a fun night out.

It is a large cast to tour with 24 performers on stage and a large grand set designed by Lucy Osbourne of the Port Isaac Harbour which is cleverly adapted for other interior scenes in the Golden Lion Pub and later In Compton Street London. At the heart of the story, and the characters that give the show an emotional connection, are three generations of a family. Maggie (played with a strong Cornish accent and a lot of charm by Susan Penhaligon) and Jago, her husband and elderly fisherman (played by Cornishman Robert Duncan) are parents to Jim who seems to act as spokesman for the band and carries the scars of his wife leaving him (a gruff James Gaddas) and grandparents to Alywyn (a strong performance from Parisa Shamir with a delightful haunting delivery of several folk ballads).

Sunday, 13 November 2022

INTERVIEW: Parisa Shahmir, currently playing Alwyn in Fisherman's Friends the musical on its UK and Ireland Tour

Parisa Shahmir is currently playing the role of Alwyn in the UK and Ireland tour of Fisherman's Friends the musical after also being part of the show in its UK premiere in Cornwall. Her other credits include Gerda in The Snow Queen, (The Rose Theatre), Layla in We Live in Cairo (American Repertory Theater), Young Meg in The Last Ship, (Northern Stage, UK & Ireland Tour) and Mamma Mia! (UK Tour, NGM/ Littlestar).

Having not long opened the show, we caught up with Parisa and chatted about all things Fisherman's Friends! 

Fisherman’s Friends the musical is based on a true story and the 2019 hit film, what was your experience of the story before auditioning for the show?

I’d actually never seen the movie before auditioning, but my parents had and they loved it, my dad in particular! I was careful not to tell him about the audition until after I’d got the job because I didn’t want to get his hopes up. Needless to say, he was thrilled when I got the part. He plays the shanties in the car all the time, Drunken Sailor is his favourite.

Tell us a little bit about the show and your character, Alwyn.

The show tells the story of a sea shanty band made up of a group of Fishermen from Port Issac, Cornwall and their voyage to greatness with the help of Danny Anderson, an A&R representative from Island Record. My character, Alwyn, is the daughter of one of the fishermen, Jim Penburthy. She goes on an emotional voyage of her own throughout the piece. Similar to me, she is a singer-songwriter and plays and sings for the folks at the local pub, the Golden Lion, regularly. She’s got a tough exterior but she feels fiercely and deeply and music really is everything to her. Alwyn is an incredible character to get to play every night and I honestly resonate with her and her story so much. This is such a luxury as an actor and I feel so lucky to get to play a part that feels like it has so much of me in it.

Wednesday, 12 October 2022

INTERVIEW: Anton Stephans, currently playing Leadville in Fisherman's Friends the musical on its UK and Ireland Tour

Anton is currently playing the role of Leadville in the UK and Ireland tour of the new musical Fisherman's Friends. His credits include Fizz in Bugsy Malone (West End), Monsieur Vernier in the world premiere of Conor Mitchell's Mathilde (Edinburgh Fringe), Lead Vocalist in Blues Brothers Meet Soul Sisters (Theatre Royal), Robbins in Porgy and Bess (UK Tour), Poppa in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Starlight Express (UK tour), Musical Lead in Smokey Joe's Cafe (1st UK tour/Broadway and US tour), Lead Vocalist in Hey Mr. Producer for Cameron Mackintosh (Lyceum Theatre), His one-man show, Crying for You...No More (Fortune Theatre), Musical Lead in Dancing and Singing The Blues (European Tour), Classique (Off-Broadway/US tour), Songs of Broadway (Off-Broadway/US Tour), An Evening with Anton (Congress Theatre, Eastbourne), Lead Singer in the Riverdance (Europe tour), Company of Francesca Zambello's Show Boat (Royal Albert Hall), Lead role Father in Children of Eden concert version (Prince of Wales) and Sweeney Todd (Chichester Festival Theatre).

Just as the tour kicked off, we managed to get some time with Anton to chat about the show. 

Fisherman’s Friends the musical is based on a true story and the 2019 hit film, what was your experience of the story before auditioning for the show?

Honestly, I knew zero about the show or the band ‘Fisherman’s Friends’ before the audition! I have since learnt a great deal. I’ve met the actual Fisherman’s Friends. They are a lovely bunch of very down-to-earth men. My character’s name, Leadville, is the name of one of their fathers; so it feels very special to me. He told me I honoured his father’s memory. I am really happy I am able to do this.

Tell us a little bit about the show and your character, Leadville.

Leadville is a joyous and beautiful character to play, full of hope humour and passion. A great best friend to ‘Jim’ our leading man played brilliantly by James Gaddas. Leadville is a widower who loved his wife very much. Now years on he is a wannabe ladies' man but in truth, he’s a bit lame in that department. Much happier having a pint with his mates singing songs and cracking jokes. I don’t think he cares about money fame glory. He just wants to be with his friends who he considers family. He and I are very much alike in that way.
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