Friday, 26 April 2019

INTERVIEW: Summer Strallen, currently appearing in Intra Muros at the Park Theatre

Summer Strallen is a celebrated and treasured Musical Theatre star, she is currently in Intra Muros at the Park Theatre. Her Television and Film includes: Five-A-Side (Emerald Films), Casualty (BBC), The Land Girls (BBC), Hotel Babylon (Carnival Fims), Beyond The Sea directed by Kevin Spacey and Hollyoaks (Lime Pictures). Theatre includes Young Frankenstein (Garrick Theatre), Hysteria (London Classics Theatre Tour), A Damsel In Distress (Chichester Festival Theatre), Life Of The Party (Menier Chocolate Factory), Top Hat (Aldwych Theatre and National Tour), Olivier Nominatrion - 2013 Best Actress in a Musical. Love Never Dies (Adelphi Theatre), 2011 Olivier Nomination for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical, The Sound of Music (London Palladium), The Drowsy Chaperone (Novello Theatre), 2008 Olivier Nomination Best Actress in a Musical, The Boyfriend (Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park), 2007 Olivier Nomination for Best Supporting Role in a Musical, A Midsummer Night's Dream (Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park), Guys and Dolls (Piccadilly Theatre), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (London Palladium), Cats (New London Theatre and National Tour). We spoke to her in rehearsals... 

You’re about to be featured in Intra Muros at Park Theatre, tell us a little bit about the play. 

The piece is a reflection on what life is like in prison for both the people incarcerated and the people on the outside. At the heart we try to help people understand how acting is a part of every human beings life in some shape or form.

You’re playing the role of Alice, tell us about her. 

Alice is a relatively new to the job social worker who organises a theatre workshop for prisoners. Alice is young and enthusiastic but has had a strange upbringing whereupon she feels there are secrets about her that she has not been privy to. 

The Park Theatre is a much more intimate space than you’re used to in some of the theatres you’ve played, what are you most excited and frightened about?

The only worry I have is that I have to strike chairs off stage and a couple of times I’ve thought I might trip over their feet or poke someone in the eye! Other than that it’s rather nice being so intimate with the audience!

Could we be seeing you in more plays in the future?

Most definitely! I have always wanted to do more plays. 

Recently you also turned your hand to the creative side of Theatre, being the associate director and responsible for the musical staging for Romance Romance at Above the Stag. How was that experience for you?

I don’t feel any creative should be labelled or put into a box. Helping to direct and stage a show gave me a different sense of pride when it all came together. The feeling is indescribable.

Would you be interested in moving across to behind the table and doing more creative work?

Absolutely. My creativity, as with most artists, extends as far as I am willing to push it!

As Intra Muros is about one of the characters directing a play, have you brought anything in from your experience at Romance Romance?

You would have to ask the director Ché Walker as he is playing that role and actually directed the piece.

You’re most known for your roles in musical theatre, despite previously doing other stage and screen work, but how does it feel to be swapping the singing roles of a straight acting part? 

Musical Theatre is a very different skill just as television and film are too and life is about learning.

You’re also heavily involved with Equity and a very proud member, tell us about your work with the Actors union. 

It’s quite simple. I have felt many times in my career that I did not have a voice. Being discriminated against as a woman and having my skills, which I have trained very hard for, being exploited. So I try to do my bit for the union in
order to help creatives feel less ostracised by a business that is becoming less about creative art and more about money. Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Intra Muros play runs until the 4th May, have you got anything planned after that? 

I have but you’ll have to wait and see!

And finally, for all those aspiring performers out there, what advice would you give them about surviving in the Performing Arts industry? 

To perform is a gift in itself, share it for the sake of others and not for yourself. Fulfilment comes from serving others. Trust me!

Intra Muros is at Park Theatre, London until 4 May 2019
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