5 min read
We talk to the former EastEnders star Lorna Fitzgerald about touring in the stage adaptation of classic Hitchcock film, The Lady Vanishes.
Lorna Fitzgerald what grabbed you about the chance to star in The Lady Vanishes?
I had seen the film, because my Nan is a huge Hitchcock fan. When I read the script, I loved it! So I went for an audition and I was just lucky enough to get the part.
Iris such a great character and it’s such a good story that I couldn’t not take it. And even though it is a mystery, it’s also very funny.
What’s it about?
A group of English passengers have been turfed off a train in Austria because there’s been a hold up with an avalanche. Iris befriends a lady called Miss Froy. She falls asleep, and when she wakes up, Miss Froy is nowhere to be found. Everyone denies having seen Miss Froy, even though Iris has seen them interact with her. The play follows how that unravels and how, and if, you get to find Miss Froy. It’s such a fantastic mystery.
What’s Iris like?
She’s great. She’s a socialite; that’s very apparent when you first see her. She likes a good time. As the play goes on, I think you see a more sincere side to her with her genuine care for Miss Froy and the desire to get to the bottom of what’s happening.
Juliet Mills plays Miss Froy. What’s she like to work with?
Juliet is a legend. She’s so sweet and she’s such a good actress. I’ve just been observing her.
The story is best known as a Hitchcock film. What does performing it on stage bring to the experience?
It’s a huge film, so we have very big shoes to fill. The script is faithful to the movie, which I think you can appreciate when you watch it, but at the same time, it’s a very physical play, which I think is special when you see it on a stage because you’re right there, involved in the action.
Are you excited about touring the production around the UK?
I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve never done it before. I think seeing a bit of the country will be great and performing to different audience every week will keep it really fresh and exciting.
Are you going to take anything in particular with you to help you feel at home?
I’m an over-packer, but not with sentimental things. I’ll have a lot of clothes and a lot of make-up that I’ll never use and it’ll just end up sitting there. But I guarantee if I didn’t bring it I’d need it.
Is there anywhere you’re particularly looking forward to playing?
I am looking forward to absolutely everywhere. All these places that I’ve never really explored; I’m just looking forward to seeing them. I’m very lucky.
You were in EastEnders for 12 years, having started at the age of 10. How was growing up in Walford?
I’m sure it was unique, but I don’t know anything different. I just loved doing it. I love acting, so getting to do that every week growing up it was just great. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
It didn’t seem that unusual. I still went to school. I had a tutor they provided. I didn’t feel I missed out on anything, but I also got to do this amazing thing of acting three or four times a week. They definitely look after you, but it also feels like you don’t miss out on what your friends are doing either.
This is the third stage production you’ve done since leaving the show. Was that a deliberate choice?
Definitely. I really wanted to do something that I’d never done before. I absolutely love theatre and thought I’d like to carry on with it.
How did you find the transition to performing for the stage?
It was a huge change, but the scariest thing was having a brand new character. If you play a character for 12 years you know all the backstory. You know what you’ve done for the past 12 years as well. Getting a brand new character was just completely new to me but really exciting.
In an age of having everything ‘on demand’, what’s special about seeing a performance at the theatre?
If someone’s performing right in front of you, it’s a much more involved experience. There is nothing quite like it.
Lorna Fitzgerald, what can audiences expect from The Lady Vanishes?
I think they can expect lots of mystery and a good laugh.
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Read our SPOTLIGHT On: Alfred Hitchcock, Master of suspense.
The Lady Vanishes
Building on the phenomenal decade-long success of The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, The Classic Thriller Theatre Company presents a quick-witted, devilishly fun thriller – based on the Hitchcock classic, ranked one of the Best British Films ever.
When Socialite Iris’ travelling companion disappears, she’s bewildered to find fellow passengers deny ever having seen her. But with the help of musician Max, she turns detective, and together they resolve to solve this perplexing mystery.
Emmy award-winning actress Juliet Mills made her screen debut at just 11 weeks old, in In Which We Serve starring her father John, and her major stage debut was age 16 in Peter Shaffer’s Five Finger Exercise, (West End and on Broadway). In ITV’s Wild at Heart she played sister to real-life sister Hayley, and for eight years she starred in US paranormal drama Passions. Award-winning Maxwell Caulfield’s screen roles include Grease 2 with Michelle Pfeiffer and as Miles Colby in American soap Dynasty and spin-off The Colbys. His Broadway debut was in J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls and his West End debut was as Billy Flynn in Chicago.
The cast also stars: Lorna Fitzgerald, fresh from her shock departure as Abi in EastEnders; Matt Barber, Atticus Aldridge in Downton Abbey; Robert Duncan, Drop The Dead Donkey; Philip Lowrie, Dennis Tanner in Coronation Street; and Ben Nealon, Soldier Soldier.
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