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Interview with Michael Hugo – Around the World in 80 Days

Matthew Ganley (Colonel Proctor), Michael Hugo (Passpartout), Andrew Pollard (Phileas Fogg), Dennis Herdman (Inspector Fix) & Kirsten Foster (Miss Aouda)
Matthew Ganley (Colonel Proctor), Michael Hugo (Passpartout), Andrew Pollard (Phileas Fogg), Dennis Herdman (Inspector Fix) & Kirsten Foster (Miss Aouda) – Photo Credit Andrew Billington

Around the World in 80 Days, opened at Cadogan Hall on 4th August 2017 for five weeks and continues as part of a wider UK tour.

The production features an ensemble of 8 who play over 125 characters in an imaginative and physically inventive high-spirited escapade. Follow the mysterious and fabulously wealthy Phileas Fogg as he wagers his life’s fortune that he can circumnavigate the globe in just 80 days. Join Fogg and his loyal valet, Passepartout, as they voyage from the misty alleys of Victorian London to the exotic subcontinent and the Wild West in a race against the clock.

Michael Hugo whose previous credits include The Lady Killers and Cyrano (New Vic) and The Winter’s Tale (Harrogate theatre) reprises his role as Passepartout. Michael recently took time out to answer a few questions about Around The World in 80 Days.

Q: You are in the cast of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days. The story is quite a visual one – how has the story been adapted to stage?
Michael: Laura Eason’s adaptation has a focus on the people of the story which has been faithfully and beautifully distilled from Jules Verne’s novel. Much of the appreciation for the mechanical splendour of the machines of transport has been kept within the bindings of the Bradshaw Guide. Our director Theresa is brilliant at telling stories in a way that the action never wanes. There are no broken scene changes, no let ups at all. Once the play starts, you’re off!! This story, in particular, is excellently suited to Theresa’s work. Minimum fuss and maximum effect are the rules and imagination is the currency.

Q: You play the part of Passepartout – can you tell us about the character and how he fits into the storyline?
Michael: He arrives on the scene keen to leave his adventurous past behind him and to settle down as Mr Fogg’s valet. He and Fogg are polar opposites in temperament though they do share many qualities, loyalty, decency and great courage. Passepartout is emotional and reactionary and has a great interest in the world and the people he meets.

Q: You are reprising your role – how do you keep the character fresh?
Michael: Even through this third incarnation of the show, new things arise constantly. The cast is very playful and the audiences have been very willing to get involved in the adventure. Because much of the way the story is told relies on great precision and sometimes split second timing, focus has to be high and this ensures that things stay sharp and fresh.

Q: You are back with the original cast – what can you tell us about them?
Michael: Andrew (Mr Fogg) Dennis (Inspector Fix) Kirsten (Mrs Aouda) and Pushpinder (Mr Naidu) were all in the show the first time and (except Kirsten) the second time too so we have really gelled and played with the characters and situations over the years. They are performers of the very highest rate and fun loving generous souls off stage too. I wouldn’t want to tour this show without them. The newer company members are amazing. The energy, skills and ideas they have brought have lifted the show even further and it’s a real privilege to continue to be a part of this.

Q: Around The World in 80 Days is on tour – what are the practicalities for this production and for yourself?
Michael: Changing the show from the round stage to an end on was a challenge and every venue we go to will have uniquenesses which we must navigate, but the company of cast and crew are really on top of what is needed for everybody and it’s been fun so far turning what could be obstacles into virtues. The most difficult part of touring is the time away from home and getting to, from and between venues. We get to see lots of places though.

Q: Why should everyone get along to see Around The World in 80 Days?
Michael: You will love it. Guaranteed! Ask anyone who has seen it. Many people have been back again and again. It’s a beautiful and exciting story which is being told in the most inventive, creative and ridiculous way. It’s really incredible seeing adults laugh like children with children laughing around them, so you should come to let us see that more.

*****

AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS swaggers its way around across the globe, taking in continents, intrigue, love, a hot air balloon and even an elephant – all in the name of a bet. The ever-so-slightly stuffy Phileas Fogg wagers his life’s fortune that he can circumnavigate the globe in just eighty days with his wily travelling companion lieutenant Passepartout.

Around The World In 80 Days
Cadogan Hall
5 Sloane Terrace, London, SW1X 9DQ
Booking Until: 2nd Sep 2017

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  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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