Comedy writers Zachary Hunt, Nathan Parkinson and Tom Roe are currently starring in their production of Police Cops: The Musical in The Large at Southwark Playhouse until 14th October, receiving five-star reviews. Zachary, Nathan and Tom play their featured characters Jimmy Johnson, Malloy and Harrison respectively, as well as multi-roling other characters, with Ben Adams composing the music of the show. Police Cops has previously had three sell-out runs at London’s Soho Theatre, has played Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the past five years (with 2016 having a sell-out run), and has also been performed at The Melbourne International Comedy Festival, The Cape Town Fringe Festival and The National Arts Festival of South Africa. The musical’s creators and stars Zachary, Nathan and Tom answered our questions about performing Police Cops: The Musical at Southwark Playhouse, having successful runs at Edinburgh Fringe Festival and developing the show over the years.
Can you tell us about Police Cops: The Musical and how did the idea come about?
Zachary Hunt – Well, Police Cops was our first ever show.
Tom Roe – We have been creating comedy shows for eight years and wanted to challenge our storytelling by using new formats.
Nathan Parkinson – We are all fans of musical theatre and thought this could be a good opportunity to work with a bigger team and more artists, which we have always wanted to explore.
You are all starring in the show, with Zachary playing Jimmy Johnson, Nathan playing Malloy and Tom playing Harrison, what are the characters like to play and how would you describe each of them?
Nathan – These are our featured characters.
Tom – Yeah, we mainly all multi-role, which involves several costume and prop changes.
Zachary – Jimmy Johnson is a young rookie cop who’s out to avenge his sister’s death and promises that he’ll become the best damn Police Cop ever. He needs a partner to help solve a case and he meets Harrison.
Tom – Harrison is this retired Police Cop who has a mysterious past, he is so much fun to play because he’s grouchy, which means I never have to sing any of the high notes!
Nathan – And Malloy is this sleazy Chief of the Police, I get to sing a pretty cool song called 80s Cop, which shares how corrupt the system (and he) actually is.
What is it like performing your own show and how is it working with the rest of the cast?
Nathan – Well, we love working with new people that can expand the work in ways we couldn’t on our own. Writing, performing and directing it all ourselves definitely has its challenges along the way but there’s three of us so we always get an opportunity to discuss and switch around to give feedback.
What is your writing process and how much has the script changed over time?
Tom – As Zak mentioned, we have used the storyline from our first original show and worked up from there.
Nathan – We had a seven-week rehearsal process where we developed the writing and made sure that the songs were working within the script.
Tom – Audiences give us the real feedback, so we always think it’s important to preview the show to analyse how jokes are landing and whether audiences are with the characters.
Is there anything you enjoy most about collaborating with each other on Police Cops?
Nathan – It’s been really fun working with new people. There is an amazing music team consisting of Ben Adams, Rich Morris and Beth Jerem who helped create and solve any musical issues.
Zachary – And put up with our bonkers lyrics!
How has it been seeing the audience response to Police Cops: The Musical at Edinburgh Fringe Festival and what has it been like taking your Police Cops shows to Edinburgh for the past five years?
Tom – We have a loyal fan base in Edinburgh and we always love sharing our work there. Edinburgh Fringe have always been big supporters of us, and the festival gives you a platform to perform to thousands of people, which is amazing.
What was it like hearing Ben Adams’ new score and performing the songs for the first time?
Zachary – It was really exciting; our writing process is a bit mad, we tend to send over lyrics and a concept for a song and style which Ben then plays with and sends back a demo (sometimes in ten minutes!) with what the song could be like. Then we keep going back and forth from there.
The show is running at Southwark Playhouse (The Large) until 14th October, why would you recommend booking tickets to see the show in London?
Tom – It’s very accessible and has a broad appeal due to the nostalgia of that era. Comedy is best shared together. So why not bring a mate and come for a laugh!
What are some of your favourite highlights from working on Police Cops: The Musical over the years?
Nathan – We worked throughout lockdown to create the show and Southwark is the third iteration of it. It’s allowed us to explore a lot of creative opportunities in order to make it the best it could possibly be. When you’ve worked on something for a few years, it’s always so rewarding to share it with audiences.
How did each of you get into writing and performing and was it something you all always wanted to do?
Tom – I was ignored a lot as a child and was desperate to get attention. The writing really came from East 15 when we were devising shows.
Nathan – We all wrote scripts at East 15 on the Contemporary Theatre Course and really got into theatre making there.
What are each of your favourite theatre shows to watch and are there any you’d like to see that you haven’t done so as yet?
Zachary – I love Wicked.
Nathan – The Book of Mormon for the musical comedy. The Crucible for drama and I’d like to see Back to the Future the Musical!
Tom – I like Belgian expressionism.
How do you all like to spend your time away from your careers?
Tom – We’re all quite adventurous and like travelling and such. I actually just got into surfing, which at 30 and living in London is ideal.
Nathan – I like living like an 80 year old, going for slow walks, reading and hanging with my cat.
Zachary – I love fitness, so going to the gym is really important to me; oh and also watching videos about Wicked.
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