Serial producers Louis Hartshorn and Brian Hook have been a regular fixture at the Edinburgh Fringe for nearly a decade, but is this the last time we’ll see them at the Festival? Pete Shaw decided to ask some questions.
This year we get to have the shows we always dreamed of down at C -1 with the biggest swing band we’ve had for the Rat Pack and a cast to die for in the Blues Brothers.
Tell us about what Hartshorn - Hook is doing at the festival this year.
“This year is a special one for us - it’s the very last time we’re performing our music shows; the end of an era. The Rat Pack - Live and A Tribute to the Blues Brothers - Live are both going to be at C venues this year, with a stellar team featuring some of the best performers we’ve ever had, as well as some new faces to mix things up a bit.
“We’ve also got Away From Home at Assembly, which has just completed a tour of the UK and Ireland in is going to tour internationally in the Autumn. It’s a one-man show that started its life at the 24:7 Theatre Festival in Manchester, and has gone on to win multiple awards and have a three-week run in London as well as a four month tour around the country. The show is about a male escort named Kyle who is hired by a premiership footballer and swiftly finds himself falling in love with him. It feels really apt at the moment with the World Cup in full swing and campaigns building for better handling of homosexuality in the game.”
The last year with the music shows? What brought you to that decision?
“It’s been a long run with these shows and they’re really special to us, but it’s time to move on from them. We’ve been incredibly lucky to be able to come back each year with bigger, better tributes to some of our favourite music, but this year our joint Blues Brothers venture with Judy Belushi and Daniel Aykroyd comes to an end, and with the Rat Pack in its eighth year it just feels right to give them one last blowout before they go to rest. This year we get to have the shows we always dreamed of down at C -1 with the biggest swing band we’ve had for the Rat Pack and a cast to die for in the Blues Brothers.”
Does this spell the beginning of the end for Hartshorn - Hook at the Edinburgh Fringe?
“We’re not going to rule anything out for now. It’s true that this is the end of an era, but we still expect to visit the Festival regularly either with new material to try out or to scout for shows. It’s been fundamental to starting our careers and we can’t imagine not coming back to Scotland for the pilgrimage every year.”
What's next in the pipeline for you guys?
“The big thing coming up next is a full-scale musical - Eric Whitacre’s Paradise Lost. We get to produce its world premiere production next year here in the UK, and we couldn’t be more excited! A full announcement is to come, but the team we get to work with on it are top notch and it’s such a great show. We look forward to building on our successes here and with it.
In the mean time, however, we’ve got loads of stuff keeping us busy. Away From Home is going back on tour after Edinburgh, and we’ve also got a show commemorating the World War I centenary - Not About Heroes. Brian is working with The Flanagan Collective at the moment on a new Sherlock Holmes production, and Louis is the Business Director of the West End's Arts Theatre which currently hosts Ghost Stories and has been doing really well.”
If you had an unlimited budget and access to a dream cast, what show would you most like to produce?
“I think that with Paradise Lost we are living the dream; it’s a show we have wanted to produce since 2008 and have actually been working on for years. The dream cast is on its way and we’re really excited. That’s all we can say for now!”