Welcome back to Access London, thank you all for your continued support for disability access and awareness in London. Today's post is the first of two on the Kneehigh production of 'The Umbrellas of Cherbourg' at The Gielgud Theatre.
I saw this show last night and had a fabulous time - lots of laughs and a few tears too. The production was originally performed in Leicester but then transfered to the West End early in the Spring. The tag line 'A French Romance That Just Happens To Be Sung' says it all. Set in Cherbourg in the 1950s, Umbrellas tells the tale of a young woman who falls in love, only to suffer the loss when her lover is called up to the army. Discovering she is pregnant, she must make the difficult choice of waiting for her love to return or to marry a rich businessman who asks for her hand in marriage.
This show is the most unique performance I have seen in a long time. It is very interactive with the audience at times and the set is imaginative and very cleverly crafted. The style of singing words, rather than songs and the talented performers make this show one not to be missed.
Sadly, Umbrellas is closing on 21st May so if you would like to see it, you need to be quick. I definitely recommend it for a night out with a differnce.
I am delighted to announce that for those wishing to see this show, I can obtain a great deal on tickets for you - £20 for top tickets. Simply leave a comment, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me on Twitter @HorizonVA .
The Gielgud Theatre itself is located on Shaftesbury Avenue, just behind the Trocadero and 1 minute's walk from Piccadilly Circus. If you use a wheelchair or mobility scooter, this theatre is accessible. As it is a basement theatre (stalls located at basement level), it is the dress circle that is accessible without stairs. There are two spaces for wheelchairs if you cannot transfer from your chair. If you can transfer, there are a few more options within the dress circle. The theatre are extremely helpful and you will be met by a member of the Front of House team on arrival who will assist you before and after the performance and also during the interval. There is an accessible toilet also. If you have any special requests relating to mobility and seating, please let them know at the box office. The Access Line is: 0844 482 5137 Alternatively, contact me with your requirements and I will try and help get the seats you require - I am a mobility scooter user myself and cannot manage stairs.
Access London has been fortunate enough to be able to speak with a couple of cast members and ask them a few questions about the show. First up, Cynthia Erivo, who plays Madeleine....
AL: You play Madeleine in Umbrellas. What is her part in the story and have you enjoyed playing her?
CE: I guess you could say she's the sort of underdog of the whole thing, she's the girl who notices everything but is never noticed. She's a nurse, she takes care of Aunt Elise and is very much in love with Aunt Elise's nephew, Guy. Does she get him in the end? You'll have to wait and see!!
AL: What themes and emotions are most prevalent in the show?
CE: Love, Loss, Life, Contentment, Compromise
AL: The show is based on the film by Jacques Demy - has there been any pressure to stay true to the film or, has the show had the freedom to do its own thing?
CE: Well the music has stayed very true to the original film the only real thing that we've had license to adjust were the words, just so that the phrases in English work a little better. The play itself, how it's set, is much freer than the film, simply because we are on stage, how we set it was pretty much up to us, the cast.
AL: Were you part of the original cast that played in Leicester? If yes, what were the main differences between performing there and on the West End stage?
CE: Yes, I was part of Umbrellas in Leicester. I suppose one of the main differences was the theatre itself, it was a little easier to mingle at the top of the show - we had two walk-ways, so getting in and amongst people was easy as pie, here it's a little different.
The show itself was constantly changing in small ways, whether it be, movement, entrances, costume, words....it's what's kept it fresh.
AL: How do you prepare yourself before performing?
CE: Physically, we do a vocal and physical warm-up that ensures that we don't hurt ourselves onstage and gives us a moment to get together as a company before the show starts.
I personally love listening to music whilst I get my make-up and costume on, I guess it gets me in the right frame of mind to do a show.
Once the show goes up, I have an on-going through thought that combines some of my life experiences to my character's, so that I feel like the things that she/I sing/say are completely connected. It might not always work, but I try my very best.
AL: If you could play any role(s) in musical theatre, what would it/they be and why?
CE: Hmmm...this is a hard one because I would be lying if I said there weren't many but, if I had to narrow it down, I think it's a toss-up between Effie in Dream Girls and Celie in The Colour Purple! I just think they are incedible roles, they have wonderful storylines and wonderful songs, both of these characters would be a huge challenge! What more could you want from a character?
AL: Do you have an album out with your solo work?
CE: I don't have an album out with my solo work just yet but, I am working on it and you can hear some of it on my myspace.
AL: What's next for you after Umbrellas?
CE: Well immediately after this show, I'm not sure, I'm in the middle of auditioning for a few things, so fingers crossed! I have a gig at the Indig02 on June 7th and I guess what happens after, I won't know until I know.
Access London would like to offer a huge Thank You to Cynthia for taking the time to answer our questions and also for being part of a cast that gave us a great night out. To listen to some of Cynthia's music, check out her myspace account HERE
You can also find her on Twitter @CynthiaEriVo
The second part of our Umbrellas post is live tomorrow, including an interview with another cast member, Chris Jenkins.
In the meantime, don't forget, you can contact me for a super price for Umbrellas tickets until May 21st. Alternatively, you can contact Chris Jenkins on his Twitter account @chrisjenko Simply say you have read this blog post and you are asking about the £20 ticket offer.
Until tomorrow, I will leave you with the promo video for The Umbrellas of Cherbourg...