If you’ve been watching Channel 4’s The Sound of Musicals you will be familiar with the bright eyes and bubbly personality of Amy Anzel, slogging her guts out to get Happy Days- A New Musical on stage in the UK. If you haven’t been watching The Sound of Musicals then I recommend catching up on it, it’s a really interesting insight into the hard work and focus of the West End.
Amy was nice enough to answer a few questions I had about the industry, and in particular her role in getting Happy Days into the final stages of production. Rehearsals start this week and opening night draws ever closer at The Churchill Theatre, Bromley on 11th January 2014. It hasn’t been an easy process for Amy, “being a new producer in the industry was definitely the greatest challenge!” she tells me, “so much is stacked against you as you have no track record, so I was always up against ‘critics’ and naysayers. However, persistence pays off. I never lost focus and my ultimate goal was always very clear, so I never let anyone or anything get in the way.” And persistence was exactly what she needed, having been involved with the musical since the developmental workshops in 2004!
In an industry dominated by the likes of the mighty Cameron Mackintosh, has Amy found any advantages or disadvantages in being a young woman? “Mostly disadvantages sadly. Most producers seem to be middle aged men. I also got the feeling that it’s a bit of a ‘club’ mentality and I’m not a member. There are obvious exceptions to the rule like theatre owner and producer Nica Burns, who I have the utmost respect for. I’d love to follow in her footsteps!” It seems bizarre that in 2013 women still face the challenge of overcoming their gender in order to be accepted as talented people of good business sense. Particularly in the arts, an industry that should pioneer equality!
Amy is absolutely qualified for the role of producer, and says, “I have been performing since I was a child and naturally, I shifted into the producing side as I wanted to be more in control and create great productions. As an actor, you’re primarily there to help create the production. As a producer, you actually create the production and are at the helm.” So would she ever consider using her knowledge and experience from producing Happy Days to mentor other hopeful young producers? “I would love to be a mentor and give back. I think you definitely learn by doing, but I would be happy to give advice and guide others based on my experiences…not that I’m that experienced yet! Get back to me in 6 months, and I’m sure I’ll have lots more to share!”
So nearly a decade after first encountering the project, and a lot of hard work later, opening night is now visible on the horizon. Is she terrified or just excited about seeing the show finally come to life? “Just excited! I’ve been working on this for 4 years, so I am eager to see Happy Days – A New Musical finally on the stage! I also have total confidence in my creative team and my cast, so I know that by the time we open in January at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley, we will be absolutely ready and in tip top shape!” After the UK Tour, Amy hopes to bring the show to the West End.
Info and tickets available at http://happydaysthemusical.com/