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Feet-uring... Lara Orriss and Chris Holloway

How now soggy snowflakes, step into our blog and shelter from the cold! (That sounded a little like a fairy-tale villain.)

I don't know if you've heard, but we're producing a little old winter show in partnership with The Dukes and supported by Arts Council England...

(It's The Snow Queen, jeez, where have you been?)

But before our snowy, shadowy, Christmas offering gets underway, we'd like to introduce you to the tree-mendous cast and crew that made it all possible, addressing hard-hitting questions such as 'penguins or polar bears?' and 'if you could sing a duet with anyone, who would it be?' Real gritty stuff.

Here, we have Artistic Director, Lara Orriss, and Chris Holloway, Associate Composer. Let's see what these guys had to say!

Who are you - tell us a bit about yourself!

Lara: I'm Lara! I'm Three Left Feet's Artistic Director, resident napper and most youthful youth. I can mostly be found telling everyone how cute my dog is (fact), eating an inordinate amount of Pringles, or coming up with another flamboyant idea for a show that we don’t have time for but will definitely still do.

Chris: Hello! I'm Chris Holloway, the associate composer for Three Left Feet. I'm from Leeds (something which I drop into a large quantity of statements) and have recently completed a wonderful four years (on and off) at Lancaster University studying Earth and Environmental Science, however most of this time was spent in the music society.

What do you do for 3LF's The Snow Queen and how would you describe your role(s)?

Lara: I am the writer/adaptor for 3LF's The Snow Queen. My job is to read Hans Christian Andersen's OG tale until I can recite it with my eyes closed: grasping onto all the magical bits and bobs (not a euphemism) that I think will make an awesome script. Then I write that script! And edit. And edit. And edit again. And then think I'm finally finished before having to edit one more time. I love it really.

Chris: I am the composer for The Snow Queen, so I've spent the majority of the last few weeks writing and recording the music for this production, in my small home studio. The majority of the soundtrack has been recorded on one keyboard with a plethora of sounds, including the occasional cameo from a drum kit. Most of my time has been spent recording note-perfect takes, only to realise I hadn't pressed the record button! However, once a decent take is recorded, listening back to it provides a real sense of satisfaction after the many hours put into it.

What advice do you have for people who are thinking of being a musician?

Chris: First and foremost - just go for it! You are far more likely to regret not getting involved with music than regret getting involved! It is also very helpful to find an inspiration who matches the style or instrument you are interested in, for example as someone who recently got into drumming, I found the grooves of drummer Bernard Purdie so satisfying - as a result I closely studied and attempted to imitate his style, also finding his inspirations and people he has inspired! This opens a whole different world! There are also some fantastic learning resources on the internet and forums with very helpful people of all levels which I recommend delving into.

What's the reason you got involved with theatre?

Lara: Well, the reason I got involved in theatre is because I was 14 and desperately needed a hobby. The reason I kept going back is because I realised I had crippling stage fright, and was supremely cheesed off about it. Honestly, I was a bumbling mess! So, I challenged myself to keep at it to conquer my fears. Then I figured, hey, this theatre lark isn't half-bad, and here we are.

Who do you look up to, either as an actor/director/composer/creative or as a general influence?

Chris: I don't think this question can be answered just with one person as I have had so many influences! One name which sticks out in my mind however is my first piano teacher, Sally Higgins, who really helped accelerate my interest in music and my technical skills, as well as teaching in a very encouraging and engaging manner. One highlight I have are small concerts she put on with all her students several times per year, which were always a great motivation to learn and greatly helped my enjoy music. I think music teachers are some of the most influential, and inspirational and passionate people out there and deserve so much respect, and to anyone who continues to inspire generations through teaching, you are among the greatest!

What was your first acting role?

Lara: I think, technically, my first proper acting role was playing the Angel Gabriel in our school's nativity back in year six. Initially I was a bit miffed that I wasn't cast as Mary, but I swiftly got over that when I realised I had more lines. (If you're wondering, yes, I bloody killed it.)

What have you found challenging in this production?

Chris: Probably the sheer diversity of scenes and the length of the production - never before have I done a project of this scale before so that's always a challenge. I've had to adapt new composing techniques such as completely breaking down in scene into tiny subsections - that way I've been able to record more efficiently

Who should watch this show, and why?

Lara: Obviously, EVERYONE should watch this show. However, more specifically, anyone who's looking to inject a little bit of theatrical magic into their Christmas. 3LF's The Snow Queen is a spell-binding alternative to live theatre, and it features a whole host of marvellous creative and performative talent. Fun, family-friendly, festive – what's not to enjoy?

What have you found rewarding in this production?

Chris: From a musical perspective, just listening to everything fall nicely together has been immensely satisfying and a huge confidence boost! In terms of the overall production, I found "meeting" the cast very rewarding, even if through a video call, it just made it all seem very real and was genuinely lovely to be able to have a production in these strange times with such a great cast and crew!

Without wild spoilers, tell us one of your favourite lines.

Lara: Hmm. I have quite a few, which is a little big-headed 'cause I wrote 'em! "One's attractiveness dims when they suddenly become an inordinate know-it-all" is up there, and also "who is this crazed bird?" consistently amuses me.

What are your favourite Christmas traditions?

Lara: How long do you have? All of them! My dad and I get up at 5am on Christmas morning, and my mum and sister point blank refuse to get up with us. So, dad and I jingle bells and sing Christmas songs to encourage them out of bed. My sister and I usually don Christmas pyjamas, and we all have a sausage sandwich for breakfast (which my dog, Merlin, appreciates) before sitting around the tree for gift unveiling. Later in the evening, we have an extensive board game session where my (soon-to-be) brother-in-law claims that I get wildly competitive. I would argue that he and my dad are just massive wind-up-merchants!

Chris: Putting up the Christmas decorations - it's like doing a makeover and an event to look forward to every year, even if it makes my hands turn to ice trying to untangle the lights in the British December weather.

What is your favourite Christmas song?

Chris: Very difficult question, but I'll give the honours to Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - the melancholy melody and lovely chord voicings just epitomise that cosy Christmas atmosphere.

Penguins or polar bears?

Lara: This is a tough one: both are awesome. Penguins are funny and cute as heck, but absolutely stink. Polar bears are fluffy, majestic, giants, but could also rip you limb from limb. On the proviso that I'm more likely to survive an encounter with a penguin, I'll go penguins.

If you could sing a duet with anyone, who would it be?

Chris: Michael Bublé. Specifically singing Me and My Shadow. Michael, if you're reading this, I'm down for a duet.

What's your star-sign?

Lara: I'm a really weak Aries. That's a fire sign. I googled it and apparently they're a bit all over - cheerful and impassioned but blunt and impulsive with a short temper. I'm not sure this describes me, I'm a little more of a soggy potato than that! It does say that they're stubborn though, which I guess, possibly, maybe, on some occasions, might be true.

If you directed a movie of your life, who would play you?

Lara: I would point blank refuse to commission a movie of my life unless Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson played me and that's the truth.

Chris: Dave Spikey (played Jerry "The Saint" Clair in Phoenix nights). Great northern accent, and a slightly awkward compere epitomises me.

Thanks guys!

Did Lara and Chris's interview get you festive and theatre ready? Good! Keep an eye out for more information about The Snow Queen's online release (on the 21st December) here!

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