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Friday, 5 March 2021

REVIEW: Facing the Music: Imelda Staunton at the Chichester Festival Theatre (Online)

Chichester Festival Theatre this week launched a series of four online events under the banner "Facing the music" before rerunning a recording of last year's event "Celebrating Sondheim" to at least connect with their audience and to celebrate musical theatre. First up is the irrepressible wonderful Imelda Sondheim, now surely a National Treasure, in conversation (when he lets her speak) with Edward Seckerson, a specialist musical theatre journalist. It's a fascinating insight into her approach to her work and reminds us of how she has become one of the leading Stephen Sondheim actresses amongst a host of other excellent work. 

The ninety-minute interview focuses on her portrayals of Sondheim's extraordinary leading lady creations and draws out her approach to each and the similarities in them. It briefly touches on her role as Vera Drake in the Mike Leigh film made in 2003 which involved six months of improvised rehearsal and three and half months filming and of which Staunton said she had "never done anything else easier" and the rehearsal put the character into her "muscle memory". So successful was the process that she won a BAFTA and Oscar nomination. It also touched on her time at RADA and in repertory in Exeter and Nottingham that gave her a solid base of experience.
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