Guys And Dolls is the big summer musical at Chichester Festival Theatre – and a return to the city for Clare Foster.
Clare was last in the city as Chloe in Out of This World and Hella in The Master and Margarita, back in the venue’s ensemble days.
“It was back in the days when you could do a couple of different productions in the summer, but actually Out of This World was my first lead. It was great. It was an utterly-joyous experience. The show was quite bonkers, but utterly charming. It had so much heart in it. It was just lovely.”
Apart from popping into theatres to see a show, Clare hasn’t been back in the nine years since. Guys and Dolls (August 11-September 21) represents her ideal return.
The cream of gambling’s high society are gathering in New York City for Nathan Detroit’s popular dice game. All the hotshot guys are here: Harry the Horse, Liver Lips Louie, Rusty Charlie and Big Jule from Chicago.
Nathan could make a fortune. Except he’s stony-broke and can’t afford the $1,000 needed for a deposit on a room for the game. The only hope is to lay a bet he absolutely can’t lose.
Enter the iciest doll he knows, missionary zealot Sarah Brown from the Save-A-Soul Mission, and notorious player Sky Masterson, a gambler who can’t turn down a challenge... even when the wager requires he woo pious Sarah all the way to Havana.
Playing Sarah is Clare, and she’s pleased never to have seen the show on stage before: “It’s really nice to be coming to it with fresh eyes. I did Streetcar a couple of years ago. I had never seen the movie of that. It means that you can bring your own perspective. You don’t have another person’s view of it in your mind.
“Sarah is a joy to play... a buttoned-up joy! She is quite a tough part because she is very complex. She is actually quite fragile and uptight.”
A zealot? Well, maybe. “But as with all those negative things, you have to see that they come from fear. That’s where anybody’s insecurities come from. I think she is just utterly terrified of having her heart broken.”
Clare has created in her mind her own backstory for her character to explain why she is the way she is, but it’s not necessarily a story she would want to share with audiences. Her point is they need to come to their own thoughts about Sarah.Of course, not the least of the challenges is getting the dialect right, says Sarah, who had just had a half-hour with the dialect coach: “We wanted to capture that 1950s, British American sound, that almost posh-type American way of speaking, almost Katharine Hepburn but not quite as hard as that. It has been great fun.
“Once you have got that voice, then hopefully it will be something that is easy enough to sustain. It’s another layer that takes the character further away from yourself, and that’s really useful.”
On top of that, you’ve got great numbers including Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat and My Time of Day: “And there is some incredible choreography,” Clare promises.
Choreography comes from dancer and choreographer Carlos Acosta with co-choreography by Andrew Wright (Singin’ in the Rain, Barnum).
Cast includes Peter Polycarpou returning to Chichester following his performance in The Pajama Game (2013).