In the cold, wet January a weekend of colour warmed my frozen heart as two days of cross collaborative art, provocation and music flamed into life at the former National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) headquarters, Civic House. The ‘Just Start Here’ festival, which was the brain child of Engine Room Producer Anna Hodgart, really was about thinking big!
The two days comprised of performance (mostly BSL interpreted) which came in the form of music, theatre, a panelled discussion and some more intimate work. ‘Dinner‘ with Laurie Brown was an visceral piece of art about observing the rituals surrounding food and the role food has within our lives. I feel very lucky to have experienced this two hour meal. It felt almost meditative in its observance of food related ritual but also pleasantly social with the delightful added aspect of delicious food and great company. It reminded me of the importance that a meal (especially with family) can hold and the rushed, unceremonious way most of us eat.
We were also privy to the outcome of the ‘One Day to Play’ initiative. This paid opportunity for artists to experiment across art-forms in order to generate a brand new idea was fascinating to watch. Personally I think that devising under a time-constraint can often produce the strangest but the most honest, and raw forms of artistic expression for each individual involved. All three pieces were imaginative, movement based and very interesting (if not altogether understandable) and I do hope that Engine Room continues to offer empowering opportunities such as this. Amongst the plethora of works there was sultry and emotive music by ‘Heir of the Cursed’ unlike anything I’ve heard before (cannot wait for the album). Also, a one-on-one piece called ‘Ignorance is a Sweet Cup of Tea’ about the identity of tea and its role in Empire. It made me reflect on my own understanding of Empire and this nations foundations in the exploitation and enslavement of people.
As a young and emerging artist the weekend was an invaluable experience as I gained insight into what my National Theatre is doing for me and the artistic community around me, as well as a chance to network and talk to more experienced creatives from a multitude of backgrounds. It reminded me that NTS really is a ‘theatre without walls’. I was very shocked there were not more young people there especially at such affordable ticket prices. I could go on and on about this wonderful event but unfortunately cannot. If you’d like to know more about the artists who participated in the event check out the link below to the festivals programme and some clips of the artists who performed. Also check out this interview with Engine Room Producer Anna Hodgart.
Actress Amanda Root on her ‘British Citizen Award’ and her charity Talitha Arts
Flo: So, Amanda; last year you were one of 30 people to be nominated and then awarded a British Citizen Award. An award given to a select group of people from all over the UK, who work tirelessly and selflessly in the aim to better our society. The award was given to you for your work with ‘Talitha Arts’- a charity that you’ve been heavily involved with (in founding and running). A charity that recognizes and works with The Arts’ ‘healing powers’ in order to restore confidence and joy to trauma-sufferers’ and Dementia patients’ lives.
Out of interest - who nominated you for the award?
Amanda: I was nominated by a friend, actually. A friend called Alex Ghose who has been a great supporter of Talitha for sometime. It was so kind of her to acknowledge the work Talitha was doing, and to then see the British Citizen Awards do the same; well that was just amazing.
Flo: Was Alex a good friend of yours before Talitha came-about? Or did you get to know each other through working with the charity?
Amanda: We connected through the work of Talitha, yes. She’s also an artist and has donated some amazing paintings, as well as holding her own tea-party with friends and family members to raise funds for Talitha. She’s always at-hand to help. She’s brilliant.
Flo: So; when did you first start to realise that The Arts had a sort-of ‘healing’ power?
Amanda: I think I first started to realise how amazing The Arts really was, when I was quite young. I had this instinct that the ‘creative process’ would and could be a safe environment for expression and discovery. I wanted to take The Arts to those people who didn’t have the advantages that I had/have. There are so many people who need this this kind of outlet. Those who feel that they don’t have a voice, those who have been abused or maltreated, who are vulnerable, or who are struggling with ill health or life circumstances. The arts help people discover a sense of worth and value again, and a sense that there is hope beyond their circumstance. This idea then went on the ‘back-burner’, really. I got caught up in my Acting career. And then, when I reached my mid-thirties I began to think – maybe there’s something still there. And it wasn’t until later into my 40s that I actually put passion into practice.
F: So how did Talitha first come-about? Explain the early stages of founding (and developing) the charity, to me.
A: Well; the first project I embarked on before setting up Talitha Arts was an ‘arts project’ pilot, working with adults with learning difficulties. I then heard Gary Haugen speak (the American Lawyer who founded the International Justice Mission*). When I heard how they’d rescued girls who’d been trafficked in India, and saw photos of them emerging from a cave where they had been taken and beaten into submission and forced into sex work, something inside of me changed. I knew this was a place where the arts would be beneficial to help these girls rehabilitate and integrate back into their society. I wanted to help them regain a sense of their value and dignity. Soon after this; I went and met with Terry Tennens (Executive Director of IJM UK) who championed the idea, sent my proposal to IJM HQ in America (to be approved by their ‘Head of Aftercare’). It was (*hurrah*) and through Terry’s help and initiative I was then offered a pilot in Mumbai. I was out there for 3 weeks - with one other girl who was a dance movement therapist. We stayed close to a care home for girls rescued from trafficking and abuse (which was run by nuns) and we offered a whole range of activities and exercises based on therapeutic principles. The girls loved it and the project was so well received that we were immediately asked to go back again. We have subsequently taken bi annual trips to India from 2012-2016 expanding our work to serve vulnerable girls in Bolivia in 2016. We have also developed rapidly in the UK and we now work with those who have been sexually exploited, those who have experienced domestic violence and those living with dementia.
Flo: It (Talitha Arts) seems like such a simple idea, and yet, there isn’t really a charity like it, is there?
Amanda: Well there are Arts Therapists working on similar projects to Talitha, but what I think makes us unique is that our facilitators are a mix of professional actors, artists, musicians and dancers as well as arts therapists. So we combine our skills to create workshops that have a very powerful dynamic, creatively, and also retain therapeutic foundations. We work in teams of three when teaching. Talitha’s approach is based on person-centered care, and so it’s always about making sure the individual comes first. We’re not directing people; we’re helping and encouraging them to explore.
Flo: Having worked with people affected by so many different types of trauma – are there different ways you approach workshops (depending on the group of people or individual)?
Amanda: Well we do have a model of how we work. We create session plans, we have a structure, however; each individual client group definitely has its own particular needs, and to make sure we accommodate for these; we are constantly adapting work and exercises from workshop-to-workshop, yes. With trauma you have to remember that activities can trigger memories. This may result in the individual being withdrawn, or having physical symptoms, or headaches, or even feeling sick. A lot of trauma is held in the body and because of this; people can find it very hard to be present or in the moment. Creative activity engages our imagination and draws us into the present.
Flo: In an interview with Essential Surrey you mentioned that you were very keen for Talitha to work in care homes and prisons [in the future] as well as (of course) your current plans to take Talitha into schools. Why these twoenvironments? What do you think Talitha could offer them?
Amanda: I think within the context that we (Talitha) work in; we meet a lot of people who have had their sense of self-confidence compromised. Both Dementia patients and Prison inmates’ have experienced feeling worthless and irrelevant.No matter what their situation - all these people are dealing with a sense of voicelessness and powerlessness. Some are dealing with terminal illnesses, others with the ramifications of an action they’ve taken. Sometimes people feel defined by their experiences. We really try and work against this. We want people to be informed by their past but definitely not defined by it. Those in prisons and care homes need the same support and care that other trauma sufferers do. They need to feel worth and value.
Flo: And finally to end this brilliant interview – where do you see Talitha (Arts) in 20-years time? And what do you hope it will have accomplished?
Amanda: Well; firstly - I would really love us to be expanding and replicating our work across the UK. I’d love us to be training those in the care sector, helping people who work in these sorts of areas to understand how ‘therapeutic arts’ work. I’d also like Talitha to be recognized as an approach that is distinct, has an impact, and that enriches lives that have been broken by circumstance, ill-health, abuse or violence etc. I would love for people to say “hey we need the Talitha approach here” or “we need to use Talitha in our school”.
I would love our process and approach to be seen, understood and recognized for something that’s going to be very powerful in the care sector. That’s my passion.
Flo: Oh I really hope it does too. Gosh; on behalf of the Arts community (and the UK too); I want to thank you for the amazing work you’re doing Amanda. You’re working so hard to bring joy to those who have suffered, and it’s just so inspiring. You’re also doing this alongside working as a professional Actor. Do you have any spare time haha? It’s truly amazing and incredibly impressive. Thank you so much for letting me interview you this morning and I look forward to hearing more about Talitha Arts in the future.
Visit Talitha online at this address: https://www.talitha.org.uk
To find out more about the British Citizen Awards click here: http://britishcitizenawards.co.uk
Interview conducted and transcribed by Florence Hatton
Over a century ago, the Wicked Witch of the West first flew into Oz in L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; green and ghastly, she was after silver slippers and had only one all-seeing eye. In 1939, she was immortalised, in a certain shade of green and on screen, by Margaret Hamilton in MGM’s musical The Wizard of Oz, this time on the hunt for ruby red slippers to make the most of Technicolor technology.
After frightening families for over fifty years, Gregory Maguire reimagined the green-skinned miscreant as a green-skinned, misunderstood young woman with, for the first time, a name: Elphaba, fashioned from L. Frank Baum’s own initials, in the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. This previously untold story of the Wicked Witch’s life and times prior to Dorothy’s appearance was adapted into a stage musical: Wicked. With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman, the musical opened on Broadway in 2003, starring Idina Menzel as Elphaba, and was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, winning three.
Now, on a September day in 2017, it’s over 10 years since Wicked opened at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London’s West End and it’s the announcement of a new Wicked UK Tour, to begin in Bristol in the New Year, and a new Elphaba. As Executive Producer Michael McCabe explains in his introduction, some of the company are experienced cast members and have already performed in the show in different capacities, and others are ‘absolutely brand new’, bringing ‘excitement’, a ‘new interpretation’ and ‘new emotion’.
Going green for the first time is Amy Ross as Elphaba, with recent roles in Sunny Afternoon, Kinky Boots and Heathers: The Musical, and going ‘Good’ again as Glinda is Helen Woolf, after covering the role in the West End and as part of the first UK Tour in 2013. Their performance of ‘For Good’, the witches’ heartfelt farewell to each other near the show’s finale, even in a conference room with microphones and without costumes, is bewitchingly beautiful and could melt the most wicked of witches.
Then, fresh from the East End and welcomed to the west is Aaron Sidwell as Fiyero, the love-interest who’s just ‘Dancing Through Life’ before he falls for Elphaba. As well as Eastenders, Sidwell has also had leading roles in American Idiot and Loserville the Musical. He and Ross perform ‘As Long As You’re Mine’, the dark and brooding duet between Fiyero and Elphaba, with all the tenderness the love song demands, but also with the burning determination the lovers have to be together in the musical.
As well as the cast, Susan Hilferty’s award-winning costumes are on display. As detailed as they are decorative, impressive, opulent and in every shade from emerald to olive, they’re sure to shine onstage, like the new UK Tour cast who will wear them, in the ultimate musical about friendship, fighting the good fight, and defying the odds, as well as gravity, as Elphaba did today over Bristol’s dockside.
Written by Leah Tozer
Underdog attended the first ever The Stage Debut Awards 2017; the red carpet rolled, cameras poised and nominees primed for an evening to celebrate the new faces of British Theatre. The beaming smiles and giddy energy of the red carpet newbies is infectious, with all nominees receiving a much deserved congratulations on their theatrical unveiling. This awards evening, unlike others, celebrates the young artists who have so admirably gained recognition in such a difficult and often impenetrable industry. So what better way to inspire young performers everywhere than heralding those who have bucked that trend and performed exceptionally.
What we find in all the nominees is a humbleness and reverence of their fellow nominees and cast. There are no pollution's of fame or success, translating to a warmth and excitement that makes these actors shine. Several are fresh from training such as Abraham Popoola, Miriam-Teak Lee and Grace Molony all respective winners on the evening, showing that success can come with at any stage in aperformers career.
The Stage Debut Awards similarly celebrates roaring successes for Britain’s regional Theatres. Wins for the Tobacco Factory Theatre, Bristol which hosted Popoolas Othello, The Minerva Theatre, Chichester showing The Country Girls, the Best Director Award going to Lekan Lawal at the Derby Theatre, Best Composer for the Crucible Sheffield and Katherine Soper, winner of Best Writer for Wish List at the Royal Exchange Manchester. While there are obviously wins for many of the London Theatres, witnessing this proves that the Regional Theatre world is a force to be reckoned with, and while London is still the Godfather of UK Theatre, this does indicate that the British Theatre’s brightest new talent can also be found further afield.
Written by Patrick Riley
Jake Quickenden, playing 'Peter Pan'
U: So this is your first acting role, are you excited or nervous?
JQ: You know it’s funny to talk to someone who has been to acting school and has kind of come out of it because, I guess for you guys it’s pretty annoying when somebody who’s just done a reality show gets an acting job because we haven’t worked for it. I didn’t want to just be handed something because of what I’d done, I’m not about that, because I know how hard it is for people that have worked all their lives and then they don’t get anywhere with it because there’s people taking jobs who have no past experience. So I did the acting lessons to kind of prepare myself and I did the audition, I didn’t just get handed it. So I kind of proved to myself there, [I’m] actually alright. Hopefully you actors won’t be mad at me (Laughs).
U: What would you say you’ve taken most from your acting classes?
JQ: Im quite confident anyway, but to act like some one else is hard, because I’ve never had to do that I’ve always been myself, with singing on stage I don’t have to act like anyone else. It was so nerve wrecking, I did 1:1 lessons so I’d get a script the night before and I’d learn my lines and I'm not joking, I used to go in the next day looking like a zombie because I’d stayed up all night learning these lines, and then I was really paranoid about doing it and kind of quiet and in my shell and I'm thinking, I'm not like this at all! So it’s coming out and not being afraid to be a bit stupid and be a bit different because at the end of the day, you’re playing a character and you’ve got to. So yes, it just took me a little bit of time to get used to actually not being myself, being someone else…which I don’t mind (laughs) but I do like being me, and I’ve always been me when I’ve been on stage so it’s a different thing for me to be someone else on stage.
U: Do you think acting is something you’d like to continue with?
JQ: 100%. Well I took the lessons before I even knew I’d got the role. So I started taking the lessons because I wanted to give myself a new challenge, another string to my bow. Because I can do a bit of singing, I’ve done a bit of TV presenting, so why not add a bit of acting and learn a new skill. If this goes well and I keep going with the acting lessons, you never know what kind of doors can be opened, and I’d love to continue with the acting because I do enjoy when I go into my acting lessons. I’ve started doing a few more now where I'm in a big group, and it’s quite daunting when they say stand up you’ve got to act with her and you’ve got to do a scene. But I do really enjoy it so if anything comes out of it, you could see me in Emmerdale, chucking some hay bails around you never know (laughs).
U: Has there ever been a point in your career where you’ve felt like an underdog?
JQ: I think I’ve always felt like the underdog. Going on X Factor, I know that I’m not the best singer in the world, and listening to these singers like when you’re at boot camp, I knew that I wasn’t going to win, I can say that because I’m not the strongest of singers, there are so many amazing singers and so many amazing artists, so I was kind of an underdog in there. Then going into the jungle and being offered that opportunity, I was a no one, all I’d done is X Factor, I’m not a celebrity. So for me I was like, again I'm an underdog, I’ve got to prove now, on X Factor I never really got to show my personality, so again I’ve got to prove the kind of person I am. So I’ve always kind of been the underdog, I guess I'm the underdog in this because I’ve never done [a musical] before so I'm quite open to scrutiny if it goes wrong and it's not very good.
U: But sometimes feeling like the underdog can make you push that little bit harder?
JQ: Exactly! I love being the underdog. Its amazing because I’ll work really hard because I want to do well and I want to do well for the people who have given me the opportunity and my other cast members.
Q: Are you particularly inspired by any of your cast members?
A: Jen has obviously had an amazing career, she’s done it all! Shes been a dancer, had record deals and released songs in the UK and she's been an actress so yes, I don’t think I could’ve been placed with a better person to learn from. I’ll definitely be taking in and advice she gives me, and if I can help her out in anyway then I’ll always try but I think I’ll be asking her a lot of questions.
U: What would your dream role in a play or musical be?
JQ: I do like muscials. I’d love to play Patrick Swayze’s character in Ghost, I think that’s amazing. West End is great, Grease, stuff like that. But I would never turn anything down, because I always think, no matter if it goes well or if it goes wrong, you’re always learning something.
U: Have you been on many trips to the theatre this year? If so what has been your favourite?
JQ: I’m off to London on Saturday to see Matilda. My girlfriends sister is a teacher at a place called Little Voices, and one of her students is in Matilda so we’re going to go and watch them. I watched Cats as well, and I liked it, but it was more musical than acting, there's not much acting in Cats it’s a lot of singing! So it’ll be good to see one with a bit of both.
U: What’s next in the pipeline for you?
JQ: I'm open to anything. We’ll see how this goes and you never know what doors this could open. I’ll always get back in the studio and keep doing music, you never know if any TV stuff comes around but I do want to be taken seriously, so the TV stuff has to be right for me. If it was reality [TV] it would have to be something where I'm learning a skill. I’ll always keep my options open and hopefully it’ll be alright.
Jennifer Ellison, playing Captain Hook
U: Are you excited to start rehearsals? and do you have any pre-show rituals?
JE: I am yes I’m really looking forward to it, really excited. And no not really, I think I’ve done it so many times now it’s just like… I do get nervous, but there’s nothing, like, particular that I do, no.
U: Were you more nervous for your first ever set or stage experience?
JE: I think stage experience because it’s live and you can’t go wrong. My first West End job was Chicago playing the lead, so, I kind of jumped into deep water really, it wasn’t something I gradually built it was probably the most iconic role of its time and one of the biggest musicals of all time. So I wasn’t doing things by halves. But definitely live because you don’t [get a second chance], having done Brookside, I’d done lots of filming, so the filming was kind of, you kind of knew it.
Q: Has there ever been a particular point in your career where you’ve felt like an underdog?
A: I think doing Phantom I was like, so out of my league because I was working with Hollywood A-list actors, so I think that was probably when I felt like the most out of my depth. I was a bit like what am I actually doing here because these are all like Hollywood Oscar nominated Actors and Actresses and I'm Jen from Liverpool (Laughs). So that was probably the time I felt the most like an underdog.
Q: Is there anyone that you’ve worked with in the past that has particularly inspired you?
A: There’s been so many people. I worked with Bernie Nolan who recently passed away and Lynda Bellingham in Calendar Girls, I think they probably [inspired me most]. Bernie had just got the all clear for cancer and, going out every day and performing and staying on tour with us, you know, that was inspiring more so than talent. When she sang, she had the most incredible voice, so it’s people who have sentimental value, more than talent really I’d say.
Q: Have been on many trips to the theatre this year, if so, what has been your favourite?
A: I went to see Kinky Boots and Book of Mormon and they were great, they were incredible.
Q: What would your dream role in a play or musical be?
A: I’d love to do a real gritty drama, which is just about the acting. Something like This is England or Three Girls, something different.
Q: Do you have any rehearsal essintials?
A: Mobile phone (Laughs). Water, chewing gum.
Q: What’s next in the pipeline for you?
A: Well I own a performing arts school and college now, so it’s basically getting them through their qualification, they’re doing a BTEC Level 3, so yes, it’s kind of all systems go with that really. I’m the principle of the college so it’s very hands on and takes a lot of time.
Scott Gallagher, playing 'Smee'
U: So you’re going to be playing Mr Smee, are there any parts of your personality that you’re going to try and bring to the character?
SG: Probably the cheekiness and the sarcastic side of it. At work and well, just in general, I’m known for being quite sarcastic and that kind of thing so I’m hoping to bring that through and just bring myself through, to be honest with you. I think being a local lad and working locally this Christmas, it’s going to be nice to try and bring me through, obviously, you know, stay with Mr Smee but, you know, make people aware it’s me, that kind of thing.
U: Has there ever been a particular part in your career when you’ve felt like an underdog?
SG: To be honest with you I think a lot of the time in a lot of the shows that I’ve done, I’m not going to say underdog, but because I’ve not had as much experience professionally as [Jake, Maureen and Jennifer] I feel sometimes that I maybe need to prove myself a little bit more and you know, go that extra mile. But as an underdog, probably not. But in that kind of sense of it yes, the challenge is going to be there at Christmas which I’m really looking forward to.
U: Are there any cast members that particularly inspire you?
SG: All of them really, obviously Maureen Nolan speaks for herself, she’s a legend so I look up to her and everything shes done. Jennifer I’ve only just met in the last couple of weeks and listening to her story, we grew up around the same age, seeing her on Brookside seeing her on TV, her journey from a young age is quite inspiring and also Jake as well, listening to his story coming from kind of not a great background to obviously straight into the X Factor and things like that, that’s quite inspiring to kind of just go you know what head down, crack on and just really get on with it so everybody really to be honest.
Q: Have you had many trips to the theatre this year and if so, what has been your favourite?
A: We’ve had a couple of trips, we’ve seen Matilda down in London which was superb. I didn’t know what to expect from [Matilda] I was a little bit unsure, because usually you go to London and you’re like right I want to see A, B and C, but we kind of went down not knowing what to see and Matlida cropped up and I was like go on then and I though it was magnificent, it was really really good. Locally recently we saw, last week actually, Spamalot which is on tour currently and it was hilarious, it was a real real nice show to sit down and really enjoy. I’d heard of it, but never really got into or seen it before so to see it, we were just in stiches it was a real real good show.
U: What would be your dream role in a play or a musical?
SG: Wow. If I had to pick one, I would probably say the role I would love to play the most would be Fagen in Oliver! I love, as well, you know - Bill Sykes or Danny in Grease, but Fagen in Oliver! for me, I think I could really get my teeth into and it’s just a real nice role and it’s an iconic musical as well, generation after generation have seen Oliver! and it think it kind of stands on its own as one of the all time greats, so I think Fagen for me would be the one.
Q: Do you have any essentials when rehearsing?
SG: My script. (Laughs) That’s going to be one of them. Nothing really that I can think of, oh, I do like to take pictures of my kids everywhere I go, I’ve got a couple in my car that always stay with me there, but I think obviously my mobile phone, technology is moving on now, everything is just kind of there really so nothing off the top of my head. Phone’s an essential and a good pair of underpants (Laughs).
Q: So what’s next in the pipeline for you?
A: We’ve got a few things going on, I’m head down with the radio show, I present the breakfast show here in Blackpool, Radio Wave, so I’m looking forward to seeing what 2018 brings for that. I’ll be doing quite a few more live appearances, we do a lot of charity work that we do with Help for Heroes and things, and hopefully just going to bulid a profile locally to be honest with you. If I can get out and about a little bit more I will, but to be honest with you at the minute I’m happy kind of working with Blackpool to you know, grow bigger and bigger to be honest. I think getting my teeth into some of the local stuff here is going to be the way forward.
Tickets here: http://www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk/events/peter-pan/
Interviewed and transcribed by Anna Jobarteh.
Charlotte Page plays the smiling, rhyming, yellow-admiring Alice Beineke, the marvellous motherly foil in the vein of an over-anxious Avon lady to the vampy Addams matriarch Morticia in The Addams Family UK Tour. Here she is talking family, performance, and favourite moments before opening night at the Bristol Hippodrome.
U: When you're touring and away from your own home and family, what's it like being part of such a family-oriented show?
CP: Well, I’ve only got a husband and the cat and some hedgehogs at home, so for me it’s always a joy to be faced with hundreds of happy families out in the audience. I find it quite difficult missing my solitary husband and he finds it difficult missing me, but I do get to see him almost every weekend and sometimes he comes out to visit me as well, so that’s lovely.
U: And how are you finding the tour so far?
CP: It’s really so lovely because it’s so well received everywhere. I’ve never been in such a consistently well-received show where audiences are, more often than not, [giving] standing ovations and lots of laughter and it’s a real feel-good show. You catch it on stage – it’s infectious! It’s a really happy company. Touring in general is quite difficult usually but when you’re with such a lovely show, you gain its energy, so it sort of carries you through, like a hovercraft!
U: We’re excited to be picked up by it too! What's your favourite moment in the show?
CP: I think it’s when Gomez sings ‘Happy Sad’. It’s a really beautiful moment and it’s really touching. I’m a sucker for the touching moments! It’s just a moment [where] he can see he’s losing his daughter to adulthood, and it makes him happy that she’s a beautiful young woman, and it makes him sad that, as a father, his job is almost over. [Cameron Blakely] sings it so beautifully and it’s a really lovely, lovely moment. It’s magical. I think that’s my main favourite moment [but] there’s so many! Carrie singing ‘Pulled’ is like being next to somebody world-class singing the song they’re meant to sing. She’s astonishing. She is a real phenomenon, absolute phenomenon. It really is a privilege to share the stage with her because she’s so good!
U: From the other characters you’ve played in your career, who do you think Alice is the most like?
CP: Oh gosh, that’s quite difficult! I suppose, weirdly – and this is very, very weird – because I have a sort-of mad scene in this, Lucia di Lammermoor [from the opera Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti], although I don’t go around murdering people! Or, I suppose, even Sally in Follies. She’s got that mid-life crisis, neurotic thing going as well. A little less extreme [than Lucia]!
U: Do you channel any characters in your portrayal? What inspires you onstage?
CP: There are little moments, every so often – but I don’t think anybody would notice them – of a lady called Joyce Grenfell. She was a wonderful actress and comedienne in the forties and fifties and sixties, and she played characters [like] Lumpy Latimer and Miss Gossage [from the 1950 film The Happiest Days of Your Life] and [Sergeant Ruby Gates] in St Trinians, the old black and white movies, and there are moments in the gawky and ungainly aspects [of Alice] where I channel Joyce Grenfell. But I tend to channel Joyce Grenfell in everything! There’s always a moment of gawkiness even when I play something romantic. She’s my main girl. Otherwise, I just channel the nether-regions of Charlotte Page!
U: Moving on from Alice, if you could be any member of the Addams Family, who would it be and why?
CP: Oh, Morticia! Absolutely Morticia! She’s sexy, she’s cool, she’s seemingly in control. Love is her life, her passion – I mean, who wouldn’t want to be Morticia and tango three times a week? Heaven!
U: Absolutely! From onstage to offstage, who's the 'kookiest' member of the cast?
CP: Ooh! Well, probably Cameron Blakely who plays Gomez. He has got the energy of a hundred men and the sense of humour of all the comedians in the world. He is an energy force, he is absolutely crazy, he does something different every single night and we’re all biting our cheeks trying not to laugh because he’s an absolute comic genius onstage and off. He’s so dry offstage you think, ‘is he joking?’, and then he’ll do a little twinkle and you realise he is. He’s just a genius comedian, on and off.
U: Finally, I’d love to know if you’ve ever felt like an Underdog in your career, and what advice would you give to other underdogs?
CP: I was definitely a comedian at music college, The Royal Academy of Music. I had no self-esteem whatsoever, didn’t believe I had any chance because everybody else arrived seemingly so confident. But gradually, as time went by, I found there were things that I could do that other people couldn’t, and, bit-by-bit, I grew from being an underdog. But I pretty much was an underdog throughout most of my college time. And I always feel like an underdog at every audition I do. You never expect anything. You arrive and you just try your hardest because otherwise you’re never going to get past the first hurdle. Whereas, in actual fact, by just getting an audition you’re past the first hurdle, so you’re not really an underdog! But it’s a state of mind. I try to quash the underdog feeling these days, I’m older and wiser and realise that nobody’s really an underdog once they’ve found their true way; what’s the one thing that you can do better than everybody else, and [once] you find out what it is, you just know that as long as you’re doing your best, it’s the best!
Thank you to Charlotte for taking the time to talk to us! You can see her in the show on the UK Tour at the Bristol Hippodrome until the 23rd September, and then at:
New Victoria Theatre, Woking – 26th-30th September
Grand Opera House, Belfast – 3rd-7th October
Glasgow King’s Theatre – 10th-14th October
Wolverhampton Grand – 17th-21st October
Milton Keynes Theatre – 24th-28th October
Orchard Theatre, Dartford – 31st October-4th November
Interviewed and transcribed by Leah Tozer.
We had a natter with Harry Potter and The Cursed Child nominee Anthony Boyle AND winners of best actor and best actress in a play, Abraham Popoola and Grace Malony.
We chatted to Best Actress in a Musical Winner, Miriam-Teak Lee and Best Actor in a Musical Winner, Samuel Thomas. We also spoke to some stage royalty in the form of the Follies cast and Rachel Tucker!
The Bobolyne Poets, created by Jess Butcher, present their first evening of poems, stories and live music in vibrant arts cafe Junkyard Dogs in aid of the Syrian Refugee Crisis.
Hosted by Connor Young - the vibe is creative, open and supportive. As each poet steps up to the wooden podium (to essentially reveal their soul) the audience listen intently to the short, long, rhyming, dark and uplifting poems with a warm camaraderie.
As the stories are read aloud, it is apparent that for some of these poems, this is the first time the words have been lifted from the paper. The intimacy and, I suppose, secrecy of the poem is shattered and a certain relief and freedom pours from the artists.
The poets are of mixed ages; the old voices of Brighton are knitted with the new to form a cosy patchwork blanket, much like the backdrop for the evening.
Actress Bramble Wallace (above) discusses finding inspiration for her Launderette poem, "I was in the launderette that morning, and I was having a really bad day, I was just feeling pretty crap. So I took my washing back home and cycled to the beach and I sat there and I just wrote the poem."
Quirky singer song writer Alice Bradley charms the pants off the audience with her electro-folk sounds combined with satirical lyrics.
To keep up with The Bobolyne Poets, follow them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/thebobolynepoets. To donate to the Syrian Refugee Crisis, head here: donate.unhcr.org - Faye Butler