Dominic Ferris and Martin Milnes make up comedy-musical double act Ferris & Milnes. Together they create a musical mash-up of Broadway and Hollywood hits with pop classics. Fresh from a residency at St James Theatre, London, the pair are set to head north to perform at Lytham Festival this summer, 7 August.
Tell us a bit about your sound and your influences.
Martin Milnes: We always strive to cover a wide variety of musical genres in our show, and this is helped by the fact that we both come from rather diverse musical backgrounds. Dominic is very much experienced in modern musical theatre repertoire and pop, whereas my influences have been more on the classic and “legitimate” – opera, operetta, and American and British music from the first half of the twentieth century. However, where we both meet in the middle is in our great love of the golden era of musicals from both Hollywood and Broadway.
How have you evolved as a duo over the years?
We met in 2013 working on a musical theatre production. Dominic was musical director, and I was a performer. A short while later we began working together on various concerts of our own, the success of which led us to believe that there would be an exciting future together in creating a musical comedy double act.The official debut of Ferris & Milnes was at the Pheasantry in April 2015, and shortly afterwards we appeared in Stephen Sondheim’s 85th birthday gala at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. For this special event we created the first of our mash-up medleys: 33 Sondheim Numbers in Five Minutes. These mash-ups have since become our calling card. When our residency at the St James Studio began in January 2016 we had the opportunity to develop our act further, embracing our niches and performing many new shows in rapid succession. This high turnover in new material gave us the opportunity to really develop Ferris & Milnes to the stage where the act is now.
Were there any alternative act names before you arrived at this one?
Ferris & Milnes wasn’t hard to come by. Milnes & Ferris doesn’t have quite the same syllabic ring – and we like the fact that Ferris & Milnes rolls off the tongue with the same rhythm as Morecambe & Wise!
What are you up to at the moment artistically?
Our London productions for September onwards are expanding to a larger scale, with some very exciting opportunities ahead in both London and around the UK. Full details will be published on our website ferrisandmilnes.com. We are also making our New York debut in October, for which we are creating a special musical programme.
How do you stand out from the crowd in a saturated industry?
We’re very lucky in as much as there are very few musical comedy double acts around – certainly of our age. In addition, we create all our own musical arrangements, and hone the pieces in our show to specifically suit our individual skills: in Dominic’s case, his pop vocals and highly individual style of piano playing and, for me, using both my vocal ranges (falsetto/soprano and tenor), and utilising my comic experience. Our mash-up medleys have also helped to establish our reputation. We now have several in our repertoire, including 31 West End Musicals in Under 10 Minutes, and also West Side Story in Eight Minutes.
What’s on your rider?
A Steinway piano – we need the best available to stand up to the remarkable work-out which Dominic tends to give the instrument throughout each performance. Steinway & Sons has always been a very generous supporter of Ferris & Milnes. It provides a piano for us at Drury Lane for the Sondheim Gala and the St James Studio shows have also featured a Steinway. The music video of 33 Sondheim Numbers in Five Minutes was filmed at Steinway Hall in London.
Tell us about your worst live show.
Fortunately, we’ve had no disasters in the history of Ferris & Milnes – and we’d like to keep it that way!