Alex Young is enjoying the “warm hug” of the Chichester Festival Theatre stage this summer.
She’s appearing alongside Matt Lucas and Caroline Quentin in Me And My Girl, the CFT’s big summer musical, directed by CFT artistic director Daniel Evans (until August 25).
Alex hasn’t performed at Chichester before, but she has worked before with Daniel on Sheffield’s similar stage: “At Sheffield, you feel like you get a warm hug from the audience when you are on the stage. In Chichester, you have got them on three sides of you as well, so I am sure it will be the same. They are pretty much all around you. You can really hear them and you can really feel them, and I think it is nice. I think comedy is very interesting on a thrust stage, especially when you are doing a warm comedy such as this one.
“You have got to consider all three sides, and you have got to learn to love the diagonals. If you have got three banks of audience, people are not going to see much if you are just standing in a line. If you are standing at diagonals, then it is much easier for people see, and I think that makes it all much more intimate. The audience are invited into the story much more. When you are playing drama, you keep them and you hold them tight!”
Featuring songs including The Sun Has Got His Hat On, Lambeth Walk and Me and My Girl, the show was revised by Stephen Fry and Mike Ockrent, also featuring Leaning on a Lamppost, and won the 1985 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical.
“I think the show has got a great legacy and a great history. I love the fact that it is British. There are not that many British musicals that we do over here. That’s why they did Half A Sixpence a couple of years ago. And with this one, everybody knows the songs. I think we have got a great relationship with music hall in this country, and you will know the songs even if you can’t remember where from.
“But even though the original show goes back to the 30s, I feel that it has still got great relevance in the things that it is talking about. There is a sense of family and belonging, and there is also the whole question of the class divide between the aristocratic family and Bill and Sally.”
At Hareford Hall, the family solicitor has found the long-lost heir to the Hareford title and riches. But, to everyone’s horror, he’s a Cockney barrow boy called Bill Snibson. As the Duchess determinedly sets out to transform him into a true gentleman, Bill’s sweetheart Sally wonders how she fits in to his new life.
“I play Sally, who is Bill’s sweetheart. Bill is discovered to be the Earl of Hareford, and Sally is seen as unwanted extra baggage by his new family. The aristocratic family aren’t happy about her. But Bill is determined that she should be his girl.
“She is really gorgeous. She is a very strong and realistic person, and she is very generous.
“She just wants Bill to have this opportunity. But she is not a push-over. She sees what is going on, but she loves him. And I absolutely love her. I am completely nuts about Sally!”