Double Olivier Award-winner JANIE DEE is currently in the news for being cast in the title role of the new musical version of Mrs Henderson Presents at Theatre Royal Bath later this year.
Below, the actress and singer talks to Barrie Jerram as she prepares to return to the world of cabaret at the Crazy Coqs:
Trying to catch up with the hardworking Janie Dee for an interview is no easy task. But catch up we did. How she manages to combine her increasingly busy career with a full family life is mindboggling.
Last autumn, as Titania/Hippolyta, she led a Shakespeare’s Globe touring production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (directed by Dominic Dromgoole) to China and to “my beloved Russia”. Last weekend she ended a run at the Salisbury Playhouse of 84 Charing Cross Road in which she played the bibliophile Helene Hanff.
That’s not to mention the London premiere of Sondheim’s Putting It Together at the St James Theatre, a gala concert performance of the composer’s A Little Night Music to mark the 40th anniversary of its original London production, plus the West End revival of Blithe Spirit with the legendary Angela Lansbury
Now she is preparing to return to the world of cabaret with her show that runs from 10 to 14 March at London’s Crazy Coqs entitled Dee-licious Lightful and Lovely! She will be accompanied by The Parker Boys – Alex Parker on piano and David Shaw-Parker on guitar.
I ask what we can expect from her and she jokingly chides me for asking.
“I pause here for thought – do you really want to know? I think one of the most exciting things about cabaret is that we don’t know what is going to happen so… I am going to say this. I am usually ‘in character’ when on stage in the theatre. However, next week for just five nights I will be, as myself, talking, singing, playing to and with the audience at Crazy Coqs. It’s dangerous. And fun. And real! No fourth wall. But if you think I am going to spoil it by telling you what to expect, you’ve got another think coming!”
When asked about future plans, Dee is much more forthcoming. “I am currently rehearsing the part of Essie Miller in Eugene O’Neill’s comedy Ah, Wilderness! for the Young Vic,” (14 April to 23 May).
Following this, she informs me: “I have been asked to take on the role of Madame Arkadina in Chekhov’s The Seagull at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre,” (19 June to 11 July). Those of us who saw her superb performance as Natalya Petrovna in Turgenev’s A Month in the Country at Chichester a few years ago will look forward to her tackling another Russian classic.
This spate of straight theatre prompts me to ask when we might see her musical side again. “The Shakespeare’s Globe have asked me to put on a cabaret evening on Sunday 10 May. This will be the first collaboration between the Shakespeare’s Globe and the London Festival of Cabaret and I will be joined by other familiar voices from the stage and screen. Whether I can come up with a Shakespearean connection remains to be seen.”
Dee then triumphantly reveals: “I have been invited by Terry Johnson to play Mrs Laura Henderson in the world premiere of his stage adaptation of Mrs Henderson Presents at the Theatre Royal, Bath.”
It is hoped that this musical version of the popular film starring Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins will transfer to the West End after its run at Bath (15 August to 5 September). The show has a book by Johnson (who also directs), lyrics by Don Black and music by George Fenton and Simon Chamberlain.
* Janie Dee performs her show Dee-licious Lightful and Lovely! from March 10–14 at the Crazy Coqs at Brasserie Zedel.
Readers may also be interested in:
Mrs Henderson Presents Musical has world premiere at Theatre Royal Bath – News
London Festival of Cabaret – Kerry Ellis, Janie Dee, Cynthia Erivo and Scott Alan join line-up – News