BWW Interview: Louise Gold Talks FIDDLER ON THE ROOF

BWW Interview: Louise Gold Talks FIDDLER ON THE ROOF

Fiddler on the Roof returns to the London stage this Winter. Trevor Nunn's already sold out production is currently in rehearsals, before it opens at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

Playing Yente, Louise Gold shares her journey across stage and screen, how the show resonates with her, and how she thinks it will resonate with London today.

What's your earliest memory of theatre?

The very first show I remember seeing was The Bluebird of Happiness at the old Lyric Hammersmith. And many, many years later, I became friends with the actress Dilys Laye and found out she had been in it. (I looked out my old programme and there she was!) I was so thrilled to be able to tell her what that show had meant to me and how magical I had found it.

So what was your journey from there into the industry?

Originally I wanted to be a ballet dancer. My mother pointed out that my physique was not quite right for the ballet and that I would be too tall. However she found out about The Arts Educational School and said if I went there I could learn to sing, dance, act and do school lessons as well.

I went there when I was eleven. Every so often there would be auditions for shows such as The Nutcracker, but I was always too tall and never worked as a child.

Once I left Arts, I had various jobs including the Fairy in a pantomime, understudying, children's theatre etc. Then out of the blue, my agent sent me to an audition which turned out to be for The Muppet Show.

At that point, I had no experience of puppeteering but I got the job because I was tall. At last it was to my advantage! The reason being that all the Muppeteers were tall and the sets were built to enable them to stand while they worked.

So I started working on the show and doing voices and songs, and learning to puppeteer on the job. That one fluke audition changed my whole life.

That must have been such amazing training, for both puppetry and acting.

Absolutely. Watching Jim Henson and Frank Oz was a joy and an education. They were one of the great double acts. Seeing Kermit and Fozzie together or Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street was absolutely fantastic. All of the Muppet Show performers, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Dave Goelz and Steve Whitmire were wonderful actors who just happened to work with puppets.

There are many more Muppets style performers these days and that's because they've grown up watching the Muppets and learning from them too. I've just been doing a series for Netflix of The Dark Crystal, a prequel to a film I did years ago. A lot of the puppeteers there said, "Oh my God, we grew up watching The Muppets and Spitting Image (which I also worked on). You're our heroes!" So to feel that Jim's legacy is being passed on is very moving.

And since then, you've been able to work across both stage and screen. Is it nice to return to the stage again?

Yes, it was what I'd always dreamt of. You know, to have played such wonderful roles like Kate [Kiss Me Kate], Mrs Johnstone [Blood Brothers] and many many others, it's just a dream come true.

For a while I thought that puppeteering was going to get in the way my career as an actress. Now, having been going backwards and forwards between puppets and acting for so many years, I realise how amazing it is to be able to do both!

You're currently in rehearsals for Fiddler on the Roof. How familiar were you with the show?

I'm very familiar, I saw it as a child. My mother was an actress and she knew Alfie Bass who was playing Tevye in the West End and we went to see him do it. Later my great friend Jane Gurnett played Tzeital in a production with Topol.

What have been your impressions coming to it this time?

There is no doubt it is one of the great Broadway musicals. Working on it now I was struck by how clever it is. Trevor Nunn our director has had us rehearsing by speaking the lyrics of the songs before we sing them. You hear how direct and simple they are and how well they serve the story.

Tell us about your character, Yente.

She's a real character, she's fantastic. I know quite a few older women like her (Jewish and non-Jewish) who live on their own, and the minute they get somebody to talk to, they won't shut up, because they're lonely.

She has a great rhythm to her speech and a lot of humour.

What can you tell us about the world of the production, and how that will come to life on stage at the Menier?

I think it will be very exciting. The audience is on three sides and when our wonderful male dancers get going in 'To Life' and 'The Wedding', it is extraordinary

Although it has been a big Broadway show, I think it will work very well in a more intimate space and Andy Nyman brings something very special and unique to the role of Tevye. It is such a moving story.

What have you been working on in rehearsals so far?

Well this morning, we did 'The Rumour' number (which my character features in). And then we worked through 'The Dream' sequence, so it's been a busy morning.

On that, just how do you think the show will resonate with audiences today?

It's a great show, it's funny, tuneful, and full of heart. Sadly the themes of religious persecution are still relevant today and anti-Semitism still exists. This show will continue from generation to generation because it speaks universal truths.

Fiddler on the Roof at the Menier Chocolate Factory, 23 November 2018 - 9 March 2019

Photo credit: Ruth Crafer

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