Thursday, 5 January 2012

Pippin @ Menier Chocolate Factory & Interview with Frances Ruffelle

Welcome back to Access London and a Happy New Year to all! Hoping you all enjoyed a lovely Christmas and New Year holiday. Access London's first post of 2012 is dedicated to the new production of Pippin, currently playing at The Menier Chocolate Factory and also a special interview with Frances Ruffelle.

"In this coming-of-age story, Pippin, heir to the throne of Charlemagne, ventures on a quest of self-discovery, but in doing so our hero must face the uncertain worlds of warfare, love, politics and religion.

With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (composer of Wicked and Godspell ) and book by Roger O. Hirson, The Menier Chocolate Factory’s new version has been completely re-conceived, directed and choreographed, incorporating Bob Fosse's original Tony Award-winning routines, by Mitch Sebastian."

The cast includes Harry Hepple, Carly Bawden, Frances Ruffelle, Matt Rawle and Ian Kelsey.

Pippin is running at the Chocolate Factory until the 25th February with performances Tuesday-Saturday evenings (8.00pm) and Saturday and Sunday Matinees (3.30pm). To book Access tickets and concessions, call the box office directly on 020 7378 1713.

Wheelchair access is via the main entrance on Southwark Street (the venue is not really suitable for scooters however). If you have any mobility or disability requirements, please explain to the box office when booking tickets so that they can arrange for any assistance needed and help you to book the most suitable seating for your needs. There is 1 space for a wheelchair at the front of the auditorium, with a space next to it for companion/carer. There are other options if you can transfer to a theatre seat. Unfortunately, there is no infra red loop system at this venue. However, it is a fairly intimate space so please explain any requirements at the box office when booking and they will arrange seating as close to the stage area as possible.

Access London is delighted to share with you an interview with Frances Ruffelle who plays Fastrada in Pippin. I'd like to again say a huge Thank You to Frances for taking the time to answer some questions....

AL: This new production of Pippin brings the story into a modern and cyber world, can you tell us anymore about this?

FR: It’s best for me not to spill too many beans… but yes, this Pippin is set in a virtual reality game world.

AL: This production has been completely re-conceived. But would it be correct to say it still includes Fosse's original routines?

FR: We do indeed have original Fosse routines and we also have some fosse-esque choreography. We were very lucky to have Chet Walker (who worked closely with Fosse) come teach us the real thing!

AL: What were the routines like to learn?

FR: Well to be honest my role doesn’t have very much original Fosse but I did learn some of the other routines and it was incredible to hear the original stories of their creation, especially the Gwen Verdon walk! Gwen was Pigeoned toed and had leg braces as a kid and Bob Fosse found a way to make her unique stance into a very sexy but quirky walk! I base my character's walk on that.

AL: The production has a great cast with yourself, Matt Rawle, Harry Hepple and Carly Bawden. What has it been like together as a company?

FR: We have a ball! We share a very big dressing room with a screen splitting the girls from the boys but we can hear everything each other is saying! It’s a complete laugh backstage. We play music and play tricks on each other. I sit next to Carly, she is the same age as my daughter and has great taste in music.

AL: What can you tell us of your portrayal of Fastrada?

FR: I chose to portray Fastrada as an Essex trophy wife! I thought quite topical for now with TOWIE and I was born in Essex (even though I don’t naturally have an essex accent). But she is clever and knows how to get what she wants but really she does not give a toss about anyone but herself and she thinks she is the business!

AL: As an off West End theatre, what is the Chocolate Factory like to perform in?

FR: I love the intimacy of working here in a small theatre but also it’s great to be in a theatre known for its incredible artistic successes and with its many supporters, we are lucky to have fabulously interested audiences.

AL: Do you have a favourite scene in the show?

FR: I love GLORY going into The Manson Trio, an epic dance/fight scene

AL: I know why I've booked tickets to see Pippin - the cast and to see the new take on it - but what would you say to people who are as yet undecided whether to come watch?

FR: If you like to be entertained this is the show! I watch whatever scene I am not in from the back because I can and I want to! I love it!

You can see Frances in Pippin at The Menier Chocolate Factory until the 25th February.

Frances also has her own show BENEATH THE DRESS that she will be performing at the Chocolate Factory on the evening of Sunday 12th February. You can book tickets for this via the WEBSITE or, for Access tickets, please call the box office on 020 7378 1713.

Frances' most recent album, 'Imperfectly Me' can be found on itunes or ordered from Dress Circle
You can also follow Frances on Twitter @frankieruff

COMING SOON: Les Miserables, Billy Elliot, Matilda

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