The Quentin Dentin Show, will be playing at Tristan Bates Theatre in June, it’s developed quite a following on its journey from London to the Edinburgh Fringe and back, on a trajectory from humble beginnings to a fully blown Off West- End rock musical. We caught up with Producer Hannah Elsy to find out more about Quentin Dentin.
The Quentin Dentin Show is coming back to London for a run at The Tristan Bates Theatre, what can you tell us about the show?
The Quentin Dentin Show is a new rock musical, The Rocky Horror Picture Show for the 21st Century. It’s a modern day cautionary tale about young couple Nat and Keith, who are falling into a quarter- life malaise when they accidentally summon the supernatural Quentin Dentin from the radio. Quentin is an enigmatic figure: part David Bowie, part Genie from Aladdin. Quentin takes it upon himself to fix Nat and Keith through a series of ‘medical’ exercises which become increasingly bizarre and hilarious. Of course, Quentin has his own agenda and there are sinister forces at play, but I can’t tell you anymore because of spoilers – you’ll have to come and see it!
How did you get involved with The Quentin Dentin Show?
I’ve produced The Quentin Dentin Show from the beginning. The show was originally a quirky little play with songs that I directed and produced at The Rag Factory off Brick Lane in 2014, working with a group of friends that included Henry Carpenter (who was then playing Quentin and writing music, lyrics and co- book). I then secured a development period with Rich Mix though IdeasTap, where through trial and error we worked out that the show had best potential as a musical. We then brought on board Henry’s old band to play the score, and thus a rock musical was born. Rich Mix subsequently offered to co- produce the show, which enabled me to take it to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for a month.
It’s had a few successful runs, including at the Edinburgh Fringe – what did you learn from those runs?
I’ve learnt that ultimately, the audience is king. Every time The Quentin Dentin Show has had a run, it has been updated and improved according to how an audience has interacted with it. This is a good way of developing a musical (more producers should do it in my opinion), as once you’ve run the show a few times, you have removed the risk of whether an audience will like it or not.
The performances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival were the toughest so far, as I was then directing and producing the show, as well as sharing a tiny flat in Edinburgh with far more people than the landlords needed to know about!
Has it been updated for this new run?
Yes, this run at the Tristan Bates Theatre will be the biggest and best yet. Henry and our new co- bookwriter Tom Crowley (Shock Treatment, King’s Head Theatre) are beavering away as we speak to flesh out the show out into a full- length 90 minutes. We now have musical theatre director Adam Lenson on board, and are re-auditioning cast members. In a nutshell, it is being upgraded from a Fringy show to an Off- West- End production: we’re keeping all the good stuff from the previous runs, and enhancing all of the elements that were once constrained by a tiny budget.
It’s developed quite a cult following, was that a surprise to you?
I think that audiences keep coming back to see the show because it’s really entertaining – a piece of escapism with an incredible soundtrack. Also, there is something very satisfying about seeing the same story played out again and again. So no, it’s not a surprise to me that there are people who keep on re-booking.
You also produced Summer Nights in Space at The Vaults Festival, what is it that appeals to you about these off-beat rock musicals?
Both The Quentin Dentin Show and Summer Nights In Space have an individual voice. Both shows have been written by Henry Carpenter, whose has a distinctive writing/ composing style that isn’t found in more traditional writers of musical theatre. It’s exciting to be emailed over new song demos and script extracts, and to immediately be able to visualise how that material will be staged.
As for rock musicals… rock is one of my favourite genres of music, so I find the shows pleasurable to listen to. I’m a music fan but can’t play myself, so when there’s a live band playing, they are all alchemy to me!
Where do you hope to take The Quentin Dentin Show next?
I’m in great admiration of what Mischief Theatre did with The Play That Goes Wrong and developing the subsequent ‘Goes Wrong’ brand. The Quentin Dentin Show would work well on tour, and/or in a larger theatre. A benefit of a mid- scale musical like this is that it can scaled up or down as appropriate to the venue and budget. As audiences want to see the show, it will be put on!