There is no doubt Jean Ross inspired many with her unconventional lifestyle. MUSE explores her life.
Ross went to Berlin hoping for film roles. Horrified by the rise of fascism, she abandoned the stage to become a respected political journalist, filing reports from the siege of Madrid in the Spanish Civil War. But her real talent seemed to be in inspiring others
Tell us about your show
MUSE, a one-woman show featuring the multi-talented Sophie Jugé as actress, narrator and singer (backed by a top 3-piece band), takes us back to the 1930s to tell the true story of Jean Ross, the inspiration for Cabaret's Sally Bowles.
With her green-painted nails and a string of lovers, Ross (who roomed in the same house as the writer Christopher Isherwood, on whose Berlin novels Cabaret was based) was indeed 'divinely decadent' but far from the air-headed floozy in the stories. Born in Egypt, RADA-trained and allergic to conventionality, Ross went to Berlin hoping for film roles. Horrified by the rise of fascism, she abandoned the stage to become a respected political journalist, filing reports from the siege of Madrid in the Spanish Civil War. But her real talent seemed to be in inspiring others, though not in holding on to them. She was the muse for Gott von Eick, a German pianist on his way to Hollywood where he found success as the actor Peter von Eyck; the lyricist Eric Maschwitz also left her for the movies, though he also immortalized her in song – These Foolish Things, written about Ross after their affair ended, is among the authentic songs featured in the production; and her affair with the left-wing writer Claud Cockburn resulted in her bringing up, as a single mother, their daughter (who herself overturned convention).
Why did you decide to take your show to Space UK this year?
I met theSpaceUK’s Charles Pamment at EdFringe 2014 and was impressed that he took time during what is a hectic and grueling schedule to provide me with information and advice for our 2015 production.
theSpaceUK has an impressive and diverse venue portfolio, a friendly and helpful team with well-organised venue management.
As a first time production of a one-woman show, we felt an intimate space was appropriate. This isn't just a matter of cutting our cloth–it's a matter, too, of suiting the ambience to the material. Our script is witty and informative rather than raucous, so we were looking for a space where we could engender exactly the right atmosphere. Size does matter: a cozy setting helps ensure the audience feels connected with the story, the main narrative of which is contained in the musings of the central character as she reflects on the Bohemian lifestyle (and misjudgments) of her younger self. That's interspersed with authentic nightclub songs from the 1930s, which again lend themselves to an intimate venue. The new SpaceTriplex Studio fits the bill to a ‘T’.
What are you most looking forward to at this year's festival?
Leaving our audiences delighted with their choice of ticket purchase and enthusiastic to recommend our show! If we can also collect lots of review stars with which to decorate our posters and flyers, the Jugé Productions team will be overjoyed! EdFringe provides the opportunity for a month-long run which allows new works to gain feedback and develop, build a brand and take part in the world’s largest arts festival.
Have you brought a show to the festival before?
No, however Sophie Jugé has EdFringe performance experience with the good fortune of a follow-up West End run.
How did you create your show?
The idea developed from a show created last year – A Dozen Roses – which was based on what could have happened next to the Sally Bowles character made famous in Cabaret. This motivated us to explore Jean Ross, the real-life inspiration, more deeply.
Sophie Jugé (actress/singer/producer) and Gez Kahan (writer and musical director/arranger) brainstormed the concept for several months, then Gez wrote the script. Sophie and Gez jointly chose the songs. Once the script was ready (in draft form) we brought in Alexandra Karathodorou as script editor and director. And then we rehearsed and tweaked, rehearsed and previewed, listened to feedback and praise and tweaked until it was just right for EdFringe!
If your show does well in Edinburgh, what do you want to do with it next?
Take it on tour!
Show Name: MUSE
Production: Company Jugé Productions
Dates: August 10-15, 17-22, 24-29
Times: 5:15pm (50 minutes)
Twitter Handle: @cabaretmuse