J.B.Priestley’s northern comedy, When We Are Married, is being co-produced by Northern Broadsides and York Theatre Royal. The show is coming to York Theatre Royal from the 9-24 September and then touring nationally until 10 December 2016.
We were lucky enough to catch up with two of the stars of the production, Steve Huison and Kate Anthony, to find out a little bit more about them and their experience working on the show.
Many people will recognise you from your role as Lomper in The Full Monty. How different is your character, Herbert Soppit?
I can’t say I’ve really thought about it as being different in any way. Herbert is from a different era, married, and with completely different social confines. Perhaps audiences may see similarities, that’s not my concern. At the end of the day an actor can only draw on and play what he knows.
What’s been your favourite part of the rehearsal process so far?
After two years of not doing any theatre and working for a mental health crisis team, and pulling pints behind a bar, it’s good to be back and involved in a room full of creative people, playing, exploring, and having a good laugh together. It really is one of the best jobs going.
You’ve worked with Barrie Rutter and Northern Broadsides before – do you have strong connections to the company?
I worked with Barrie and Northern Broadsides in their very first production back in 1992. It’s good to see how the work has developed over that time. I take my hat off to Barrie for managing to keep it going all this time, which really isn’t easy these days. The fact that he’s employed so many people over that period, and given a lot of young people their first break in the profession is extremely important.
What first attracted you to the role of Clara Soppitt?
On first reading the play Clara stood out to me as she made me laugh. Her pomposity and the way she ‘bullied’ Herbert makes her into the archetypal ‘baddie’ – everyone wants to play the baddie – they’re such fun. To be honest all the women’s roles are great so I would been happy with any – it’s always nice to get the one you want though.
You’ve appeared on stage and on television several times, notably as Pam in Coronation Street. Is it important to you to bring a completely new character to the stage? How do you get into character?
It’s important to bring a completely new character to everything I act in, whether it’s TV, theatre or radio. The script obviously gives you the most information but then you build during rehearsals – the character evolves. It’s never good to make too many character choices before rehearsals start as other character’s opinions and how they react will always be a factor. The costume – the set – the words. I step on stage/set and I’m “in character”.
When We Are Married is described as a ‘northern comedy’. As you were born in Leeds, do you still have strong northern roots? What do you think makes the North so special?
I’m still very connected to the North. My parents still live in Leeds so I’m constantly up with my children as well as with work. I think it is Northern humour that makes us so special. There’s nothing like a dead pan one liner delivered in a Northern accent. There’s an honesty and cynicism that makes for a fabulous play like ‘When We Are Married’.
The play is touring right up until December across all venues. How hard has it been to adapt the play to suit the different venues? And do you think each audience will react to the play differently?
It’s much harder for the Stage Management to adapt the set and furniture for each different venue, especially as we are playing in pros. Arch, the round and the traverse. Obviously the actors have to adjust physically to suit each space but that’s what makes touring so great. I think the play is so beautifully written audiences will love it whether it’s Cheltenham or Halifax. Also Northern Broadsides have such a great following in the South as well as the North. I think we’ll be okay. Great play – great cast – great show!
Don’t miss the show. Get your tickets here.