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Following a critically acclaimed, sell out run at the Turbine Theatre, Luke Bayer gives a tour-de-force performance in this blood-stained love letter to Broadway. A solo musical about rivalry, vengeance, and killer ambition, Diva: Live From Hell! will run at the King’s Head Theatre, Islington, 4 – 29 June. Luke spoke about how he’s looking forward to performing at The King’s Head Theatre and at Edinburgh, his character, Desmond Channing, and the joys and challenges of performing such a demanding show.

How does it feel coming back to Diva: Live From Hell after 2 years?

I’m ecstatic to be coming back to do Diva again! I love the show so much and feel very lucky that this opportunity has presented itself again!

What do you love about playing Desmond Channing?

Oh, I love playing Desmond. He’s so naughty. He says all the things that you sometimes think but shouldn’t say! Haha, and in that vein, sometimes, as Desmond, I get carried away, so no two shows are ever the same! 

What are you most excited about the show coming to the King’s Head and then going to the Edinburgh Fringe? 

I’m so excited to revisit it and see what new things I can find. It’s also so exciting to do it in a new space, and the new King’s Head is so brilliant. Of course, I have always wanted to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe, and this literally feels like the perfect time!

Luke Bayer in Diva: Live From Hell at The King's Head Theatre.

What can audiences expect to see from Diva: Live From Hell?

A guaranteed fun night out. It’s a dark adult comedy! I think there’s something in it for everyone and if you come, you won’t regret it.

Describe Diva: Live From Hell in 3 words 

Naughty. Cheeky. HOTTTTT.

Why do you think modern audiences connect so well with the show?

It’s honestly a great night out! The music is brilliant. It’s fast paced, it’s a naughty show. Lots of cheek and humour- who doesn’t love that?

What’s your routine like for getting into the mindset of such a dynamic character?

Honestly – lots of sleep rest and water! It’s about allowing myself to play to keep him alive. As I said above, he’s a very mischievous character, and he’s not someone who plays by the rules, meaning he is so much fun to play. He has a real feel of spontaneity which I really enjoy!

How does the show’s dark humour resonate with you personally?

Oh, I love being silly and naughty! I love to laugh, and honestly, in Diva, I feel like I get to play and just have a great time. I’d definitely say I’m a playful person, and Desmond definitely has that!

How do you think “Diva: Live From Hell” stands out in today’s world of musical theatre?

One Person Musicals are pretty rare and to see one that is as well written both Musically and Script wise as Diva: Live from Hell is so exciting!! I really do think it’s a great show. Maybe a one person show isn’t something people would normally choose to come to watch, but I think the actual show could stand among the big dogs. I remember a previous review saying the show could be the modern-day ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ and have the same kind of Cult following, which I thought was pretty exciting!

What are some of the challenges you face while performing in such an intense and dynamic solo show? 

Last time it was overcoming the fear of what could go wrong and just learning to embrace it and go with the flow. In live performance, there is so much that can go wrong, but if you can learn to laugh at yourself, it takes so much pressure off. 

How has your portrayal of Desmond evolved since you first started playing the role? 

Oooo come back to me once we’ve opened this time! I think I’ll absolutely find new stuff again. I definitely think once I felt really confident with the script and songs, I could sit back and actually play with how naughty he is and how mischievous he could actually be. Thinking really specifically about his mannerisms, his relationship with the other characters, etc. I definitely felt last time that I almost kind of became Desmond, maybe more so than I have ever felt on any other show I’ve done. I also really embraced the differences in the characters, and there were so many exciting moments that I found, and with help from the audience too. 

What has been your favourite fan reaction or interaction related to Diva: Live From Hell?

Oh, the fans LOVED the Show!! The feedback from last time was wild and kind of unexpected, and the support for the show to come back has been overwhelming. I’m still waiting for someone to Cosplay Desmond, I can’t wait for that!

How would you describe the journey of your character, Desmond Channing, throughout the show?

He flutters between knowing he’s been bad, and owning it, and having moments of guilt. He’s a complex character. No one character is ever wholly bad. It’s what drives them and why they do the things they do…

What’s your favourite scene or song to perform in Diva: Live From Hell, and why?

I love Allie Hewitt’s song. She’s such a cutey, and it was crazy to me how the audience fell in love with her like she was a real person and I’ve had many people say to me she was their favourite and they love her. So funny and cute! 

What can fans of your previous work expect to see in this performance that’s different or new?

I think I get to play with so many different characters in this show, which is honestly a gift! There’s definitely a bit of Jamie in there, in Desmond, early act two Jamie has moments of Desmond. I get to play around with some characters that I don’t think people have seen me do before too, so hopefully that will come as a surprise, and from doing the show before I learned that I really love comedy. There’s a fair bit of comedy in this show, too!

What has been your favourite moment on stage while performing in Diva: Live From Hell?

Oooo, that’s a tough one! There’s been so many. I love working with the entire team on the show and honestly going into the Turbine everyday and just seeing the most gorgeous group of people was a true highlight! Special shoutout to Sarah Barron, who was the glue last time we did the show. She really looked out for me and the lovely Jordan Walker (who was understudy Desmond in the previous run), and I remember when we first got to the theatre and she’d bought us both flowers, different teas, etc.- just so very, very thoughtful! The kindness was off the charts and I remember the level of detail from everyone working on the show was impeccable. I am so excited to work with this brilliant team of people again! Let’s go, DIVA!!!!

Diva: Live From Hell! runs from 4 – 29 June at The King’s Head Theatre, 116 Upper Street, London N1 1QN, United Kingdom.

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