TALES FROM THE DRESSING ROOM : Penelope Keith

Penelope Keith

In the first of our Tales From The Dressing Room series, Penelope Keith chats candidly to JBR about the changes in the industry since her training. “Come in, come in. Welcome to the most elegant dressing room in the West End.” How could it not be? This is, after all, the famed Dressing Room No. 10 at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. Current resident, the ever fragrant Penelope Keith, is precisely as one imagines her to be; part hectoring schoolmarm, part favourite aunt. “I like the idea of older actors passing on what they know, but don’t make me sound too much like an old fart,” she pleads, as she crosses the room and takes her seat. The room is not the most extravagantly appointed one in the West End. A large, French style dressing table occupies the right hand side where Keith’s wig sits, proudly, on a stand. Modest amounts … Read more

INTERVIEW: Leslie Jordan – Walking Down The Pink Carpet

Leslie Jordan

It has to be the hottest pink ticket in town folks! As Jordan prepares for the opening of his one man show, can Phil Matthews get him to reveal even more? If you aren’t aware of the name Leslie Jordan by now – one has to pose the question – where have you been hiding? He may be just 4 foot 11, but wherever this pintsized power house skips, boy does he make himself heard. A true comedy star of American television and stage, Jordan eventually made his name in the sitcom Will & Grace starring as camp southern Republican Beverly Leslie. It was a show stealing role that won him an Emmy. Surely the penny is on its second bounce by now? The 55 year old has travelled across the pond and has been in the Capital on a media mission to promote his one man show – Lesley … Read more

INTERVIEW: Martin Harvey – Dirty Dancing

Martin Harvey in Dirty Dancing

Martin Harvey first performed at the Aldwych Theatre at the age of six. Now 24 years later he is back playing the lead in Dirty Dancing. He drops in for a chat. You made your stage debut aged 6 at the Aldwych in Peter Pan. How was it playing Michael at such a young age? Like a big adventure, I got to fly around the stage Leap ahead 24 years and you’re back performing on the same stage as the lead in Dirty Dancing. I imagine that must be rather poignant? It felt like it was meant to be. I recalled the theatre a bit but the thing I remembered most from Peter Pan was how big everything was. That has now definitely changed when you see just how Dirty Dancing has been shoe-horned into the Aldwych Theatre. You were something of a child star, but unlike others, you don’t … Read more

INTERVIEW: Hannah Vassallo – Dirty Danciing

Hannah Vassallo

Nobody puts Hannah Vassallo in the corner – certainly not since she made her acting debut in West End’s Dirty Dancing. You hail from a family of creative types. Was it par for the course you being a performer? My whole family is definitely very creative and we all work in artistic fields. It wasn’t always the case that I would perform on stage as I had a lot of interests when I was growing up which I loved equally. But there came a point when I had to focus on one thing in particular and I chose dance. I went to a very academic school so effectively I followed an alternative path to everyone else. I think that whatever I had chosen to do would have been practical or creative in some way as I find it hard to be still and concentrate for long periods of time! What … Read more

INTERVIEW: Robert Lindsay Lets Go

Robert Lindsay as Richard III at the Savoy Theatre. Image: Paul Rider at Shoot.

Robert Lindsay has enjoyed a diverse career on stage & screen that has seen the actor win numerous awards including two Oliviers, a Tony and a BAFTA. Phil Matthews finds out about his rise through the ranks. A year ago I interviewed Zoë Wanamaker for our first issue. I have to ask, what’s it like working with her in My Family? Well, ironically Zoë and I go back to drama school days. Zoë was at Central, which I’m sure you know, and I was at RADA, and we had mutual friends. I remember going into a party at her flat – 1969 it must have been, or something like that. One of those drama student parties. I knew her Dad [Sam Wanamaker, the founder of the Globe Theatre] very well. I did the very first production ever at what is now The Globe, which was then ‘The Tent’, and I … Read more

INTERVIEW: Sheridan Smith is “Giving it some Elle”

Sheridan Smith and Duncan James in Legally Blonde

Oh My God you guys! It’s going to be, like, totally, awesome! Come on everybody, snaps for Elle Woods! Writes JBR. The mercurial young actress Sheridan Smith, star of Gavin & Stacey, The Royle Family, and Two Pints of Lager and A Packet of Crisps, is returning to the West End in 2010 to play the most sought after role in modern musical theatre – Elle Woods in the film-to-musical adaptation of Legally Blonde. If Elaine Paige is the current First Lady of British Musical Theatre, then, with roles in Into the Woods and an Olivier nominated turn as Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors under her belt, the similarly diminutive Smith must surely be well on her way to becoming the First Princess. Actually, most musical theatre performers would long for the kind of diverse and eclectic career that Smith has enjoyed. A seasoned old pro at the age … Read more

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