Edinburgh festival favourites, and now Scott Mills best chums, Frisky and Mannish are back on the road to bring pop to the provinces. After completing your education with their previous popcentric shows, they’re here to help you secure gainful employment in the world of pop with their Pop Centre Plus. The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent are not the only way to carve out a career in the fabulous world that is… showbiz. Laura Corcoran & Matthew Jones are the starmakers so just how did they meet?
We were both studying literature degrees at Oxford University, but found each other in the ethnic-scarf-wearing, Pinter-spouting, cider-drinking Thespian community. We did a production of Guys and Dolls together, and then decided to start putting on our own shows, working together as all combinations of actor/director/musical director. Finally our good friend, Rose Heiney, asked us to help her write comic songs for the Oxford Revue, and that was the catalyst for us getting involved in musical comedy.
How would you describe each other in one sentence?
Laura: I would describe Matthew as an embarrassingly talented perfectionist. Or do I mean, embarrassing, talented perfectionist? Either works.
Matthew: Laura Corcoran is a unique hybrid: a diva-belting songstress, a naturally shrewd businesswoman, and a Mancunian. I don’t know why I bother, really.
What inspired your alter-egos Frisky & Mannish?
Laura: Frisky is definitely a natural extension of the brasher and sillier sides of my own personality, but she’s ended up being much more dominant, authoritative and sometimes patronising than I am in life! Matthew may disagree with that… She developed to serve a purpose really – it was the only way I was going to get on stage to sing these odd ideas for songs that we had to start with. I’d just finished training in musical theatre at the Royal Academy of Music when we started, and so I was very focused on acting rather than being myself on stage. Back then there’s no way I could’ve got up to perform just as Laura, but now more of my own personality is creeping back into Frisky.
Matthew: Mannish has been through a few metamorphoses since we started. To begin with, as I had little multi-tasking experience of simultaneous singing/piano-playing/comic timing/reacting, Mannish was a vocally-limited character – Laura took the bulk of the speaking so I could focus on perfecting the music. Quickly, I got so used to doing everything at the same time – like driving a car – that I became frustrated with his silent weirdness, so I started pushing him towards sarcastic interjections and eccentric outbursts. And I love gurning, so he does a lot of that now. The character changes to suit what we feel we need. At predominantly-male comedy nights, I’ll steer away from excessive camp and go down more of a Steve Coogan route, whereas at gay clubs I’ll mince as if my life depended on it. I like doing both equally.
What were your childhood ambitions?
Laura: My mum was the first woman to be a mounted police officer in Manchester, and so for a long time I had an obsession with becoming the first woman to do something. I went through lots of things – astronaut, chemist, train driver, etc – but I was constantly thwarted. Even by the late 1980s, women had done most jobs. So I gave up trying to be original, and for a few years was determined to work with horses, but by 11 had resigned myself to a life on the stage.
Matthew: I can’t remember. Unlike Laura, I’m sure they were all very short-term and small-scale, like “I want to be able to climb across the monkey bars without touching the floor…” The first big ambition I remember was wanting to get into the National Youth Music Theatre when I was 14. I didn’t make it in first time round, but I went back again and really went for it, and got in. That was, and still remains, the best audition I’ve ever done. I may have peaked too soon.
For the full list of dates go to: www.friskyandmannish.com