BWW Interview: Rosalie Craig Talks COMPANY

BWW Interview: Rosalie Craig Talks COMPANY
Rosalie Craig and Matthew
Seadon-Young in Company

2018 has seen Rosalie Craig take on a number of jobs side by side at the Gielgud. Having appeared in The Ferryman earlier this year, Rosalie returns for Company as Bobbie, a role normally played by a man.

Sharing her love of Sondheim, Rosalie looks back on her previous roles, how Company speaks to today, and looks to the future of the production.

What inspired you to become a performer?

Well, my mum and dad took me as a little girl to the theatre. They just really enjoyed going to it; they weren't in the theatre world, nor was anyone we knew.

I remember sitting there, aged six or seven, and watching a pantomime at the Nottingham Playhouse (which my childhood friend Adam Penford now runs). And it was just a genuine case of falling in love with theatre and everything about it. I remember the smell of the stage, the auditorium, even the programmes!

It's been a lifelong love affair ever since, which is still not over thankfully.

And what was your first encounter with Sondheim?

I don't think I saw a musical by him for a long time.

When I was at drama school, I was so new to everything and I really hadn't been exposed to anything like that. When we did song practices, I picked a song that I still sing in auditions now. So being introduced to him then I thought, "Who is this guy? He is phenomenal."

And after that, I remember seeking out productions on DVD and seeing a friend of mine in Into the Woods and being like, "Oh my God!".

BWW Interview: Rosalie Craig Talks COMPANY
The Company cast

So what does Sondheim mean to you now?

You know, I sort of think Sondheim once heard, never forgotten really for me.

There's nothing like performing his work. It's an absolute joy each time and it reinvents itself daily. It's a bit like doing Shakespeare or a really fantastic play, because you're not hemmed in by him. His writing is something very exploratory and free.

It feels like every day I'm learning more and more about the songs themselves, even after eight weeks of rehearsals, tech, previews and performances. I still feel like I'm just at the beginning of my journey of learning how to do his songs.

Talking about that exploration, that feels very much true to the feeling of Marianne Elliott's production. How did your involvement come about?

Marianne and I first started talking about this before I had my daughter, who's nearly two. So a long time ago! When we first did, it was just an idea, something that she wanted to think about.

I didn't even think that she was talking about it with me in mind to play Bobbie. I thought it was because I'd done the production before at the Sheffield Crucible, and we're good friends and she wanted my opinion. Then obviously as the conversations went along, I found out that she was indeed thinking about me and had wanted me to play Bobbie all along!

It was never certain it was going to happen. I was so nervous that Sondheim would say no. Then we workshopped it, filmed it and sent it, and he watched it with friends and he said yes.

So it's been a long time coming, but boy am I glad we're doing it now!

Why do you think now in particular is such a good time to be staging this show?

Well, every day, we have people come up to us and saying, "This is my story on stage. This is how I feel."

And to see a woman stand up and say, "I don't know what I want. I'm 35: do I want to be in a relationship? Do I want a child?", I think that's a really important conversation that we're having in the arts and in the world: why society wants us as women to be attached to people. Do we need to be?

BWW Interview: Rosalie Craig Talks COMPANY
Rosalie Craig and George Blagden
in Company

What do you love most about playing Bobbie?

I just love the fact that we have a female protagonist who is sexually active! That's quite a bold thing.

And somebody who is not shying away or trying to be sexy; it's warts and all up there. She's saying that she's not always nice, she doesn't treat people well all the time. You know, she watches a lot. Patti [LuPone]'s character says, "Here's to the girls who just watch", but she's doing that and trying to learn from her friends' marriages.

With Bobbie, I'm discovering new things every day. I'm never not thinking about Marianne's direction on stage. I've felt like that when I've worked with her before on The Light Princess; she's with me the whole time, which is why I love working with her.

It's a true collaboration. It's not just, "Oh, let's do this", and then I forget all about her and what we've made. In scenes, I think about what we still want to achieve. And I guess that's what I mean about Sondheim as well: the work's never done, and nor should it be.

Speaking about "the girls who just watch", what are your favourite moments where you as Bobbie get to watch?

Well firstly, I really enjoy not singing! Being able to sit and watch everyone else sing with a front row seat is great!

I mean, how can I not love watching Patti LuPone every night? I say to her when we come offstage I want to bottle it. I hope I remember it when I'm old that that happened and I got to watch her act so closely.

But I love watching the guys do "You Could Drive a Person Crazy", I love us all being in "Side By Side", I love the women and Jamie doing "Have I Got a Guy for You", and then there's "Sorry-Grateful".

BWW Interview: Rosalie Craig Talks COMPANY
Patti LuPone in Company

You performed at the Gielgud earlier this year in The Ferryman. What's it like returning?

Honestly, I thought it would have ghosts here for me from The Ferryman. I was quite nervous about it actually. But coming back, it doesn't even feel like the same theatre.

It's nice though, I do feel like I'm really comfortable on the stage because I played it for five or six months already. So I already had a head start when I got here. Sometimes you worry, "What are the sightline issues? How far do I have to project?".

And it was lovely, because I could stand up on that stage and I already instinctively knew those things. It's a bit like going back to the National: I know the Olivier, I know the Lyttelton. It's really good to return somewhere.

A couple of quick fire questions to finish: out of Bobbie, Caitlin, Althea and Rosalind, which of those characters would you go on a spa day with?

Probably Bobbie, I think she'd be super fun. You could have a nice glass of bubbles and have a real chat about stuff.

But you know, you just listed those then and I felt like, "Wow...what a bunch of amazing women!". Really brilliant, I feel very, very lucky that I got to play such strong characters as a woman so far. (Bloody hell, I hope that doesn't finish!)

We asked Jonny [Bailey] and Alex [Gaumond] this during rehearsals. What's the one thing that could drive you crazy in a relationship?

Well, I'm in a long relationship, so Hadley knows this already! But I'm quite tidy. Mess and lateness drive me mad.

That sense of tidiness is what Alex said too.

I can totally imagine Alex saying that! What did Jonny say?

BWW Interview: Rosalie Craig Talks COMPANY
Rosalie Craig, Alex Gaumond and
Jonathan Bailey in Company

Passive aggressiveness. Kind of like, "Did you mean to put that plate flat down in the dishwasher?"

That is really annoying! I tell you what happens in my household: I stack the dishwasher and Hadley re-stacks it. That is actually what happens! And it's gotten to the point now where I just think, "Well you could've just put the wash on, but you've made an extra job for yourself now!"

Finally, congratulations on the extended run.

Thanks so much. It's so lovely to continue that journey.

And talking about longer-term journeys, we hear rumours of a New York transfer. Can you give us any hints on Company's future?

We're all completely in love with the idea, it would just be too gorgeous to think we could bring it to New York. We'll just have to wait and see and keep our fingers crossed [audiences and us too!].

Company at the Gielgud Theatre until 30 March, 2019

Read our interview with Jonathan Bailey and Alex Gaumond

Check out our review of Company

Photo credit: Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

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