By Mary Rahman :: The New Vic Theatre’s celebrated production of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days adapted by Laura Eason and directed by Theresa Heskins has arrived at London’s Cadogan Hall, as part of a major six month tour. The production opened on 2 August and runs until 2 September and first premièred at the New Vic Theatre in 2013 followed by a successful season at the Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester in 2014. The story follows the mysterious and fabulously wealthy Phileas Fogg who wagers his life’s fortune that he can circumnavigate the globe in just 80 days. An ensemble cast of 8 play over 125 characters in the inventive high-spirited escapade which includes six trains, five boats, four fights, three dances, two circus acts and an elephant!
- Around the World in 80 Days first premièred at the New Vic Theatre in 2013 followed by a successful season at the Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester in 2014 of which you were a part of. How have you prepared to bring the character back to stage for the 2017 tour and is it a character you have found that you can slip back into easily?
Surprisingly I’ve not had to do too much. The minute I started saying the lines, holding Mr Naidu’s little hand suitcase, moving in this imaginary world – it all came back. A lot of the details were still there but other little things and moments have developed through rehearsals and performances.
- Around the World in 80 Days is a Jules Verne’s classic adventure novel. At what age did you first come across it and what response did you have?
I don’t ever recall coming across the book, just the film. I knew the book was out there but I was never a big reader as a child, but the film I definitely remember!
- If you could travel the world in 80 days which countries and iconic landmarks would be high up on your roadmap?
The Grand Canyon, Great Wall of China, Niagra Falls, Mauritius. So many!
- Not only do you play Mr. Naidu, but all cast members have to play up to 125 characters. What are the challenges of taking on such a mammoth feat in one night or when you have 2 shows a day?
It’s not so daunting now taking on so many parts. In fact I always look forward to it and therefore it doesn’t feel like such a mammoth feat. As long as I’m doing the right accent and have the correct costume on, I love it!
- You are touring the UK for a lengthy time till early next year, how do you keep yourself and your performances full of energy every night and fresh for new audiences?
As a company we have a very strict policy on warm up sessions. As well as the usual physical and vocal warm ups we also have fight calls to ensure every fight sequence stays clean, sharp and safe. We interact and have so much fun during our warm ups and I think we carry this energy on to stage and in to our performances. It’s also nice that new audiences each night react differently to the play which means no performance ever feels the same! As an actor you remind yourself that these lines should sound as if they’ve never been said before and I always try to find new moments no matter how small.
- What would you like audiences and especially children to take away from this show?
The feeling that they have actually travelled the world with us.
- You’ve had an illustrious career across theatre, film and TV – is there any particular medium you prefer?
I love all mediums, but I really adore TV and Film. I like the subtly and intimacy of camera work.
- What other projects do you have coming up in 2017 and 2018?
I was fortunate enough to have done a little telly before this job, so I have an episode of Doctors on BBC out in September and later in the year a BBC drama called The Boy with the Topknot. Also, at the moment I’m filming an independent feature film called Polterheist. I’m squeezing in odd days of filming around time off on this amazing theatre job.
This production has been nominated for both the UK Theatre Awards’ ‘Best New Production’ and the Manchester Theatre Awards’ ‘Best Show for Children and Families’. For more information please see www.80dayslive.com @80dayslive FB: 80dayslive