The Barn Theatre, Cirencester: Little Voice’s big debut

Gillian McCarthy with Sarah Louise Hughes

Gillian McCarthy with Sarah Louise Hughes - Credit: Archant

Following on from the success of The Barn Theatre’s first two productions, there’s been excitement in the air with their show, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice

Sarah Louise Hughes with director Michael Strassen

Sarah Louise Hughes with director Michael Strassen - Credit: Archant

Concluding its inaugural season and following success of its first two the huge critical productions, The Barn Theatre is coming to the end of its latest production, the Olivier Award winning play The Rise and Fall of Little Voice by Jim Cartwright.

First produced in 1992, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice was voted third best play of the decade and has been named as one of the top 50 best plays in the history of theatre. The play was nominated for six Oliviers, winning three of them as well as the prestigious Evening Standard Award. Its film adaptation, Little Voice (1998) starring Jane Horrocks in the title role was also a huge hit receiving an Oscar nomination alongside numerous other awards for its screenplay and cast.

The play tells the heartwarming story of a reclusive Northern girl-next-door whose remarkable ability to impersonate the great singers provides her with an opportunity to transcend her tragically unappealing domestic life. But pushed by a foul-mouthed, hard-drinking mother and coaxed into the limelight by her mother’s latest talent agent boyfriend, timid ‘Little Voice’ will need to conquer more than just stagefright if she is to find her own voice in the world.

Artistic director at the The Barn Theatre, Iwan Lewis, says, “Little Voice is a modern British classic and it’s the perfect play to end our inaugural season. Michael Strassen is one of theatre’s great directors and it’s very exciting to welcome such excellent and prolific creatives to our theatre to bring his radical interpretation of Little Voice to The Barn.”

The cast includes newcomer Sarah Louise Hughes in the title role of Little Voice; Gillian McCarthy (Mari) and Angela Phinemore (Sadie) with direction by Michael Strassen. We spoke to Sarah Louise to find out how she felt to be playing such an iconic role...

You’ve recently graduated from Italia Conti, Sarah Louise – congratulations! What have been some of your more memorable roles to date, and how does it feel going professional?

Thank you very much! I have absolutely loved my last three years at Italia Conti and have been given so many incredible performance opportunities. Some of my favourites have included Caliban in ‘The Tempest’ and the Emcee in ‘Cabaret’.

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As sad as it is to be leaving all the incredible staff and my friends at Conti I am so excited to be starting my professional career. Performing is something I have wanted to do from a very young age so it’s slightly surreal and very exciting that it’s finally happening.

What drew you to the role of Little Voice?

The first time I read the play was three years ago as I decided to use LV’s final monologue for my auditions for Drama School. Which was really strange as it ended up being my first audition out of Drama School! The role is a dream for any actress as LV uses her voice as a way of dealing with her troubles and letting out all her emotions.

The part is an incredibly demanding one vocally. How have you approached this, and what sort of preparations does it entail?

I think the best thing you can do in order to practice the impressions is to constantly listen to them. Which isn’t exactly a chore as I could listen to the likes of Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe all day! A really good technique is to sing the songs with headphones and one ear has the singer playing and the other you can hear yourself and try and match the sound. I think it’s also really important to watch videos of the singers as well. If you can fully embody the singer, then it makes the sound you make more believable and realistic.

Have you seen Jane Horrocks in the film role? What do you think of her performance, and how will yours differ?

I have seen the film. I love Jane Horrocks and have always enjoyed her work. I want to make the character my own and bring a new side to LV that other people might not have always seen. I hope to make her a real person that people can hopefully relate with in one way or another.

What music do you have on your own turntable (or Spotify playlist!)?

I’ve always loved music and enjoy listening to lots of different genres. I actually do have a record player! I only got it for Christmas so I’m still trying to build up my vinyl collection, however I do have Catfish and the Bottlemen, Ed Sheeran and of course the Mariah Carey Christmas album!

Have you worked with director Michael Strassen and any of the cast previously?

Michael came in to Conti and did an acting through song workshop with my year, even from just that one hour with him it was obvious that he was a very talented director and I really enjoyed working with him.

What other projects do you have lined up?

As a very recent graduate, I am super excited and grateful to be making my professional debut in a lead role at a brand new theatre like the Barn. I have also just signed with a fantastic agency so I am very excited to see what comes from this and what the future holds.

Read our review of Little Voice at Cirencester’s Barn Theatre here.

Little Voice is at The Barn Theatre, 5 Beeches Road, Cirencester, GL7 1BN, up until August 11, 2018. Click here to book tickets or call the Box Office on 01285 648255.