Break A Leg favourite, Rebecca Johnson is currently appearing in All Our Children at Jermyn Street Theatre and she took time out in between shows, to chat about her latest role in the five star rated play. Watch our vlog with her, here:
All Our Children runs at Jermyn Street Theatre until Saturday 3 June 2017. To book tickets to see it, click here: All Our Children
Tickets: £15.50 – £26.50, concessions available. For more information and to book tickets, call the Box Office on 01332 593939 or book tickets online here: Cyrano
UK tour of swashbuckling new adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac
“Funny, bawdy romp which has exuberance and passion at its core” British Theatre Guide
★★★★ The Guardian
Multi-award-winning Northern Broadsides have joined forces with the highly acclaimed New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme, to embark on a UK tour of Cyrano, an exciting new adaptation by award-winning playwright Deborah McAndrew (An August Bank Holiday Lark) of Edmond William classic romantic comedy Cyrano de Bergerac, and it will play at Derby Theatre from Tuesday 16 until Saturday 20 May.
Directed by Northern Broadsides Resident Director, Conrad Nelson, Cyrano is a brilliant poet and dashing musketeer who is deeply in love with the beautiful Roxanne. Afraid of revealing his feelings – for who could love a man with such an enormous nose – he woos her from afar with heartfelt declarations of love, delivered to Roxane from the mouth of the handsome Christian. Cyrano’s exquisite poetry captures her heart, but is it Christian or Cyrano who wins the prize of love?
Set in the golden age of musketeers, Deborah McAndrew’s lively new adaptation brings fresh vigour to this swashbuckling tale of unrequited love. Add to this Northern Broadsides’ musical panache, acclaimed charisma and exuberant performance style, and you have a delightful evening of pure drama that will lift your spirits and make your heart ache.
Director, Conrad Nelson is renowned for his bold approach to comedy, eliciting exquisite performances from the cast and bringing freshness, immediacy and vitality to classic texts that is unparalleled, resulting in highly accessible productions. Conrad says: “The adaptation embraces the poeticism of Rostand’s drama … in this vibrant, funny, romantic and heartbreaking adaptation. Debbie McAndrew has created a carefully crafted version that marries the energy and vibrancy of youth with the romance and classicism of the original.”
The cast for Cyrano includes Adam Barlow, who plays Christian (who last appeared at Derby Theatre in Lee Hall’s Cooking with Elvis) and Francesca Mills (who appeared at Derby Theatre in 2016 alongside Warwick Davis in the wonderfully funny and much-loved farce See How They Run presented by The Reduced Height Theatre Company). Other cast members include: Angela Bain, Paul Barnhill, Andy Cryer (an actor who also appeared in many productions during the Derby Playhouse days); Jessica Dyas, Christian Edwards, Michael Hugo, Anthony Hunt, Perry Moore, Sharon Singh, Robert Wade and Andrew Whitehead.
Tickets: £15.50 – £26.50, concessions available. For more information and to book tickets, call the Box Office on 01332 593939 or book online at http://www.derbytheatre.co.uk
Here’s an exclusive interview with Francesca Mills from the show…
Thank you for talking to Break A Leg, tell me about the production of Cyrano.
The production of Cyrano is based on a man called Cyrano de Bergerac and he is a poet, a swordsman, a musician, everything you could possibly want but he’s got this massive nose which people perceive as ghastly so it knocks his confidence. He’s secretly in love with his cousin, Roxanne but they get on really well s friends and she’s the most beautiful girl in town so he thinks he stands no chance. She falls in love with Christian de Neuvillette, a cadet who is not able to impress Roxanne with poetry, he doesn’t know how to talk to girls. Cyrano teams up with Christian and puts words into Christian’s mouth which he delivers to Roxanne.
Were you familiar with the script?
I’d never come across the show before, but then since I’ve been doing it I’ve realised what a popular, well known story it is. I’ve fallen in love with the show it’s fantastic.
You’ve performed at Derby Theatre before in See How They Run…
Yes, with The Reduced Theatre Company, I remember Derby Theatre providing the best audience we had on that tour.
How do you think the space at The Derby Theatre will lend itself to this production of Cyrano?
Cyrano at the beginning is set in a Playhouse and as I recall, Derby is quite an intimate space which will lend itself well as that breaks the fourth wall between the audience and the performers.
What led you into a performing career?
I danced from a very young age, as a hobby really and I loved it – I came to the stage where I’d be in a dance contest every night if I could! They were holding open summer school auditions at The New Vic Theatre (where we started this production of Cyrano) they wanted kids for a production of Oliver and I got through. That was where I met actors that were doing it as a job and it made me realise I could do it as a job too. I knew that there was nothing else I wanted to do so that was exactly what I was going to do.
Finally, what would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket to see the show?
My mum saw it six times and that isn’t my mum being biased, she thinks it’s fantastic and it makes her cry every time. It will make you feel every emotion possible, so book a ticket to see Cyrano and you won’t regret it!
Thanks so much to Fran for her time, it was lovely to chat to her and we wish cast and crew all the best with the run.
Is it me or does it feel like time has stood still since last week’s episodes of EastEnders? Problems remain the same, it seems and misery is ever-present, here are a few highlights:
Denise ~ Oh Denise, who’d have thought that life outside of the Minute Mart would be so doom-filled. If she’s not rowing with Kim, she’s wandering about the Square with a long face. Who’d have thought that Sharon would have shown compassion? Plus, who knows, maybe there’s some post-natal depression there.
Lauren’s Predicament ~ When Steven turns up at Lauren’s new workplace, and with Louie in tow – it’s rather #awks ! Lauren is playing a dangerous little game and her home-life colliding with her work-life is rather a messy situation. How long will she continue to hanker after Josh?
Whitney’s at her wits end ~ Whitney receives a visit from Moose, it appears that Lee is filing for divorce. It all happens for he, don’t it?! So what’s the best way of dealing with it? Move on to Woody!
Michelle’s Job Hunt ~ Denise is still struggling to find employment, of that we’re all painfully aware – but so is Michelle. How long will Ms Fowler be in the realms of the unemployed for? It seems we’ve yet to wait!
Abi’s Co-habiting habits ~ Abi is irritating her fellow housemates with her OCD, to the point where Ben is plotting a little playful revenge. However she soon trumps that with a cleaning schedule! I doubt this living arrangement will continue to be happy for long!
Ramsay Street has treated us to the on-going saga of The Backpackers, the continued plotting from Xanthe’s darling Mr Kelly and the on-going Brooke/Gary/Terese debacle also persists. Here are some highlights…
Finn’s dastardly plan ~ Finn’s plans are still in progress and he’s doing a fine job of backing both Susan and Elly into a corner. Planting exam papers and having his colleague snitch on Elly are just two of the ways in which he is pursuing his scheme. When will Mr Kelly be found out? When will Xanthe wake up to his true character? She’s already deemed Ben too immature for her… I foresee disaster!
The plot thickens ~ Brooke and Gary’s plot thickens this week as they continue with their secret plan to get Jessie back to be with her mum. When they’re spied in an interesting position by Susan and Elly, it’s clear that they’re not going to be able to keep this quiet for long. However, their plans are making headway, especially after a sneaky massage mix-up!
Necklace-gate ~ Paige has been wondering if Mark still has feelings for her and when a necklace presented itself on her table, her hopes were ignited further. Mark soon lowered the boom when he revealed that it was a rejected gift from Sonya, though. It looks as though the lid is firmly on Paige and Mark’s romantic relationship, now.
Piper panics ~ Piper is still undergoing operations following the disaster at The Backpackers. When Tyler fails to visit she’s paranoid that he’s ill equipped to deal with her situation – she’s wrong of course, but the foundations are laid out for a possible sub-plot. After all, Piper’s recovery is going to take time.
Paul’s fatherly offer ~ Paul is nothing if not trying! He’s trying to forge a relationship with Leo, and his latest move is to offer money to get The Backpackers up and running again. Leo dismisses the offer, but he might have to call upon daddy in the end. Never look a gift horse in the mouth, Leo! Even if it is Paul Robinson…
Fracked is on UK tour until 27th May and has two performances at Richmond Theatre, tomorrow.
Harry Hadden-Paton is an actor who I was familiar with as the man who married Edith in Downton Abbey – we all wanted a happy ending for the unlucky middle daughter of the Grantham family, didn’t we? However, I have recently had the pleasure of watching Harry on stage alongside Anne Reid and James Bolam in a new play called Fracked! Or please Don’t Use The F-Word. I was delighted to chat with Harry about his character in the production.
Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Harry, tell me your character, Joe…
Joe’s a chatty character and he likes the sound of his own voice, he does the PR for Deerland Energy.
What did you think of the script when you first saw it?
When I read it I thought the part just spoke to me in a way because I’ve played a series of nice guys in Downton Abbey and The Crown. So it’s quite nice to do something different, but I’m also in Versailles playing a villain too. I get heckled and admonished on stage occasionally for being mean to Anne (Reid) about her Aga cooker!
Going back to your role in Downton Abbey, what are your highlights of being part of that series?
It was an amazing experience, there were no teething difficulties and everything ran perfectly because they’d done it for six years. Everyone was really welcoming and I got to go in with a big storyline so I was really spoiled. Laura (Carmichael, who played Edith) and I filmed the last scene of the whole series together which was the one in The Ritz. That was the last ever day’s filming on Downton, t was filmed through the night whilst guests were sleeping upstairs and all of the members of the costume and make up departments were in costume playing the extras in the scene. So everyone sitting at the tables surrounding us were people that had worked on the show for years and in between takes were putting their napkins down, getting up out of their seats and touching up our make up! It was a really special occasion, the slight anti-climax being that at 6am when we finished. we had to be quite quiet because everyone was still asleep. There were a few whispered speeches! It was fun getting to know them all, the things about going into something like that is they’ve all known each other for years, they’ve experienced the highs and the lows of becoming household names. There’s a lot of history there and on the downside I’m the new boy, but on the plus side it was a great experience to be with them all.
Do you have a preference between stage and screen work? What differences between the two do you notice?
I did an awful lot of theatre to begin with and I loved it and I’ve always loved it, I’ll always do it – this is the first play I’ve done in about four years. I love working on screen too, it’s been a real learning curve getting to know how a camera works, how to create a character, sustain it over that amount of time. Fracked has come along and I’ve been able to do it while filming the second series of The Crown which is a bonus.
Finally, what would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket to come and see the play?
Come and see it because (I hope) it’s funny, that’s the big draw – there are lots of laughs, we get rounds of applause in the middle of scenes. It’s fresh, it’s new and it’s Anne Reid and James Bolam being hilarious, there’s not a line wasted. You’ll learn something as well.
The Girls is running at The Phoenix Theatre and I highly recommend that you book your tickets to see it: The Girls Musical
*** Please note that The Girls is no longer performed on a Monday night and there is an extra Tuesday matinee instead ***
Claire Machin is an actress who has been on my little radar for quite some time, she’s a versatile performer with an incredible singing voice and I think that her latest role as Cora in The Girls suits her down to the ground. It’s an absolute pleasure to introduce the lady herself who I was very privileged to steal some precious time with in between shows.
Thank you so much for talking to me, Claire, tell me about The Girls and your character…
The Girls is about love, loss, friendship and it takes place in Yorkshire. It’s about a group of friends and one of them, Annie, loses her husband to Leukemia. It’s based on a real life story, Angela Baker lost her husband, John Baker to Cancer and to get her out of the house. Her friends encouraged her to join them in raising money for a new sofa – and actually it wasn’t really about the sofa and it was just about getting her back into the community. So that’s what happens in our story as well, so it’s about how that friendship inspires and how each of the six ladies overcome their fears to do this naked calendar, because they’ve decided that they’re going to do a naked calendar to raise funds for this sofa. It’s about every woman’s journey to get to that point, to agree to do it.
I play Cora who’s a choir mistress, she’s a single mum, quite harassed, stressed and I love Cora. Most characters that I play I really love. I feel like Cora fits like a glove so anything could happen on stage. I feel really confident and safe because I feel like I really know her. Her story is to get away from the shy, retiring, inhibited person. Although you get an outburst of inner self in act one which she then withdraws – but because she is with the girls and she really loves them, she says “oh for god’s sake I’ll do it”.
You were part of the original cast when the show was tried out in Leeds and Salford…
Yes, to see if actually it did work and it worked beautifully. The producers were quite confident that it would work in the west end. I think when we started rehearsals in November 2016, something like 26% of the show had changed, I’m not sure what the percentage is now but it’s considerably more. We’re talking minor tweaks and twiddles, moving the end of Act One for example – making Act One shorter and Act Two longer.
If you could play any of the other characters who would you go for?
I love Cora so much, I don’t know – I’m a character actress, maybe Chris. I’d really like to have a crack at Annie. Actually, when I was at drama college the Head of Year and Head of the Course would argue about whether I was a straight actress or a character actress.
My favourite song in The Girls is Dare, what’s yours?
I think it has to be Kilimanjaro. Although Dare’s gorgeous because you dream to dare and dare to dare and we get a lot of feedback that Dare has helped a lot of people. Even if your dare and you don’t win as long as you have a go you’ve won haven’t you? It’s a powerful message.
I’m from Halesowen in the West Midlands and you’re from not too far away, Stoke-On-Trent, aren’t you?
I am from Stoke, yes, I left Stoke in 1987 so I have lived in London longer than I’ve lived there, but my dad and sister still live there so I go back.
Were you heavily involved in Theatre in Stoke before you moved to London?
Yes, there are fantastic amateur dramatics groups in Stoke. My claim to fame is I did The King and I with Robbie Williams, we did it for Newcastle Amateur Operatic Society when we were kids. He was about ten and I was twelve or thirteen.
Finally, what would you say to encourage people tocome and see The Girls?
You can’t miss it, you absolutely can’t miss it, it’s extraordinary and it surpasses people’s expectations. People are genuinely moved and at the same time they’re moved to laughter too – and that’s life, the writing’s very beautiful but there’s nothing poetic about it, it’s just what people say. The words of the songs are based on what ordinary people say when they’re dealing with friendship, love and loss. It’s a story about family, a community, things that we can all relate to and I think that’s why it’s been so well received. It’s beautifully told too and the cast are tremendous – hats off to all of them for telling that story so well, eight shows a week.
My thanks again to Claire for a lovely interview and don’t forget you can book tickets to see The Girls on a Tuesday matinee, now – so why not enjoy a Tuesday afternoon at the theatre watching this amazing show. My review is here: The Girls Review
Full Circle runs at Theatre N16, book tickets here: Theatre N16
Black Sheep Productions presents: FULLCIRCLE May 9th – 11th and 21st – 24th, Theatre N16
After a critically acclaimed run at the Arts Theatre in 2015, Madelaine Cunningham’s FullCircle plays London again at Theatre N16 this May, which she first performed in her native South Africa.
Director, Madison Maylin and Writer, Madelaine Cunningham chatted to Break A Leg about the production…
Interview with Director, Madison Maylin
Tell me about the piece and your vision for it
It’s a bold new play which takes inspiration from classical literature, some of the most infamous archetypes, and brings them right up to the present day. My ultimate aim is to bring out the pertinent humanity of these women – they faced the same issues modern-day women still encounter: gender discrimination, unreasonable beauty goals, the pay gap, being overshadowed by men, adultery and temptation, desperate loneliness, rape and murder.
Did you have initial ideas about casting and what you wanted actors to bring to the piece?
I only ever want absolute trust from any actor – trust in themselves, their cast members, their production team, me and my processes. We can tackle anything if we have that.
What do you hope the audience will take away from the production?
Changed minds. I don’t want to spoil the play, so I’ll leave it at that!
Have rehearsals altered your initial thoughts, at all?
Yes, things are fluid in my rehearsal space. My mantra is: nothing is set in stone – keep discovering. Every rehearsal is different – and with any luck so will every performance!
What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?
If you want to see truth on-stage then come.
Finally, any advice for budding directors?
Go to classes for yourself, learn new ice-breakers, attend workshops, learn new exercises and processes, always work with different producers / actors / writers, read Katie Mitchell’s book on directing.
Interview with Writer and actor, Madelaine Cunningham
Tell me about the piece and your inspiration for it
I studied Classics and I was always fascinated by the tragedies and how truthful they were amid the heightened nature of it all, these big stories have such clear human truths. But what also draws me to incorporating the Greeks into my work and re-exploring them, are questions like: Why are we still talking about this thousands of years later? Why are these issues still relevant now? Are we as a society constantly turning full circle?
Was it easy to put it all down on paper?
Full Circle was originally going to be an installation type piece and I decided to make it into a play, so I had an idea and it all sort of just poured out onto my my keyboard.
Is it translating well from page to stage?
I believe so, when you work with such a dedicated team- a director who honours your work and talented actors who are crazy talented risk takers, what more could I writer ask for?
How is the space lending itself to the piece?
Theatre N16 is a brilliant theatre and the intimacy of it lends itself to the closeness and claustrophobia that permeates the play.
What do you hope the audience will take away from the production?
I only ever want people to have been provoked in some way by my work, be it love or hate. Aside from that i think it would be great if audience members wanted to find out more about these women, be it picking up a copy of The Orestia or googling Phaedra.
Finally, any advice for budding writers?
Write it all down, and write what matters to you.
Thank you so much to everybody for such fantastic answers, it’s been a pleasure to feature you on Break A Leg and I wish you all the best for the run.
The episode following Cal’s death was always going to be a harrowing one to watch, it was distressing to see Ethan returning to work and also watching the rest of the team coping with the fall-out. Brilliantly performed and filmed, though – here are a few highlights:
Charlie ~ You can always rely on Charlie to be the shoulder to cry on with an open office door, plus reliable Charlie is first to greet the bereaved brother upon his arrival at the ED.
Ethan ~ Ethan has been ignoring the fact that he has a voicemail from Cal, he can’t bring himself to hear the voice of his recently departed brother. It takes Alicia and Charlie gently prompting to encourage him to hear the message, and the realisation that it was Ethan who should have been on the receiving end is unsettling in the extreme.
Dylan ~ Dylan is also out of sorts, he struggles to deal courteously with a patient who has not helped himself when it comes risking his health. I suspect that Dr Keogh will take as much time as the rest to get over losing a colleague.
Jez ~ I expect that the paramedic who can’t keep it in his trousers will not be in favour when his current liaison is discovered. The Ellison family is public enemy number one and Jez is playing a dangerous game with his latest squeeze.
Connie – The on-going saga between Grace and Connie still doesn’t appear to be resolved, but being called mum by Hugo is an interesting turn of events and one that she is keen to brush off as a slip yet appeared touched by. From the sublime to the ridiculous, she’s also fiercely taking Sam to task over the fact that she has to apply for her own job.
Another joy filled week in Walford, culminating in a horrific stunt by the resident bullies – here are some highlights:
Fit Beale ~ Jane’s bought Ian a present, there’s a few steamy looks passing between them until she reveals that it’s a fit bit! Cue Ian scheming to demonstrate that he is getting his thousands of steps in. Using his grandson wouldn’t be part of the deception would it? Oh yes it would!
Jane’s triumph ~ Once Ian has stopped cheating the fit bit, Jane shows him her ability to log some steps on her fit bit, and it’s a touching moment when Ian realises how far Jane has come. I can’t be alone in wishing for a full recovery for Mrs Beale?
Woody’s unpopular ~ Sacking Tracey from The Queen Vic? What on earth was Woody thinking! I loved the riot it kicked up and maybe he will think twice before he makes any further rash decisions, or maybe not! All hail Tracey, the heart of the Queen Vic Pub!
Jobs a good ‘un (or not…) ~ Denise and Michelle are both off to interviews, Denise’s interview is not quite as high-brow as she imagined, given that it ends up being a cleaning job. Michelle’s is yet another education based option. Either way, job hunting is not going well for either of them and Denise is on her knees financially. When will the girl get a break?
Party time ~ Louise thinks she’s having a pyjama party with her ‘lovely’ mates, they have other plans and Sharon’s house is turned into party central with a selection of invited guests rocking up, including Travis and Keegan. The cocktails that Louise is necking in an attempt to look cool aren’t as innocent as she thinks and disaster strikes leaving the troubled teen unconscious in the street and an ambulance on its way. I wonder when we’ll see an end to the bullying storyline? It could run and run because that would reflect real life, of course.