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Interview: Joining some CUMTS for a Sleepover

Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society on new musical Sleepover

Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2022

Whilst most of us at ET are focusing on Camden Fringe this August, it’s impossible not to cast an eye the other side of the border to Edinburgh, the home of the fringe festival to top them all! Every year thousands of theatre makers head to the city to put on their shows and spend way too much on accommodation!

Amongst those numbers are Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society (or CUMTS but you can probably see why we may avoid using that), who are taking their show Sleepover to Just the Tonic at The Caves from 4 to 28 August. Our last memory of those venues was watching a show during a torrential downpour in 2019 when the water was literally running down the walls! Fingers crossed CUMTS won’t have to put up with quite the same experience.

Always keen to chat to the new creatives who we hope will go far, we grabbed a little time with Laura and Mia from the team before they packed their bags for Edinburgh.

Shall we start with a quick summary of what we can expect if you come along to see Sleepover, what’s it all about then?

Laura: SLEEPOVER tells the story of Jenny – that’s me! – who’s hosting her first ever sleepover on the last day of high school! (Her Jamaican Chinese mom never let her have one.) She’s prepared snacks, decorations, and a very special game filled with questions about sex! Come along to join her and her friends as they rap and sing about every inappropriate question you had growing up!

You’re a musical society, so is it safe to assume Sleepover is going to be a musical? What’s the musical style for the show?

Laura: You’re a quick one! The music is based on the heritage’s of the character – so everything from dancehall to traditional Chinese instruments! It’s a bit Hamilton, a bit Carnival, and a lot of love.

You call it a coming-of-age show – as university students, can you all relate to the show then?

Laura: I’ll be honest – I wrote the show so I could ask my own questions under the guise of acting. Why are there so many sex positions, and realistically, how many am I supposed to know?

Mia: Oh absolutely! I remember having that moment of panic just before I went to university when I suddenly felt like I had to know everything about my friends, in some mad nihilistic rush of “how will we ever stay friends unless I know exactly what your preference in partner is in intimate detail?”. I think the show really captures this feeling and recognises that it’s an important part of this transition, but doesn’t need to be a negative thing – it can be fun to learn about your friends’ sex lives!

It’s an original show, was it written with Edinburgh already in mind then?

Laura: I applied to the opportunity from CUMTS, knowing that the end game was a show in Edinburgh. Knowing this, I made things slightly more inappropriate – I hear the Fringe crowd goes wild!

Mia: Laura is a slightly confused Canadian who didn’t really know what an ‘Ed-in-berg’ was, but she’s very enthusiastic for the experience! I’m excited for the Fringe to welcome her with open arms!

We assume it’s had a run already to iron out any kinks? How did that all go? What did you learn from its first public showing?

Laura: Absolutely not. We’re a balls to the wall type production. If we fail, we promise to do it extraordinary.

Mia: The only ironing I have done so far is that of Emoji peaches onto T-shirts (so do look out for us on the streets of Edinburgh)! But as Laura said, we are throwing ourselves in at the deep end and adapting as we go, which for me is equal parts intimidating and thrilling. Failure is just another good friend we may make along the way! On a completely unrelated note, I’ve heard the more people that buy a ticket, the closer I will get to having a normal heart-rate.

CUMTS must have a long history of taking shows to Edinburgh, have any of you been to the festival previously then?

Laura: No, I don’t think so! We’re all Edinburgh virgins (and some of us will also be virgins in Edinburgh!).

Mia: This is true both in terms of Fringe, and for many of us, the city itself! Everything is new and exciting and that enthusiasm is really radiating from the cast as we approach opening day!

And Six came from CUMTS as well, is that a burden around everyone’s neck trying to produce another show that might go on to such success?

Laura: You’d think, but we’re a completely different type of show. SIX is the headliner, we’re the awkward local band opening. But we have something that SIX doesn’t have – a crocheted eggplant.

Mia: SIX is kind of like our talented older sibling – they’ve done so well that whatever we achieve, Mum will never be proud of us. However, in many ways we’re grateful for this because it really takes the pressure off! We’re just here to create a piece of theatre that we’re really excited about, and I think this joy really comes across in the show!

The shows on at 4.30, so leaving you all evening to explore. Have you got your eyes on any other shows we should try to see?

Laura: I just discovered Lauren Lopez is coming to Fringe with Lottie Plachett Took a Hatchet. I will be queueing down the street every single night to meet my idol. Maybe if I’m lucky I’ll get a signed restraining order…

Mia: As first student fringe-goers, we’re super excited to support other student shows, of which there are so many and it is always worth giving them a shot if you are looking for things to see! Evening shows include Cambridge’s own: Cicada’s Children, Real Mad World, and Blue and Pip. Also give Durham’s “Cottage” a go! As an all queer cast and crew we are very much drawn to it!

And to wrap things up, tell us why we should all be coming to see Sleepover in August?

Laura: I think sometimes we get lost in the busy of the everyday that we forget when the world was a lot bigger and confusing. SLEEPOVER is our cozy love letter to the late night conversations with our best friends, the times you share things that you never thought you’d ever tell another living soul. And it’s okay, because it’s your best friend. We want to be your best friend. 

Sleepover plays at 4.30pm at Just The Tonic at The Caves from 4 – 28 August. Further information and bookings can be found here.

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Everything Theatre is proud to support fringe theatre, not only in London but beyond. From reviews to interviews, articles and even a radio show, our work is at the heart of the industry, and we are official assessors for the Off West End OffComm awards. Founded in 2011 as a pokey blog run by two theatre enthusiasts, today we are staffed by diverse contributors - people who not only work in theatre, but also in law, medicine, marketing and even psychiatry! We are all united by our love for theatre.

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