On paper the subject matter of this “new play with music” couldn’t get any better: set initially against the backdrop of Elvis’ one and only visit to the UK on Thursday March 3rd 1960, when he stepped onto the Tarmac of Prestwick Airport in Scotland, it tells a hugely relatable relationship tale of how teenage dreams can turn into adult nightmares. Add to this a smattering of classic tunes: “All I Have To Do Is Dream”, “The Wonder of You” and the barnstorming title track to name a few, and a (relatively) local setting and you’d think you’d have a sure fire hit on your hands: Jennifer Selway’s There’s a Guy Works Down The Chipshop Swears He’s Elvis is bursting with promise, but it’s not without it’s faults.
The surprise visit from ‘The King’ to Scottish shores has the Kilmarnock branch of the Elvis Presley Fan Club in a tizzy. It’s four members are firm friends but lies and deceit abound and 20 years on, the consequences of those lies, and the truth of that night in 1960, threaten to tear them apart forever.
There’s a fair potion of grit served up in Selway’s play amongst the teenage swooning and crooning but there’s an overwhelming feeling that it could have given so much more. Some of the fault lies in the dialogue which at times feels artificial and at other points has clearly has been used to pad the work out to the nearly one and three quarter hour running time: some judicious editing would have tightened the focus, made the piece harder hitting and left room for more of the thing that the cast truly excel at: singing. The glorious sound they make both individually and collectively is stunningly good – leaving you begging for more.
More a work in progress than the finished article, but the potential is all there for this to be a sure-fire hit.
Scottish actress Sabrina Carter is currently travelling the globe on the international tour of the smash hit One Man Two Guv’nors. Glasgow Theatre Blog managed to catch up with Sabrina from Sydney to find out about her journey from Scotland to the international stage.
Can we go back to your beginnings – tell us about your background and what first sparked your interest in theatre?
I came to theatre quite late. It all started properly when I was 16 and my friend wanted someone to go with her to an audition for a show called Once on this Island for Durham Youth Music Theatre. I went along reluctantly, and ended up getting the lead part of Timoune. After that I played many roles including Mary Magdelene in Jesus Christ Superstar, Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ and Florence in Chess. After this I started to listen to more and more shows and found a great love of theatre.
When did you decide to seriously pursue a theatrical career?
I was about 17 and was looking at university courses to study psychology, and literally two days before I was due to hand in my UCAS forms I decided to change it to study acting at a university. I knew I wanted to do a 3 year course with dissertation at the end, so I applied to many any decided upon Northumbria University at Newcastle.
Sabrina with Marti Pellow in Jekyll andHyde
You’ve recently been appearing in One Man Two Guv’nors: what is it like being involved in such a universally lauded production?
It’s fantastic! What an honour to be part of a piece that has such acclaim and lucky to be working for one of the best theatre companies in the world, The National Theatre is something that I’ve dreamed of all my life.
You’ve had a diverse range of roles in your career, which is the role you are most proud of?
That’s a hard question as I try not to take jobs or audition for shows that I’m not going to learn from. I think I’m most proud of The 39 Steps. Most of work up until this point in London had been musicals so to make the leap to plays can be very difficult. I managed it and feel so proud of the people I worked with but more importantly to get to play Pamela, Margaret, and Annabella , three very different roles.
You have played the coveted role of Elphaba in Wicked; tell us about your experience in the show.
Elphaba is undoubtedly one of the hardest female roles to play, not just the level of singing required but the roller coaster of emotions she goes through is massive! I still hold a massive place in my heart for her and of course my ensemble role of Pfanee. I made some amazing friends on that show and worked with some of the best creatives in the world.
Sabrina as Elphaba
My 1st performance of ‘Elphie’ was mid-show on a Saturday matinee. Alexia was literally being sick in the wings, which I was completely unaware of at the time, and I was doing the ‘Oz Dust ballroom’. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the stage management team stood side of stage, all looking at me and talking to each other. At the end of the dance I ran off to change when I was stopped, whilst the stage manager was chatting into her headset . Then it was like GO, GO, GO!!! A team of about four people hurried me downstairs to the wardrobe village ( undressing me as I was running) . I had sound teams changing my microphones, people changing my tights , people painting me green , it was manic! All the while I was trying to make sure my voice was ready for the marathon ahead. Approximately 8 minutes later I was dressed, micked and stood up stage right to enter with Dianne for ‘Emerald City’ … Then came the dreaded but thrilling ‘Defying Gravity’ …One of the most special and defining moments of my life. The highlight of the whole show was sharing it with the stunning Dianne Pilkington.
Jennifer Tierney, Sabrina Carter as Pfanee and Dianne Pilkington as Glinda
What advice would you give to someone sitting back at home in Scotland considering training as an actor?
If you need to ask yourself if it’s the right profession, Then it’s not the right business for you! DO IT! Train well, and immerse yourself into every piece of theatre/performance you can. I trained at the Royal Conservatoire previously known as RSAMD. The skills I learned were invaluable.
Sabrina as Nancy in Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Oliver!
What’s the best advice that you have received?
“Don’t forget people on the way up, as you’ll see them on the way down”
Tell us what you have been up to recently and what you’ve got planned for 2013 and beyond.
As I write this I’m in Sydney working on the international leg of One Man, Two Guv’nors, this finishes end of June , then who knows were the wind will take me . I do miss singing so maybe a wee return to musicals – basically whoever will have me!
Jeckyll and Hyde
A few quick questions…
What’s your favourite play/musical of all time?
Musical – Evita and Wicked (sorry that’s cringe!)
Play – Blithe Spirit
Who most inspires you?
Hard working non stagey actors
Your dream role?
It depends, in a musical – Eva Peron. I’ve just read Magdelena Alberto will be playing opposite my Mr Jekyll, Marti Pellow. She is fabulous, so I’ll look forward to seeing her in the role.