Spotlight On… Jonah Russell

Jonah stars in Of Mice and Men which is touring  the UK at the moment, at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre from 8 – 12 March 2016 and then continuing around the country, finishing at Leicester Curve Theatre on 28 May 2016.

Hi Jonah, thanks for chatting to Break A Leg Review, How has the tour of Of Mice and Men been going so far and how are you enjoying your role of Slim?

I like playing Slim, I always wanted to be a cowboy anyway and I’m currently resisting the urge to buy a pair of cowboy boots! Slim is nicely nuanced and thinks things through, he’s good to play.

The tour is going well, the set was slightly smaller when we moved from The Birmingham Repertory Theatre to the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. The scene is the bunkhouse was smaller and changed the dynamics. I love the Theatre Royal in Nottingham and I’m on home turf, there. The cast are having a great time together and we’ve started playing volley ball, we have taken it seriously and have team colours etc!

What’s your favourite part of the play and why?

The opening scene that Will and Kris do (William Rodell and Kristian Phillips), they never play it the same way which keeps it fresh, it’s lovely and makes our job easier. We can add flavour to it, it’s their story and we add colour.

If you were to switch roles and play another part in the play, who would it be?

Curley’s Wife!

What made you decide on a career in acting?

My drama teacher (Mrs Redgate) said I should do it when I was aged 16, I didn’t realise you could be an actor, I didn’t know that drama schools existed, so it hadn’t been a burning ambition.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career?

Working with Katie Mitchell, working on Broadway and at The National Theatre, London. Appearing in A View From The Bridge at The Young Vic Theatre. I like to take sneaky looks at the audience, which we could do at The Birmingham Repertory Theatre and watch an audience member’s face change as they react to the performance, I think “that’s why we do it”.

What would you say to potential audience members to encourage them to see this production?

It’s a really good night at the theatre, a great classic piece of work. An exciting and vibrant play and you’ll love it!

Thanks to Jonah for chatting to us, we wish him and rest of the cast luck with the tour and you can find further tour details including information on booking tickets here: http://touringconsortium.co.uk/show/of-mice-and-men/

 

 

 

 

 

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Of Mice and Men ~ Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Kristian Phillips (Lennie) and Dudley Sutton (Candy) in Of Mice And Men (1)

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a text often used for GCSE English examinations, and it’s easy to see why, for this is a play which could be analysed over and over, and then analysed again!

Starring William Rodell as George and Kristian Phillips as Lennie, and with a ‘band’ (formed by cast members) beside the stage adding to the atmosphere of the piece, this production featured a set which was easily manoeuvred by the ensemble. Notable, too was the lighting design which matched every nuance of the tale, which is powerful, dramatic and exceedingly melancholy.

We are introduced to George and Lennie when they are on their travels, again, in search of work. George is the leader of the pair as Lennie has some mental impairment. Lennie is played superbly by Kristian Phillips, he can demonstrate Lennie’s character with body language in equal ability to his delivery of the dialogue. So much larger in stature than George (William Rodell) who has been sticking up for his mate for many years and beginning to come to the end of his tether. Lennie likes to stroke soft textures such as fur and is obsessed with a dead mouse in the opening scene. Whereas George has to regularly appease his side-kick with fantasies about their own ranch, where they would “live off the fat of the land”.

Finding employment on a ranch is the beginning of the end for the enduring ‘friendship’. Despite some understanding from their colleague, Slim (Jonah Russell) and the comradeship offered by old Candy (Dudley Sutton) who has one hand and an aged, smelly dog for company (played spectacularly well by Arthur, making his stage debut!), Lennie’s behaviour is the cause of many an upset. The young man does not know his own strength, or indeed his own mind, and a step closer to the dream of working of his own ranch with George is a short-lived shot in the dark.

This emotional journey is portrayed brilliantly as a team effort, Sutton is a joy to behold as Candy, the actor is an octogenarian, now and can still project! Saoirse-Monica Jackson makes her professional debut as Curley’s ‘tarty’ siren of a wife and what a talented discovery this young actress is. The cast share a chemistry which lends itself to the play, and the relationship between Lennie and George is a particular highlight.

This master piece finishes on Saturday 13th February so get in quick!

Visit the website for more information and to book tickets for the remaining performances – http://www.Birmingham-rep.co.uk

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