Victor Victoria at Beenleigh Theatre

Victor Victoria is a musical and a farce for the ages! 

We know we’re in Paris, but is this person a he or a she? A man or a woman? What confusion…what fun! VICTOR/VICTORIA is an appealing, sophisticated show, based on the movie about the career of the Paris entertainer Victoria Grant, who becomes a star female impersonator, only to fall in love-at-first-sight with macho King Marchan. Life’s complications are both hilarious and touching.

Recently stepping up as director, Julie Smith told us a bit about directing this production and what the show has to offer its audiences when it opens in Beenleigh, Queensland this April. Read more below: 

Julie Smith

Many of our readers may be familiar with the story of VICTOR/VICTORIA from the movie focusing on the career of the Parisian entertainer, Victoria Grant. What differs in this stage adaptation from that story and what can fans of the movie expect to see that remains the same?

 

Stepping in to direct Victor Victoria with less than 6 weeks to performance has been a steep learning curve.

My memories of the film were hazy at best and in all honesty I did not find it particularly entertaining. Hence, you can imagine my surprise when I read the script and found myself laughing out loud at it's cleverness and humour.

Our stage production is tailored very much to the original Blake Edwards Broadway show and I make no apologies for that, since the bulk of the set that I inherited was already designed along those lines.

When the movie was created, a very different conversation about identity and gender definition existed. Do you feel that this story still sits true in 2019 society? How can this show about gender confusion contribute to the current conversation of gender fluidity and accepting people of all genders whether they are their genders assigned at birth or how they identify instead?

 

Apart from being a vehicle for his wife, Julie Andrews, to showcase her talent, Blake Edwards uses it to develop the theme of gender definition and acceptance. A subject he had already touched on in previous films like The Pink Panther.

Set in the 1930's when the world was in upheaval, at a time when Austrian Jews (Represented by Cassall) were fleeing from the Nazi regime. It has overtones of a cabaret entertainment world that blurred gender lines and was inclined to be more accepting of gay men.

2019 society is less likely to objectify and stereotype but rather to accept people as individuals regardless of their perceived gender.

VICTOR/VICTORIA is, at its heart, a love story with a comic side – what was the great appeal to you and the team in bringing this show to the stage? What are you most excited to share with audiences come opening night this April?

 

Yes, Victor Victoria is a love story, but it is stamped with Blake Edwards comedy which crosses the line into farce. It is a musical farce.

What has the rehearsal process been like thus far? How did you first approach this story with your cast and what conversations about the history of the piece, the love story or the gender questioning, did you find important to bring into the rehearsal room in order to inform your cast’s performances? How does one begin to tackle this great story?

 

For me, although I love wit and cleverness in a script, nothing can make me laugh more than a good sight gag. To that end, it is my delight to work with actors on stage in developing comic timing and comic action. It is my aim to put a smile on the audience's face and to send them away with a song on their lips.

Of course, this show is a great musical (probably best known for starring Julie Andrews on Broadway). What has been your favourite part of the rehearsal process and what is the song that stays in your head when you leave the rehearsal room? (there’s always one!)

 

Talking about songs, 'Victor Victoria' is the ear worm but it is 'Living in the Shadows' that I find particularly beautiful and haunting.

RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:

Favourite production you have ever seen?

Many... Jersey Boys (1st time round)/ Me and My Girl/ The Cherry Orchard

You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?

 England (Visit homeland)

Dream show to direct?

Would like to do Chicago...loved directing the very clever Patrick Barlow's 'Love Upon the Throne'

Plays or musicals?

Both, for the different experience each offers

A hobby you have beyond the theatre?

Dressage (job all over the world for many years) Singing, sculpture

What’s next for you after this show?

Who knows? Possibly another big musical next year!

Victor Victoria opens at the Beenleigh Theatre on April 26 2019. You can get your tickets here.

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