Ryan Carter is certainly a busy man! Not only is he currently performing in MOTOWN THE MUSICAL in the West End, but he also runs RyCa Creative, an online consultancy helping young London creatives realise their artistic vision. We caught up with Ryan to chat about the show, his plans for 2018 and the exciting new "Rep Finder" that Ryca Creative recently added to their website...
Hi Ryan, thanks for the chat! Firstly, how's MOTOWN?
It’s great! It really is such a feel-good musical and the songs are so timeless that it’s an absolute pleasure to perform. The cast are a total blast too, so it’s good fun both off and on stage. I’m really looking forward to spending the Christmas season in the West End for a change - I’m normally off doing panto dressed as some kind of animal!
Last time we spoke to you, you had just finished your first ‘Ryca Refresh’ gig. How did that go, and what’s in store?
Our first gig was in August. The audience loved watching it, the singers enjoyed performing it and we had some incredible feedback. Jo Noel-Hartley, who was one of my vocal arrangers, runs a theatre company in Marlowe (Jam Theatre), so she proposed the idea of bringing ‘Refresh’ to the local theatre to try it out in a bigger, concert setting. So our audience and production value had basically tripled within a few weeks. We did our second show (or #RefreshRound2 as I've been calling it) in October, at The Borlase Theatre and that's when we knew that we had something special.
Cut to today, just over a month later, and we’ve nearly finished finalising our 2018 calendar. Our first show is going to be on 28 January and will mark the start of our collaboration with The Hospital Club, Covent Garden. It’s such an incredible and artistic venue, that I am beyond thrilled to be able to take my show there for a series of events throughout 2018.
In March, we’ll be swapping out the electric guitars for a double bass and grand piano as we take to ‘Live At Zedel’ to bring you an almost ‘post-modern jukebox’ version of ‘Refresh’. A lot of our covers are swing-jazz versions of musical theatre classics, so this is going to give us a chance to dedicate an entire evening to that kind of vibe. I can’t wait.
I should really wait till the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed before I tell you any more about Refresh's future. But, I can say that Refresh has more than ten scheduled performances in 2018, and every show will be totally different. Some will be more rock/gig-like, we’ve got one planned that’s entirely acoustic guitar/percussion based, and Jo and I are even discussing using a string quartet for one.
Refresh aside, what else has RyCa been up to?
We’ve had a total website overhaul! Which has been a mammoth task. (Basically, just me sat on my lap-top pulling my hair out when I code something wrong.) When we first got started, I think I assumed that we were obligated to offer ourselves as a creative team for hire, so our website was very clean and corporate, which is the polar-opposite of what we’re actually like as creatives. We’re all about community, encouraging performers, and we also try to act as a catalyst for evolving our industry as a whole. So, with that in mind, we created the new RyCa website to mirror who we are as a brand. It’s got videos, news, events, blog posts, and a ‘Rep Finder’. So it’s now turned into more of a ‘magazine website’ for those working in musical theatre. A bit like what StageFaves is of fans of musicals, the new RyCa website is a ‘hub’ of content for performers.
A bit like what StageFaves is of fans of musicals, the new RyCa website is a ‘hub’ of content for performers.
Tell us about that Rep finder!?
I can tell you that I'm jealous of all of the musical theatre students whose homework just got easier! It’s basically a big directory or database of solo musical theatre material that is applicable to be taken to auditions or performed. You create an account, and then you have well over 350 songs to take a look at. Filter it by tempo, range, decade, emotion, musical or writer, and then once you’ve found something you like, you can click this ‘add to my rep’ button, and the system will keep note of the songs you’d like to sing! So, I, for example, could type in ‘Contemporary, Baritone, Up-Tempo, Angry, Belt’ and it would come up with everything that was suitable. Once I find a song, I can click ‘details’ to find out who the writers are or when the musical came out, and it will also provide me with a link to watch the song on YouTube. It literally couldn’t be easier.
So RyCa really is about helping performers!
Yeah, it really is! And it always has been. Take Refresh, for example, it’s about showing audiences that musical theatre cult classics can still sound amazing if the singer has a pop-contemporary lilt. There are too many incredible singer-actors being turned away from auditions because their tone isn’t deemed ‘Musical Theatre’ enough. Makes my blood boil! But don’t get me started on that because I'll never shut up!