My name is Christie Lee Manning, and I am the artistic director of UnCorked Theatre, an immersive theatre company here in London, UK. After three successful years producing and directing two five star productions, ‘1927’ and ‘How To Solve A Problem Like Murder’, I am moving my focus to a new production, spotlighting the revival of cabaret jazz.
My creative partner, James Harris, and I are directing a new production due to open this May 2018 in The Grand Clapham, a historically iconic venue right in the heart of Clapham Junction. Our production is entitled ‘Welcome To The Grand’; an experience that unearths the lives of five legendary women: Joan Crawford, Cyd Charisse, Ginger Rogers, Liza Minnelli and Shirley MacLaine.
Our audience will embark on an international journey through cabaret jazz, beginning in 1906 Paris, France, and continuing on to 1910 New York City, 1924 Chicago, 1931 Berlin, and finally 1966 NYC, before concluding in present day London, England. Our story is told through the eyes of two young men, Jack and Steve, business partners and owners of The Grand Clapham. In an attempt to save this quintessential building, a glorious music hall built in 1900, the men decide to produce their own show. Their aim is to not only pay off old debts, but to prove to their community that, legends aren’t built in a day.
We are currently scheduled to preview this production on May 30, 2018, which will be followed by three more performances within the month of June. Our goal is to review the production and reopen in Autumn 2018.
Our production budget is £50,000, with our creative rehearsal budget just over £20,000. We are looking to raise £7500, to get the dancers in the studio to begin research and developing this show. This will significantly help us in the journey of getting this production onto its feet. We are incredibly passionate about what we do, and would love nothing more than to share that passion with others through this new, show-stopping production, ’Welcome To The Grand’.
Thank you for taking the time to read our message.
Christie Lee Manning & James Harris
Artistic Directors I House Of Jazz
House Of Jazz is a collective of twenty powerful jazz artists. Its sole purpose is to give a home to jazz dancers, and to raise its bar as both a style and an art form. House Of Jazz is an honest platform for jazz artists to perfect their craft, and in turn change the way we view jazz today.
House Of Jazz was first established in 2016 in London, UK. Already, it has grown to be a successful representation of the forever evolving styles of jazz and theatre. A wealth of knowledge and experience supports this company, but we need external support to help us achieve the next step.
If we were to ask, ‘What is jazz?’ (we did - check it out below), the majority of our public would turn to jazz hands. This isn’t incorrect, but is a very narrow minded and extreme stereotype of a historical style of movement.
The foundation of our company, and our upcoming production, is a new concept for London. Storytelling through jazz performance is not widely accessible, and is an area that is struggling for recognition. House Of Jazz intends to change this viewpoint.
Our production is a narrative performance that follows a day in the life of two individuals through their relationship, dreams, breakdowns and breakthroughs. House Of Jazz wishes to make an interactive experience where an audience can both empathise and establish a connection with the characters onstage, producing an entertainment package that is yet to be established in the UK.
How Your Money Can Move Us Forward
£50 Shoe Our Dancers
A £50 donation covers the cost of one female dancer's two pairs of character shoes. It also dresses one male dancer in costume, covers one swing dancer's performance pay, or buys one 1960s NYC female dance costume.
£75 Rehearse Our Dancers
A £75 donation covers one dancer's daily rehearsal pay. It also covers one crew member's rehearsal pay or one 1920s NYC female dance costume.
£100 Perform Our Dancers
A £100 donation covers the cost of one cast member's performance pay. It also pays for one crew member's performance pay, or one 1900s Paris female dance costume.
£150 Dress Our Dancers
A £150 donation pays for two 1920s NYC female dance costumes, or six sets of character shoes. It also covers two cast member's daily rehearsal pay, or one full day of studio hire.
£250 Print Our Dancers
A £250 donation pays for our flyer and poster printing for the entire run of our production. It also pays for two day's worth of studio hire, two cast and two swing dancers' performance pay, or three dancers' daily rehearsal pay.
£375 Shelter Our Dancers
A £375 donation pays for three days' worth of studio hire. It also pays for one dancer's weekly rehearsal pay, or five 1920s NYC female dance costumes.
£500 Digitalise Our Dancers
A £500 donation covers the design and construction of our production's website. It also pays for five cast members' performance pay, ten 1960s NYC female dance costumes, our poster's graphic design and photoshoot, or all ten female dancers' shoe budget.
£1000 Share Our Dancers
A £1000 pays for our full production's photography and video trailer. It also pays for ten 1900s Paris female costumes, our website and poster design, or one day's rehearsal pay for our entire cast.
£1500 Prop Our Dancers
A £1500 donation pays for our entire set and prop budget, including a rotating set of two staircases on wheels. It also covers one half of our marketing budget, our crew members' full rehearsal pay, or four dancers' weekly rehearsal pay.
£2500 Hire Our Dancers
A £2500 donation pays for our venue hire for one performance. It also pays for fifty dance costumes, six cast members' weekly rehearsal pay + our flyer/posting printing, or two and a half weeks of studio hire.
A note from the director. . .
"Hi. My name is Christie Lee Manning. Most people reading this will have no idea who I am. I’m not famous to anyone other than my grandmother, who has saved what few newspaper clippings I am in and shown them to all of her neighbours. In reality, I am just a young woman living in SW London, hoping to do what we’re all trying to do: make a difference.
When I was 11 years old, I was 5’9”, or 175 cm to be exact. The reason that’s important is because I had big dreams of being a professional dancer one day. I had no idea what or how or where, but I had (and still do) the determination of an ox. No one, was going to stop me.
As soon as I was 18 years old, I began going to every audition I heard about, whether I was right for it or not (whatever that meant). I didn’t know how to typecast myself. I had no idea what it meant to market yourself or treat yourself like a business. I just knew that I wanted to dance.
By the time I hit 18 years old, I had stopped growing at the ripe height of 5’11" - 178 cm. Thanks to my 5’8” mother and my 6 foot ducks-under-every-doorway tree of a father, I never grew up thinking that being tall was a bad thing.
Until. . .
“I’m sorry honey. You’re just, too tall.”
Too tall. The two words I would hear after 95% of my auditions, for the rest, of my life.
(Sorry that got really dramatic for a second).
I’ve known I wanted to be a dancer since I was 15 years old. I went to summer camp that year and we danced all day, every day. I came home saying, “I want to do this for the rest of my life!” I was so naive and full of such incredible, effortless passion, that I had no idea something as little, or should I say as large as my height (get it) would get in the way of that.
When I first discovered that I wasn’t booking work because of my height, I thought, “Ok, well I guess I’m just not quite good enough.” I thought that if I became really good, like, really really really good, so good that they couldn’t ignore me (thanks Steve Martin), they would have to hire me. They would have to have me and they would find a place for me.
But unfortunately, I was wrong. What I discovered was, no one really cares how good you are. Because the girl behind you is ‘good enough’, the right height, and has a West End credit. So guess what: she’s in, and you’re out.
From that day forward, I promised myself that I would never be just ‘good enough.’
The style of jazz is a dying art. It’s one of the oldest styles of dance, yet most people know it as twenty chorus girls in a kick line wearing fishnets and flashing jazz hands with a fake smile slapped on their face. Jazz dancers are normally found singing their faces off in the West End. And if you can’t sing? You’re on a cruise ship, wondering how much longer you can extend the inevitably short career that you have.
Jazz dancers should not have to sing to work professionally. No other style requires you to know how to sing. Or tumble. Or strip (ok I’m exaggerating). Why should jazz be any different?
It shouldn’t. And starting next year, it won’t be.
House Of Jazz is committed to taking this city’s most iconic jazz artists and putting them on stage for all of London to see. Not one cast member is too tall, not one cast member is too short, and believe me, not one cast member is just ‘good enough.’"
Christie Lee Manning (Artistic Director)
"We sincerely appreciate you taking the time to read about our project. Thank you for supporting the arts."
Christie Lee Manning & James Michael Harris