Old Boy and Director Guy Unsworth (1998-2005), has won ‘Best New Musical’ with his show Fresher The Musical at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year. The show won the award at the Musical Theatre Matters/What’s On Stage awards.
The hilarious musical, which ran for 24 performances, charts the arrival of Baz, Ally, Tuc, Rupert and Haley, five fresh-faced teenagers, at start a voyage of self discovery as they enter the world of university. Not only was the show given Best New Musical by a panel of industry professionals, it was also nominated for Best Lyrics and Best Music. It received four 5* reviews, six 4* reviews and was rated the number one musical by The List (through official review averages).
Reviews called the show ‘hilarious’ (The Guardian). The Scotsman describe it as having “All the makings of a real Fringe hit – and a show that runs the risk of giving musicals with silly, attention-grabbing titles a good name” and Maria Hodson of The Stage said “Guy Unsworth’s dynamic direction ensures fluid transitions between script and song, maintaining momentum on stage and the appreciative audience is swept along by the show’s good-humoured exuberance.”
Southport born Guy said: “We redrafted the show 24 times before the final product: sometimes a new scene or new song would arrive at the beginning of a day with a performance in the evening to a paying audience. It was at times an excruciating process but ultimately a very productive experience.”
Guy, who is now based in London, originally completed a degree in Industrial Economics at the University of Nottingham. He started off acting on the side, before taking up directing student shows. In his final year, he had already decided he wanted to work in the Theatre industry after directing a play called ‘Proof’ which was shortlisted for the National Student Drama Festival Finals. The play won 6 of the 12 awards, competing against the 12 other finalists and Guy won the Directors Guild award for Best New Director and Stage Electrics Award for Best New Designer.
He went on to do a year at Mountview Academy Theatre Arts doing a postgraduate diploma in Theatre Directing. Since then Guy has been working freelance, directing and teaching undergraduate students at drama schools.
“My work has ranged from directing casts of 32 young actors in a musical, to three middle aged actors in a modern play, or 13 American Students in a classic play. It changes all the time, that’s the fun of it.”
The acting bug started early for Guy who was involved in school acting in West Side Story with many of his close friends, including Chris Cooper and Bex Hinds who are now in the industry too. (“I’m just waiting for an opportunity to work with them.”)
“I won the Mellor-drama prize in my final year, which I remember was somewhat embarrassing. At speech day it was as if I’d won the prize for Melodrama – probably not too far wrong to be honest.”
Guy was heavily involved with the Southport Dramatic Club, cast in Margaret Mann’s Pantomime when he was only four. He claimed he got the part because he was so upset that his sister was in it but he wasn’t, a tactic which probably wouldn’t continue to serve him well. He was in about 30 shows between his first and turning 18. “SDC was a huge part of my childhood, and without them I can’t begin to imagine where I’d be today. The Youth Theatre at the SDC is second to none. I frequently wish I could work in a theatre as good as the Little Theatre Southport – venues in London’s West End are dingier, very expensive, and harder to get audiences to! Stephen Hughes-Alty, Robinb Hirsh, Judith and Arnold Gorse, and Margaret and Ray Mann to name but a few, played such a huge part in my experience there and continue to thrust their enthusiasm and expertise into the life of that building and its youth theatre.
Ultimately Guy’s plans for the future are to build up my work. He says he’d love to do some more work in the North West regional theatres so that his home friends can see it without travelling too far. “There are some very exciting plans in the pipeline including big names and big theatres, but I’m keeping my mouth shut for now…Watch this space…”