Charlotte Gorton has been working in the West End in the widest range of roles possible, but her recent casting as leopard print clad Mari Hoff in The Rise and Fall Of Little Voice at The Union Theatre may just be one of the most pivotal moments for her career. Charlotte was incredible in the role when I had the pleasure of reviewing the show, and it is my pleasure to present my exclusive interview with the Lady behind the leopard print!
Thank you so much for talking to Break A Leg, Charlotte, I loved your performance as Mari in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, how has the show been going for you and tell me about the audition process.
Thank you and thanks for having me, I am loving playing Mari, she is a dream of a part and not a part I thought I would have the chance to play. I was nervous in case I made a mess of it, 75% of the script is Mari’s dialogue and The Union Theatre is an intimate space.
I was told that the audition would consist of one call, and I watched the film version of Little Voice to give me an idea of the character. I didn’t want to bring too much of Brenda Blethyn’s performance into it, though. I dressed ‘the part’ for the audition and that earned me some funny looks on my journey to The Union Theatre. My agent called me afterwards to say that I had a second call back, but when I arrived I was greeted with “we’re so glad you’re on board!” “you’ve got the part, do you want it?”.
Before the audition I recalled an inspirational speech that the late Philip Seymour Hoffman made: (editor’s note – I have attached the Youtube link as the whole clip is worth a watch!)
Were you familiar with the script before the audition came along?
I wasn’t and the script is actually quite difficult to get hold of. I watched the film for inspiration, Jim Cartwright is a brilliant writer. I will never forget the wonderful words that he has written.
Have you a favourite scene in the show?
I love the scene with Sadie (played by Mandy Dassa) where we dance, I love it because that came out of our own rehearsals and I think it reflects the relationship between the two characters.
My favourite is also the final scene, the showdown with LV (played by Carly Thoms) we put so much into that and I knew when I auditioned with Carly that we had something. I love the change in Mari’s character from this mum who doesn’t care about her daughter and thinks she’s found love with Ray Say, to a broken woman who’s lost everything in the fire.
You’re from a musical theatre background, what are your favourite memories from appearing in the musicals you have been cast in to date? Is there a favourite among them?
I love them all for different reasons, playing Clara in Memphis was a highlight because it’s always special when you’re part of an original cast. I loved Guys And Dolls, that’s my favourite musical, I’ve performed in that at various times, from amateur dramatics to Piccadilly Theatre with Ewan McGregor.
Equally, I enjoyed being part of the Mamma Mia cast, I was cover for Donna and I went on as Tanya. It’s good fun to do and the audience get up and dance at the end of every show.
You were in the cast of Viva Forever, what was it like to be part of the show?
To be part of the cast was amazing, what a journey, and it has a special place in my heart because it was my first performance after a seven year break. I had intended to take a year out and it turned into seven years. Despite the press reviews, it was a great show to be part of.
Have you got an ambition to play any particular role in the future?
Well, I never thought that I would play Mari, so I now feel that the possibilities are endless for an actress of my age. There are so many great role, Madame Thenardier in Les Miserables, Rosie in Mamma Mia, there are so many strong roles for women. Writers are realising that there is a need for this.
I’d like to thank Charlotte for her time, it was fantastic to chat to her, wishing ‘Mari’ and the rest of the cast of The Rise and Fall Of Little Voice, you can still book tickets here: http://www.uniontheatre.biz/
The opinion polls on Donald Trump and his wife have had me in tear rolling laughter in this week’s episode. The belly laughs that I was hoping for have definitely emerged. Trump’s jet is yet again the source of most of my amusement, the comments relating to Trump’s statement in relation to the Orlando tragedy were spot on. Amelia Bullmore, Robert Wilfort and Ayda Field are making a formidable team.
The Russians are naturally worried about the football, and talk on the No Thank E.U. bus turns to the violence between the England and Russian football fans. Then there’s Priya (Archie Panjabi) has been asked on News Night… and then been ditched again! Spencer (Kevin McNally) is on form and still sporting the Union Jack waistcoat while taking exception to Priya’s comments – the banter and pace of interaction between the Brexit pushers is gathering momentum.
In the Tory camp Tony (Anthony Calf) and Sarah (Claire Skinner) have been up to no good in a hotel, typical Tories! There’s also plenty of talk about Sir Philip Green whose reputation and indeed his knighthood depends on what he does to rectify the BHS pensions situation. Jack Dee is still the perfect addition to team Tory, one withering look is all it takes from him.
The Geldof/Farage exchange appeared to dominate the script, but for the most part, I’m still finding the Trump campaigners to be the heroes of the show!
My overall opinion on this week’s episode? I’m still finding some of the disjointed scenes slightly distracting, but the instalment itself was an improvement on last week’s.
Gemma Dobson has given birth in front of the nation, which not many people can say! In fact, what ACTRESS, Gemma Dobson has done is taken her first professional role in Kay Mellor’s In The Club. Gemma played Shelly who was a new character introduced with her mother, Maxine (Sandra Huggett) for series two of the hit television series. I chatted to Gemma about her professional debut and what’s next on the agenda for this talented young lady.
Thank you so much for talking to Break A Leg, Gemma. So, tell me what it was like joining the established cast of In The Club.
It was daunting, especially on the first day, to be meeting and reading in front of actors that I’d grown up watching on the telly. I learned so much from them and from the experience. What was lovely was being invited to nights out so that I could get to know everybody socially. Most of my scenes were with Lorraine Cheshire, Sandra Huggett and the boys so it was a great opportunity to meet everybody else. It sounds cheesy but we really are one big happy family. We all get on and that includes the crew, too.
What was your opinion of Shelly when you first read the script?
I loved the character and really wanted to play her. KayMellor writes such fantastic scripts and I could already picture what Shelly looked like.
How familiar were you with Kay’s work?
I have watched everything that she has written, I love her work. I watched Fat Friends, The Chase, The Syndicate and the first series of In The Club. To be working with Kay was brilliant. I grew up watching all of her television programmes.
If there is a third series, what would you like to see happen to your character?
I don’t know really, I’d be happy with whatever Kay wrote for Shelly. I’ve already given birth on screen and it might be good to see her have a baby that she was going to keep. Maybe with somebody she’s in a relationship with. I’d love more scenes with Paul Nicholls and Andrew Buckley who played Nathan and Andrew. Andrew Buckley was so well cast as Andrew and so funny, Paul Nicholls was also brilliant, Nathan is the complete opposite of Andrew, but they worked so well together.
What inspired you to become an actress?
I went to a performing arts school and I loved acting and performing. When I left and I was doing a normal job I realised that I wanted to be acting and I missed doing it. I joined an acting class which I go to once a week (and I still go to, now) and David Shaw came in to cast for the first series of In The Club. I didn’t get the small part they were casting for and I was gutted. However, David remembered me and he saw me as Shelly. If I had got the small part I wouldn’t have been able to play Shelly.
What’s your advice for budding actors?
Don’t give up, if it’s your dream, then go for it. Even if you do what I did and go to an acting class. You don’t have to go to Drama School. I was in a job when I left school and decided that I wanted to give acting another go. I started to go to this acting class and that’s where Casting Director, David Shaw saw me and kept me in mind. acting is what you want to do, then keep at it. Don’t ever stop learning either, I still go to my classes because you never stop learning. Also, I hadn’t even got an agent when I got the part of Shelly. I was so thrilled when I went to London for a meeting and at the end of it my agent said she’d love to represent me.
What’s next for you?
I’ve got a part in Brief Encounters which starts on ITV, soon. I’m praying for a third series of In The Club. I’d love to do theatre, too.
I’d like to thank Gemma for her time and can’t wait to see her in Brief Encounters and hopefully on the stage, too!
Times Tuesday to Saturday @ 7.30pm Saturday and Sunday @ 2.30pm
Please note performances will take place at our current venue
My over-riding memory of Little Voice, written by Jim Cartwright, is the film version which was performed so fantastically by a well-known cast including Brenda Blethyn, Jane Horrocks, Ewan McGregor and Michael Caine. Having such respect for the film meant that the stage show had big shoes to fill.
Little Voice tells the story of the Hoff family, there’s the widowed Mari, a woman to whom spit and polish is a stranger and alcohol is a regular companion. Then there’s LV, her timid and withdrawn daughter who spends her life in her bedroom listening to records. These records are so embedded in her head that she has developed the ability to mimic the greats, such as Shirley Bassey, Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe, to name but a few. Whenever LV becomes distressed, which is a frequent occurrence, courtesy of her mother most of the time, up the stairs she goes and the record player is switched on. LV’s talent is hidden until she’s discovered by the over-eager and leery Ray Say who is her mother’s latest conquest. Then there’s Billy, who hangs around outside LV’s bedroom window in the hope that she’ll take an interest in his light show, and an interest in him, too. It’s a heart-wrenching tale of a dysfunctional family and their acquaintances, who all lack one fundamental ingredient in their lives… love.
I was won over from the start and this incredible piece of theatre completely blew me away. The space lent itself beautifully to the action, providing the audience with an intimate insight into the fray.
Charlotte Gorton knocked Brenda Blethyn’s performance off my radar as Mari Hoff, she was raucous, simpering and bordered on disgusting at times, but left just enough vulnerability to show that she has a heart, she just doesn’t know how to use it. Ken Christiansen gives it plenty of swagger as Ray, well cast as the Jack the Lad who’s looking to feather his own nest. He brought out a likeable quality in an otherwise devious character and I didn’t see that quality, previously. I liked the light and shade that he created and I’m keen to see more of Christiansen’s work.
James Peake epitomized Peter Kay as Club Owner, Mr Boo, he worked the audience brilliantly and lightened the tone of the show at all of the right times. Mandy Dassa played Sadie and her facial expressions said it all, which is necessary with Mari’s introverted next door neighbour. Glenn Adamson played love-struck Billy with a gentile quality which was endearing, the chemistry between Adamson and Carly Thoms who played LV, was just right for the would-be romance.
Carly Thoms is an amazing talent, her capabilities seem boundless, she plays the shy and frightened LV superbly, but when she embodies LV’s various heroes, her mimicry is second to none. She can impersonate Bassey, Monroe, Garland, Maria Callas and Piaf, one after the other, non-stop and her vocal ability is breath-taking. The difference between Thoms’ performance and that of Jane Horrocks is that I already knew that Horrocks had the knack. The surprise factor that accompanied Thoms’ put her performance off the scale.
From the costumes, to the set to the casting, it’s hard to find a show that one can liken to perfection, but I believe that this show has perfection written all over it. If you’re not able to see this tremendous piece of theatre, you’re missing out on one of the plays of the year. http://uniontheatre.biz/little_voice.html those tickets as soon as you can by following the link and enjoy!
Julie LeGrand first burst into my universe when she appeared as that extremely creepy Nurse in Footballer’s Wives! Once I got past the fact that what she was up to was cringe-worthy and plain gross(!) I sat back and realised I was watching a skilled actress and I have kept her on my radar ever since. I’ve watched her as Madame Morrible in Wicked, I’ve seen her semi-nude at the Savoy Theatre playing the hilarious stripper, Electra in Gypsy (she was also notably brilliant as Miss Cratchitt in the show). This year I watched her at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester where she starred opposite Julie Hesmondhalgh in Wit. I think she’s an incredibly talented actress and I’m proud to present my exclusive interview with the lady herself.
I’m going to kick off with Gypsy if I may, as it was an outstanding show and you played two superb roles, what was that experience like for you and do you miss it?
Gypsy will deﬁnitely go down as one of my career highlights! It was one of those extraordinary moments when the planets aligned and every element came together gloriously. We did a read trough at the end of the ﬁrst week of rehearsals for Chichester, and when we ﬁnished, a frisson ran round the table as we all sensed, even at that really early stage, that this was going to be something very special. It’s a beautifully structured and ﬁnely honed piece, and of course we had the creative team to die for with Jonathan Kent, Stephen Mear, Nick Skilbeck and Antony Ward – so much talent and such fab people. Then leading us every step of the way was the incomparable Imelda Staunton. She’s the most extraordinary, pint-sized power house of energy, focus, self-discipline and talent and it was thrilling to see her scale the heights of Rose every night, never for a second giving less than 100%. She was truly magnificent and so deserves all the awards she’s won for her portrayal. I think it’s fair to say that Jonathan cast every other part in the show incredibly well too, there were a lot of very talented actors in the company.
I really enjoyed taking on two very contrasting parts First crabby, cynical Miss Cratchitt, the gorgon at the gate, determined to keep everyone, especially Momma Rose, away from her beloved boss, Mr Grantzigger. Imelda and I used to have a grand time sparring with each other. Then I’d pursue her offstage and we’d both keep running, exchanging fragments of news as we went, her to the next entrance and me to the dressing room, to transform into the deliciously decadent and louche Electra. The change took a bit of an age to achieve, with a ton of dark eye makeup, lashes and lip liner, but I’ve always found it very satisfying doing my own stage makeup, gradually painting in a new character. The wild red wig was of course, the piece de resistance. I just had to be sure that my gait was sufficiently off kilter, to replicate the numerous vodkas Electra would have knocked back and I was set to go. The characters were polar opposites, but they were both fundamentally funny and while I love getting my teeth into a meaty, dramatic role, it’s also a fantastic feeling to make an audience laugh.
Is there a particularly poignant or funny moment from the show that you can share with me?
Not so much one moment, as an enduring connection that developed between myself and my fellow strippers – Anita Louise Coombe and Louise Gold. We became hugely attached to each other and used to go around like a shoal of ﬁsh! They’re great fun to be with anyway, but I think what glued us together, was the shared vulnerability of knowing we were going to have to get quite a lot of our kit off. Before starting, I’d looked at several production photos of other Electras in their costumes and thought, “oh it’ll be ﬁne, they all seem to be swathed in feathers and ﬂounces”. So my jaw dropped when I saw Anthony’s drawing, in which it appeared I was going to be naked – except for a ﬁsh net sheath and a couple of strategically places light bulbs! I clearly remember the ﬁrst time we rehearsed ‘Gimmick’, when it hit us fully in the face that – yes, we were actually going to have to go out on stage wearing next to nothing, in front of 1200 people, 8 times a week! We all had a bit of a wobble and then collectively went – “oh sod it!” and stripped down to our bras and leggings then and there in the rehearsal room and never looked back.
One episode that will stay with me, was the day we performed ‘Gotta Get A Gimmick’ for West End Live in Trafalgar Square. Because our slot was immediately after the Saturday matinee they decided, due to trafﬁc jams, that the only way to guarantee our getting there in time, was for us to walk down the Strand in full costume! So we had the surreal experience of strutting down the road in the rain (of course it would be raining, being Britain!), carrying umbrellas and with coats slung over our shoulders, but in full stripper regalia. Then without breaking stride, we found ourselves literally walking straight off the street and onto the stage, to perform to thousands of people. We’d been led to believe that we’d have about 10 mins to gather ourselves backstage, but their timings had gone out – so on we went and once we’d ﬁnished, we just turned around, no hanging about and marched straight back up the Strand again! People kept saying “Oh it must have been so exciting singing in Trafalgar Square“, but it was all so unreal, it didn’t really sink in for a couple of days, when I suddenly found myself saying “Blimey, I’ve sung in Trafalgar Square – how mad!”
I have to ask what your personal choice would be if you were a stripper in real life, would it be trumpet, electricity, ballet or something else?
Well, judging from the reaction I used to get in Gypsy, I’d be very happy to stick with Electra’s light bulb moments, providing that they always work. I did have a few occasions when they failed me during the run – nothing worse than singing about a gimmick when you ain’t got one!
Moving on to Wit which I had the pleasure of watching you in earlier in the year, what was your favourite moment from the piece and what was it like to work with Julie Hesmondhalgh in that fantastic space?
Wit was another special experience It’s a beautifully written, very moving piece about a cancer sufferer who sadly dies in the end, but it’s also a surprisingly funny play. We had a brilliant time working on it, I’ve rarely laughed so much in rehearsals, which is weird given the seriousness of the subject matter. I think Raz Shaw, the director, had a lot to do with this. He’s sensitive and insightful, but also wonderfully irreverent by nature.
Plus he drew together a great cast, led by the divine Julie Hesmondhalgh. I don’t think there’s anyone more warm hearted and generous spirited in the business than Julie, she was fabulous to work with – a total sweetheart. In fact our ﬁrst meeting was one of those weird coincidences that sometimes occur in life and it convinced me to do the job. That Saturday, before the matinee, I realised I had enough time to pop out and get a coffee. There are two exits from the Stage Door and for once I chose the one that took me up the stairs to the Box Ofﬁce area. As I reached the top, I saw someone with a Gypsy programme. At ﬁrst I just thought – oh they’re coming to see the show – then I looked closer and realised it was Julie H! Ordinarily I wouldn’t approach a complete stranger, especially a celeb’, but this seemed like too big a serendipity to pass up. So I introduced myself, saying I was in Gypsy and that I understood she was going to be in ‘Wit’ at the Manchester Royal Exchange in the New Year. She looked slightly taken aback that I knew and then of course I explained that I’d just been offered a part in it and was currently deciding whether to accept or not. We fell into conversation and after ﬁve minutes I was so taken by her that I said “well I’m going to have to say yes now aren’t I”!
I loved your performance as Madame Morrible in Wicked, is that a role you’d be keen to return to in the future and are there any other musicals that you’d like to appear in or roles that you’d like to play?
I’ve come to musicals pretty late in my career and have been hugely fortunate in that the ones I’ve been in, Fiddler on the Roof, Gypsy and Wicked have all been really exciting, knockout shows. I spent two and a half years in Wicked – the longest time I’ve ever played a part, but I loved every minute of it and would certainly consider returning one day. Madame Morrible is probably the most wicked person in Wicked, being totally motivated by her own greed for wealth and status. I think she was best summed up by a startlingly astute 7 year old boy, who I met at the stage door, after the show one night. As he asked for my autograph he said: “I started out liking Madame Morrible, then I wasn’t so sure and then I thought – well, she’s just gone to bad!” And he was quite right, she does “just go to bad” and it’s such fun playing someone who does just that! On top of which she has the most exquisite costumes and wigs and one of the best dressing rooms in town – what’s not to like?! Wicked has an unusually wide appeal and elicits a very special affection from a huge number of fans, who come back to see the show again and again.
Naturally over time I got to know quite a few of them. When I left, a group of them presented me with a handmade book of photos and recollections they’d gathered about myself and Madame Morrible. I was so touched by all the effort and care they’d gone to. It has pride of place on my bookshelf – a memento of a very happy time. As for other musicals I would like to be in/roles I’d like to play I don’t actually have a ‘top ten’ list, perhaps I should, but in my experience casting can be so unpredictable – something you think you’re dead right for, passes you by and then something you think you wouldn’t have a hope of getting – drops in your lap! So I just enjoy the surprise of what comes next.
What led you to a performing career?
As a child I used to love devising little shows with my mates, and soon started going in for drama competitions. When I was 10 I was sent to a Convent school and was often asked to read the lessons in church on a Sunday. It may seem a bit irreverent, but I think it was then that I ﬁrst experienced the buzz you get from an audience, – oops I mean ‘congregation’ and that was it, I was hooked! I did see if I could be deterred from such a perilous career choice though. On leaving school I deliberately didn’t study drama, but read History of Art and European Studies at Sussex University instead. However I spent all my free time doing plays with the university drama group, and soon decided to make acting my life, going on to do a postgraduate drama course at The Webber Douglas Academy, to hone my skills before entering the profession.
Can you imagine yourself doing anything else other than performing?
No, I very much hope to carry on performing until I drop off the perch. I love acting and all the challenges it brings – the idea of ever retiring is anathema to me! I wouldn’t rule out adding other strings to my bow though. Some more directing – I’m one of the Directors of The Artists Theatre School, founded by one of my best mates Amanda Redman and I’ve co-directed several of our shows with her.
Have you a preferred medium between theatre, television and ﬁlm? What’s the reason for your choice?
No, I don’t have a favourite and love them for their differences. Theatre demands a different style of acting from TV and ﬁlm, and also dictates a different lifestyle – late ﬁnishes for theatre and very early starts for TV and ﬁlm. It’s fun to shift from one to the other. For example when I’ve just ﬁnished a long theatre job, to begin with it feels a bit bad to go out socialising in the evening – like skipping off school! Are there any projects coming up for you that you can tell me about? I’m about to do a wonderfully quirky short ﬁlm about greed called ‘Cupidity’, which most likely will be premiered at the London ﬁlm festival this year and I’m also waiting to hear about a TV series, so who knows, maybe I’ll be having supper with my husband for a while.
Just for fun, here are some quick-fire questions, give me your immediate reaction, please:
Chocolate – what else?!
Tie between: Apollo Victoria/Savoy/National Theatre
Favourite song from a musical?
Gotta Get A Gimmick.
Favourite time of year?
Favourite to spend your time off?
With my husband – especially pursuing the new hobbies we’ve just started together – learning to play the piano and singing in an a cappella group.
I’d like to thank Julie for being so kind about this website, positive comments from such a wonderful actress were so incredible to receive. More importantly, I’d like to thank Julie for her time and such fantastic answers!
Thank you for talking to Break A Leg, do tell me about Maggie and Pierre, what can the audience expect from the production?
They can expect to learn about the incredible true story of Margaret and PierreTrudeau’s relationship and see how that played out through the eyes of a nation. They can also expect to see all this done by one performer in just over an hour, so it’ll be a mean feat to watch!
How does one go about putting on a one-woman show like this? Can you describe the process from page to stage?
It’s pretty much the same as any other rehearsal process. We began the first week with analysing the text around a table; going through it, asking questions and feeding in any research that might be relevant. After that it’s just a process of playing with it on its feet and trying out different ideas.
As Kelly Burke (our actor) has to play three roles, sometimes simultaneously in one scene, we’ve also brought Jonnie (movement director) and Nina (voice and dialect coach) on board. They provide expertise to help Kelly in creating the vocal and physical distinctions between the three characters.
The main difference with this piece and another is that it’s just Kelly and me in the room together the whole time. So we make sure we’re being communicative with each other to check in on how things are going and try and keep things light and fun.
How are rehearsals going, any surprises coming out at this point?
Lots, but in a good way! As a director I love this part of the process, you come into rehearsals with a set of ideas and thoughts on the piece and then hand those over to the actors. It’s so exciting to have those ideas worked with, challenged and then realised as a new and better thing.
What were you looking for in the actress that you were casting?
I was looking for someone with experience in doing one person shows but also someone who has warmth, charisma and a personal connection to the text and what it’s saying. Kelly has all that and more.
What led you to a career in directing and what has been your highlight to date?
It was a bit of a journey, but as with a lot of people, it started with acting. As a teenager I started off doing musicals at The Wycombe Swan Theatre in the summer and subsequently decided to take A-Level Theatre Studies. However, it was really at Warwick University where I discovered directing through the drama societies, from there I went to Birkbeck University where I did a masters in directing and I’ve been working since then.
As for my highlight to date, it’s quite hard to pin down; there are so many different experiences that have been rewarding in their own right. My top three would have to be putting The Globe’s touring production of King John into Salisbury Cathedral, working on The Lorax at the Old Vic and directing my own production of A Tale of Two Cities on the BRIT programme over in Tampa, Florida.
What are your ambitions as a director?
It’s something that’s always changing but I think career wise I’ve always wanted to be Artistic Director of a building. I love the idea of constructing a relationship with an audience and it’s community; engaging them through all the different varieties of work and programming a theatre does.
Any advice for budding directors?
Keep positive, stay critical, see as much work as possible and make as much work as possible.
Finally, what would you say to encourage audience members to come and see the show?
This is not just a show about a famous Canadian Prime Minister. It’s a play about mental health and the effect of celebrity politics on a nation, a family and a lover. At its heart it’s a love story about how a nation and woman fell in love with a man who couldn’t live up to the perfect image of him they had created in their minds.
Thanks to Eduard for chatting to Break A Leg, sending all good wishes for the run.
With the EU Referendum on the tip of everyone’s tongues, on every channel known to man and all over social media like a rash, this seemed an ideal programme to rip the proverbial out of the impending chaos. With a cast boasting Jack Dee, Amelia Bullmore (whom I personally loved in BBC One’s Twenty Twelve), Claire Skinner and Kevin McNally, I felt that Channel Four’s latest comedy series was going to be on to a winning formula.
In this follow up to Ballot Monkeys which was trotted out for the Elections last year, the format is unusual in itself as the majority of the script is written on the day to enable it to be as topical as can be. Therefore this first episode included the extension for voting registration and Muhammad Ali’s funeral among other news of the day.
There are a vast array of characters, some of which were well rounded and a few of whom made me snigger. Contrary to my preconception, nobody made me laugh out loud, I kept waiting for the moment that elicited the guffaw of all guffaws, and it didn’t come. That said, I do believe there is potential for the series.
Jack Dee is ideally cast as Oliver, who runs the Tory Unity Unit and is thoroughly cheesed off, who else could play that over-riding emotion with more spirit than Mr Dee? Andy Nyman reprises his role of Gerry and Ruby,played by Liz Kingsman is also back. I couldn’t help but see the funny side of Spencer played by Kevin McNally, sporting a waistcoat that Ginger Spice would be envious of and a ginger wig (which she may also be slightly jealous of, who knows?!). His to-ing and fro-ing from the ‘No Thank EU’ bus with a drill in his hand was simple yet inspired comedy and it would be a good gag to carry through.
If I had to pick favourites, my vote goes to the scenes on Trump’s campaign jet, where Amelia Bullmore (Lauren) and Robert Wilfort (Brett) are in the midst of making Trump more appealing to American women! I was particularly impressed with Wilfort, my memories of his previous performances mainly revolve around his role of Jason in the hit comedy show, Gavin and Stacey, so I was interested to watch and look forward to more from the debacle cabin!
In conclusion, I think I expected too much from the first episode and possibly set my own bar too high. I’m willing to give the series a go, if not only for the fact that most of the content is written on the day. Kudos to writers, Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkins for originality and potentially some light relief from propaganda overload. To achieve a broadcast-worthy programme in such a short space of time you also need the perfect cast and crew, so pats on the back all round, there. I shall watch episode two with an open mind and hope to be impressed.
There was a time when actor, Steven Arnold was best known for treading the cobbles of the nation’s most famous street… Coronation Street. The local butcher was either under the thumb (and meat cleaver) of his Uncle Fred or his issue-riddled wives! These days Steven is never happier than when he’s treading the boards, challenging himself with new characters. Chaplin – The Charlie Chaplin Story offer him that very opportunity, I caught up with Steven to find out all about this fantastic new show.
Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Steven, so tell me about the show and what the audience can expect from Chaplin – The Charlie Chaplin Story.
The audience can expect a fantastic experience, it’s very heart-warming at times, it’s very sad at times, there are great musicians in it, great songs, a fabulous cast who all play a number of characters each. It’s one of those shows where you’ll come along and learn a lot about Charlie and his life as well. You’ll find out about his relationship with his mother, his family and his relationship with his first love. It’s just a great show to be involved in.
As you’ve been rehearsing have you found any one scene to be particularly poignant or is there a particular scene that you really enjoy doing?
I like them all to be honest, I play six different characters so coming on as a different person each time is fantastic and the whole show for me is a great experience.
Were you a fan of Charlie Chaplin before you started working on the show?
I knew about him, I’d seen clips of him when I was a kid and of course he was the biggest star in his time. I’ve done some research on him, now, there’s not much footage on Youtube unfortunately. Being on this show now and learning more about him has meant I’m a massive fan, now.
Have there been any moments in rehearsals that have been particularly poignant given what you know about him, now?
I think when we portray what he went through to get to where he got to is very poignant, he had a rough upbringing, he was passed from pillar to post. He got separated from his mother, he got separated from his brother, they were nearly on the verge of starvation at times. His journey in general is poignant, he knew how comedy should be played and through his whole career he did what he thought was right.
You left Coronation Street in 2010 after a long stint playing Ashley Peacock, how are you finding the difference between screen and theatre acting? Have you got a preference between the two mediums?
Well, since I left Coronation Street I’ve done eighteen stage shows and that was what I wanted to do when I left. I hadn’t been on stage before Coronation Street except for the odd bits here and there, but certainly nothing like I’m doing now. It’s totally different to television and what I’m enjoying most is doing something different all the time. This show is challenging because I play six different people.
What would you say to potential audience members to encourage them to come?
Please come down, it’s a fabulous cast, the show’s been very well put together, it’s a really entertaining show in so many different ways. I can guarantee that people will leave the theatre feeling that they’ve had a cracking evening of entertainment.
Huge thanks to Steven for his time, wishing you all every success with the show, hoping to come and see it at one of the touring venues!
A three-hander (not including the cameo appearance by Helen George’s dog, Charlie!) which takes a myriad of twists, turns and follows an almost Shakespearean style of psychological torment.
Patrick Marber’s play is set in 1945 in an English Country House, the set of which rivalled downstairs at Downton Abbey! The play is inspired by Strindberg’sMiss Julie. Helen George plays Miss Julie, the only upstairs character we are introduced to in person, while Richard Flood plays John, her father’s Chauffeur and Amy Cudden plays Christine, the cook. John and Christine were engaged to be married before the war, although Christine has no ring. Miss Julie, meanwhile declares that she had a ring, but we have already learned that she was jilted by her fiancé after he had objected to her display of sadomasochism. This theme runs throughout the play, subtly at times, but it leads to revelations about Miss Julie’s past which explain why she’s on the verge if not in the throes of a nervous breakdown.
It’s essentially a tragic love triangle, which had to be cast perfectly to have the right impact. The piece certainly packed a punch and even had a degree of wow factor, what I enjoyed most was my inability to predict what was going to happen next. I felt that the volatility of the characters was matched by an equally volatile plot. Amy Cudden played the slightly downtrodden cook brilliantly, she was a great contrast to the glamour that Helen George brought to the table as Miss Julie. George alone gave a five-star performance, what comes across is that she has put her heart and soul into that part and she has more than proved that stage acting is as much a forte for her as on-screen. It was beautiful to watch Miss Julie and John dancing, as this was also an apt nod towards her appearance in Strictly Come Dancing last year. Richard Flood played John, the Chauffeur and matched George with an incredible ability to portray a character slowly unravelling while trying and failing to pull himself back together. There was chemistry between all three characters and the obvious change in Miss Julie’s character between her interactions with John and then with Christine were notable, too.
I highly recommend you see this piece which is currently on at Malvern Theatres until Saturday 11th June and then continues with its UK tour. You can book tickets here to see it in Malvern: http://www.malvern-theatres.co.uk/