first_imgGemma Sutton in rehearsal for ‘The Go-Between'(Photo: Richard Moran) Gemma Sutton played Julie Jordan in a radical off-West End production in 2014 of Carousel and has the distinction of having played both June and then Louise opposite Imelda Staunton in 2016 Tony nominee Jonathan Kent’s recent West End revival of Gypsy. The actress is currently starring opposite another iconic theater talent— Michael Crawford—in the new West End musical The Go-Between. The charming performer chatted with about embracing musicals with a difference and what it’s like acting alongside two living legends.First Imelda Staunton’s Momma Rose and now Michael Crawford here—you’re appearing alongside some major talent.I really am, and I am learning a lot from both of them. Michael and Imelda both have a real professionalism and old-school determination, which is amazing to watch. I’m a very lucky woman.You’re too young to have seen Crawford’s signature performance as the Phantom on the West End 30 years ago.I never saw him in the show but I certainly knew that voice, and throughout my entire career, his name has rung out as one of those 1980s musical theater stars who was part of a new breed of massive names. I also knew him from [BBC TV series] Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em. For him to have played Frank Spencer in that and then the Phantom and now this older chap, who’s a shell of a man, is the sign of a true star. What is it like to be creating a new musical with him?The thing about Michael is that he is a real gentleman with a truly gentle soul—very kind and sweet but also with this extraordinary intensity when you watch him. He’s amazing.The Go-Between is a familiar title, especially in Britain.Yes, there was L.P. Hartley’s book and then the film from the 1970s with Julie Christie and Alan Bates, and there was also a more recent adaptation for TV. It’s a wonderful novel, so I’m not surprised it’s been done in all these formats. Doing it as a musical works brilliantly because it’s not just another boy-meets-girl love story; it speaks to the innocence and naiveté of youth and the great sadness that can go with that. Do you think it’s a brave choice for the West End?Yes, and they’re, of course, looking to Michael Crawford to put bums on seats. But I’m sure as soon as people sit down, they will be drawn to the story because everyone can relate to it. The score is from Richard Taylor, who’s a very sophisticated musical composer. I like to think of it as Sondheim crossed with Benjamin Britten: it’s challenging to learn and challenging for the audience, and I think it’s about time the West End had something like this. Tell us about your role as Marian.Well, she’s a high soprano for one thing, which couldn’t be more different from what I was doing in Gypsy! She’s an upper-class woman who exists in a society where women are dictated to by men, so she has to choose between an arranged marriage and following her passion and her heart. She’s manipulative and beguiling and also has this extraordinary power to work things out the way that she wants.It sounds like a gift of a part.Oh, it is! I get to play someone who charms the socks off everyone but is also selfish and flawed. I remember when I went to my final audition being blown away to find that Michael was there and that I would be reading with him. At the time, I thought even to read with Michael Crawford was unbelievably exciting!You mentioned Gypsy, in which you had the distinction during the run of playing both daughters.That really was the most incredible gift—not least to have Imelda [Staunton] as my leading lady and my mum for both characters. And the sisters are so different, too: there’s June doing cartwheels and the splits, while Louise is this gawky wallflower who turns into this fabulous sexy woman.Both Louise and June were part of an ongoing string of American roles for you—until now.I certainly do get cast in a lot of American roles and maybe that’s got something to do with my northern [English] accent. I’m from Cheshire, south of Manchester, so I don’t have that cut-glass southern English sound. But in The Go-Between, I get to sound very English, very arty. And it’s lovely to be able to use my soprano voice again.Do you think you’ll end up shifting within this production to any of the other roles during the run?No, I don’t think so. I’m very happy to be able to concentrate on one character! View Commentslast_img

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