11 Questions with Melissa Allan from Twelfth Night

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Melissa Allan as Feste in Twelfth Night. Photo by Johan Persson.

Melissa Allan plays one of the lead characters in Kwame Kwei-Armah and Oskar Eustis’ Twelfth Night, as a forlorn but charming Feste – traditionally played as a fool, and now reinterpreted as a busker in modern-day Notting Hill.

We’ve posed her 11 Questions to find out more about her and her mysterious character –

1. Can you describe your character in Twelfth Night in three words?

Playful, charming and lonely.

2. What’s your favourite thing about working with Kwame and Oskar?

The love that was brought into the rehearsal room every single day and how safe they always made us feel.

3. What fictional family would you like to be a member of?

The Cullen family in Twilight.

4. What can the audience expect from this production that’s different to any other versions of Twelfth Night/ Shakespeare they may have seen before?

Shaina Taub’s score is awesome. It’s also an extremely accessible play and there are lots of little twists that are very different from other productions. Having the community chorus with us also makes this version really special.

5. What’s the strangest family tradition in your family?

My uncle gives me and my brother Brussels sprouts for our birthdays and Christmas every year. He’s a joker.

6. What is your favourite midnight snack?

Probably some dark chocolate!

7. What are you usually doing 10 minutes before the show begins?

Backcombing my hair within an inch of its life.

8. Who is your ultimate hero and what would you say to them if you ever met them?

I know it’s very cheesy but mum and dad are definitely my ultimate heroes.

9. What was it that first got you interested in theatre?

I watched the movie version of Phantom of the Opera when I was about 12 and was obsessed. My mum and dad then took me to see it in London and I was beside myself.

10. What is your first memory of Shakespeare?

I think it would actually be watching the movie of Romeo and Juliet.

11. If your life were a movie, what genre would it be?

A Tim Burton movie.

 

Twelfth Night is now playing at the Young Vic until November 17. Tickets are sold out but returns may be available on the day of each performance. Speak to our Box Office for more information on 020 7922 2922.

11 Questions with Eleanor Kane | Fun Home

Eleanor Kane plays Medium Alison in our current Main House production Fun Home. These are her 11 Questions…

1. Can you describe your character in Fun Home in three words?

Brave, intuitive, hopeful.

2.  What’s your favourite thing about working with Sam Gold?

Providing a skeleton within which you have freedom to play and explore.

3. What can the audience expect from this production that’s different to anything else they are likely to have seen before?

A musical that is incredibly intelligent and delicate.

4. What invention do you think the world is lacking right now?

A PEACE MACHINE!

5. What is your favourite project you have worked on as an actor?

Fun Home!

6. What are you usually doing 10 minutes before the show begins?

Lying on the floor, trying to focus on what lies ahead.

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Eleanor Kane as Medium Alison in Fun Home. Photo by Marc Brenner.

7. If you could travel anywhere in the universe, where would you go and why?
The top of Mount Everest so I could say I’ve been at the top of the world.

8. Who is your ultimate hero and what would you say to them if you ever met them?

No joke…it’s Aretha Franklin!! She’s always been my biggest inspiration. If I ever met her I’d just thank her for everything she’s helped me and so many others through by her art.

9. What was it that first got you interested in theatre?

Watched a production of David Greig’s Dunsinane and wanted to evoke that level of epic power on stage.

10. What is your favourite midnight snack?

Toast and hummus

11. If you could have been born in any era, which would it be and why?

The 60s, to live through the birth of rock’n’roll and major social change.

Fun Home runs until 1 Sept. Find out more about the production here. Tickets are sold out but you are welcome to queue for returns before each performance. 

Top image: Eleanor Kane and Cherrelle Skeete. Photo by Marc Brenner. 

Fun Home Casting Announced!

We’re thrilled to be able to announce casting for Fun Home, the five-time award winning musical based on a graphic novel by Alison Bechdel with music by Jeanine Tesori, book and lyrics by Lisa Kron and direction by Sam Gold:

Alison: Kaisa Hammarlund
Medium Alison: Eleanor Kane
Helen: Jenna Russell
Roy/Mark/Jeremy: Ashley Samuels
Joan: Cherrelle Skeete
Bruce, Alison’s father: Zubin Varla

More information about the company is below. Casting for Small Alison, John and Christian will be confirmed soon.

Kaisa_blogKaisa Hammarlund | Alison
Theatre includes: Cockpit (Lyceum Edinburgh); Sweet Charity (Royal Exchange Theatre  Manchester, Theatre Awards & UK Theatre Awards nomination for Best Actress); Bakkhai (Almeida); As You Like It (Southwark Playhouse); Sleeping Beauty (Park Theatre); The Captain of Kopeknick (National Theatre); The Tempest (Theatre Royal Bath); Can I Be Straight With You / Courting Drama (Bush Theatre); The Boys from Syracuse (Union Theatre); The Three Musketeers (Rose Theatre Kingston); A Day Before Spring (Sadler’s Wells); Cabaret (Lyric Theatre); Sunday in the Park with George, They’re Playing Our Song, A Little Night Music, Take Flight (Menier Chocolate Factory); Mamma Mia (Prince of Wales theatre and touring); Legally Blonde (Nöjesteatern, Malmö Sweden).
Television includes:  Lewis, Doctors, The Sandhamn Murders, Holby City.
Film includes: K, Coup de Grace.

 

Eleanor Headshot_blog.jpgEleanor Kane | Medium Alison
Theatre includes: Assassins, Wondertown,  Barefoot Gen, The Merchant of Venice, Three Days in the Country, Rhinoceros, Three Sisters (Rose Bruford); Threeway (Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh Fringe Festival); Werther (Scottish Opera); Now’s the Hour (Scottish Youth Theatre); Joan and Jim R&D (Told By An Idiot).

 

 

 

Jenna Russell_blogJenna Russell | Helen
Theatre includes: Di and Viv and Rose (Vaudeville theatre); Urinetown (Apollo and St James Theatre); Mr Burns (Almeida); Merrily We Roll Along (Menier Chocolate Factory / Pinter Theatre); That Day We Sang (Opera House, Manchester); Seasons Greetings (National Theatre); Into The Woods (Regents Park); Sunday in the Park With George (Wyndhams / Studio 54 Broadway); Amy’s View (Garrick Theatre); Guys and Dolls (Picadilly Theatre); Into the Woods (Donmar Warehouse); Three Sisters (Royal Court).
Television includes: Call the Midwife, The Paradise, Minder, Dr Who, Born and Bred, Picking Up the Pieces.
Film includes: Mortdecai.
Awards include:  Nominee for 2008 Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Theatre World Award and Drama League for Leading Actress in a Musical for Sunday In The Park with George. Olivier Award Winner for Best Actress in a Musical for Sunday In The Park with George 2007. Nominee for 2006 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Guys and Dolls.

 

Ashely Samuels bw.jpgAshley Samuels | Roy/Mark/Jeremy
Theatre includes: Motown the Musical (Shaftsbury Theatre); The Book of Mormon (Prince of Wales Theatre); The Toxic Avenger (Southwark Playhouse); The World Goes Round (Stephen Joseph Theatre); Olivier Awards 2014 (Royal Opera House).
Television includes: This Morning (ITV); Sing it Kitty (commercial).
Other work includes: Concert soloist (The Other Palace & Electric Theatre).

 

 

Cherrelle Headshot_blogCherrelle Skeete | Joan
Theatre includes: The Seagull, Jack and Beanstalk (Lyric Hammersmith); Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Palace Theatre); Three Days in the Country, The Amen Corner (National Theatre); Wind in the Willows (Royal & Derngate); And I and Silence (Finborough Theatre); The Lion King (Lyceum Theatre) The Edge, Sold, King Lear, Love’s Last Shift, There’s No Place Like Home, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Three Sisters (Central School of Speech and Drama); Joey Boy (The MAC).
Television includes: Silent Witness, Doctors, Danny and the Human Zoo, The Five, Ordinary Lies, Call the Midwife.

 

Zubin_blogZubin Varla | Bruce
Young Vic includes: Measure for Measure, The Changeling.
Theatre includes: Poison (Orange Tree Theatre); The Unknown Island (Gate Theatre); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare’s Globe); Dara, War Horse, Attempts on Her Life, The Enchantment, The Life of Galileo and Cyrano de Bergerac(National Theatre); The El Train (Hoxton Hall): Don Juan Comes Back from the War (Finborough); Troilus and Cressida (RSC/Wooster Group); Chess (UK tour); Into Thy Hands(Jericho House); Amadeus (City of London Sinfonia/Barbican); In the Soliyude of Cottonfields (ATC) Hello and Goodbye (Treatment Theatre Company); Julius Caesar (RSC/Lyric Hammersmith); Faust (RSC); The Painter of Dishonour (RSC); Midnight’s Children, Roberto Zucco, Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest (RSC); Jesus Christ Superstar (Lyceum); Paradise Regained (Royal Court); Teeth n Smiles (Sheffield Crucible); and Twelfth Night (Donmar West End), Antigone (Old Vic/Donmar); Beautiful Thing (Duke of York’s); In the Heart of America (Bush Theatre); Romeo and Juliet (Regent’s Park).
Television includes: Deep State, Will, Our Girl, Strike Back, Holby City, Garrow’s Law, Crocodile Shoes, Hustle, Little Dorrit, Saddam’s Tribe, Silent Witness and Spooks.
Film includes: Mad, Sad and Bad, Twelfth Night.

 

Fun Home runs from 18 June – 1 September 2018 in the Young Vic’s Main House. Book your tickets here

 

 

What is Fun Home and why should I be ridiculously excited about it?

What’s all this hype about Fun Home then? 🤷 Isn’t it that 90s kids game show presented by Pat Sharp I used to watch after school? Is it making a comeback, because I am SO DOWN.

Nope, guess again!

Fun Home is, in fact, a MUSICAL! An acclaimed, groundbreaking musical directed by Sam Gold, which has already taken America by storm and is about to hit London for the first time – and we’re just hoping you guys can handle it…

Things you need to know:

1. This is the first musical with a lesbian character as the lead role
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Roberta Colindrez (Joan) & Emily Skeggs (Medium Alison) in the 2015 Broadway production of Fun Home

This is a coming-of-age story about a lesbian called Alison looking back on younger versions of herself, and examining her relationship with her closeted gay father. There are plenty of musicals around exploring the stories of gay men, but it’s rare to see a lesbian’s story in this genre and we’re so proud to fly that flag.

🎧 Listen: Changing My Major To Joan

(Sung by ‘Medium Alison’, aged 19, experiencing a sexual awakening after her first night spent with her friend, Joan.)

2. Fun Home the musical is based on a graphic novel (which is also a true story)

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Written by Alison Bechdel, the original graphic memoir has garnered much critical acclaim, including being named Best Book of the Year by TimeEntertainment Weekly, the New York Times, and People. Alison wrote the book following her father’s suicide and tries to unpick how the two of them ended up taking such different paths in life. It is profound, tender, funny, incredibly powerful and deeply moving. Ideal material for a…musical, huh?

🎧 Listen: Telephone Wire

(Sung by ‘Present-day Alison’, reliving the moment she and her father take a drive after she comes out to him. She hopes she can talk openly to her father one last time.)

3. ‘Fun Home’ is actually code for funeral home
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Sydney Lucas, Zell Morrow & Oscar Williams in the 2015 Broadway production of Fun Home

A musical about a funeral home? This is already a plot twist! Yes, the narrative centres on Alison who grew up in her family’s Pennsylvania funeral home (her father was the funeral home director) where she and her brothers would sometimes play in the coffins… Whilst not your traditional setting for a musical, this kind of juxtaposition of humour and tragedy is part of what makes the show so riveting.

🎧 Listen: Come to the Fun Home

(Sung by ‘Young Alison’ and her brothers, Christian and John, who are playing at making a TV advert for their family’s funeral home, AKA the ‘fun home’.)

4. It won 5 Tony Awards the year it opened on Broadway 🏅🏅🏅🏅🏅

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The original Broadway production was nominated for 12 Tony Awards in 2015, winning FIVE, including Best Musical. Also, the truly excellent Jeanine Tesori & Lisa Kron were the first female writing team to win the Tony Award for Best Original Score. Their acceptance speech is everything. (Did we mention this musical has an all female writing team?)

🎧 Listen: Days and Days

(Sung by Alison’s mother, Helen, who tells Alison about how her relationship with her father changed over the years. A beautiful example of Tesori & Kron’s musical genius.)

5. The Bechdel Test is named after – you guessed it – Alison Bechdel

We’re just going to let The Simpsons explain this one…

Alison featured this 3-step measure for films in her long-running comic Dykes to Watch Out For (Does it have at least 2 women in it and do they speak to each other about something besides a man?) and has since grown in popularity so much that it has become part of our modern-day vernacular.

🎧 Listen: Ring of Keys

(Sung by ‘Young Alison’, who, at 10 years old, is on the brink of discovering her sexuality when she sees a woman walk into the cafe that she and her father are sitting in – this one definitely passes the Bechdel test)

 
So, ridiculously excited yet? We definitely are. Fun Home opens 18 June, so hurry and snap up your tickets now!