An Interview at Mrs Riot

If you enjoy a sing, dance, drink and dine all under one roof, Musical Monday's at Mrs Riot is the place for you! Featuring live music with West End performers and rising stars, sing-a-longs, games and much more, Musical Monday's is the ultimate West End Musical after-party. We sat down with hosts, show-biz royalty Natalie Woods and 'the voice' Lewis Snell to discuss their experience with musical theatre and the absolute riot of Musical Monday's.

What is your experience with musical theatre and your links to the West End?

Natalie: I have been a performer since I was four. I’m very lucky that I have been able to perform since a very young age. I’ve never doubted the fact that musical theatre is my destiny, and as I say I’ve been very lucky, I went to dance school and then went to a college called ‘College of Performing Arts’ where I trained for three years, and then graduated, and I went and worked for Royal Caribbeans, their first Tracy in Hairspray, which was always my dream show.  I have been very lucky not only to do Tracy in Hairspray on the ship, but I actually did it on the West End, I was the alternate Tracy Turnblad in 2021, which was supposed to be 2020 but then obviously COVID hit.

Musical theatre is basically who I am, I feel like I am at my most happy when I am either listening to musicals or when I’m singing musicals with my gorgeous friends over here.

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What would you say your top three musicals are to watch?

Natalie:  You’ve got to go with Wicked haven’t you? Wicked has got the iconic numbers that we have a lot here at Musical Monday’s, a lot of our performers choose to sing songs from Wicked because you can’t go wrong. I’m going to say Gypsy, it was my first West End show as well, but it’s the most famous overture ever, we use it sometimes for Musical Mondays.  I love We Will Rock You as well, that is an EPIC show. So, We Will Rock You, Gypsy, Wicked… and Hairspray, I’ve got to say Hairspray again.

Do you have a favourite song to sing from those?

Natalie: Now you’ve put me on the spot. I recently learnt a duet from Glee, which I love singing. It's called That’s Life. It’s the Glee version and it’s just so fun to sing. It’s got everything you need, you’re singing about come what may you pick yourself up and just get on with it. And singing it through musical theatre is a very good song for me because I mean every word.

What is the most challenging thing you’ve found working in musical theatre in the West End?

Natalie: That’s a very good question. I think it’s a challenging industry because sometimes you can think youre completely right for a part, and you can put your heart and you soul into it, and it doesn’t go your way. It is one of the parts of the industry that you just have to get on with it. You know, its not all about getting the job, you have to go through the downs to appreciate the highs.

The highs outweigh the time that you do get those no’s for jobs that you really want, it just makes you more passionate, and it makes the highs so much more worthwhile.

How did Musical Monday’s come about and what was your involvement in that?

Natalie: So Chris Howell who was the co-host with me, we started it together, and it came about of an evening we were chatting with Nick and Emma. They’re fantastic people, they’re very up for a challenge, they love musical theatre, Emma is a dancer for Crazy Horse, so the background is extensive there. We were talking about it and Nick’s a real go-getter, he’s like ‘yeah lets just go for it why not? Who cares let’s give it a go’. And here we are a year and a half later.

Chris is no longer co-hosting and producing with me as he's in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on tour, so he is unable to be here. Stepping in for Chris is our co-host Lewis Snell. We have been really lucky to have instant support. We put it out on Twitter and we had a flock of responses, it was incredible and happened so quickly, and it’s just grown from there.

Do you find the audience is mix of industry as well as people who just enjoy musical theatre?

Natalie: Sometimes we have Joe Smith and his best mate coming in off the street, they just want a drink and then they don’t leave because they listen to the music and want to stay. Other times you do get industry people in, we’ve had directors in, casting directors, we often get agents coming in, fellow performers too, but it often coincides with performances. We get a nice mixture of people!

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Lewis, what is your background and relation to musical theatre?

Lewis:  I started performing maybe when I was 10, I was a really shy kid and my Mum just wanted me to gain some confidence, and threw me into a Saturday morning drama school. I was petrified of singing in front of people and then once I got told I had to do a solo. From there I was like oh ok, maybe I like performing... and then I realised I didn’t really like anything else… cliché in calling.

I went to drama school and graduated in 2020 from the London College of Music. I did an acting course which was for actors, singers.  I was really fortunate to get myself an agent even being in lockdown. Since then I have just been doing as many singing and acting opportunities as possible. My first singing opportunity out of COVID was Musical Monday’s, and that’s how I met Nat, and our friendship has just blossomed.

Natalie:  Lewis initially sent in a tape for us to consider for Musical Mondays. I saw him singing ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ under the stairs, I will never forget it. I said to Chris ‘that is a star, that person there is a star’, little did I realise he was going to become literally one of my best mates on this earth!

Lewis: That became my good luck song I feel. Because then through that I then got a lot more opportunities, I was on ‘I Can See Your Voice’ which was weird and wild and all kinds of craziness. But since lockdown, I’ve just been auditioning for TV, film, musicals, and cruises, lots of cool things.

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If you were to describe Musical Mondays in three words, what would you use?

Natalie: The reason why Musical Mondays is super exciting and different around here is because we do bring a lot of fresh grads and talent, so it’s inspirational. We have people that come from all over , we’ve had someone fly from Norway just to come and sing, because it's a nice and friendly atmosphere, it’s very supportive. It’s not just about pumping people out, we get to know them and they become part of our family. So I would say FAMILY…


Natalie: … and FABULOUSLY FUN!

Lewis: I was going to say FRESH. There is nothing in Covent Garden like this, period. There’s not, especially late night entertainment wise. So FRESH, I will say like hopeful...  FUTURE and HOPEFUL, but hopeful in the sense of inspirational. As someone who has been on the other end of it, who has sang here and then got opportunities out of it, it gave me more hope that I was on the right track… so HOPEFUL.

Natalie: What we want to highlight about Musical Monday's is that we do not promote people being the same, we want everyone to come and be different and be proud of who they are. What 2023 needs is a world in which people can step out on the stage, wherever that may be, and be the most true version of themselves. We really champion people who come here for that reason,  the audience have the best time, they have a few cheeky cocktails, and before you know it they’re singing along to Mamma Mia.

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If you were placing your order at Mrs Riot, what would you order?

Lewis: Hands down I know what I would have. If it was a cocktail, there’s two, it’s either Boys in Petticoats or the Velvet Mai Thai, always! I just love them. And then I would order just a standard margarita pizza, with some buffalo mozzarella.

Natalie: I’m quite classic, I do love a good ol’ double gin and tonic and lets say the portions are very generous here… I also like the Boys in Petticoats. Also the Black Margarita. Oh my gosh! You leave here feeling great. I would also order the chicken nuggets, the mac and cheese, the lot!