Max Lewis is 27, a performer and creative force from Finchley in North London. He has loved performing all his life. He joined Chickenshed theatre aged 7, and is still there now, studying for a Foundation Degree in inclusive performing arts. Max has Down’s syndrome but that has never stopped him pursuing his creative ambitions. In his own words…
“When I was 13, I was in the film “Notes On A Scandal” with Dame Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett (who played my mum!) and Bill Nighy. I have been in lots of other stage productions, at college and Chickenshed - including several performances as a pantomime dame. As well as performing, it has always been my dream to write, direct and produce projects of my own,. Two years ago, with the amazing Electric Umbrella, and my great friend Ally Rosenberg, I devised, co-wrote & co-directed “I Am The Dream Machine, a musical pop opera about achieving my ambitions, embracing adult life, and keeping hold of my childhood dreams and memories. I also appeared in the show as Big Bad Brenda! I, and other people with special needs, deserve to have our creative ideas heard, just like “straights” (people without special needs). I think that people should believe in themselves, and work towards achieving their dreams and goals. I believe in myself.”
Max Lewis - Electric Umbrella - Try Smiling
Max loves TV shows like Glee and tonight’s show will be his own unique take on some of his favourite songs, a wide range of material from pop to country to his beloved musical theatre. He will sing, he will dance - you may even see him in a dress! And he loves to talk and answer questions about his story and his future ambitions.
Some songs will be performed “karaoke” style, but he will also be joined by Tom Billington, the artistic director of Electric Umbrella, a charity challenging the perception about people with learning disabilities and enriching and empowering lives through music. A singer/songwriter and professional musician for over 20 years, Tom lead the creative team who put “Dream Machine” together in 12 weeks, for an unforgettable performance at the 600 seat Watford Palace Theatre, and a soundtrack album (which can be found on all the streaming services). Together they will also play material from their show, including the single “Try Smiling”. Max’s own self created, performed and directed video for that song can be seen here.
It will be a very different evening, a unique opportunity to share in a very special musical & creative journey in its own right.
At Max’s request, all proceeds from the tip jar will go to support Electric Umbrella’s new project, to write and produce a “lockdown” album of music with their online community of people with learning disabilities and professional musicians, from across the UK and beyond. An album of 10 collaboratively written and recorded tracks with a planned Autumn release. The songwriting provides therapeutic opportunity for the members, including Max, to open up and share how they have coped with lockdown in a supported environment. It will utilise the power of music to unite a community, turning thoughts and feelings into an album that gives voice to many of those not heard. It will challenge perceptions and celebrate the brilliance of the learning disabled community everywhere.
Check out the great work from Electric Umbrella