Interview - Jamie Jackson (Director of Muted at The Bunker theatre)

New British musical Muted is coming to the The Bunker theatre from December 7th to January 7th. An earlier version of the musical received rave reviews and garnered several award nominations, with The Stage critic Mark Shenton even going so far as to call it 'the British equivalent to Rent'. 

Muted tells the story of Michael Brookman, an exceptional young musician whose band was on the brink of stardom, until his mother was suddenly killed in a hit and run accident, after which he stopped talking altogether. With a book by Sarah Henley and music and lyrics by Tim Prottey Jones and Tori Allen-Martin, as well as an exciting and talented cast, Muted looks is definitely one to watch. 

With the show opening soon director Jamie Jackson took some time to answer a few questions about Muted and why, despite the seemingly upsetting subject matter, it's the perfect show to see this Christmas!

Muted is premiering at The Bunker as part of its inaugural season. It’s exciting to see a wealth of new writing being staged on the London Fringe. Do you think audiences are becoming more adventurous and taking more risks with the theatre they see and the venues they attend nowadays?
Ultimately I think audiences want to be told brilliant stories. They'll go wherever those are being produced. The Bunker is a wonderful space - in a great location. Their first two shows have been terrific, so it's a real honour to be a part of the inaugural season. So I'm not sure it's all that much of a risk to come to the Bunker when the work so far has been this exceptional! Tonight with Donny Stixx is one of my favourite shows I've seen this year. 

Muted is playing at The Bunker during the Christmas period. What can audiences expect from the story?
An emotional roller-coaster. It's hilarious and heart-breaking in equal measure. I think it's the first time we've seen a completely mute character in a musical too. So that's a first! The songs are fantastic, and the story has a number of twists and turns. At the centre is a powerful love story, which feels perfect for Christmas.

What was it that attracted you to the project to begin with?
I've worked with Sarah Henley (playwright) before so it was an exciting opportunity to reunite with her. I've long been a fan of Interval Production's work so I was really keen to work with them plus Tim's (Prottey-Jones, music and lyrics) music is stunning. Musicals were what first got me into theatre and I've always wanted to direct one. I couldn't think of a better show or theatre to be directing my musical debut in!

The production is being funded in part by a Kickstarter. What has that been like?
It's been wonderful to see just how much support and anticipation there is for Muted. I know Interval have had continued support from fans of the show for nearly seven years - so it's a real privilege to be involved and to be making a show with them in mind. 

The workshop version of Muted received several award nominations including a Broadway World nomination for Best Fringe or Regional Musical and a Whatonstage nomination for Best New Musical. By the sounds of it, the show is poised for success. How much reworking has gone on since its initial run?
This production has a new cast and creative team so we're all interpreting and interrogating the show as if it were the first production. There's some additional songs for this run, and Sarah's made some changes to the story too. Our ambition is to build on the fantastic success of the last production - to take their brilliant work and make it even better. Our hope is that this a version of Muted the old fans will love, as well as bringing a brand new audience to the show. 

Are there any plans for the show after its month-long run this Christmas? 
At the moment, I'm just focused on making the best production possible for the Bunker. It's such a wonderful space, and we've had incredible support from Joshua (McTaggart – Artistic Director) and Joel (Fisher – Executive Director) at the theatre in helping realise the show to this point. I'm privileged enough to be working with a fantastic cast and creative team so at the moment I'm enjoying that too much to think about the future! 

Many thanks to Jamie Jackson for answering these questions. 

If Muted has caught your attention then visit www.bunkertheatre.com to buy tickets!