BWW Interview: Phoebe Ellabani Talks PETER PAN GOES WRONG UK Tour
Phoebe Ellabani is currently playing the role of Annie in the UK Tour of Peter Pan Goes Wrong. She spoke to BroadwayWorld about heading to Neverland, Mischief Theatre-style.
Who inspired you most growing up?
It sounds really soppy, but it's probably my mum and dad. They've always really championed and supported me, but also always taught me what hard work and commitment could achieve.
I would also say Julie Andrews because I really wanted to be Mary Poppins as a child!
Can you remember your first experience at the theatre?
I was about nine years old, and at the time, I was obsessed with Cats. I watched it at least three times daily on DVD, and I went to see it when it came to the Birmingham Hippodrome.
I remember being so overwhelmed by the size of the theatre and the stage. I was utterly in love and awestruck by the whole show, and I'm sure I sang along to the entire thing!
Why did you want to be part of Peter Pan Goes Wrong?
While training at LAMDA, we were all very aware, as a student body, of the success and talent of Mischief Theatre, and the sheer happiness of what they were doing brought to people. As a company, they were making absolute waves.
They have such a fresh approach to comedy and farce, and that was so appealing to me. Also, Peter Pan is a classic story that people of all ages have a connection to. Seeing it "go wrong" is even funnier.
What's your favourite thing about who you play?
Annie is so full of joy. She's so desperate to do good by Chris and the other members and just have the biggest amount of fun. She has so much respect for the idea of putting on a successful show. Even though she has a million quick changes, she would never think to complain. So, I think my favourite thing about her is her joy and commitment.
Do you have a favourite moment in the show?
I have so many favourite moments. One of them is definitely Max's rise from the ashes at the end of the show (not to give the game away) and seeing the audience fall so in love with his character as the underdog.
I also love getting to swap at lightning speed between Mrs Darling and Liza the Maid in the opening nursery, which is a credit to the dressers and stage crew we have with us backstage.
What's the rehearsal process like for what is a very physically involved show?
The show has such a rhythm and heartbeat that you really just have to get on board and see where it takes you. It's a very intense show. Taking care of ourselves while also making what goes wrong look and feel believable is paramount.
Keeping yourself physically warmed up and open to trying out new things within the amazing show that Mischief had written was the main part of rehearsals.
It was all about keeping the body and its reactions alive, and what happens to you physically when something "goes wrong". That is what makes the show so much fun to do and keep fresh each night.
Has anything ever "gone wrong" that wasn't supposed to?
Nothing too drastic has gone wrong, as everything runs like clockwork. Although I will say as a performer in the show, you get through a fair amount of ice packs for a new bruise each week - but that's all part of the joy of doing this show!
If you had the power to fly, where would you go?
While on tour, I would probably fly home to my own bed each night! Otherwise, a dream flight would either be to New York or anywhere with a beach.
Any advice for aspiring performers, particularly in the art of physical comedy?
Be open to your instincts. The fun of Mischief is that, although we know what is going to go wrong, finding that in your body physically is what keeps it alive. Half of that is your body's instinct and reaction.
Another thing I'm learning doing this show is to always play with the audience you've got. Enjoy the energy they give you and let that in.
Why should people come to see Peter Pan Goes Wrong?
People should come to Peter Pan Goes Wrong because it's heart-warming and painful and joyful all at the same time, and it's a really great laugh!
Photography credit: Alastair Muir