Viva la Diva la Luke !

Inspired by All About Eve, DIVA: Live From Hell! is a fun, camp, “musical in love with musicals” (Guardian). Having received rave reviews – and a fair splattering of awards – for its last outing at the Turbine theatre in 2022, the show is bringing its killer humour to the King’s Head in June, before heading off to Edinburgh in the summer.

You gotta dream big!

But what does being a diva really mean these days? I debated diva definitions with the very non-diva like Luke Bayer, the delightful star of this one-person show.

SX: Hey Luke. So here's a bit of a challenge to kick things off. Can you tell us something about the show without using the words fun, camp, musicals, or All About Eve?

LB: I’d say DIVA: Live From Hell! is a dark comedy that everyone can enjoy. The book and music are fantastic. There really is something in it for everyone. Obviously, I’m biased but I think it’s a BRILLIANT piece of work.

What was the original appeal of the show for you?

I’d been social media friends with (writer) Alexander Sage Oyen for years, and was already familiar with his work. When I was asked about doing the show I was like, oh okay, I know this is gonna be good! And when I listened to the album and read the script, I was blown away.

Also, it was the chance to do a one-person show. That was not something I had envisaged for myself, or even considered, and I jumped at the challenge!

You play many characters throughout the show, but how would you describe the eponymous diva, Desmond Channing?

Desmond is a complicated chap. He’s not as unlikable as you’d think. He hasn’t quite found himself yet. He just wants to do well so badly and his hunger to do well can sometimes manifest in the wrong ways.

Talking of complicated, the connotations of the word ‘diva’ aren’t that straightforward. It can be used to mean huge talent. But it can also define a huge ego.

In my mind, diva means to be a bit of a badass and be really good at something. A diva is someone who knows their worth and what they want. I’ve worked with people who’ve stood up for themselves before and have then been (negatively) branded a diva because of that. When I think of a diva, I immediately think of Whitney (Houston): a legend.

You mentioned DIVA! is a one-person show. Aside from the band, that one person is you. How does it compare to having a cast around you?

Honestly really freeing!

In every show I’ve done before, I’ve had panic points. A scene or song I fear could go wrong and I can’t relax until I’ve done it. I’m such a perfectionist. With DIVA there are so many moments that could go wrong, I just can’t think too hard about it. It’s made me be more present than ever and just embrace whatever happens. And when things do go wrong, I’ve learned to ride with it and figure it out as I go along.

That being said, I do love being in a company, having castmates to hang out with. For the Turbine run, I had the brilliant Jordan Walker with me (Walker understudied the role of Desmond), and we had such a giggle together.

DIVA! received great reviews when it premiered in London at the Turbine in 2022. Congratulations on winning your own Offie Award. What did you learn from that run that you will bring to the King’s Head?

Thank you so much!! Honestly, last time we had no idea how it would be received so to get so many incredible reviews was truly a bit mind-blowing. Once I knew the show, I relaxed into it and found new moments within the characters. It was so freeing to see how it changed every day. I’m sure I’ll find lots more new things this time and I’m looking forward to working at the brilliant new King’s Head!

After this second run on the London Fridge, you’re taking the show to Edinburgh this year. How are you feeling about performing at the Festival for the first time?

I’ve wanted to do the Edinburgh Festival for years, but the right project hasn't come up or I've not been available. I know DIVA! is the right thing for me to go with and I'm so excited to be working with the same director (Joe McNeice), MD (Debbi Clarke), stage manager (Meghan Bartual Smyth) and many more from the original team.

The show plays the Underbelly Cowgate, Belly Button from 1st – 25th August, (exc 12th and 23rd), so you’ll be up there for a good chunk of time. Any plans?

I have a couple of friends doing shows there but otherwise I’m going to play it by ear. I’ll try and see as much as possible whilst getting enough sleep to be able to do my best shows of DIVA!

After two runs on the London Fringe and one in Edinburgh, what next for DIVA!?

Honestly, I’d love to have a run in the West End. Or for it to go back to America and have me go with it. You gotta dream big hey! I can see the glitter DIVA! sign now!

Finally, give us your 50-word pitch. Tell our readers in exactly 50 words, why they should book tickets to see DIVA: Live From Hell! at the King’s Head Theatre from 4th – 29th June.

People should come and see DIVA! because it is wild! Haha. No but seriously, it is so much fun! The story is hilarious, and the music absolutely slaps! It’s a one-of-a-kind show for sure, different to many things I’ve seen and as a one-person full musical I think it’s a … (and that’s the 50-word limit!)

Related Listings

DIVA: Live From Hell!

DIVA: Live From Hell!

Inspired by All About Eve, this blood-stained love letter to Broadway will have you laughing hysterically and lusting for revenge. 

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