*** Spotlight On… Anna-Lisa Maree ***
She’s a multi-talented ‘Theatre Fairy’ and also known as Twinkle 🙂 – Anna-Lisa Maree filled me in on her hopes, dreams and what led her into her varied career.
You’re experienced as an actress, a writer and company stage manager, which one came first and do you have a favourite of the three ‘jobs’?
I performed in my first professional production when I was 8 years old, it was Oliver at York Theatre Royal and little did I know then that Bill Sykes (Andy Serkis) would go onto be a Hollywood superstar! I’m pretty sure that he can’t believe that the youngest girl in the workhouse has become a Company Stage Manager, but as the saying goes ‘that’s showbiz’! My first insight into the world of Stage Management was in the Summer of 1995 when I spent a season in London with the National Youth Theatre.
I then studied for a BA Hons Degree in Stage Management at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, back in the days before it became ‘Royal’ and that was my spring board into the professional backstage world.
In truth I’m a bit of an ‘All Round Theatre Fairy’ as I’ve also worked extensively as a Head of Wardrobe in the West End, and toured nationally and internationally.
As a writer I have written comedy for numerous artistes, as well as having two of my own plays ‘`Casting The Villain Aside’ and ‘Blast From the Past’ in the London Short Play festivals. I was also the first person to ever put an original full scale musical into the Paradise room on Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
Ultimately I am so appreciative that I am able have such a diverse career in the industry I love and in the words of Mary Poppins, “In every job that must be done there is an element of fun!”
What are your most memorable moments as an actress, as a writer and as a company stage manager?
As an 8 year old in Oliver I used to insist that before rehearsals or going to the theatre that my Mum made my hair look like Nancy’s. In 1988 having a hairdo that made your head look like a pineapple was the height of cool in my opinion! Ten years later I crossed paths with Nancy once again on a work placement at the New Theatre in Cardiff and confessed all. Linda Dobell was a wonderful actress, director and choreographer. Sadly she is no longer with us but to me she will always remain a childhood inspiration as ‘ the lady who I wanted to be like when I grew up’.
Writing-wise I have written several pieces that I have been proud of my most recent short play Blast From The Past was perhaps the piece that is my personal favourite. It was a pleasure to give a well established actress the opportunity to play a part that she would never ‘normally’ have been considered to play. Transforming the lovely Judy Buxton into a Northern single mother who would not have been out of place as a guest on Jeremy Kyle was perhaps one of the greatest highlights of my career to date!
Finally as a Company Stage Manager it would have to be the rapport I have with younger company members I have so many treasured memories from shows gone by. Currently I am CSM on Panto at the Towngate Theatre in Basildon and I asked our wonderful ‘Twinkle’ and ‘Sparkle’ teams to create their own individual dressing room door signs. I mean, doesn’t every door deserve to be adorned with a sparkly star with the occupants name on it? Well it certainly does ‘on my watch!’
Any particular theatres that you favour and why?
I have toured the UK for so long now that there are numerous theatres that I enjoy returning to time and time again, although if pushed it would have to be the Grand Theatre in Blackpool. On my last visit I happened to mention in passing during Act 1 that I was a bit hungry. I really didn’t expect a crew member to go out in the interval and bring me back a pizza, but they did and for that reason alone the Grand wins first place on my most favourite theatre poll! Oh and incidentally that theatre has a pineapple on the very top of it ….just saying!
Who inspires you as an actress and as a writer?
Without hesitation, on both count it’s Derren Litten (Creator and writer of ITV’s Benidorm) I am truly in awe on his ability to write wonderful comedy and balance it so beautifully with just the right amount of empathy. I have been lucky enough to meet him twice this year and he is such a lovely man . . . . I’m now just waiting for my cameo in the show!
If you weren’t working in ‘show business’ (for want of a better phrase) what do you think you’d be doing?
I would be a teacher at a Steiner School, it’s an occupation I have seriously considered.
What are your future aspirations?
I tend not to look to far into the future as I like to appreciate the ‘Here and Now’. I would however like to see the shows I have written travel further on their journeys and also create new vehicles for some of my immensely talented friends in the industry.
If you could host a dinner party and invite five guests (alive or dead) who would they be and why?
Heston Blumenthal: having spent all day in the kitchen creating the evening’s wonderful concoctions it would only be fair that he should stay for the party!
Bobby Crush: no one tinkles the ivories quite like Bobby, so that’s the evening’s entertainment taken care of!
Jon Curry: he was a ‘Borrowed Angel’ who returned home far too soon, so any opportunity to see him again would be grasped immediately!
Con O’Neil: I have yet to see him do anything where he isn’t utterly brilliant and what a gorgeous voice, he could make any topic of conversation sound wonderful.
Su Pollard : absolutely no explanation necessary.
Favourite things (give me your first reaction to these questions):
A black forest Hot Chocolate from Costa – more commonly known in my world as a Panto breakfast!
Absurd Person Singular
Favourite actor or actress?
I couldn’t possibly answer this question without offending a multitude of incredibly talented people in my life!
Little Marton Mill in Blackpool, everytime I see that windmill I smile because I know I’m only moments away from my ‘spiritual home’.