in2 Interview: Carol Harrison’s Mod Musical All Or Nothing

All Or Nothing cast
All Or Nothing cast

Encapsulating all that’s Mod

FROM starring in cult film Quadrophenia to working with the legendary playwright Arthur Miller and in latter years a role in EastEnders (as Louise Raymond Grant Mitchell’s mother-in-law) and other popular TV series’, Carol Harrison’s career has been varied to say the least. But as well as being an actress Carol, 62, also has a completely separate and successful career as a writer.

“I’ve always written for TV and film. I did my MA in screenwriting when I left EastEnders,” Carol explains.

The most recent creation from her golden pen is All Or Nothing, the Small Faces Musical which Carol has both written, produced and directed.

“It’s the first musical I’ve ever written,” she says proudly. “I wrote the script about eight years ago. It’s taken about six years to get it on the stage.”

All Or Nothing is the title of one of Sixties English Mod band the Small Faces’ biggest hits, and a song which helps define Mod culture.

Carol’s cousin played in a band with Small Faces’ founder and vocalist, the late Steve Marriot, and meeting him when he visited her house when she was eight years old was a start of a journey which brings her musical about them to the Arts Theatre in London’s West End this February.

“I was brought up in Upton Park and lived near Steve.”

The Small Faces – Marriot, Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones and Jimmy Winston (replaced by Ian McLagan as the band’s keyboardist by 1966), were the epitome of Mod. Their incredible musicianship, sharp look and stacks of swagger made them one of the biggest names in music.

Reliving the music of The Small Faces

“So many bands have been influenced by them,” says Carol, “including the whole Brit pop scene. Paul Weller based his look on Steve Marriot. Steve had this amazing blue-eyed soul voice, he also had incredible style and humour.

“This musical is a classic tale of the Sixties and rock and roll, about the band’s rise to fame their ruthless exploitation and subsequent implosion and self-destruction. It also celebrates the Small Faces unique sound with all their iconic hits such as ‘Whatcha Gonna Do About It,’ ‘Tin Soldier,’ ‘Lazy Sunday,’ ‘Here Comes the Nice’ and of course, ‘All Or Nothing.’
Carol grew up in the Sixties and was hooked on the tunes, attitude and fashion of Steve and his band mates. As she says “Once a Mod, always a Mod.” The musical brings back many personal memories for her.

“To me growing up in the sixties was the most amazing time – the music, fashion, the whole mod movement meant so much to me. Not much has been done about it on stage. There’s been things about the Sixties but nothing that conveys the rawness of the decade. I wanted to write something that felt like you were there – conveying that excitement and feeling of change.

“After the war it was grim, everything seemed to be in black and white. Mod culture saw working class people saying ‘we don’t want to look like you, dress like you – and saw them creating their own fashion and culture – driving stylish scooters, wearing French and Italian-influenced clothes – and then say ‘look at me I am somebody’. It was all about people expressing themselves.”

All Or Nothing enjoyed its first run last year in The Vaults underneath London’s Waterloo station where ticket demand was so high that the show extended its run. The show has toured the UK on and off since, playing to packed houses, receiving fantastic reviews and standing ovations. Its first West End run in 2018 happily co-incides with a major Small Faces anniversary – 50 years since the release of their seminal album ‘Ogdens Nut Gone Flake.’

Carol stars in the musical as well having written, produced and directed it.

“It’s been an incredible success,” says Carol. People come back time and time again – it is definitely the people’s musical. It will make you laugh and cry and sing and dance – it will transport you back to this incredible time.”

All Or Nothing plays a limited West End season at the Arts Theatre, London from 6 February to 11 March, 2018.
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