Steve Allen interview with Jeff Wayne on LBC Radio.
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Steve Allen LBC 97.3.
Steve: It is back out again! Believe it or not The War of The Worlds is back by phenomenal demand and it set to return to major arenas around the UK including Dublin and Belfast and Europe. They did critically acclaimed sell out tours; the DVD has just walked through, everyone is going out and buying this. If you have not seen War of The Worlds you are in for a treat because he is back again and Jeff Wayne joins us now. Morning Jeff.
Jeff: Morning Steve.
Steve: Do you know it doesn't get any better for you does it, I mean this must be the happiest day of your life again.
Jeff: (Laughter.) It is a funny thing you know, I conduct every show and I feel I've got the best seat in the house from where I'm conducting from.
Steve: Now listen the last time we spoke was on the last tour, did you think that was going to be it, or did you already have plans for bringing it back again?
Jeff: When we last spoke I really had no idea, but by the time we were about half way through the tour we had already been asked to come back again which is the tour that you just mentioned.
Steve: Yeah. It has already got awards, the audiences love it, do you tend to find people coming back again and again?
Jeff: Yes it has been a mixture; a lot of people do come back because they know that with every production we keep trying to top the previous one which we have done again this next one, we have new cast members, so it is a mixture of people who return and others who hear about The War of The Worlds and oh that might be a great night out.
Steve: Sure. How easy is it to transport a show like this, what are the logistics?
Jeff: It is almost like a military manoeuvre in truth; we are now up to eleven trucks which is a very large touring production when you consider for example one night we are playing the O2 in London and the next night we could be in a city on the east coast, so it is a credit to the production team that we have, they all come from the world of live entertainment and they just know how to rig, de-rig and be in the next city, literally within hours.
Steve: So in other words they are the advance party they go out there and set up, you then go, do you have a rehearsal before the show?
Jeff: Yes we tend to do a sound check with all the musicians and the artists that are performing live on stage while everything else is being rigged around us and it is actually a very exciting moment because we are trying to concentrate on running through the music, the performers are singing and all around us are all the technological ingredients that happen in the show, they are being rigged literally above us and around us, it is like controlled mayhem.
Steve: Well I know what controlled mayhem looks like actually, I have seen it before, but it all comes together and so now you are just like a well oiled machine, you have done it before enough times.
Jeff: Well we have and the things is you are right it is a great machine because so many people keep returning within our team, but because we keep adding new ingredients, until we get into rehearsals, we hope that everything is going to work, of all the new things and so far they all have. We've had a couple of unexpected hurdles to get over during the course of a given show, the audience hasn't yet noticed anything that has gone wrong, but occasionally they do, it has become very well organized and I am very excited about the next tour.
Steve: How do you synch the live stage with what is going on, on the screen?
Jeff: Well the entire production is linked by a time code. So whether it is this hundred foot wide screen that projects a combination of animation and live action in perfect synch to the live performances of music and performers, or the eleven foot high motion capture hologram of Richard Burton and all sorts of other things, it is this one time code that goes to everybody's headphones or to the control desks that are behind the stage or front of house for sound. As musicians and me as conductor I get this time code converted into a click which is in perfect synchronization tempo wise to the music we are playing live.
Steve: Wow. I mean it just sounds so fantastic it really does. There are about forty-six musicians on stage aren't there with you?
Jeff: A ten piece band and forty piece strings and then of course the performers on stage.
Steve: You love that bit don't you.
Jeff: I do. I feel like a hovercraft when I am on stage; two hours go by like a blink of an eye.
Steve: Do you ever think I wonder if I could change a bit there, change a bit here?
Jeff: I always am, I am a real tinker, that is why every production I start again almost, although the core of the score is very much The War of The Worlds as I composed and produced it originally, but because of the drama and the nature of the story there are things that we have been able to expand from the point of view of the way the audience experiences the show.
Steve: Right. Well this year you've got Liz McClarnon and Justin Hayward, Rhydian as well.
Jeff: Rhydian yes from X factor and Jason Donovan is going to be our artillery man.
Steve: Oh nice. And does it take much to persuade these people to have a go?
Jeff: Well it is always a similar process when we are approaching somebody new for the first time to consider being in The War of The Worlds, it is that you have to be convinced that it is a part that is right for them. We tend to, if they are up for the idea, we will meet, see if we get on together and then each one will come into my own studio, I live in Hertfordshire, and they will try out the part as if they were performing it as a master performance. It gives them an idea of hearing it back that yep it works for them, and convinces us that it works for us. And then you strike a deal and that is it, they are on board.
Steve: Good stuff. You are out of town first of all aren't you, you are over in Holland, Belgium and Ireland before you are back here.
Jeff: That is right and then a small break over Christmas and then a national tour of Germany and now it looks like we are adding Turkey and Scandinavia.
Steve: Fantastic. And it is the same trucks that go abroad as well?
Jeff: Mostly yes, there are a few little differences in that certain things happen abroad that allow us not to have to take the same trucks, but in principle it is pretty much that.
Steve: Fantastic, listen good luck with it, it is War of The Worlds.com but I am sure there will be adverts in the local press. Jeff enjoy it, I am sure that we will talk nearer the time.
Jeff: Thank you so much Steve, nice to speak with you.
Steve: God bless, thank you for that.
Jeff: All the best.
Steve: Take care.
Steve: Jeff Wayne, War of The Worlds, back out again. He has been associated with, LBC listeners will know a lot about Jeff Wayne because he has been on lots and lots of the programmes and I am delighted that The War of The Worlds took off, when they decided to do it live on stage the logistics of doing it, the cost and the trucking and the staging and I have seen the DVD and it just looks fantastic.
End of Interview.
The transcript is shared by Noreen Moore, a TWOTW fan, to help those who have difficulty listening to Jeff's radio interviews.