Company at Limelight Theatre
Production Images: Clare Hawley
Company opened last week at the new Limelight Theatre on Oxford Street and we were lucky to sit down and speak with Michele Lansdown. Mich asked Michele about her past roles, working with the company of company and what makes this Sondheim classic so relevant to today's audiences. Have a read below:
Your love of musical theatre has seen you play many well-known iconic roles – What has been your favourite role to take on in the past? And, do you find that your past performances inspire the way you approach new characters?
I really love comedic roles and had an absolute ball playing Ursula earlier this year in Birdie Productions The Little Mermaid, however I would have to say my all time favourite role (even though it nearly killed me!) was playing Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. She was such a wonderfully tragic character and theres so many wonderful numbers to sing.
I find that the older I get the more interesting characters I get to play, I’m usually either a murderer, a psychopath or a lush! I’m not sure that previous roles inspire me as much as people I have known throughout my life! LOL
What is it that drew you to this production? Can you tell us a little about the story and what audiences can expect to see?
I am a great lover of Sondheim and have been fortunate enough to play some of his iconic roles (both the Witch and Bakers Wife in Into The Woods, Phyllis in Follies and Desiree in A Little Night Music), and the role of Joanne in Company has always been on my bucket list. I had also worked with our MD Antonio Fernandez before and greatly respected his talent.
Company takes the form of a series of vignettes in which the 35-year-old single Robert (Bobby) assesses his life through his relationships with his married friends. Along with the sharp, clever and sometimes hilarious observations on marriage and relationships, there are some brilliant ensemble numbers sung with complex and beautiful harmonies, along with some iconic solos such as “Not Getting Married Today’, ‘Being Alive’, ‘Another Hundred People’ and ‘Hears to the Ladies who Lunch’.
What is your character Joanne’s role in this story? How does she help the story evolve?
Joanne is an older friend of the central character (Robert) and she has been around the block a few times (thrice married). She offers up a fairly jaded and cynical view of the institution of marriage to Robert, however the fact that she still continues to marry shows Robert that it’s not all bad and maybe worth the risk.
The original musical was written to much acclaim in the 70’s – what do you think have been its enduring qualities? What makes it still relevant to today’s 2018 audiences?
I think the themes of loneliness and the inability to make an emotional commitment, along with its cynical take on the compromises of marriage are as relevant today as they were back in the 70’s.
For our readers, what is it like to be part of the creative process when putting together a show like Company with a cast of 14 people?
This is a true ensemble piece, with only one character having the through line of the narrative (Robert). Whilst the show consists of vignettes of Robert with the individual couples, the company does come together at various times, and we have certainly formed a cohesive and unique group. I feel very lucky to be working with so many ridiculously talented performers who have each put such an individual and clever stamp on their characters.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
Favourite production you have ever seen?
Neil Patrick Harris in his last performance of Hedwig on Broadway (all the creatives were in the audience and the atmosphere was electric)
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
The answer to this will ALWAYS be New York!
Dream role to perform?
Little Edie (Grey Gardens), Mama Rose (Gypsy) or Mrs Lovett (Sweeney Todd)
Plays or musicals?
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
Photography, yoga and flute playing
What’s next for you after this show?
Another Sondheim! ‘Into the Woods’ for Bloom Productions at The Concourse March 2019.