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In Conversation With the Stars of Drowsy: Ciadhra McGuire
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Into the Light: Four New GMT Faces
25 Apr 2013
With every new GMT show comes the pressure of casting. Steadfastly set on casting every show from scratch, even actors who have been with the company for years are thrown into the challenge of auditioning, and are just as susceptible to rejection as any new face. As GMT becomes more known throughout the city, the number of auditionees to choose from is growing - as is the competition - and for the upcoming production of Into the Woods, audiences will see four brand new faces join the company, each of them galvanising GMT's reputation for talented casts and giving the familiar faces a run for their money. Meet Robin Cameron (Mysterious Man), Alex Lyne (Cinderella's Prince), Eilidh McMillan (Florinda) and Jocelyn Nelson (The Witch).
How did you all get involved in Into the Woods?
Robin: Well I went to see Ryan Towart [who played Don] in A Chorus Line with some chums and I saw the advert at the back of the programme about the auditions. As it is a show I have always loved (open air production has been on the computer for many a year) auditioning was a must.
Alex: I heard rumours through the grapevine last year that GMT might be doing it, so I just kept my ear to the ground and when I saw the myriad of facebook/ blog updates about it I decided to audition.
Eilidh: I've been a big fan for a while and saw there were auditions last year (keeno) so decided to go for it since I'd seen many an awesome GMT show previously.
Jocelyn: I was deep in an unhealthy Woods obsession phase so when I heard someone was doing it I was like, 'No way!' (Wayne's World stylee). I'd seen Company and knew GMT would make an epic job of it. Then I saw A Chorus Line and nearly decided not to audition for Into the Woods because it was so ridiculously good!
Into the Woods is a big show to do with only a 10-week rehearsal time. How have you all found the rehearsal process so far?
Jocelyn: Amazingly structured. 10 weeks is a luxurious amount of time compared to the shows I usually do. I'm actually gobsmacked that we've run it with 3 weeks to go.
Robin: Seriously are we only rehearsing for 10 weeks?! Never truly realised!
Eilidh: I didn't realise it was 10 weeks either! Eeek! I've found it absolutely fine, but to be fair I haven't got a huge amount to learn! I've done a show in a weekend before, so I suppose it'll never be as horrific as that.
Robin: It seems to have gone really quickly and everything has been covered without really realising it’s happened. The fact we have run both acts and soon the whole show is amazing because it feels like we pretty much just started.
Learning all the lines seems to be a pretty big feat as well...
Jocelyn: That's a bit more of a worry. The scenes are so short and bitty and some of the dialogue is very repetitive. Obviously this is good for signposting characters to the audience, but it’s a total swine to learn.
Alex: Sondheim's music is always a test of spirit as well as vocal ability. Kind of like a trial by fire, but hotter! The rehearsals themselves have been great; there is the right balance of structure and fun and the production team and cast are great to work with.
Robin: Lines are hellish - not because there are too many, the mysterious man talks nonsense - but they are all so similar it makes it feel like the same thing and you never know quite where you are.
You are all playing characters that have shaped the fabric of storytelling. Who or what did you use as inspiration to make these beloved characters your own?
Jocelyn: I think it's difficult if you've listened to one recording for months or even years not to emulate the performer, especially if it's someone like Bernadette Peters, in my case. But then, no-one wants to pay to hear a bad impression of Bernadette Peters either. I think my witch is an accidental mix of Joan Collins and Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous in her Saffy-hating scenes.
Robin: Recordings are ridiculous! Listening to ‘No More’ and singing it are two different worlds. It totally throws you off.
Jocelyn: Robin's debut album, Recordings are Ridiculous!, is now available for download!
Robin: Sorry I believe it's preorder! Haha! As for Mr. Mystery, I honestly think the Twitter experiment [Cast were challenged to create and maintain Twitter accounts as their characters - more to come] made me think more about him and why he is so awfully mysterious. I've seen versions where he scampers about and is a tad over the top, and others where he is quite sedate, so for me it was important to play him quite low key to fit in with the father/son abandonment themes.
Alex: I think my character is one that'll be familiar to the audience from childhood, but Sondheim and Lapine warp and corrupt him a little to fit with the darker themes they introduce in the second act. So basically, I take a Disney Prince and then make him into a little bit more of an a***.
Eilidh: I'm such a huge fan of the original Broadway cast and the original Florinda was so brilliant that it is struggle to move away from that, but I think everyone has done it quite well. I didn't really have any influences, just decided to be a ridiculous evil posh bint! I did watch every version of Cinderella under the sun though so I probably picked something up along the way. I'm already a big Disney fan and know the Disney stepsisters well so they were probably an unconscious influence.
Jocelyn: I think there are obvious ways to play each character, very stereotypical, and the challenge is to be familiar enough that the audience feel comfortable but original enough that they think 'Oh my!'
This show is not just your first GMT performance, but also the inaugural production of a brand new theatre. Are you excited about this double-début?
Jocelyn: The original Cottiers is such an iconic venue with a reputation for high quality shows, so we have this amazing opportunity to set the bar for Cottiers Kelvinbridge.
Robin: I'm actually majorly excited! Getting into the cast was a joy in itself - the first read through with people I recognised from the Chorus Line cast was one of the top 5 most intimidating moments of life - and the fact we are opening a new theatre adds something extra special to the experience.
Alex: I am so freakin excited! GMT always manage to put on a great show and Gregor's ideas for this one are fantastic. The idea of being the premiere performance of a brand new theatre space in Glasgow is so awesome! The fact that this project has been going on for the past decade or so makes me a little nervous, but I hope that our performance is something that will bring lots of good press to the theatre for years to come.
Eilidh: Ooh yes! I've seen many a GMT show (since Little Shop of Horrors in 2010) that has been fantastic, so there's a little bit of pressure, but it's also so amazing and exciting to be a part of! As for the Lansdowne, I always used to see it on my way home from school and thought it was really lovely, so I'm excited to be part of its refurb! Especially under the name of Cottiers. I’m sure the theatre will be wonderful and I'm chuffed to be part of the first show to be performed there.
Finally, what was/is your favourite fairy tale and why?
Robin: Favourite is tricky. I had a very Disney filled childhood.
Jocelyn: I'm a sucker for Disney films. I think I'm not too fussed on something, then Disney do it and I'm buying the DVD and all the merchandise.
Alex: I love a bit of Sleeping Beauty, but I think my favourite has to be Hansel and Gretel. Potentially ‘cause I am a massive fatty and love the idea of a house that you can eat.
Jocelyn: I love Grimm, where they take the fairy tale characters and weave them into present day crime and violence.
Robin: Snow White is in fact my least favourite. That witch! Jeez. Poisoned fruit and the whole pig’s heart! It terrified my dreams as a child.
Jocelyn: I know it's not a fairytale, but Return to Oz. Holy moly what a film!
Robin: I am partial to Sleeping Beauty; nothing beats fairies making dresses and cakes with magic. Also Once Upon a Time is literally the best thing I have watched in terms of fairy tales. Probably because I'm a sap and they are all there, mingled together in one land. Too good. God I have lived a sheltered life.
Eilidh: See I adore Peter Pan but I don't know if that's really a fairy tale so much as a story. Of the original tales I'd have to say Snow White. I love how it's all cheerful then it gets all creepy when they stick the Queen in those iron shoes! My favourite film ever is Sleeping Beauty though. Can't beat a sassy fairy who wants to kill a baby just ‘cause she didn't get invited to a party. Lad!
Jocelyn: Ooh I LOVE Sleeping Beauty! When they turn the dress all the different colours and you're like “NO! THE SMOKE IS COMING OUT THE CHIMNEY! MALEFICENT WILL SEE!!!”
Robin: That was the scene that I always rewound my VHS to.
Jocelyn: Ah...VHS. You speak my language - the language of old.
INTO THE WOODS opens the brand-new Cottiers Kelvinbridge theatre @ The Lansdowne. For more information and to book tickets, visit www.glasgowmusictheatre.co.uk/itw/.