This week Sarah Day talks to Anything Goes cast member Alex Wright. Read on to find out what it’s like to work with Broadway legend Sutton Foster!
What was your first ever show that you did as a kid, and what was it that got you into the theatre world?
The first show I ever performed in was at my local dance school on the Wirral. I sang, “How much is that doggy in the window”! I absolutely loved to dance and sing as soon as I could move, and my parents have always encouraged and supported me. My Mum would take me to see the English National Ballet whenever they came to the Liverpool Empire and the first production I saw was Swan Lake; I was absolutely mesmerized. I knew then that’s what I wanted to do.
Congratulations on being part of ‘Anything Goes’! Tell us about the show, your audition and rehearsal process, and how it’s been working with Broadway legend, Sutton Foster?
Thank you so much!! “Anything Goes” is an absolute dream come true for me, and in fact I think most of the cast would say the same thing. After such a long and hard time with no theatre, it’s even more special to be back and to be part of such a classy, beautiful show. With music by Cole Porter (the orchestration is just gorgeous – as is our band) you hear great song after great song. It’s about a crossing from New York to England on the SS America, and follows the journey of our characters, finding love and happiness, with a lot of tap dancing sailors in between. The audition process was slightly different this year – we were all seen in person in a studio before Christmas where we all had to dance in boxes, socially distanced. We learnt sections from the tap number and from “Blow Gabriel Blow”. Then lockdown happened again so it all went online and on to self-tapes. We had to send a number of these in of us dancing, singing and also script work. I’m sure the creative team saw lots of gardens/garages and living rooms. Rehearsals were very different this year because of Covid restrictions and different protocols that were in place, but we have all been so well looked after by the whole team. And everyone has done their part to be as safe as possible.
SUTTON FOSTER…. I mean, it’s an absolute dream come true to work with her. She is a musical theatre legend. She is absolutely incredible and has always been someone I have looked up to, I have to pinch myself every day… She is so lovely, the kindest and most genuine person I have ever met and she is such a calming and encouraging influence and energy over the whole cast. She truly is an inspiration and getting to see her work is an honour. She makes eye contact with every single one of us during the show and so we all feel really connected in what feels like a special moment in time and UK theatre history.
How has it been working on a show in the middle of a pandemic? Have you had any obstacles you have had to overcome?
It’s been very different. We test daily and still maintain social distance where we can. Unless we are rehearsing or onstage we keep our masks on where possible around the in the theatre.
What is your process when you get into character for a show?
I like to be early whatever I’m doing, so I like to arrive with plenty of time so that I can get prepared, finish my make-up and hair prep before our company warm up happens. That way I can focus on warming my body up and that in turn gives my mind time to balance and completely focus on the show.
Why is theatre important to you?
Theatre is important to me because it enhances so many people’s lives. It provides escapism from the rush and stress of our daily lives. If you can transport people, even for an hour or two and create laughter and joy, I don’t think there is anything better. Also, the feeling that you get when you perform on stage is incomparable.
Lockdown and restrictions are almost over – how did you keep creative through it?
I was very lucky over lockdown as I had a wonderful teaching job. Like so many, we all went over to Zoom, which was a challenge for teachers and students alike, but it gave me and my days a purpose and it was so uplifting and inspiring to see my students working so hard through the screen, with such dedication and positivity. So I was able to keep creative by choreographing and dancing.
Tell us about one of your best/funniest memories on stage?
One of my best moments on stage would have to be at the end of Anything Goes in our very first preview, the audiences reaction was unforgettable and the shear joy that my fellow performers and I and the audience felt was breathtaking. After so long, to be back and hear that cheer and see everyone on their feet as the curtain came in will be something I never ever forget.
If your life were a show what would it be called, and why?
Ooooh that’s a really hard one… I’ll have to come back to you on that one! Ha
It has been a really tough year for new actors graduating into the industry. What advice would you give to all the new graduates?
What advice would I give – Stay strong and stay positive, there will be many “no’s” along the way but always remember why you do it and never give up on your dreams. Look after and be kind to yourself and try to ride the waves with humility and humour.
Finally (without giving too much away!) why should our British Theatre community come and see ‘Anything Goes’?
The British Theatre community should come and see Anything Goes because it is a truly brilliant show in every way. The book, direction and choreography are unparalleled and the cast are superb. You will be transported to a wonderful, funny, delectably delicious world for an evening. A show not to be missed!!!