I loved Lucy westend theatre opening 2017 - UK
Kiran Rai last night covered the first opening of the west end theatre show ' i loved lucy ' which stars sandra dickson and Matthew Scott who has appeared on Broadway in such shows as Sondheim on Sondheim and as Adam in An American in Paris and is now marking his first-ever trip to London with his UK stage debut in the Lee Tannen play I Loved Lucy , opening on July 24 at the Arts Theatre. The charming performer took time before his second preview to talk about Lucille Ball, adoring your co-star and getting to know the West End. Did you ever imagine you’d be making your London stage debut in a show about—of all American icons—Lucille Ball? I never thought I was going to make my London debut to begin with! I’ve had no idea about any of this from top to bottom, so everything about it has been a life adventure, not just a work adventure. How was your first preview? They roared, they howled; I was shocked! There were moments that played so well that I didn’t even think were moments, and then there were other bits where you were waiting and got back nothing. For the most part, it felt to me as if it was about joy, and that’s the key: Lucille Ball represents joy for a lot of people. Are you interested to discover that British audiences seem to be interested in Lucille Ball? I have to tell you, I had a concern: Before I came over, I was pretty blunt and I said to our director [Anthony Biggs], “Tell me why people want to see this; do you have an audience for it?” And he said, “Oh yes, absolutely we do; I grew up on Lucy.” It seems as if she remains part of the fabric of so many lives. Aren’t you too young to know much about I Love Lucy? Yes and no because, as you know, you can’t escape the reruns. I remember on Nick at Nite when they used to play all that stuff— The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Dick Van Dyke, Lucy... but I Love Lucy was the one I really got hooked on as a teenager when I really began to understand what I was watching. I thought, “How is this woman doing this?” Everything she did was so damned honest; she just drew everybody in. Do you sing in the show, given that we know you as a musical theater performer? I do! When Jeffry Denman did [the same part] in California in 2010, there may have been a little dance number, but I get to sing as the character of Lee, who of course is also the playwright of our show. And when I do sing, it’s a very sweet, tender moment that comes from the character—it’s not some full-throated moment in the spotlight. Did you join this project for London? Oddly enough, I have a history with this in New York. About eight years ago when I was doing Sondheim on Sondheim on Broadway, [author] Lee Tannen saw me at a matinee and met me at the stage door and asked whether I would be interested in reading something. Did he give you any clues as to what? He asked whether he could rent a rehearsal space after a matinee and we could read this together and I thought, “OK, where is this going to lead?” but he was very forthcoming to me at the stage door so I thought why not and we did and it was so charming. I was then asked if I could do it at the Laguna Playhouse but by that point I had booked another show so had to pass—until now. How does it feel to have as your co-star the expat American actress Sandra Dickinson, whose son-in-law also happens to be the wildly popular British TV and stage actor David Tennant? First of all, we love each other; we absolutely adore each other, which is great because if we didn’t it would be really, really difficult to do this job. We locked into one another immediately, so we’re kind of placing that on top of the relationship in the show. Are you impressed by her powers of transformation? Here’s Sandra, who is a bit of an institution in Britain and has this famous son-in-law, as you say, and has grandchildren, and that’s what you hear about first and foremost. To look at her, she’s this beautiful blonde fair woman who in no way resembles Lucy and then she slaps on the wig and gets into costume and I swear to God she is Lucille Ball. How does it feel to be appearing down the road from An American in Paris , which you did on Broadway? What’s been great is that I get to see Leanne Cope, who is probably one of the most important teachers I’ve ever had in my life onstage. She is so focused and present in every moment: I have never in my life stepped on stage with anyone and just felt pulled in so completely, and when I went to see [the show] again here at the Dominion, she was as gorgeous and stunning as ever. I don’t understand how she is keeping it so fresh. Have you crossed paths with Audra McDonald, whose Lady Day is running a matter of minutes from the Arts Theatre? I don’t really know Audra, though I did meet her once backstage on Broadway during Porgy and Bess and I’m hoping I can drop a note for her at the stage door here. But I went to see her show, and that woman literally leaves her soul on the stage. Are there thoughts of taking I Loved Lucy to New York? Isn’t what people are always thinking? [laughs] My personal feeling is that we need to take this on one step at a time but of course people are always hopeful that something is going to move forward. How do you think it would do? I think on name recognition alone it would sell tickets. There are people who want to come and see and hear and know what we’ve created. I mean, we are talking about someone who was among the most famous women in the world.