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42 Balloons Press Launch & Interview with Charlie McCullagh & Evelyn Hoskins

Ever since I caught one of the fantastic concert editions of ’42 Balloons’ in November 2022, I have been patiently waiting for a fully staged production. The wait is almost over, with the show set to debut in full form at The Lowry this April. I was lucky enough to be invited to the press launch earlier this week to find out more about this new musical.

Way back in 1982 Larry Walters realised his life long dream of flight. Instead of piloting a plane, he piloted a garden chair, given flight by forty-two helium-filled weather balloons attached. That day ‘lawn chair Larry’ was born. Jack Godfrey has taken this unbelievable true story and given it the musical theatre treatment. The music in this show is retro with an 80’s vibe whilst feeling undeniably current. We were treated to two performances including the below performance of ‘42 Balloons & A Lawn Chair.’

The other song performed, 'Lawn Chair Larry', we weren't allowed to record as an official music video was being released later that day. You can enjoy that below with the previously released prologue song.

Note: The above was released to promote the staged concerts in 2022 and has some different cast members

The Lowry’s Head of Theatres Matthew Eames spoke with cast and creatives to give an insight to the show itself. Producer Andy Barnes explained that since the November 2022 concerts, they have been rewriting and workshopping the show. This however isn’t the end of refining ’42 Balloons.’ Time has been weaved into the 4 week Lowry run for further development before a gala performance for the press at the start of May. Though developing the Book, Music & Lyrics himself, Jack Godfrey remained modest explaining that it has been a real team effort, with many of the creatives being on board since the very beginning. Godfrey went on to explain that since then a lot has changed with 4/5 completely new songs added to the score and extensive narrative rearrangement to tell the story the best way that they possibly can.

Left to right: Andy Barnes, Jack Godfrey, Matthew Eames, Evie Hoskins & Charlie McCullagh

After the event I took the opportunity to have an exclusive chat with Charlie McCullagh and Evie Hoskins, who will be playing the leading roles of Larry and Carol. They explained that they had both been involved in the show since Summer 2022, when they auditioned for the concert performances at Vaudeville Theatre in London.

With such incredible music and a unique story, I asked them which drew them to the show. Whilst Evie was drawn to it by the music, Charlie found himself pulled in more deeply the more he read about the story.

"There's just no story like it, there's nothing like it right now. In this time of revivals, I think this is so unique. It's got that nostalgia factor that's not only popular to people who lived through that era, but it's popular just in pop culture at the moment. It's a true story and it's SO crazy that it can only be true, because you couldn't make it up."

Talking about the mixture of themes that the show will delve into, Evie explained what the message is all about;

"We say it in the music so many times, if you have a stupid dream you have to keep trying. Everyones got a dream!"

Charlie continued;

"There's a brilliant new lyric that has just been added in that says; 'what is the world without your stupid dream.' I love that. Everybody's got one, everyone brings something to the world and what's the world without you in it?"

Talking of their own wildest dreams, Evie would love to perform on broadway whilst Charlie would love to run away to the country, have 10 dogs and an animal sanctuary... but only after doing Broadway too of course! With a show as exciting as this, I wouldn't be surprised if their broadway dreams became a reality. Reminiscing on the reaction to the staged concerts Charlie explained;

"When we did 'Big Balloon' for the first time, the applause was so loud that everyone on stage missed the entrance to the next song because we couldn't hear the band."

Their excitement for this full production was evident as they beamed from ear to ear whilst talking about it. Having developed the characters for a long time now, they both admitted to having a feeling of ownership over them to a degree and how they appreciated having a voice and an opinion in the creative process. Evie explained how they had been part of writing workshops with the creatives;

"We got to have an input, now that we know these characters better. It's nice to be like; maybe he'd do this or she'd say this. It's really nice to be a part of that process as well"

It is however important to remember that these characters are based on real people, so I couldn't help but ask if any of the real life counterparts had got in touch with them. Charlie explained;

"We didn't know what Carol looked like, there was no photos of her online. Her great niece contacted us both on Twitter and sent us a picture of Larry and Carol at a family event, so we were able to see what they look like. They still message on occasion, they'd love to see the show and are hoping it will one day go to America. They really want a soundtrack released too"

They will get their wish as not only was Lawn Chair Larry released to coincide with the press launch, but it was announced that an EP will be released on Friday 8 March!

You can catch 42 Balloons at the Lowry from 18 April - 19 May 2024, this is a show not to be missed! For more details and booking information click here;


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