Monday, 14 July 2014

Madalena Alberto | Interview

Madalena has starred as Eva Peron in the UK Tour of EVITA since May 2013, when the production, directed by Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright, opened at the New Wimbledon Theatre in London. Her other credits include Fantine in the acclaimed 25th Anniversary production of Les Miserables (UK tour & Barbican Theatre), O2 Arena concert of 'Les Miserables', playing the title role in PIAF at the Curve Theatre, in Leicester, Lucy in Jekyll and Hyde (Union Theatre), Lucy in 'The Threepenny Opera' (Lisbon, 2005), Carmen Diaz in 'Fame' (UK Tour, 2007) and Hunyak in 'Chicago' (Kuala Lumpur, 2007). Madalena was part of the original cast of the West End production of 'Zorro the Musical' (Garrick Theatre, 2008), and she had the chance to play the role of Luisa. In Summer 2009 Madalena played the role of Sam in Christopher Hamilton’s new musical 'Over the Threshold' at the Edinburgh Festival, and then in London; and in the Spring 2011 she played Sonia in GODSPELL at the Union Theatre (London). 

The Bird College spotted you and gave you a scholarship to attend their performing arts school when you were younger. As a 17 year old, was that scary? Having to move away from home to study something you hadn’t initially planned on?

Actually, I was still 16 when The Bird college first saw me and invited me to come to England. So I had a year to think about. Although I’m not that there was much to think about. It was an opportunity I couldn't miss and because it all happened so naturally I didn't have any thoughts of being scared. When I was younger I used to come over to England and do a 5 day Easter dance course. And to me that is what is was, a very long 5 day Easter course.

Eva Peron is obviously a real person, as an actress was that scary? What kind of research did you do to prepare for the role?

It could have been. But from day one I knew I wasn't going to try to impersonate Eva Peron. I knew that what would happen in rehearsal and then throughout would be an interpretation of the work that has been written, which is already an interpretation of her story. So that took some of the pressure off. Then my most helpful bits of research were some old Argentinian documentaries I found on YouTube and a book written by an Argentinian historian. So then I could take a peak into her life from their perspective. That really made fall in love with her and enjoy the role a lot.

This role is so complex and challenging vocally, was that daunting to begin with?

Yes. I started listening a YouTube clip of Patti Lupone singing New Argentina and had to never watch anything that had been recorded before again, because I started thinking I wouldn't be able to do the score justice, especially 7-8 times a week.  But then I started looking at the dots and seeing how it felt in my voice and it all fell into place.

The role involves you being on stage for round 2 hours each show, is that tiring? How do you deal with that?

Well, there other things that make it more tiring other than the time on stage. The touring life is quite demanding. Obviously I don't get to breath much during the show but that is why I have to rest so much before and after. I don't have much of a conventional social life, but it makes me very happy to do the best I can so I have enough energy for the evening.

You also have around 18 costume changes, do you have a favourite costume?

Not really.. I obviously love the icon dress I wear in the balcony scene, but i think it is because it is so far from who I am! Most of the costumes are actually, which is great and help me feel completely different from myself. I also don't see myself in them much other the the first and last one, as I'm constantly changing backstage, so I'm not sure how they look on me. Sometimes I glance in a mirror during Rainbow High and don't recognise myself!

Are you excited to be bringing Evita to the Dominion Theatre later this year? 

Incredibly! But to be honest, I've been on the road for so long now, it hasn't really sunk in. I think when I go home for a rest and come back to see my face on the front of the theatre, that's when it's gonna hit me.

The run of this show just keeps getting longer due to popular demand! Through your eyes, how have the audiences been reacting to the show?

Well, it's because of their great reaction that we've been going on for so long and that we are going into the Dominion, so I'm incredibly grateful for their love and support every night. It does mean a lot to feel their energy of gratitude in the end when they cheer and stand up. It is a two way experience.

The show tells a true story, similar to Piaf. You recently alternated the role with Frances Ruffelle and I read that you got brought in quite late to rehearsals. What was your rehearsal experience in that like?

Unforgettable. I had two weeks to learn the two hour play and 12 songs, most of them in French. Possibly the most challenging experience regarding memory and discipline I've had but I learned so much from it. It is incredible what our body and mind can do when you are under pressure but stay relaxed.

And how does Piaf compare to Eva? 

There are some resemblances, in that in both shows both characters are on stage constantly and there is a very big emotional curve from they being young to their deaths. But while Piaf has a lot of dialogue, Evita is all sang. And while in Piaf you have the immense responsibility of doing justice to her voice and to the songs, I don't think Evita sang, as far as I know! In terms of the characters/personas, I can see a lot of resemblances, mostly in their strength as women, in their deep wish of wanting to be the best they could be.

Do you prefer telling the story of a real or fictional character? What are the main challenges in doing both?

I don't think I mind either way. I think they each have different challenges, but the approach of both can be the same, the storytelling from a place of truth.

There seems to be a running theme that you play strong women who die! Are those characters more interesting to play?

Oh yes! I guess I've been lucky enough to have played all these characters that have so much to say and to share with us. Maybe death is the ultimate act of kindness they give us, to show that even in death there can be some sort of inspiration. I'm not sure why I've been so lucky to have the opportunity to play them, but I think I'm getting really good at dying!

You’ve recently released an album full of musical theatre classics, What kind of process did you go through to choose those songs?

It was a very quick one. Both me and Bill Kenwright, my producer, came up with some ideas and funnily enough most of them were the same! I wanted to make sure I sang from shows I've done but also from shows he holds very dear to him. He was very generous to ask me to have one of my own compositions there as the bonus track of the album - Hispanic Feeling. 

And you also write songs yourself, will we be hearing any new releases anytime soon?

Since embarking on this Evita adventure I haven't had much availability for songwriting so I'm not sure when it'll come about. To be honest usually it is not up to me. A song will spontaneously come about or not, but it's a matter if time. I certainly have a lot of stories I'd like to share soon.

Follow Madalena on Twitter @MadalenaAlberto 

   Madalena Alberto and the cast of Evita (UK tour) 
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