Tag Archives: Interview

INTERVIEW: LOCAL TALENT CHRISTOPHER JORDAN-MARSHALL MAKES WEST END DEBUT IN MAMMA MIA!

It seems like a short while ago I saw you as a student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland starring as the Emcee in Cabaret. Tell us what happened between then and starring in the West End.

Ahhhh amazing, you got to see Cabaret! Definitely one of my favourite parts I ever got to play. So, round about that same time I also signed with a London agent and started to get auditions coming through, including auditions for Mamma Mia! in London and for the tour. I didn’t get past the first round and just kind of forgot about it. I graduated in July 2016, and almost immediately booked my first professional job in London, Floyd Collins at the Wiltons Music Hall. Once that finished, I was back in Scotland at the Tron Theatre for Christmas, in the The Snaw Queen, followed immediately after by Still Game:Live at The SSE Hydro. Luckily, I hadn’t really stopped, and so made the move back to London to start auditioning again. Cut to two months later, and a few rounds of auditions for Mamma Mia! again, and suddenly I was going to be Sky in the West End!

Georgina Castle & Christopher Jordan-Marshall as Sophie and Sky
London Cast 2017/2018

Tell us how you felt when you got the call to say you’d be making your professional West End debut.

Well it was about a week after the finals for Mamma Mia!, and I was sort of waiting to hear about a couple of things. When my agent phoned, she said ‘So, do you want some good news?’ and I’m pretty sure I swore at her down the phone and yelled a bit. I was honestly jumping about my house, totally ecstatic. Cliché as it is, this was something I had been wanting and dreaming of ever since I was little and so for that dream to become a reality at the age of 22 is just really special for me. I’m grateful every day.

How are you enjoying playing Sky?

It’s bloody brilliant! I’m honestly having such a good time. Everyone that works at the Novello, the cast, creatives and crew are an absolute joy to work with, and there is a total family vibe amongst us all. We get such amazing audiences every night, and even though it’s been running in the West End for 18 years, there is still something really fresh and new about our cast which is so exciting. When we first took over in June, we performed a slot at West End Live, which is sort of a concert weekend in Trafalgar Square where musicals all around the UK and in central London perform. That was a pretty special moment, singing and dancing an Abba megamix to thousands of people.

Christopher Jordan-Marshall as Sky (front centre)

What do you think makes Mamma Mia! so enduringly popular?

There are so many elements I think. The songs come first obviously. You get the sexiness of things like Gimme Gimme! and Voulez Vous, and then also the heart from songs like Slipping Through My Fingers and The Winner Takes It All. Then you have the story which interweaves these songs seamlessly in a way that lots of jukebox musicals are unable to do. It’s a story about mothers and daughters, about strong female friendship, and about empowerment of women. Certainly back when it was first conceived, there wouldn’t have been many stories like it, and only really now is that starting to change. It’s just such an awesomely feel good show, which makes every audience member leave with a huge grin on their face. They get to escape to a beautiful Greek island for two and half hours, what’s not to love?! People need escape like that more than ever these days, so I’m glad I can contribute to that.

What is life like backstage at the Novello?

Well I’m lucky enough to get a dressing room to myself next to the stage on the ground floor. It’s not a huge room, so I tend to keep the door wedged open and slowly over time it has sort of changed into a mini green room for the other company members to chill in when they aren’t needed on stage. I have a bit of time in between the things I’m involved in on stage so I’m happy for the chat. Usually backstage totally runs like clockwork, everyone knows exactly where they are supposed to be but every so often it becomes a bit hectic. We have two large set pieces that are moved around on stage with handles to create different scenes and environments. One Saturday one of the handles broke off and the pieces couldn’t move. We had to completely make up the rest of the show without them working or moving, which was fun!

MAMMA MIA!
London Cast 2017/2018

How do you keep your performance fresh when you’re on stage eight times a week?

Good question. This is first contract I’ve had which is a year long, so I’m still finding that out to be honest. Something I try to do before going on every night is remind myself that all the events that happen during the show are happening for the first time, so I don’t pre-empt anything, and that usually makes me present. That, and just constantly being open to reacting to whatever Sophie or whoever I’m with and what they’re giving me. That makes it fun every night because you don’t know what you are going to get. And if something is a bit rubbish one night, or something goes wrong, you get to try again tomorrow and be better!

Can we go back a bit and talk about what inspired you to become an actor and the path you took to becoming one?

I don’t know if anything particularly inspired me to become an actor, I think I was always pretty sure that was what I wanted to do since I was a little guy. I was put into local amateur shows and went to youth drama groups/theatre schools. Music and drama was something I always kind of excelled in at school, so it started to become obvious what path I was going down. It was a way to express myself whilst growing up, when I didn’t particularly know how to yet. If I didn’t have those groups and shows, I think being a teenager would have been a lot harder. I guess the teachers and friends that were in my life during that time inspired me to pursue it professionally. Oh and my uncle Alan. He was the one who introduced me to a lot of theatre and has always been my biggest fan. He’s a big inspiration for all this.

Do you have any advice for kids back home who aspire to become a performer?

If you love it, pursue it. There are so many ways to become part of theatre and the arts professionally, which many kids aren’t made aware of in schools. Actors, musicians, hair and makeup, production, agents, casting, it’s all out there. Do not let your parents try and choose your pathways for you, and make you do something you don’t want to; you’ll be unhappy. I was lucky enough to be fully supported by my family in all my endeavours but sometimes that doesn’t happen. I remember my guidance teacher told me that I shouldn’t do music AND drama at the same time in school, and made it out that it was practically impossible to pursue a career in it. Needless to say, I didn’t listen to her. Even if you aren’t the best at everything to begin with, keep learning and growing and trying, because you eventually start to get somewhere. Don’t settle, and go chase your dreams; it can happen!

Christopher Jordan-Marshall (front centre) Mamma Mia! 2017/2018 Cast

Finally, why should people come along to see you in Mamma Mia!?

Our cast is amazing, there’s topless boys, and the tunes are amazing obviously. I also keep my Scottish accent so SCOTLAND REPRESENT. Come get drunk (if you’re over 18) and dance!!

You can see Christopher at the Novello Theatre – more information here

Image credit: Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

 

INTERVIEW: Medhavi Patel star of We Are The Lions, Mr Manager! – currently touring the UK

Medhavi Patel is taking on the role of Jayaben Desai in the world premiere of We Are The Lions, Mr Manager!, which is currently touring the UK.

Patel’s previous stage work has seen her star in Tales of Birbal, Trident Moon and Fragile Land, and she has starred in TV shows including Doctors and Holby City. The role of Jayaben Desai holds particular significance to Patel after she learned she is a distant relative of the iconic leader.

The play will be at Eastwood Park Theatre on 29 October 2017.

Tell us a little bit about the play.

We Are The Lions, Mr Manager! is a beautifully written play by Neil Gore about the Grunwick strikers back in 1976. The play is based on the strong and courageous journey of Jayaben Desai, a South Asian women of Gujarati descent. Jayaben fought along with the many that supported her for the right to have a union represent them in the factory they worked for – this was due to the mistreatment of immigrant workers at the factory.

Medhavi Patel as Jayaben Desai in We Are The Lions, Mr Manager

And your role…

I will be playing Jayaben Desai. She was a woman of incredible strength, courage and determination. She fought a battle at a time where the odds were against her, simply because she was a woman and an immigrant. Many say she was ahead of her time and strived to show that Asian woman can be strong and outspoken too.

The real Jayaben Desai

How has the play been received so far, has it been different in different locations? 

Many are excited at the prospects of such a strong play based on real-life experiences which are still a struggle for many in today’s society. I believe it will be received strongly everywhere we go, as we have kept the energy levels high and used elements of humour and emotion at the right balance.

What is life like backstage on tour?

Rehearsals are fun but gruelling and trying to get the right tone of the play and characters is important. Louise Townsend (Director) and Neil Gore (Playwright and Actor) have gone to great lengths to ensure the production is as close to real life events as possible. There have been many moments of laughter but equally many moments of discussion and thought about why the play is so important right now. Life backstage can be tiring but when you love what you do, that feeling takes second place.

Touring can be demanding: how do you keep your performance fresh/look after yourself when you’re having to travel as well as perform on stage at night?

I try to be as active as possible on a regular basis, whether this means walking, going to gym, for a gentle run, dancing in my room, practicing yoga and even getting enough shut eye. I also make sure I drink plenty of water and keep healthy snacks to hand. I warm up before performances and ensure I have time to silence the world from my thoughts before the show in order to go on sharp, focused and energised. Rest and play should be in the right balance and looking after oneself is essential to any performer as we are our tools.

Can we go back a bit and talk about what inspired you to become an actor and the path you took to become one?

I chose this path as I always loved performing from a young age. I didn’t see it as something particularly unique or special, as it feels like home when I’m performing – it really feels like I’m doing what makes me happy and that is my life’s mantra.

People spend so much time working and worrying that they forget about feeling, whether it’s happy or sad. When you incite feelings in your audience and bring them into your world it is the most amazing feeling. When you are able to touch people and make them aware of these feelings, it’s a job well done. I love the physical, mental and emotional challenges, the creativity, the people and the experiences that being a performer brings.

Any advice for aspiring performers?

Keep learning and be open to new challenges, don’t let yourself fit in just one category as you’ll never know your true potential.

Know your value and never be scared to question if you don’t understand or you don’t agree with something. An actor never stops learning and developing as their environment and life is their inspiration. Keep your craft alive through moments of quiet through attending workshops, shows or even trying to learn a new skill. You’ll never regret it.

Finally, why should people come along to see the play? And where else can we see it?

I think it will touch anyone who has ever had to fight for something important. It shows that together any difficulty can be faced and overcome. To see and know the story of a strong South Asian woman who has fought so valiantly for the rights we have today, to understand that we can question the systems in place and strive to make changes not just for ourselves but also for the people around us.

The play will also be on tour UK-wide and comes to Glasgow’s Eastwood Park Theatre on 29 October. Tickets are on sale now, priced £15 standard and concession £12 from: http://www.eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk/boxoffice .

Further dates and show locations on can be found: www.townsendproductions.org.uk

 

INTERVIEW: Gina Isaac star of Rapture Theatre’s Streetcar Named Desire

Gina Isaac is currently starring in Rapture Theatre Company’s new production of A Streetcar Named Desire as Stella. I caught up with Gina just before the final week of the production at Edinburgh King’s Theatre.

A Streetcar Named Desire is an American classic, for those who are less familiar with it could you tell us a little bit about the play. 

It’s a story full of the heat and vibrancy of the city where it is set, in New Orleans. Blanche and her sister Stella, who is married to the brutish Stanley, find themselves thrown together and the story unfolds from there. You see the old world and the new clashing up against each other in the various characters in the play. There are too many spoilers in there to go into detail but it’s a wonderful story.

And your role…

Blanche is a fading Southern Belle who is desperately trying to hold onto a world that no longer exists. Like all of Tennessee Williams characters she is deeply flawed and yet striving with hope for something more.

How much preparation and rehearsal time did you get before the tour started? 

The rehearsal period was four weeks, with a week of sitting around a table discussing and then ‘getting it on it’s feet’. Streetcar is a very complex play with layers upon layers for the actors to discover. It was a very intense but satisfying process.

How has the play been received so far, has it been different in different locations? 

We’ve had a really terrific reception from all of our audiences, and every audience is different of course. The play is quite ‘light’ in the first act, and the story is very engaging, which seems to invite the audience in and they are really with us. Come the second act, things get dark pretty quickly but by then the audience seem to have really invested in the characters and you can hear a pin drop…with the occasional rustle of sweet packets.

What is life like backstage on tour? 

I wouldn’t know on this job as I never leave the stage or the wings. I’m pretty sure they’re having a good time though. It’s normally a strange mixture of high and lows on any tour – it can be quite an intense experience working in such a bubble for months at a time.

Touring can be demanding, how do you keep your performance fresh and look after yourself when you’re having to travel as well as perform on stage at night? 

Touring actually really helps to keep a performance/play feeling fresh. Every venue and auditorium is different with it’s own set of challenges, so you never really ‘settle’, which is great. You learn to listen to your body as an actor, as it will always let you know if you’re burning the candle too much. Some parts that you play will demand you look after yourself more than others…it’s a delicate balancing act but common sense really.

Can we go back a bit and talk about what inspired you to become an actor and the path you took to become one? 

I used to watch a lot of the old MGM movies when I was a kid and I guess that’s what sparked things for me. I was lucky, in that I never wanted to do anything else so I was quite a clear about the path I wanted to take. I studied drama at school and attended a group at weekends. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to go to a drama school as opposed to university and I spent three years at the Central school of Speech and Drama and then entered the industry from there. The hardest part about being an actor is once you’ve graduated and become part of a very big, very competitive industry. You learn quite quickly if the life of an actor is for you.

Any advice for aspiring performers?

Gosh, that’s a tricky one. I guess one of the main things I have realised, is that every job you do informs and moulds you as an actor. You are constantly learning as an actor, always. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing it for. You take something from every job, the good ones and the ‘not so good’ ones. Also, always brush your teeth and if you’re on an OK wage, get a round in now and then.

Finally, why should people come along to see the play? and where can we see it?

Because ‘Streetcar‘ is the most brilliant story…and everyone loves a good story. It’s totally engaging from the off and I think you really care about the characters and what happens to them. This is our final week at The Kings, Edinburgh, so do yourself a favour and come see it.

Gina will be appearing in Rapture Theatre’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire at the King’s, Edinburgh from 3 – 7 October 2017.

TRAILER:

INTERVIEW: Robert Softley Gale talks about Blanche and Butch

Robert Softley Gale is an established figure in the Scottish arts scene, with over sixteen years of experience in diverse and varied roles – including actor and performer, director, writer and advocate of equality within the arts.

Robert’s professional acting debut was in 2002 and since then he has appeared in many productions – including co-writing and performing in ‘Girl X’ for National Theatre of Scotland. His award-winning solo performance – ‘If These Spasms Could Speak’ – was a hit of the 2013 Made in Scotland programme and has subsequently toured internationally to countries including Brazil, Estonia, the USA, Ireland and India.
A graduate of Glasgow University, Robert is an Artistic Director of Birds of Paradise Theatre Company.

For BOP (Birds of Paradise) he has directed the smash-hit sex comedy Wendy Hoose and Purposeless Movements, for which he was nominated for a CATS Best Director award. Glasgow Theatre Blog had the pleasure of talking to Robert about his play Blanche and Butch which is at Eastwood Park Theatre on 7th October.

Tell us a little bit about the play.

Blanche & Butch is set backstage at a touring performance of the iconic 1960s film ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?’. The film starred Bette Davies and Joan Crawford, with Joan playing Blanche, who is a wheelchair user – the three drag queens in Blanche & Butch are presenting the first stage version of Baby Jane to star an ‘actually disabled’ Blanche. There’s a lot of bitchiness and power struggles, camp show tunes and touching ballads – something for everyone!

And your role…

I play Blanche, the youngest of the three drag queens we meet. Blanche wants to make it big – wants to get his name in lights and be a star. But everyone else keeps reminding him that there are limits to what he can achieve.

 

How has the play been received so far, has it been different in different locations?

So far we’ve opened at the Tron in Glasgow and toured to Greenock and Stirling – audiences have been loving the show so far. There are a lot of funny one-liners and much crudeness but there are also songs about trying to be the best dad you can be and a very funny number about intersectionality. Like I said, something for everyone.

What is life like backstage on tour?

I feel like I should write something cruel and bitchy about how difficult they all are the work alongside, but honestly we all get on really well and have a great laugh. The hardest bit to being backstage is putting on tights every night when you’re a guy who has cerebral palsy!

Touring can be demanding, how do you keep your performance fresh/look after yourself when you’re having to travel as well as perform on stage at night?

It is pretty knackering – you learn a lot of tricks over the years to make things easier. Grabbing food whenever you can is important, as it isn’t always easy to find your next meal between shows and travelling. Keeping each performance fresh is about remembering that for every audience tonight is their first night – ever show is a unique event between us and that audience. It sounds cliché but no two shows are the same, we’re always finding new things within the show.

Can we go back a bit and talk about what inspired you to become an actor and the path you took to become one?

You can read quite a bit about this here http://www.softley.co.uk/biography.htm#22 – but the short answer is that I was studying Management at Glasgow Uni – thinking that a disabled guy could never be an actor – when I got a call from a theatre company in Edinburgh asking me to audition for them. I thought I had no chance – but what the heck! Long story short I got the job and 15 years later I’m still here!

Any advice for aspiring performers?

Be nice to work with – you could be the best actor in the world but if you’re difficult to work with then directors will find someone else. And have fun – it’s called a  ‘play’ for a reason.

Finally, why should people come along to see the play? and where else can we see it?

If you want to have a really good night out – with a lot of laughs and moments of “They didn’t just say THAT, did they?”, then this is the show for you.

You can see it at Eastwood Park Theatre in Glasgow on Saturday 7 October and buy tickets from https://www.eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk/article/9098/Blanche–Butch

The rest of the tour dates are available: www.boptheatre.co.uk/blanche-butch/

Header image of Robert Softley Gale by Eoin Carey

INTERVIEW: Keith Jack talks about his tour and album Movie Nights

Keith Jack is probably best-known for finishing second on BBC 1’s Any Dream Will Do but his theatre credits since leaving the show are impressive: The Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (UK Tour); Charlie in Only The Brave (Edinburgh Festival); Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (UK Tour); Alistair in Sincerely, Mr Toad (Edinburgh/Greenwich); Ralph Rackstraw in HMS Pinafore (UK Tour) and Sparky in Forever Plaid (St James Theatre, London).

No stranger to pantomime, Keith’s credits include: the title role in Aladdin (King’s Theatre, Glasgow); the Prince in Sleeping Beauty (Ipswich Regent); the title role in Peter Pan (His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen), Prince Charming in Cinderella (Whitley Bay/Horsham/Newark) and the title role in Dick Whittington (Maidstone). This season he will be starring as The Prince in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Stag Theatre, Sevenoaks).

Keith’s newly-released fourth album, Movie Nights, features classic songs from iconic movies, here he talks about the inspiration for the album and the tour to promote it and answers some questions about his career.

This album, and the forthcoming tour, has come from my massive love of films from a young age. I wanted to find a good mix of songs – both young and old – with all different styles and have them led by strings, giving a different feel to all other movie albums. I feel like we have really achieved this, making it more my own style without losing why people fell in love with the song in the first place.

I couldn’t have done it without my lovely friend and MD, Scott Morgan, who did all the arrangements on the album and played the piano beautifully! He was supported by fantastic string players in January Tewson, Jade Cuthburt, James Greenfield and Naomi Wright; thank you for your lovely playing on this album.

A big thank you to Kristian Polly for recording the album and for a fun day in the church recording the strings and also to Istage Studio for letting me use their fantastic facilities to record in. A special thank you to Jim Lang who Mixed and Mastered the whole album, making it sound exactly how I imagined it would be. Also, a special mention to Ian Fraser for all the pictures and the album artwork. I have been lucky enough to have a fantastic team around me to do this album and I couldn’t have done it without them all.

My last mention goes to my family and friends for their help and support in creating this album. And, of course, not forgetting you – my amazing fans. Thank you so much for coming along with me on this journey over the last 10 years. From coming to concerts, buying albums and your support on social media, I can’t thank you enough! I hope you enjoy this album just as much as my others. This tour is the most perfect way to celebrate its release! So, sit back, grab your popcorn and enjoy!

Q & A Interview

Some former talent show contestants claim that the process leaves them feeling manipulated and exploited. Did your experience in Any Dream Will Do make you feel that way?

No, not at all. We were kind of moulded and helped and nurtured to be the kind of performer that Andrew Lloyd Webber wanted. I never felt as though I was just a cog in a money-making wheel.

An amazing 21 million viewers tuned into the final of the series, in June 2007, and Lee Mead went on to wow the West End critics as Joseph in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s magical musical. But you couldn’t even console yourself with the prospect of performing the role in the touring production of the show. That opportunity had already been offered to Craig Chalmers, who finished fifth in the competition. Surely, you must have been gutted and, perhaps, even a little resentful?

Not at all. I was actually still competing in the programme when Craig was eliminated and Bill Kenwright offered him the part of Joseph.

To prove that you held no hard feelings, you accepted the role of Narrator in the touring version, alongside Craig Chalmers, as Joseph, and fellow competitor Chris Barton, who finished in eighth place, as Benjamin. Tell me about that?

I loved it. And, actually, it’s a bigger singing role than Joseph.

They say, though, that everything comes to he who waits and, eventually, you got to actually play the role that you competed for. How did that feel?

It was just a really nice feeling to finally get to do it. I was able to relax and settle into it a lot easier than I would have done if I’d come to it straight from the show. We had some great audiences on the tour and it was nice to see all different parts of the country.

Was it difficult learning to cope with the instant fame that is often the result of such shows.

At first it was strange. You don’t change as a person but everyone else changes around you. It’s very strange to walk down the street and have people following you and trying to take your picture.

Your boy-next-door good looks have ensured that you have a loyal fan following and not just from girls…tell me more?

I was very proud to be featured on the front of a gay magazine. When I first went on to Any Dream Will Do, John Barrowman told me: ‘You haven’t made it until you have a gay fan base’, so to be the cover boy on such a magazine made me very happy.

Tell me what has been happening in your career lately?

I have just finished touring with Joe McElderry in the Saturday Night at the Movies tour and have also completed my brand new album Movie Nights. Right now, I’m enjoying being busy preparing for the forthcoming tour to promote the album.

What are your favourite tracks on the new album and why did you select them?

I love ‘So Close’ from Disney’s Enchanted. That song comes at such a lovely moment in the film and it’s such a beautiful song. It’s not the bestknown song from the movie, but I performed it on the Saturday Night at the Movies tour and everyone seemed to love it. It’s strange that people recognise the song but don’t know where from. I also really like the arrangement that my MD, Scott Morgan, came up with for ‘I Just Called To Say I Love You’. Stevie Wonder’s original version has a happy, upbeat feel to it. I have chosen to perform it as a more melancholic ballad – it almost sounds as though it could be a sad lullaby. I think it’s nice to change the arrangement when performing a cover version, rather than just trying to replicate the original.

How do you feel you have matured, musically, in the past decade?

I’m partly the same performer as I was. However, I feel that my voice and, indeed, my performances are more structured and mature. People tell me that I’ve not lost any of the charm, fun and vibrancy of my younger years. I think I have just grown up, that’s all. I now think that I know myself inside out as a performer.

Does it make a lot of difference to be able to choose your own material now, rather than having songs and themes chosen for you?

It makes a massive difference. A lot of the stuff I performed in Any Dream Will Do, I would not have chosen for myself. That said, it taught me to experiment with different styles and to take chances and stretch my boundaries. It’s liberating not to have to pick songs with the sole intention of pleasing the public. That has pushed me on so far.

A selection of the possible songs for Keith’s tour (subject to change) follows:

A Thousand Years: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn

Everything I Do (I Do It For You): Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Staying Alive: Saturday Night Fever

I Just Called To Say I Love You: The Woman In Red

So Close: Enchanted

You’ve Got A Friend In Me: Toy Story

She’s Like The Wind: Dirty Dancing

Kiss From A Rose: Batman Forever

Jailhouse Rock: Jailhouse Rock

Beauty and the Beast: Beauty and the Beast

Run To You: The Bodyguard

KEITH JACK – MOVIE NIGHTS, WILD CABARET GLASGOW 22 OCTOBER 2017

TICKETS – 0141 552 6165

For more information and to keep up to date with future projects, visit: Officialkeithjack.co.uk or @keithjack on Twitter.

FEATURE: The Jersey Boys hit town

The UK tour of the Tony, Olivier and Grammy Award-winning Best Musical Jersey Boys comes to Glasgow at the Theatre Royal for the festive season from Tuesday 8 December 2015 – Sunday 3 January 2016.

Ahead of the multi-award-winning musical hitting town, Glasgow Theatre Blog had the opportunity to meet the cast and see a sneak peak of the show this week at Glasgow’s Oran Mor.

Matt Corner will be heading the cast as Frankie Valli* with Sam Ferriday as Bob Gaudio, Lewis Griffiths as Nick Massi and Stephen Webb as Tommy DeVito**.

Seen by over 22 million people worldwide, Jersey Boys is the true story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and their rise to stardom from the wrong side of the tracks. These four boys from New Jersey became one of the most successful bands in pop history, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and sold 100 million records worldwide, all before they turned 30.  The show is packed with their hits, including Beggin’, Sherry, Walk Like A Man, December 1963 (Oh What a Night), Big Girls Don’t Cry, My Eyes Adored You, Let’s Hang On (To What We’ve Got), Bye Bye Baby, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Working My Way Back to You, Fallen Angel, Rag Doll and Who Loves You.

Jersey Boys (3) - Credit Ian Watson

The Jersey Boys (and girls) stride into Glasgow. Image Ian Watson

I asked Lewis Griffiths (Nick Massi), Sam Ferriday (Bob Gaudio) and Henry Davis (Tommy DeVito) what they thought was the secret to Jersey Boys continued success.

Lewis Griffiths: “It’s real, it’s gritty and it’s credible, it’s a show that appeals to people who wouldn’t normally go to the theatre, especially to musicals”.  Sam Ferriday adds: “The biggest thing, though is that although people might know the music, no one knew the back story of these guys, it’s turned out, that this is one of the reasons why the show has been such a hit, people are shocked by the actual story”. Henry Davis: “You don’t need to be a musical theatre fan to enjoy this show. People tell us that they’ve brought their husband, boyfriend, brother, dad and grandads, people who would normally never set foot in a theatre, to see the show and they’ve left more than pleasantly surprised. We’ve also been told that people have caught the theatre bug from coming to see the show. It appeals to such a wide demographic, it’s not just for one generation, it’s for everyone”. Lewis Griffiths: “Unlike big West End productions which have also toured, or are about to tour, shows like Mamma Mia, Wicked or Billy Elliot, this is a true story. It’s a legacy to these four men”.

Another secret of Jersey Boys’ success is the quality of its cast and it’s notoriously difficult casting process highlighted by producer David Ian: “It’s an unbelievably hard task to cast this show, any actor hoping to play Valli has to be under 5 foot 9 inches, look Italian-American, sing higher than Mickey Mouse and be able to act and dance as well as pulling off a believable New Jersey accent”, added to that, all actors vying for a part have to complete multiple auditions and a final vetting process by the real Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio before stepping onstage.

Producer David Ian at the Jersey Boys Glasgow Launch. Credit Ian Watson

Producer David Ian at the Jersey Boys Glasgow Launch. Credit Ian Watson

With this is mind, and the shows reputation for quality control, I was interested to find out if each actor is able to bring anything of themselves to the roles of these flesh and blood characters.

Lewis Griffiths explains: “I’m the only one whose character is no longer with us, so for me I really had very little to go on. he was also the quiet man of the group. There are YouTube clips of the others, so there’s something there, but that was the interesting thing for me, I’ve had to develop my own way of playing Nick Massi. I’ve had to drip-feed my own life experience into my portrayal, and after a year of playing him, I now know when there’s either too much Lewis or too much Nick. It’s 50% the character and 50% the actor. Sam Ferriday adds, “yes, there are clips of Tommy DeVito, Franki Valli and Bob Gaudio as they are now, but few of them in their heyday, the era we’re playing them in, so it can be hard”.

David Ian with Jersey Boys (L-R Sam Ferriday, Matt Corner, David Ian, Henry Davis, Lewis Griffiths) - credit Ian Watson

Producer David Ian with Jersey Boys Sam Ferriday, Matt Corner, David Ian, Henry Davis, Lewis Griffiths – credit Ian Watson

Winner of Broadway’s Tony, London’s Olivier and Australia’s Helpmann Awards for Best New Musical, and a winner of 57 major awards worldwide, and with the UK and Ireland tour just passing its first birthday, I asked the actors how they sustained an enthusiasm and freshness for the show.

Sam Ferriday: “We’re fans, fans of the music and fans of this incredibly written play, and it is a play, a play with amazing music. I know I grew up with the music and Henry’s mum and dad were big fans, so he did too, so you never get bored with performing songs that you love”, he also adds “it’s also the closest you can get as an actor to feeling like a rock star every night”.

A true ensemble piece, each actor has their chance to shine. Having seen the show on several occasions the on-stage chemistry is always palpable, I ask if it’s the same off-stage. Lewis Griffiths says: “One of the secrets of its success is the fact that no one story or character dominates, it really is a story of these four guys and there has to be the right balance of personalities between the four of us and luckily there is”.

Jersey Boys (4) -Credit Ian Watson

Credit – Ian Watson

Touring from the very top to the tail of the UK, the actors have covered a vast geographic area, I wondered if there were differences in audiences’ reaction to the show up and down the country. Lewis Griffiths: “Yes, surprisingly we’ve had different reactions everywhere we go”. Henry Davis: “I’ve been here in Glasgow with Rocky Horror and that was mental so I’m looking forward to seeing the reaction to this”.

In a show filled with highlights, I ask if there are any stand-out moments each night for the actors. Lewis Griffiths: “For me it’s the dirty, gritty, fractious relationship between the four of them, the break-ups, the real life of it, the guts of the show, that’s what I get off on”. Henry Davis: “For me it’s the journey. The chance to tell this person’s story and, of course, there’s the segment where they go into the big three hits, you can feel the audience’s anticipation and when it finally comes, it’s great to see the reaction, but the end where you get to see the character’s reflect back on their story from the present day, it’s a great feeling as an actor to get to play that complete journey”. Sam Ferriday: “I agree about the end, some of the best writing is the end, when each character finishes off their narrative, it sums up the essence of the person and you get to see who that character really is”. Henry Davis: “It resonates with the audience, it’s the point where it really clicks together”. Lewis Griffith, “Despite everything, they all come back together for the finale and it shows it’s not about any one person, it’s all about the music they made together”.

With producer David Ian intimating that Jersey Boys’ world domination seems set to continue with proposed forays into China and Hong Kong, I ask the actors about the future beyond the show and if they have any roles they have their eye on. Lewis Griffiths: “I’ve spent four years chasing this role and I’ve finally got it so I don’t actually want it to end, but I’d like to stretch my wings and do some straight acting roles”. Sam Ferriday: “In terms of musical theatre, Book of Mormon, Elder Price, it’s just a different way of acting, that comic style, otherwise something gritty”. Henry Davis: “I want to do everything, try anything”. From the audience and critical reactions to these four young men and this incredible show, I’m sure this won’t be the last we hear from them.

Jersey Boys will be at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal from Tuesday 8 December 2015 – Sunday 3 January 2016.

Tickets are available here

*Michael Pickering will play the role of Frankie Valli at certain performances.

**Henry Davis will play the role of Tommy DeVito at certain performances.

INTERVIEW: Michael Palin talks about his up-coming solo tour

Why have you decided to embark on your first-ever solo stage tour?

Over the years I’ve done a lot of one-man shows, usually just for one evening either to raise money at a charity event or at a book festival. I’ve really quite enjoyed doing them. It’s a nice format and I like talking to a live audience, and with the diaries [Travelling To Work: Diaries 1988-1998] coming out in September I thought ‘What can we do that’s a little bit different to anything we’ve done before?’ Book publicity is a cutthroat business these days, with everyone trying to get their publicity to out-do someone else’s and all that. I thought ‘The thing I really enjoy is doing a show so rather than a one-night stand here and there let’s do a whole tour’. We’ve put 21 shows together and I can go right round the country and hopefully entertain audiences about the 25 years since we did Around The World In 80 Days. Also, I can talk about the diaries and put that period of the 90s into context and enjoy reminiscing with a live audience. It seems to concentrate the publicity for the diaries and the interest in them and it maximises what I could do to promote them and what I enjoy doing best of all.

The book is your third volume of diaries. Can you tell us a little bit about the content?

It covers ten years from 1988 to 1998 and it begins with my misgivings about having embarked on Around The World In 80 Days. I discovered some little private thoughts I’d written down – not the diaries I use for work or for writing the book – which seem to suggest I was deeply worried about what I’d taken on. We were going to be 80 days away from home, longer than I’d ever been away before, and there was no script. We were going to make it up as we went along and you get the feeling of someone not embarking on what he thought was going to be a legendary breakthrough in travel television but someone who was absolutely terrified. So the book starts there and it ends up, rather ironically, with the decision in 1998 not to do a Monty Python reunion for various reasons, all of which are there in the diaries. In between it’s really the meanderings of someone approaching their 50s – I pass that milestone in 1993 – who never really had a proper job and who was seizing all sorts of opportunities. My first novel [Hemingway’s Chair], for instance, was published in 1994 and in 1995 there was the first – and last – play I ever wrote for the West End [The Weekend]. In amongst all this is some interesting new work like a major acting role in 1991 in the Alan Bleasdale drama GBH and movies like American Friends and Fierce Creatures, John Cleese’s follow-up to A Fish Called Wanda. Then bringing the whole lot together, in an extraordinarily busy decade, were the travel programmes. Around The World In 80 Days turned out to be a great success and lead to two, much longer series in Pole To Pole and Full Circle. They’re the diaries of someone pretty much working flat-out with a sort of added urgency that they were getting on a bit and it was now time to do all the things he could possibly do as a freelance.

You’re still working flat-out now…

Well, yes, I know. That’s the thing – I’m trying to somehow maintain a balance between work and play but I find it very hard to say no.

You’re celebrating nearly 50 years in showbusiness. What are your fondest or most vivid memories?

It’ll be the 50th anniversary next year, yes, and honestly my fondest memory is of Edinburgh in August and September 1964. I appeared in an Oxford University Revue with Terry Jones and others. It was the first time I’d actually been on a stage night after night to perform comedy, some of which I’d written myself, and it was such a great thrill to do that. I realised I could make audiences laugh. These weren’t just friends from university, these were audiences that had come up for the international festival. What happened at the Edinburgh Festival with the Oxford Revue was for me quite life-changing because for the first time I thought ‘Hey, the acting and the humour and all the things I enjoy most in life could possibly make me a living’. My father disagreed profoundly but that was a very important moment for me. I suppose the other great moment was when I’d moved on from comedy into making travel programmes. Around The World In 80 Days did very well and I think the last episode got 12 million viewers. I then said ‘That’s it’ because it was a one-off idea, following Jules Verne, with a competitive element to it and all that. Then two years later because the viewing figures had been so good we thought we could do a follow-up but this time there was no Jules Verne story, we just had to do it ourselves as a way of travelling to places I’d never been before, meeting people and talking to the camera. It was called Pole To Pole and although I thought it was pretty good when I finished it I had no idea how an audience would react. Would they just say ‘Where’s the competition element? He’s just going around the world. He’s having a nice time wandering about’. But then the first audience figures came in and they were something like nine million and I thought ‘This is wonderful’. I’d made it on my own terms as more of a genuine geographical look-at-the-world programme and we still got a huge audience. There was a feeling of ‘Wow, there’s real potential here’. I then went on and made six more series.

You’re an ardent supporter of bookshops. Why do you feel they’re still so important?

Because I think books bring people together. Look at all the book groups there are now. It’s really nice to talk about a book to another human being directly. You can do it online and all that but it’s nice to come to an actual place where you can talk about books. Bookshops have that role within the community. People talk about ideas, their favourite work, ‘Have you got this? Have you got that?’ It’s all conducted with real human beings in a living space. Bookshops don’t have a God-given right to exist. They’ve got to be bright. They’ve got to have ways of selling the books. They’ve got to have a certain character that makes you want to go in, like giving you a nice cup of coffee. But they’re friendly places where you discuss ideas you’ve read in books and that’s really important – not just for the way we are and how we talk to each other, but it’s a very important part of a community to have a place where people come together for whatever reason.

How does writing compare to performing and TV presentation as a discipline?

It’s a lonelier thing. If you’re doing a television series or a television drama or you’re doing some sort of performance there are going to be others around you all the time. You’re like a team, but when you’re writing there’s going to be a certain point where you have to go off on your own and do it yourself. You’ve got to set your own limits and decide exactly how you’re going to do it. The difficult thing I find with writing is that it can go in any direction. I’m thinking of novels really, not the travel books – the travel books are rather different because it’s basically just recording notes I’ve taken. But with novels the book keeps changing and the options seem to be far greater. If you’re doing something on stage it’s: Bang! You’re in front of an audience and you’ve got to do it. With a book there’s more time to contemplate and reflect, which can sometimes be quite troubling and it can make you think ‘Oh dear, perhaps I shouldn’t have done it like this after all’.

What’s your routine when you’re writing?

I very much have a routine. I’m totally freelance and the one-man shows I’ve been doing I tend to call things like 40 Years Without A Proper Job. It’s true; I’ve never signed a contract for longer than the duration of one particular project so I have to keep making sure I know what I’m doing and what I’m planning to do, otherwise you get sidetracked into all sorts of distractions. I have to be very careful about how I apportion my time and I have to know roughly how long it might take to write something. So I am disciplined but I’m not one of those people who get up at five in the morning and work for six hours. I start work at nine and I finish around 5pm, and if you’re freelance you can put in the odd hour around that in order to get it right. Having a balance between work and play and work and family is very important and I try and keep that, and the only way you can do that is by making sure your work itself is ring-fenced – there’s the time you’re doing it and when you’ve finished, stop it, leave it, and go off and enjoy yourself.

How do you celebrate once a book is finished?

It’s a very odd thing but I’m never quite sure when a book is finished. I’m one of these people who always feel there’s something more you can do and there’s something you can improve right up to the end. Right through to the moment when the finished copy comes through the post and on to the desk I’m nervous. I’m probably nervous even at that point, but when the book’s there and you’re holding it in your hand – the finished object that people who buy your book are going to be holding in their hands too – that’s when I know it’s finished or at least I’m thinking ‘There’s nothing more I can do now’. I’ll still be looking through it gingerly and going ‘My god, page 247, I shouldn’t have said that! There’s nothing better than seeing the end product with a nice, bright, clean cover and all that. That’s when I’ll probably go off and celebrate and probably food and drink will be involved.

When you’re on the road what’s the one thing you couldn’t be without?

A notebook and pen, undoubtedly. I’d feel naked if I didn’t have my little black Alwych notebooks made in Glasgow which I’ve taken on all my travels and a pen with which to scribble things down. It has to be done longhand.

Do you get nervous before facing an audience?

I think you’ve got to be nervous before you step out on stage. If it felt like you were just going down to the shops or to see a movie or to buy some socks it wouldn’t be right. The engagement with the audience is not altogether natural. You’re going to be on stage and expecting 1,000 people to sit and listen to you for two hours. When I look at it like that I feel the nerves begin to tingle. Entertaining means that you’ve got to be on the mark, you’ve got to be on the ball. Even if you know people have come along because they want to see you – and that’s very nice – you’ve got to entertain them and make them feel comfortable. I always feel you’ve got to be on top of your game and you should treat each show as a separate show. There’s got to be something that’s fresh and new in every performance and that means you’ve got to feel the energy as you go out there and keep your own energy levels up. Being a little nervous is the price you pay for the price they pay.

You’ve got the Python reunion shows coming up. Do you know yet what formats those shows will take?

We have a script. We had a draft script at the end of last year and that’s been honed down a bit. The format is pretty much a bedrock of our classic sketches: The Lumberjack Song, Nudge Nudge, Argument Clinic and things like that which we know have worked on stage before. There are also a few extras like The Spanish Inquisition, which hasn’t been done on stage before. Woven around that there’s a big production with lights and dancers and songs, which won’t require us to participate because we’ll be off getting changed. I don’t know if I’ll be dancing myself. There may be movement in the lower limbs. We’ll take medical advice on that.

It what ways have you changed since the Python days?

The original spirit in which these sketches were written and the reaction we had to them when they were first written – which was that they were very funny – all comes back. We couldn’t have done these shows if we didn’t believe in the material and if we didn’t think we could make the material funny again. So I don’t feel as though I’ve changed much at all and that’s a bit of a problem because I’m 71 and you can’t quite do all the things you thought you could do. The real change over the years is that we’ve become famous. When we started the shows in 1969 and in fact all through three and a half series right up to 1973 we were not that well-known individually. Certainly there was very little talk about ‘the legendary Pythons’, ‘pushing back the barriers of comedy’ and all that sort of thing. All that has come much later and it makes you feel a little self-conscious. I think we have to try to, if you like, disregard all that stuff about what it all means and the heavy-duty PR and just enjoy ourselves because that is what it will make it work and that’s what people are coming to see. I’ve got to get back to my original Python, my inner Python.

Do you envision ever retiring?

No, I don’t think so. I always think ‘Retire from what?’ My life and work are sort of intricately interwoven. I work at home every day. It’s not a feeling like my father had when he was 65 of ‘Great, I don’t have to go to the office and to meetings any more’. I’ll work until I drop and possibly afterwards, you know? A travel series set in Heaven, perhaps!

You must also have a few more volumes of the diaries to get through?

I think this new volume will almost certainly be the last for a while. The material is there but it’s very important to have a gap, probably around 20 or 25 years, between what you’re describing and when the diaries come out. That way it’s less like a journalistic report and something more reflective, talking about a period that people are beginning to forget. There’ll certainly be a gap but I’m still keeping a diary so there are all these words piling up somewhere which my children or my estate will have to deal with after I’ve gone.

*Travelling To Work: Diaries 1988-1998 will be published by Weidenfeld & Nicholson on September 11th. The Travelling To Work tour visits Glasgow’s Theatre Royal on Fri 12th September info here: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/michael-palin-travelling-to-work/theatre-royal-glasgow/

INTERVIEW ARCHIVE: Lilly-Jane Young star of Peter Pan the Neverending Story

lilly

Scottish performer Lilly-Jane Young (real name Jane Mary Sullivan) has made the headlines this week as her Peter Pan co-star Sandor Sturbl dramatically proposed to her mid-show in Glasgow (see below)

To celebrate the happy news here is an interview Lilly-Jane gave to Glasgow Theatre Blog last year.

We wish the two of them a life-time of happiness together.

Lilly is a star in Europe thanks to her leading role as Wendy in the critically acclaimed production Peter Pan The Never Ending Story.  Glasgow Theatre Blog had a chance to interview Lilly-Jane about her career and her triumphant return to Scotland.

thumb_im10_01

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your training.

I was born in Glasgow and grew up in Cumbernauld. I was always a dreamer at school, living in my own little world! When I was fifteen, I was accepted on the Musical Theatre Course at the Dance School of Scotland and that was the beginning of my professional training. We did all our normal school subjects alongside singing, dancing and acting. It was heaven for me. From there I moved to London to further my studies at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. When I graduated in 2011, I signed with my agent and hoped to take my training into the real world.

thumb_im300_45

You are currently playing Wendy Darling in Peter Pan the Never Ending Story, how did you come to be involved in this international production?

I was in exactly the right place at the right time! I was playing Fleur de Lys in the Notre Dame de Paris Asia tour. Whilst we were performing in Seoul, the choreographer of the show came to watch us and audition dancers for his new project; Peter Pan the Never Ending Story. As soon as heard about the ideas for the show I knew that it was going to be something very special and I had to be a part of it. Before I knew it, I was back in Europe for the auditions in Antwerp and the rest all just fell into place. I wasn’t sure if they would even consider me for such a huge role given my lack of experience, but thankfully the creative team believed I could do it.

thumb_im300_29

Tell us all about this new arena production of Peter Pan, What can we expect?

I would say to expect the unexpected. Our show is really exciting and also full of new and innovative technology. It becomes more like a movie on stage. Wind turbines, 3D flying techniques, bungees, digital mapping to name but a few… Also, our music was written and arranged by Matt Dunkley who is a film writer. He has worked on massive blockbusters such as Moulin Rouge, The Black Swan, Love Actually and The Pirates of the Caribbean. The music alone is stunning!

Mix it with the energy from some of the most talented people in the world (we have 20 nationalities in the show) and you are really watching something special.

thumb_im300_15

The tour has travelled to Belgium and The Netherlands and will tour to France, Germany and Switzerland as well as the UK; what has it been like travelling around Europe, how has the show been received so far?

Travelling Europe is great fun. I love turning up in a new city and seeing what it has to offer. And living in hotels is great because you don’t have to cook! The show has been doing extremely well. The audience reception has been overwhelming. With this being a brand new show, of course you are terrified that people just wont think it is good. But up until now I have heard only that people love it.

thumb_im300_05

The show will be one of the first to be performed at Glasgow’s newest mega-venue The Hydro; are you excited about coming to Scotland to play in front of a home audience in this spectacular new arena?

All I can say about coming to the Hydro is that it is truly a dream come true and playing this show for a Scottish audience will definitely be the highlight of my life so far.

What do you miss about Scotland when you’re off touring the world?

Everything. I miss my family, my dog, tattie scones and being able to make a good cup of tea.

Are there any home comforts you take with you on the road?

To be honest, I always try to pack as light as I can because the worst part of my job is dragging a heavy suitcase around. But usually my mum will send me a little gift from home just to keep me smiling if I get home sick.

thumb_im300_25

Finally, tell us why we should all come and see Peter Pan the Never Ending Story?

Everyone should come to see the show because it is just a night of pure magic for children of all ages, and believe me, you have never seen anything like it before!

thumb_im300_43

Follow Lilly-Jane on Twitter @lillyjaneyoung

Peter Pan the Neverending Story continues to tour the UK.

INTERVIEW: 10 minutes with the stars of The Lion King – Ava Brennan and Nicholas Nkuna

Anticipation has been building throughout the country since the announcement in January that Disney’s legendary musical The Lion King would make its Scottish premiere at the Edinburgh Playhouse this autumn. The international cast of 52 performers from 18 different countries have arrived this week in Edinburgh with 23 trucks and to the news that over 210,000 tickets have been sold before the first performance. Glasgow Theatre Blog had a chance to meet the show’s stars Ava Brennan (Nala) and Nicholas Nkuna (Simba) and chat about being part of this global phenomenon.

How are you settling in to Edinburgh?

Ava: I’ve been doing a bit of exploring already, along Princes Street and just walking around and getting to know the city. I’ve got a list of places I want to go to: the castle and I’d love to do one of the city tours to see all the sights; I also really want to see Mary Stairs Close the haunted underground city.

How has Edinburgh compared to other cities you’ve performed in?

Nicholas: It’s been different in every city, every city brings its own energy to the show and the show has a lot of local references added for each place we go, they just love it, especially here. We couldn’t believe the reaction those parts got. When we walked out and heard the reaction from the 3000 people in the auditorium it was unbelievable.

Ava: The first preview was daunting, the theatre is so huge and the whole cast felt more nervous than we have done anywhere we’ve been.

Why do you think the Lion King has been such a long-running and well-loved show?

Nicholas: First of all for me, it’s the story, it’s universal and touches all ages. I think that’s what makes it so successful. It means I can take my little brothers, my mum and dad, it touches all age groups.

Ava: Coupled with the story is the show itself; the puppetry, the costumes and the amount of detail that’s gone into every aspect of the show, all the fabrics are African in origin and along with the wonderful actors, it all comes together to make it feel so real and authentic.

 What is your history with the Lion King?

Ava: I’m going into my fourth year with the company; I was in the Hamburg production and in the West End for two years and now on the tour.

Nicholas: This tour is my first experience in the Lion King and I’m going in to my second year now.

What is your favourite aspect of being in the show?

Nicholas: My favourite song is “He Lives in You” I think everyone relates to the song, It’s that time when you grow up and you realise that you have to face your responsibilities. Rafiki is knocking some sense into Simba and that’s the moment in the show when the light really goes on for him. I also love the whole experience of being on tour and having the chance to travel from city to city too.

Ava: I love the first act where we hear “They Live in You” and it’s Mufasa and Simba, I have a son myself and when Mufasa tells Simba he is never alone and that his ancestors are always watching over him, it gets me every time.

It’s such a huge company what is the atmosphere like backstage?

Ava: We really are like a family; we spend so much time with one another, eight shows a week and all the rehearsals, it’s made us quite close. It’s a really nice atmosphere where everyone is really looking out for one another.

Nicholas: We are blessed being out on tour together, firstly to get the chance to meet all of these amazing people from so many wonderful countries. There are five continents represented in this one production, so few people will ever get to experience all those diverse cultures.

Ava: The fact that we are from all over the world but have the privilege of telling this one fantastic story together is wonderful.

How do you keep it fresh when you are on a long tour, how do you keep up the energy and enthusiasm?

Ava: It’s the audience that keep us going as well as the people we are working with, of course it’s the same show every day but we never feel the same way every day. There are always different people to bounce off of each day and the audience may be different from what we’ve experienced before, so that keeps it fresh.

Nicholas: I always remember that each and every night there are people in the audience who are getting to see the show for the very first time. So I think of it as a premier every night, each and every single night the show has to be at its best.

Do you have any advice for any aspiring actors?

Ava: This industry is audition after audition and knock back after knock back, it happens to every performer, all I can say is keep going, if you want to go for it, if you want it to happen, it will, if you work hard enough for it.

Nicholas: This was my third attempt to get into the show, I had been turned down twice before and then on the third try I landed the principal role in the show. If you want it enough, go for it, there is nothing that should stop you. If you really believe in it then someone will see that in you and it will happen.

Disney’s The Lion King is at the Edinburgh Playhouse until 18th January 2014.

INTERVIEW: Allison McKenzie star of Macbeth West End talks to Glasgow Theatre Blog

10300_full

You have opened in the eagerly anticipated Macbeth at the Trafalgar Studios; how did the rehearsals go?

Rehearsal were very lively! We really attacked this play from the first day with a combination of intense movement workshops, voice and text work and sheer gusto in making bold and risky choices. Every day was full of surprises! A lot of energy was needed.

all

Allison in rehearsal for Macbeth. Picture credit Johan Persson.

How did you prepare for your roles as Lady MacDuff and as one of the infamous Witches?

I prepared my portrayal of Lady MacDuff and also one of the Witches with a huge amount of research. As we are setting our production in a post apocalyptic/dystopian Scotland the choices had to be very true and pertaining to the time. I decided to make Lady MacDuff a very strong character. She is no pushover, very earthy with a very strong self of herself and what is right. Which made me lean towards making her a peaceful political activist trying to fight against Macbeth’s tyranny. My Witch on the other hand has no soul or moral compass and for that I explored soldiers with post traumatic stress syndrome and the dark arts which was really interesting. The questions brought up in rehearsals were ‘are the witches mortal; have they witnessed battle themselves; have they sold their soul to gain power; are they the voice of fate?’ which was so interesting to explore.

9485_full

Do you think being Scottish yourself you have more of an understanding of the heart and soul of Macbeth?

I don’t think being Scottish makes me have more of an understanding of the heart of the play. It’s a play of our times with a dictator, bloodshed and tyranny. It’s happening all over the world and could be set anywhere, even present day Syria. It’s beautiful to hear the language spoken in the Scots dialect though.

What can we expect from Jamie Lloyd’s new adaptation of the “Scottish Play”?

Jamie Lloyd has created a no holds barred Macbeth. It is visceral, bloody and moves at a ferocious pace. When speaking to audience members afterwards they feel they’ve been taken to hell and back and are absolutely exhausted watching it. They usually need a stiff drink or two to recover!

hjh

James McAvoy and Jamie LLoyd in Macbeth rehearsals.

You are a familiar face in Scotland but can you tell our readers in the rest of the UK a bit about your background?

My background lies in all mediums of performance. From being in Glasgow Schools Youth Theatre as a young girl, to studying for 3 years at Drama School to then heading to Dundee Rep as part of their ensemble company for a year where I was nominated for Best Actress at The Theatre Management Awards for Sally Bowles in Cabaret. I then moved to London to concentrate on TV and film which brought me back to Scotland after a couple of years to play Joanne Rossi in River City. I decided to leave after 4 years to head back to my first love which is theatre. I’ve been really busy the last couple of years with two feature films being released and well as appearing on TV and stage.

You’ve appeared on television, film and on stage, what career ambitions would you still like to fulfill?

I have lots of ambitions I would like to fulfill. Always improving my craft is one of them. Consistently taking risks in the parts I play and working with creative and wonderful actors, writers and directors is fundamentally most important.

kkkk

What advice would you give to someone contemplating a career as an actor?

If you are thinking of becoming an actor I would advise you to go to drama school and train. It really serves you well in your career and opens lots of doors and believe in yourself! there are a lot of knock backs in this profession and you need to have the wisdom and gumption to know that you may not have been right for that particular part but you’re next job is just round the corner. Have faith!

What have you got planned for the rest of 2013 and beyond?

2013 has started off very well and long may it continue! I am about to start filming for the second series of Line of Duty which stars fellow Scottish actor Martin Compson, Robert Lindsay, Keeley Hawes and Jessica Raine. Written by Jed Mercurio it was BBC Two’s biggest new drama series for 10 years, series two will feature a new police corruption story told over six one-hour episodes. After that – well basically I’m very excited as to where the year will take me!

Finally, can you describe yourself in three words?

Happy, Spirited, Creative

« Older Entries Recent Entries »