Any Further Questions: Summer Strallen

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Cast of Young Frankenstein
Young Frankenstein arrives in Newcastle for its UK premiere from 26 August, before transferring to London’s West End in September. Summer Strallen, who plays Inga, speaks to us about corpsing, burnout and Whitley Bay’s beaches

You’re currently in rehearsals: how’s it going?
It’s really going well: we’ve gone through the whole show today, with everyone together. It’s really exciting, I can’t wait. It’s like a whole other thing suddenly happens when you get into the theatre and get mics on. Even at this stage, it’s just hilarious. It shows how great the writing is because already, we haven’t even put it on its feet, and we’re in hysterics. 

How do you deal with the potential for corpsing in such a show?
Corpsing usually occurs when the audience are in on a joke, because then they feel included. It happens because the audience can tell something’s gone wrong, and that’s when it’s such a lovely connection: you can all laugh together. It’s quite a magical moment provided it’s at a stage when it’s okay. 

What’s it like being in a production where you’re translating something as beloved as Young Frankenstein onto the stage?
The beauty of the film is that it translates so well because it’s a parody of a cheesy horror film, and in those horror films it was rickety sets, all on a single camera shot. I think it’ll be an easier transition than another film might be. 

What does adding music and a score do?
I think it’s just extra bonus. Where you feel there could be a song in the film is where there’s a song in the musical. Like at the end of the scene with Inga, she says: ‘Do you want to roll in the hay?’ then she sings ‘Roll, roll, roll in the hay...’ and that’s where the song is. There are bits of it in the film, where I think Mel [Brooks] probably would have liked to put in a musical number, and now he’s been able to.

How has it been working with a comedy legend?
He hasn’t arrived at rehearsals yet, but I did work with him in the audition which was a completely surreal experience. I happened to be in New York when they asked me to go for it, and I went in to meet Mel and Stro, as we call her – Susan Stroman. I sang Roll in the Hay and they stood up and clapped. That was probably a first for me.

You’ve got Ross Noble in the cast. How’s his voice?
He’s amazing! I was like: ‘Are you kidding?’ It’s like he’s been doing musicals forever. He did The Producers obviously, but he’s doing really well. He’s one of these people who has funny bones – he’s funny all the time. 

You’re from a big acting family: was it something you picked up as a child?
I was very much pushed from behind from the age of one and a half. I did it for a long time and it got quite discombobulating and I had to leave for a while. This is my comeback into musical theatre. I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to work with Mel and Susan. I thought, if there’s anyone I’m going to learn anything from, it’s definitely going to be Mel Brooks. I did a play at the Live Theatre up in Newcastle and it was quite a serious one. It made me realise how much I loved doing comedy from doing the tragedy. 

What were your memories of your time up in Newcastle?
I loved it: it’s one of my favourite cities in England. The people are so kind, lovely and funny. I love the accent, I find it incredibly amazing, hilarious and also sexy. There’s some really cool stuff happening and there always seems to be a buzz. I wish it was a bit warmer, though. 

What was your favourite part of the North East?
Whitley Bay was the best for me. I had my two dogs with me and we went for a lovely walk down there with one of the crew from the Live Theatre. The quayside too is absolutely lovely, and we went to BALTIC for lunch one day. I’m really looking forward to getting back there and showing the cast around. 

Young Frankenstein is at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal from 26 August–9 September. 

www.theatreroyal.co.uk

Published in: September 2017

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