Caro Meets Musicals & Opera Interview

Theo McCabe: Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair

By | Published on Tuesday 25 October 2016


Producing company Beach Comet appear to be making a speciality of hilarious, B-movie style musical theatre pieces, and critics and audiences are united in their praise of previous show ‘Vampire Hospital Waiting Room’ and their current show, ‘Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair’, which, lucky Londoners, can be seen this week at The Arts theatre.

To find out more about the show, I had a quick chat with the man behind it, and Beach Comet, Theo McCabe.

CM: Tell us about the show, if the title’s not already absurdly informative – what happens in it?
TM: The show is about a cruise ship captain who sails into an apocalyptic storm in order to be reunited with his dead lover – and also the story of his passengers who find love on a cruise at the end of the world.

CM: This and your previous show ‘Vampire Hospital Waiting Room’ both seem to have somewhat B-Movie themes to them – are the shows inspired by that genre?
TM: Yes absolutely – that’s why we call them B-Musicals. I find B-movies hilarious, they are so over the top and hyper-involved in their own world that the characters end up doing and saying the stupidest things. It’s great fun.

CM: What made you want to create musicals, as opposed to straight theatre?
TM: There’s just something about songs – they REALLY sound good when you listen to them with your ears and after a while of hearing songs all the time I thought it would be great to listen to songs at the same time as telling a theatre story. Also, I start to get kind of sad and basically stop talking sometimes, so the songs are also just to keep me focused on the play during rehearsals.

CM: How did your creative process work – is music written for the lyrics, or vice versa?
TM: Normally what happens is my co-writer gives me some lyrics that I’ve asked him to write, and then I write a song, but the lyrics often aren’t the ones he gave me cause I like to think of my own lyrics a lot of the time. That makes him quite angry and gives me quite a lot of the royalties so it’s the best of both worlds, if I’m using that phrase correctly.

CM: What’s it like being the writer and the director? Does it make it harder or easier?
TM: I’m a much better director when I’m doing a rerun of a previous show I’ve written or someone else’s script. The pressure of a finishing a script at the same time as directing it and interpreting it with the actors is very very hard in the time frames we work in.

That being said, I have more creative control and can do what I like this way, which is good for me. The most important thing for me is having creative control over the production, and having creative control over the writing room helps me do that even more.

CM: Can you tell me a bit about the cast?
TM: They are delicious, beautiful group of human beings. Very talented and very funny and very hard working and very nice. It’s important to me that people are nice otherwise it’s really annoying to be with them all the time.

I love working with them and they make the shows much easier and much better – I just wish I could pay them more, and so we could all live on yachts on The Thames and have sex parties in the West End.

CM: Beach Comet’s aim seems to be in the direction of comedy musicals. Who is behind the company? Will it ever produce a tragedy?
TM: I am behind the company. It is an anagram of my name. Everything we do is tragic in some way, It’s also always very silly.

The only way I can see us doing a straight tragedy is if I hit my head or do a Woody Allen and suddenly decide I want to be a serious man. But there are a lot of reasons to not spend my time doing that, because doing comedy musicals we have an audience, we have the know how, we get good reviews and we don’t lose money.

Also, I just doubt I would ever write something that wasn’t in some way funny (or trying to be).

CM: What’s next for the show? Will it go into hibernation or do you have more dates planned?
TM: The show wasn’t so much about the performances per se as it was about planting a seed in everyone who has watched it. When the time is right and the master signal is released, hordes of brainwashed ,well educated a-bit-posh thespy middle class white fringe goers will rise up and destroy my enemies.

CM: What other projects do you have planned?
TM: European domination.

‘Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair’ is on at the Arts Theatre from 25-29 Oct. See this page here for more info and to book.


Photo: David Monteith Hodge