BWW Interview: Siubhan Harrison, Sgt Sarah Brown In GUYS AND DOLLS!

Hi Siubhan! Well, the announcement of your casting in Guys and Dolls seemed to be unexpected - and actually so was the announcement of David Haig as Nathan Detroit!

Yes, we were a surprise. I think casting David opposite Sophie Thompson - it's genius! It guarantees a following, and people will be excited to see them reunited, and they obviously have a lot of history [from playing opposite each other in Four Weddings and a Funeral]. And Jamie Parker is just brilliant. He just did the Proms, and he's so old-school, he has that laid-back, wonderful energy - yes, he's great, and an amazing actor. And he does a good line in trilbies.

When do you start rehearsals?

The dancers start first - that's full on, with Carlos Acosta and Andrew Wright - and we start a week after.

Did you have a million auditions?

About five, this time. It was serious. They put you through your paces and make sure you're the right person and get you to do different things each time. So five is about normal for a big musical like this.

Do you get more nervous as you go through?

Every time you get closer, you attach yourself to a bit of it. It becomes more of a reality. The first one is always hard, then it gets easier, then harder again the closer you get because the stakes are so much higher - you're in with a chance at that point, and you start imagining it at that point.

How did you react when you were told?

I was in rehearsal for another play! I'd nipped out at lunchtime the day before to do my audition, and the next day I was in rehearsals and getting all of these phone calls from my agent so I had to go into the toilet - so I found out there and it was amazing! Then I rang my mum - and she was over the moon. That's always my favourite phone call!

How many versions of Guys and Dolls have you seen before? Did you see the Jenna Russell/Ewan McGregor cast?

I do remember that one! I saw that, with Jane Krakowski. That was an amazing production. Then I saw this production in Chichester because at the time I was in Chichester doing a play in the playhouse, and they were in the main house, so I got to know the cast there a bit, although not all of them are coming with it.

I have to say that Sgt Sarah Brown is one of my favourite characters in all of musical theatre, so I'm expecting big things from you!

Ah, she's really loved. Everyone's very fond of her, because she's a real person. She faces real issues and conflicts - her journey from being steadfast, straitlaced, a woman of faith, through falling in love and changing for her man - it's so exciting.

And although she changes, he changes too - a lot of the time shows can be about a man changing for the love of a good woman, and in Guys and Dolls, Sky and Sarah both make compromises.

Yes, they both compromise things they never thought they'd do, and it's so nice to see both sides of that. It's one of the most satisfying moments when she turns around and sees him in his Salvation Army outfit! Yes, I'm very excited indeed.

Siubhan Harrison stars as Sgt Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls, at the Palace Theatre Manchester from November 10 and then the Savoy Theatre from December 10.

She appears Thursday October 8 at the Sage, Gateshead in An Evening With Tim Rice And Friends, and on a guest spot on Nadim Namaan's Cabaret on Sunday October 25 at the Arts Theatre.

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From This Author Carrie Dunn

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