Bringing bundles of humour to the Lowry’s Quays theatre this Christmas is the hilarious extravaganza that is Around The World In 80 days. The classic feel-good production is perfect for all the family as it tells the story of Phileas Fogg who wagers his life’s fortune to circumnavigate the globe in just 80 days.
The cast of eight play over 125 characters in the production creating a highly imaginative escapade. I spoke to Joey Parsad from the production who is playing Miss Singh amongst other roles.
“I play 21 characters throughout the play which is pretty crazy,” Joey told me. “My main role is Miss Singh who I love playing, she is a bit of a mercenary and quite feisty which someone in her position of that time would have to be, especially if confronted by 3 men which in this scene she is, but she knows how to handle them.”
Playing numerous different characters, I asked Joey how she approached playing the different roles and really crafting 21 characters specifically. “Firstly with their accent,” she explained. “That for me is important, particularly in this show as we are representing many countries within a few minutes, so finding a clear voice for each character helps you to embody it. Next would come physicality and how they might move. A key discussion in rehearsals for us was not to stereotype but to celebrate obvious characteristics and make them relatable to any audience.”
The show itself contains six trains, five boats, four fights, three dances, two circus acts and an elephant. Joey touched on how she adores the circus scene and even some of the small set moving characters. “Everything is so fun and runs like clockwork it’s just a joy every performance,” she said. “It’s just a great show because it is a family tale with a bit of romance, but ultimately it is a story of friendship.
However, it is also educational, as it teaches a modern audience about the colonisation of the British Empire; a learning and love of varying cultures and acceptance of change and integration. For a white British man and an Indian widow to end up together during the Victorian era was far from conventional. As a mixed White/ Indian this part of the story and having this representation on stage is particularly close to my heart.”
The show was previously created at the New Vic and then recreated for the UK tour. “Five cast members had done it previously and three of us (including myself) are new,” she said. Talking about rehearsals she expressed how much of a brilliant atmosphere it was, especially since the cast consisted of five people who had previously performed in the production and Joey was one of the three newcomers to the show. “Every day although tough and physically demanding was just such a joy with a lot of laughter,” she said.
When facing the production in rehearsals, I asked Joey what the biggest challenge of rehearsing the piece was. “It was difficult to turn it from being in the round, which was how it was performed at the New Vic where we opened,” she said. Working with a cast that play over 100 roles must be craziness and Joey confirmed at first it really was utter madness, but a lot of fun. “Now we have done nearly 200 performances so we are comfortable of course, but at first it was just so mental everyone running everywhere, grabbing things backstage and quickly changing costumes. The crew backstage work incredibly hard to make it run smoothly on stage and it works like choreography back there too, we couldn’t do it without them,” she said.
It is a production that is bursting with magic in order to really bring the tale to life. “It is a show suitable for all ages and even if you are not a usual theatre goer you will find something in the story or production that gets you,” Joey explained. “There is so much magic and surprise in the show and fun imagery that, in a world of technology, it really makes us use our imagination to a level that especially as adults, we can forget about. I hope people will come and laugh and enjoy themselves and feel they have been a part of something special. Our show is very much connected to the audience as Kirsten, who plays Mrs Aouda. says they are ‘the final cast member’ and I love this thought and it’s very true.”
Around The World In 80 Days opens at The Lowry on the 5th of December and tickets can be found on their website.