For lovers of the stage a murder-mystery-meets-musical-theatre sounds like a marriage made in heaven, doesn’t it? Well, theatre fans, your prayers have been answered!
An all-star cast, led by Mancunian funny man Jason Manford, is heading to North Wales on the UK tour of the Tony award-winning production of Curtains in the new year!
Best-known for his TV and stand-up roles, Jason’s no stranger to the stage either. Having previously starred in such big names as The Producers and Guys & Dolls, Jason’s real life love of theatre is shared with his Curtains character, Detective Frank Cioffi.
Yes Mag caught up with Jason in between shows to find out more about the man behind the comedy and this brand-new production from theatre legends Kander & Ebb (Chicago, Cabaret).
Carly: You are 3 weeks into the tour, how has the reaction been so far?
Jason: There isn’t a single person who leaves the auditorium without a smile upon their face! Need I say more?
Carly: Curtains is heading to North Wales next February, it would make a perfect Christmas gift for tickets to see the show, what can we expect as an audience? Why should we come and see it?
Jason: The show was a huge success on Broadway so it’s really exciting to be bringing this new production to the UK. It’s a comedy musical ‘whodunit?’ and I play a detective obsessed with musicals. When a murder happens in a theatre, he, along with the audience, turns up to discover who the killer is. It’s written by Kander and Ebb who wrote ‘Chicago’ and ‘Cabaret’, so the music is great, a wonderful and talented cast, hilarious comedy, hilarious script and you’ll be questioning right the way through to the end, whodunit?!
Carly: How have you prepared for the role?
Jason: The first thing to do is to adapt to the Boston accent. I’ve done New York a couple of times as I was Leo Bloom in ‘The Producers’ and Nathan Detroit in ‘Guys and Dolls’ so I know my way around a New York accent. However, a Boston accent is a new challenge. We get to work with an accent coach, and I’ve been watching lots of videos and films set in Boston to get an ear for it. We’ve also got a few dance numbers, so I’ve been hitting the gym to prepare for that!
Carly: It’s not your first musical theatre tour but going from a solo tour to a performing with so many actors and dancers on stage how do you find it?
Jason: What I really love about theatre, which I didn’t realise at first, was how much I enjoy working with other people. You spend so much time alone when you’re touring as a stand-up. I mean, don’t feel sorry for me, I did very well out of it, but it’s a lonely job! So, in theatre it’s lovely to be part of a cast, a family feel, which I really love.
Carly: The Tour finishes next April, do you like being on the road?
Jason: I love doing it, it’s what I have always known. My family do notice that I start to climb the walls after a few months off. I’m a bit like a wild child if I’m stuck in the house for too long. I couldn’t do it forever I must say, and it’s tough being away from my family. Over the course of the year I probably spend as much time at home as any other parent does, but it’s spread out differently, and in blocks of time. The kids get it and they come and see me on tour, they’ve seen most of the shows I’ve been in.
I don’t really have down time! Even when I’m off I like writing down ideas or music – even my hobbies are similar to my work but that’s a privilege really! I suppose my real down time is hanging out with my kids, they’re a good laugh and I love it.
Carly: Who really inspired you to achieve what you have over the years?
Jason: My Dad always used to say to me “Your horizon should become your middle distance” so that you aim for things, and when you get there you head on to the next thing. That’s a great piece of advice.
Carly: Can you see yourself doing more musical theatre in the future?
Jason: YES! I’ve even written a few, I’ve got a couple of things that I’m working on that I would like to develop but it’s a big world to dive into and a flop is a real flop, so it’s a big risk. It’s a lot of work but I’ve got a couple of nice ideas that I might like to explore more in the future.
I’d like to play Jean Valjean in Les Misérables at some point! That feels like the ultimate aim.
To book tickets, visit www.venuecymru.co.uk or call 01492 872000.