Words From the Wings: Gaby French on Her Weird Pre-Show Rituals, Backstage British Chocolates, and More!

Gaby French plays Shirley in Hangmen, now playing on Broadway!

By: May. 24, 2022
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BroadwayWorld is bringing you Words From the Wings, a new series of interviews that take fans behind the scenes of some of their favorite Broadway stars' backstage routines!

Today, we're talking with Gaby French, who plays Shirley in Hangmen, now playing on Broadway! She told us all about her pre-show ritual that consists of a Welsh rugby song, her stash of British chocolates, and more. Check out her answers below!


What's the first thing you do when you arrive to the theatre?

I check the snack table!! Sometimes people bring in cakes, chocolates etc so I'll pocket them and head up to my dressing room. Then I warm up and relax a bit before the show.

What's the last thing you do before you go on stage?

I listen to the first scene in my dressing room whilst I'm doing my hair then I head backstage to listen to scene 2 before I go on. I love to listen to the play and gauge how it's being received.

HangmenWhat's your must-have backstage snack?

I have a little glass of chocolates in the dressing room so I'll have some when I come offstage in act 1! They're lush British chocolates called Roses so I've got a little stash of them that I dip into (strawberry dream is first choice). Or I do love a cookie.

Pre-show ritual that others may think is weird?

There's a Welsh rugby song that I always hum called 'Bread of Heaven' which started off as a warm up but has definitely become a bit of a ritual. I love it!

What are five must-haves in your dressing room?

A pillow, playlists, calendar, phone charger and a jumper.

What's your favorite moment from the show to watch from the wings?

There's actually nowhere in the wings where we can watch the show as most entrances are doors or stairs. So I sometimes head down to the monitor in the stage management office to watch the end of scene 1 and listen to audience reactions.

What has been your favorite backstage moment in your time with this show so far?

We made pina coladas backstage after opening night to have whilst we were getting ready. I think I was relieved that the show had gone well, my mum and dad were in to watch and we were all about to head out to celebrate something that we weren't sure would ever happen! And pina colada is my favourite drink so it was a very happy moment.

About Gaby French

During her second year at drama school, Gaby won the coveted Laurence Olivier Bursary Award. She left her third year early to play the lead in Hampstead Theatre's Scarlett. Shortly after, she was cast in Hangmen Off-Broadway, and she returned to the role for the show's Broadway run. Additional theater credits include If We Were Older (National Theatre). TV: "I May Destroy You" (HBO), "Inside No. 9," "The Ipcress File," "Gaynor & Ray," "Temple," "A Discovery of Witches," "Victoria." Film: Military Wives, Enola Holmes.

About Hangmen

From the mind of Martin McDonagh comes Hangmen, a killer comedy. What's Britain's second-most famous executioner to do now that hanging has been abolished? Drink, of course. But when a cub reporter and a mysterious stranger turn up at his pub, everything hangs in the balance.

In his small pub in the North of England in the mid-1960s, Harry is something of a local celebrity. But what's the second best hangman in England to do on the day they've abolished hanging? Amongst the cub reporters and pub regulars, people are dying to hear Harry's reaction to the news when an intriguing stranger, Mooney, from London -with a very different wardrobe and motive - enters their world.

The show is now playing at Broadway's Golden Theatre (252 West 45th Street) through June 18.

Photo Credit: Avery Brunkus