Fresh from starring as Ms Fleming in Heathers, Rebecca Lock is tackling the tough but exciting role of Lilli in the Sheffield Crucible’s production of Kiss Me, Kate. Rebecca chatted to us all about the show, how Lilli is an ever-relevant character and what people can expect from this new production…
Can you tell us a little about Kiss Me, Kate and how your character, Lilli, fits in?
Kiss Me, Kate is a Cole Porter musical about the inner workings of a travelling touring acting company and, in particular, about the tempestuous relationship between the two leading actors – Fred Graham and Lilli Vanessi – who are a newly divorced couple coming together for the first time in a year to play opposite each other in The Taming of the Shrew.
It’s a brilliant premise and you are taken on a journey of love, romance, mistaken identity and intrigue throughout. It’s a real whirlwind with tremendous highs and lows, beautiful music, incredibly dance routines, farce and a total transportation to the 1940s world of glamour and Hollywood. It’s an absolute gift to any actor and I’m relishing every second of playing Lilli.
Lilli is a very vocally taxing role, how do you go about tackling her and performing in a way to maintain your voice and vocal health?
The somersault vocals as Lilli/Kate are taxing but it’s something I’ve always loved in all the roles I’ve played in my career; a real diversity of style – one second a lilting soprano for ‘Wunderbar’, and then belting my head off in ‘I Hate Men’, then finishing Act One with a coloratura that would fit nicely at the ENO, it’s brilliant! Of course, I have to look after myself. I’m drinking plenty of water, sleeping plenty and doing all the steaming – I don’t think I’m going to be able to partake in the usual jollities this Christmas. Although, I’ll maybe manage to sneak in a medicinal glass of port… or two.
What’s your favourite moment in Kiss Me, Kate?
Oh, there are so many! At the moment I’m really loving all the fighting we’re [Edward Baker-Duly who plays Fred/Petruchio] getting to do as our play-within-a-play characters, it’s awesome. No holds barred.
In the era of #MeToo, Lilli seems like an extremely relevant character; is this something which drew you to the role? I feel very honoured to have been trusted with a role like Lilli in today’s world. We do tackle some themes in the show of domestic abuse; there’s a famous scene towards the end of Act One where Fred [on stage as Petruchio] spanks Lilli [as Kate] which, in past productions, has been played for laughs with the exposing of frilly bloomers but actually, it isn’t at all hilarious that this man is hitting a woman. In our production, the genius that is Paul Foster [Director] has brought the situation right up to 2018 and tackles the scene in a new and very real way. Lilli definitely gives as much as she gets during the fight and it’ll be interesting to see how the audience react to this new and raw way of playing it – it’s an important story to tell.
What can audiences expect from this production of Kiss Me, Kate and why should they come to see it? This production of Kiss Me, Kate is going to be a beautifully new, fresh and extremely funny show for a 2018 audience. I’m so excited for people to see it. The combination of Matt Flint’s breathtaking choreography and getting to work under the direction of Paul Foster is making this one of those really special productions that I am sure I will look back on and remember as a firm favourite.
What is your pre-show warm up like? My pre-show routine is rather mundane: I eat about 4.30pm so I’m not digesting food during the show and burping in Edward [Baker Duly]’s face, then I get make-up ready for our company physical and vocal warm ups, then back to the dressing room to wig up and get dressed. I like to be ready to go by the five minute call so I’m not panicking and running late. I tend to always have a Jakemans’ throat sweet before beginners – not for medicinal purposes, just because it’s nice and comforting – and then, of course, a last minute wee. The show is so busy that I’m definitely not going to have a wee break until the interval!
Who would your dream duet partner be? Hmm, good question! There are so many wonderful singers who would be so dreamy to duet with, but I’d have to say Audra McDonald. I absolutely love her rich, full and velvety voice and think we’d just have a brilliant time.
What’s your top piece of advice for aspiring performers in terms of finding and maintaining your voice? To all aspiring new performers who are finding and maintaining their true voice, I would say to be yourselves. Be inspired by other singers but don’t imitate. Your individuality and unique quality is something you should be proud of – there’s only one you, embrace it! Oh, and drink plenty of water, get lots of sleep and avoid noisy places – talking loudly can be a killer when it comes to vocal health.
Kiss Me, Kate is at the Crucible Theatre from Friday 7 December – Saturday 12 January. Tickets are available from: https://www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk/whats-on/kiss-me-kate/dates
photo credit: Manuel Harlan