Alexander Jay Interview
"I'm in one of my bubbly moods today," says 19 year old Alexandra Jay. Not that anyone could be left in any doubt on that score, as she happily runs and jumps through the fountains at Somerset House over and over again for our photographer until she's completely soaked, but still laughing.
Alexandra was catapulted into the nation's consciousness in Spring 2001, when she stepped into the role of Alexandra Doolittle - with just four hours notice - when Martine McCutcheon fell ill on the night of the final preview for My Fair Lady.
"The press had a field day: 'Who's this girl?'" says Alexandra.
"I was aware that a lot of the papers wanted to bad-mouth Martine, using me as an excuse, so I was a bit scared in case there was any tension. At times, I would have preferred not to have had to deal with that sort of thing, but Martine was great about it all."
"Luckily I got lots of help from everyone, I was just sort of pushed around the stage that first night. I was lucky, I learnt all my lines. A lot of understudies don't get the chance to go on stage, but I'd been thinking from the word go, ' Well, she must go on holiday at some point', so I'd done my homework. And there I was, acting opposite Jonathon Pryce, and I somehow blagged my way through it."
Martine's continuing health problems meant that Alexandra made frequent appearances as Eliza, eventually becoming the alternate, performing two shows each week in her own right. "My Fair Lady has definitely helped me at auditions. When people hear the name, it probably does make them want to hear me more."
Now she's preparing to star as Sally Bowles in Kander and Ebb's Cabaret at the Chichester Festival Theatre.
"I actually had a cold on the day of the audition for Cabaret. I tried to get out of it, but it was too late. But on the day, for the first time, I felt really comfortable straight away. Then I got the call the next day to say I'd got the part. It's a dream role."
Alexandra intially followed the tried and tested route to potential stardom: dance school in the evenings, singing lessons, sometimes during her lunch hours, summer schools in London, and then a scholarship to the Doreen Bird College of Performing Arts. But then:
"I used to get 'The Stage' newspaper, and one day I saw there was an open audition for CATS. My stepdad and I came up to London really early, and there were about 200 people lined up outside the New London waiting."
"I did two recalls, and then they phoned to say I'd got the part of Jemima. So I was supposed to go to college and get proper training - I'm supposed to be there now really! - but instead I did CATS for a year*, which was a really big step."
"CATS was great for the dancing, My Fair Lady introduced me more to acting, and Cabaret is going to be wonderful because of the combination of storyline, acting and singing. I'd like to continue with musicals, I've always loved Maria in West Side Story, and when I'm older, Chicago would be nice too."
"But for the moment, I'm just looking forward to putting on the bowler hat, big false eyelashes, and strutting my stuff on the stage!"
*According to Feli's CATS site, Alexandra played Jemima from December 1999 - October 2000.
Interview by Dee Hicks, article edited from the printed version, copyright and courtesy of Theatregoer magazine, Issue July 2002.
Since her baptism by fire in the 1982 Eurovision Song Contest, Sally Ann Triplett has established herself as one of Britain's finest actresses. Following appearances in Follies, Grease and Jolson, among others, she's currently reviving her role as Reno Sweeny in the recent award winning National Theatre production of Anything Goes.
Why is Anything Goes your favourite of all the musicals you've appeared in?
It has the greatest music. It's the brilliant combination of Trevor Nunn and Stephen Mear, and the costume designer, Anthony Powell, is like a god! Also this time my husband, Gary Milner, is going to be in it, and I'm ten steps ahead of him, which is rather nice.
What's your favourite song from the show?
You're the top is a great song and the arrangement is fantastic.
Do you manage to go to the theatre often?
I don't - it's a bit of a busman's holiday. But it was our wedding Anniversary recently so we went to see Brand and I loved that. I'm going to take my son to Tap Dogs soon - that looks like fun.
Which productions have you most enjoyed working on?
I've got something out of every show I've been in but Jolson's special because it was in that show I met Gary, and working with Brian Conley (UK comedian) was wonderful. On the telly, you don't see a quarter of what he can do. Grease was great fun too.
If not a singer/actress, what would you have been?
I've always wanted to do what I'm doing but I'm interested in makeup and style and the look of things, so maybe something in that area.
What's your biggest regret?
I don't think I have regrets. A part of me thinks I should have pushed myself more, but after I had my son Max, who's now 12, my priorities changed. Also I never really wanted to be famous. I did the Eurovision Song Contest when I was 20 and we were quite famous for about a year. Because we were going out together too, we never really got away from each other. But I didn't enjoy being in that spotlight. I love it when people come up and say I really enjoyed your performance in blah blah blah," but I couldn't really handle that fame thing at all.
What is your greatest extravagence?
No one thing in particular, but I'm quite high maintenance. If I buy something, I like the best, and if I go on holiday I tend to choose somewhere a bit different.
What's your idea of perfect happiness?
This summer was perfect. Gary and I have this fantastic job to go to, but we had the summer off to spend with the kids. Stuff like spending Sunday night all lying on our bed upstairs watching Titanic and eating a picnic. Jut being at home and chilling out.
If you could change places with one person, living or dead, who would you choose?
Bette Davis in her heyday, making All About Eve. I'd jsut love to have been around when they were making all those fantastic films.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue
The way you look. There's too much emphasis on it. It rules our lives.
Which words or phrase do you most overuse?
"Hello mate, how are you?" I say that all the time! I did a show in Malaysia and it was quite a big thing in Kuala Lumpur so the king came to see it. We all had to line up afterwards to meet him and I was feeling absolutely exhausted because of jet lag. So when he got to me I was in a absolute daze. I looked up at him and said "Hello mate, how are you?" People have never let me forget it.
Six word that describe you?
Honest. Fun. Caring. Ridiculous. Thoughtful. Confident.
According to Feli's CATS site, Sally played Grizabella from October 1998 to April 1999.
Article slightly edited from the printed version, copyright and courtesy of Theatregoer magazine, Issue October 2003.
"Theater Am Potsdammer Platz: Musical star John Partridge plays his favorite role in his favorite city."
"John Partridge is the Rum Tum Tugger in CATS. “You came to the rehearsals just 3 weeks before the first show! How come?"
"I had another engagement in London, in ‘Taboo’ with and by Boy George. When I got the offer to go back to Berlin, I agreed right away. My boyfriend lives here and I love this city. The chance to be able to perform here again came very unexpected. It’s very difficult for an actor to get work in Berlin – and particular a dream role!"
"The director and choreographer Gillian Lynne had decided to set up a pure german cast, but then they cast you in London for the role of the Rum Tum Tugger. Did Gillian have a good old think about that?"
"Yes, I think so. Gillian knows me since I first performed CATS on stage when I was 17, now I’m 31. She’s seen me as Rum Tum Tugger from the start and watched me grow with that role. But she does continuously look for new performers. That she actually chose me again, makes me really proud."
"In how many productions have you been performing as Rum Tum Tugger?"
"In four, in London, Hamburg, on the UK-Tour and in the CATS-Video. But it was never boring. That role was written for me, the more often I performed it, the more of myself filtered into it."
"Whats so special about this role?"
"The Rum Tum Tugger is someone, that excites the people. He spreads a good time, touches everyone with his enthusiasm. I’m exactly like that myself when I’m on stage – and also off stage."
"The audience loves you for it. Could it be, its because your not just turning on the women but also men?"
"Of course, I want to turn on both. That’s what makes it successful and that’s the thrill – to be sexy for men and women. I love to play with this and fool around with it."
"The critics in german newspapers are excellent. What do you think of CATS-Berlin?"
"Well, I honestly have to say, that this production is at least as good as in London, if not better . The cast and staff are absolutely professional! Besides, what I really like is, that the cast is fairly old, on average – around 30. This raises the acting qualities."
"Your stage german is really good."
"(laughs) Yes, they taught us with the whip!"
"Do you speak german offstage as well?"
"My boyfriend is Italian, so we don’t necessarily speak german at home. I tried all different ways to learn german, but it just doesn’t work. That’s why now I’m going to the university 3 times a week in the mornings."
"Many of the performers think that Berlin is one of the most exciting cities in the world – what do you think?"
"That’s true, Berlin is the most fantastic city in Europe! Such a lot is going on here. We live in Friedrichshain and I already met such a lot of interesting people in that area. Besides that, I have a band and my band-members came along with me. We take in everything around us and get totally influenced by it."
"What kind of music do you play?"
"Particulary Electro-punk. The band is called ‘Machtlos’ (powerless, helpless(?)). In a couple of days, when our third band member arrives from his world tour with Patricia Kaas, we will start to play in Berlin."
"Have you been in the music-business very long?"
"I was working as a dancer in video-clips, f.e. in ‘Real Thing’ by U2. I got to know the company that way. Later I also worked with Pet shop boys, Kim Wilde, Nenneh Cherry, Pete Townsend, Mica Paris and Ultra Nate as a background singer."
"Which three locations in Berlin would you suggest to go and see to someone, who comes to Berlin for the first time?"
"That is difficult. Well, I would most definitely go to the restaurant No. 55 (near the University). You get a brilliant view over all of Berlin. Than the Jazz-bar ‘Soul Trane’ in the Stilwerk in the Kantstrasse – its just fantastic there. And then the Technikmuseum (museum of technic). Its great. And they do the best cappuccinos."
"Right, the show will begin soon so I better leave you alone to put on your make-up. They say it takes a performer up to 2 hours to put it on!"
"(laughs) Oh, I only need 15 minutes. I throw all the make-up into the air, put my face underneath, then the make up falls onto it just the way it should."
This interview was written by Anne Oettel.
Many thanks to Tuggerine for translating and letting me have this article to post on my site! However she takes no responsibility for typos. :)