Cole Porter’s classic feel-good musical, High Society comes to The Old Vic in a glittering new production staged in the round.
Directed by Multi award-winning director and musical star Maria Friedman. High Society is based on The Philadelphia Story and the 1956 MGM film musical starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra. Featuring hit songs including “True Love”, “You’re Sensational”, “Well Did You Evah?” and the unforgettable “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”.
Ellie Bamber recently took time out from her busy schedule to chat about her career and High Society.
Last year you filmed in Lionsgate’s Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, which is likely due to be released in 2016. In the film you play the role of Lydia Bennet. What can you tell us about your time filming?
We filmed in the UK, last Autumn, in lots of different locations. I had a lot of fun with the cast, including Sally Phillips, Sam Riley, Lily James and Matt Smith, we all really enjoyed filming it. We did a stint of Martial Arts training before filming, as due to the Zombie side of the story, the sisters are trained zombie fighters, so that was an entirely new experience for me, we also did some dance training for the ball scenes. I learnt a lot from all the talented cast, crew and especially Burr Steers the director, I’ve kept in touch with most of them!
You played Martine in BBC One’s hit TV series The Musketeers and also appeared in Ed Bazalgette’s A Mother’s Son for ITV. What did you enjoy most about being in those productions?
A Mother’s Son was my first TV role and even though I was the youngest on set, Ed really took time to involve me in the creative aspect of the scenes I was in. The script was really gripping and emotional. One of the best parts was working with my on-screen parents, Martin Clunes and Hermione Norris on the beautiful Southwold coast.The Musketeers was shot in Prague so that was a highlight! I had some time to explore Prague, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. I was told I was good at ‘playing dead’ – is that a compliment?!
You are currently in the cast of High Society at The Old Vic. What attracted you to be a part of this production?
Going back to the stage was definitely part of the attraction, working with Maria Friedman who’s direction has certainly brought me on leaps and bounds, and being part of the last production under the artistic direction of Kevin Spacey were the main reasons. And of course, it’s High Society!
You are playing the part of Dinah. What can you tell us about her and how she fits into the storyline?
She is the mischievous little sister of Tracy Lord (Kate Fleetwood) and in her eyes she believes Dexter (Rupert Young) is the right man for her sister. Throughout the story she is persuading both Tracy and Dexter that they are meant to be together, and that love it the most important thing in their lives. I think in all of the mele and madness of the Lord family Dinah is actually one of the wisest characters of all of them because she realises that love is of such importance.
High Society is being staged in the round. How does this affect you as an actress?
I actually went to see Kevin Spacey a few weeks into rehearsals, in Clarence Darrow. I realised it’s a real challenge for a whole company of actors to perform in the round but that it must be even harder for just one person! I learnt a lot from just watching how incredibly well he used the stage to engage the audience that surrounded him. I find working in the round quite a naturalistic approach to theatre as theres always audience to engage with, I get quite involved in my character and the creative set around me that I almost feel transported to the Lord’s house. But I do have to watch out for front row feet as we get quite close to the audience!
Do you have a favourite song or scene in the show?
My favourite scene to perform is probably ‘I Love Paris’ just because I get to dance around the stage making people laugh! But my other fave scene has to be the amazing choreography from Nathan Wright in the ball, I’m sort of standing off stage at the side and I can’t ever take my eyes off the dance and I must have watched it at least 30 times by now! I also love Rupert’s rendition of ‘Just One of Those Things’
How does it feel to be a part of such an iconic musical?
The original film had been a real family favourite from an early age, so I couldn’t have dreamed that I would be part of the musical now, especially at The Old Vic.. I’m very lucky.
High Society runs through to August 2015, what do you have planned for after then?
I am currently looking at a couple of exciting options, at the moment but the main idea is back to filming again!
Why should everyone get along to see High Society?
It truly has something for everyone! It’s a unique reinvented version of a much loved classic in the round. There are new scenes, characters and songs! It has music, glitz, glamour, romance, dancing and its very funny…
Wednesday 30th April – Saturday 22nd August 2015
Evenings: Monday to Saturday 7.30pm
Matinees: Wednesday and Saturday 2.30pm
103 The Cut, London, SE1 8NB
Tuesday 19th May 2015