ESP’s Mikey Clarke meets the star of Scrooge, Tommy Steele…
For me, Christmas time is about tradition. At some point this December I will walk through Cathedral Square to see the lights, order myself a Gingerbread Latte from Starbucks, and walk over to one of our theatres to see a festive show. With the Broadway showing Scrooge this year, I know where I’ll be heading.
Direct from its West End run at the London Palladium last Christmas, Tommy Steele will reprise his role as Ebenezer Scrooge in Bill Kenwright’s spectacular production. Tommy was recently in the city to promote the show (which runs from Monday December 9 – Saturday December 14) and I was lucky enough to grab a few words with him.
I asked why he thought people should book for this show – “I think people over 70 will come to watch me perform to see if I look as old as I should! Middle-aged mum and dads may want to see me as they’ll remember me from their childhood, and the kids probably won’t know who I am but they will love the fact there’s a lot of frights in the show,” Tommy said.
“Plus, this is one of the best shows I’ve ever done… and I’ve done a lot of shows! The music is fab and the set is amazing – not to mention the magic! Even after so many shows I have no idea how the ghosts appear on the stage. They won’t tell me how it’s done because of the magic circle rules. The director once said – ‘you’ll know when the ghost is behind you on the stage when you hear her voice’. I looked around the stage and thought there’s no way she could appear within a few seconds, but there she was.
“After one of my performances of Scrooge at the London Palladium, the manager came over to me and said that this is one of the only shows he’s witnessed where you don’t hear paper rustling from sweets wrappers and popcorn bags – its complete silence because the audience are so engrossed in the show.”
This is the eighth time Tommy has returned to play Scrooge. Asking what keeps bringing him back to the role, he told me – “When I’m in a good show, I’ll cling on to it for as long as I can. I starred in Half a Sixpence for 3 and a half years, and Singin’ in the Rain for four years because I loved the shows. People often ask me if I get bored playing the same character regularly but I really don’t. Ken Dodd does the same jokes night after night, but he doesn’t get bored of them because of the way the audience responds. I’m the same when I star in a good show.”
Those familiar with Tommy Steele’s work will know that he’s often in very light-hearted shows and films. Scrooge seems like a very different direction for the actor and singer. “I was invited to lunch 9 years ago,” Tommy explained. “This gentleman asked me if I fancied being in A Christmas Carol as Scrooge. I said, ‘so you want me to play that old man’? I thought about it for a while and said, ‘well actually I’m the right age, so yes, I could play him’. I used to find the first half of the show tough. I was suddenly in a more serious show, without the bouncy feel-good songs. The second half came much more naturally to me because even though Scrooge starts as a miserable man, he slowly turns into Tommy Steele by the end of it!”
To book your tickets for Scrooge and the other fantastic shows coming to the Broadway in Peterborough for a limited season, call the Box Office on 01733 822225 or visist www.kenwright.com.
Photos: Chris Brudenell for ESP Magazine.