Ruthless! The Musical opens this week at London's Arts Theatre. The camp cult classic has finally made its way across the pond after critical claim off-Broadway and across the USA.
We sat down for an exclusive interview with some of the cast: star of stage and screen Harriet Thorpe (Myrna Thorn), Kim Maresca (Judy Denmark), Lara Denning (Betty Lerman/Eve) and Dancing on Ice's Jason Gardiner (in drag as Sylvia St. Croix)
Kim, you’ve done the show in New York, what do you think people are going to make of it this side of the pond?
Kim: It’s so exciting to bring it to a whole new audience. It’s been done in New York a couple of times, but it’s the first time its ever been done here, it’s just so exciting to see how a new group of people are going to react to it because it’s brand new. It brings more surprises, twists and turns and zany, fun, crazy awesome stuff that they can see. London’s in for a treat!
Are you having a good time in the UK? Have you seen any shows while you’ve been here?
Kim: I’ve seen Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Beginning, Girl From The North Country and Pinocchio at the National Theatre. I don’t want to go home!
Lara: We don’t want her to go home either!
Kim: I don’t want to go home. I really hope my Mom doesn’t see this!
Jason, you're the only male in the cast. How are you finding playing a part in drag, and holding your own on a stage full of formidable women?
Jason: It's great, it means I'm getting a lot of attention. They're all really lovely. I'm getting a lot of tips on what I have to do, how to walk in heels, how to put on stockings, what's the best thing to exfoliate after pulling all your hair off... It's wonderful, we're all one big happy family.
What’s it like working with the kids in the show?
Harriet: The kids are divine. They are so sweet, so talented, so humble and so clever. In fact they’re far too talented, it’s rather irritating (laughs) No, they’re wonderful, the whole cast is such fun, we’re just having a blast.
Lara: It’s great. I mean, I’ve not stopped working with little ones for about five years now. Literally every show I do at the moment, I did Charlie, I did Matilda, I did Adrian Mole, and every one of them had me working with kids and they are brilliant. You can learn so much from them, and they teach you so many things. they make you realise that it’s cool to just go and do your thing.
Kim: They’re amazing! We come into rehearsal at 2pm and they’ve already been to school before that, and then they’re rehearsing for for hours. They’re so studious and focused and concentrated, but also funny and talented and sweet. I just love them all.
Lara: And each one has a very different way of playing Tina which is so great, they each give you different things, so then you will always react differently to each child.
The show is all about Tina getting the part in her school play. Were you part of any school productions when you were younger?
Jason: Just like in the show, I was a little kid who just felt I was destined to be on stage, so there were countless productions. My first one, and I remember this really vividly, because I was about five years old and my teacher said "Right, we're doing a school nativity. Does anybody have a Father Christmas outfit?" and I went "I do!" but, I was like, five, so of course I didn't. She said I'd play Santa and I was thinking "Yes! I've got the lead role!". I went home, told my mum, and she said "but you don't have one" and I was like "Yeah, I know, but I want the main part", so my mum and my aunt had to make a whole Father Christmas outfit. So then, we started rehearsing the nativity, I see that Mary and Joseph, THEY'RE the leads, then you've got the three wise men, everybody else, then at the very end, once the whole story was over, right at the very end, on came Father Christmas with a sack of presents to give out to the kids. I didn't even speak. See I was just too eager, too hungry for it.
Have you ever done anything ruthless in order to get a part?
Harriet: When I was at the National Theatre, and I was in the David Hare/Richard Eyre company, we were a young ensemble company, so I had my own parts and I also understudied. Every single person that I understudied went off. Every. Single. One… (sips drink)
Jason: I've heard of chorus girls who are understudying leads, crush glass and put it into their shoes. Ouch. Nasty.
Big names like Britney Spears and Natalie Portman started there careers in this show. If they were to come into rehearsals now, what part do you think they would play?
Harriet: Well they’d obviously want to play my part, but they’re not up to it, either of them.
Kim: (laughs) Britney would be Lara’s part, with all that dancing, and that big dance number?
Lara: Yeah, Britney would be my part. And Natalie? I think she’d be your part.
You never know, maybe they’ll come and see the show! Lastly, why should people come and see the show?
Kim: To have a really good time. To see something new that’s never been done here, and maybe they’ll learn a lesson or two from the show.
Harriet: It reflects our world at the moment, in every sense, the ruthlessness, the desire to have everything, be everything, be in control and win.
Lara: It’s so different, it’s so zany, and it’s so so clever. The writers have just come up with something so clever and so funny, you can blink and you’ll miss the gags as they go, there are so many. If you’re a big theatregoer, the gags will just keep coming at you, and if you’re not, they’re so much that’s still funny, it’s got something for everyone. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the ending has a bit of darkness to it. It’s mot just laugh a minute comedy, it has a moral to it.
Jason: It's a belly of laughs. It's just what the West End needs. It's kitsch, it's camp, it's funny, but it's also a bit twisted. The music is phenomenal and the cast are fabulous.
Harriet: It's funny funny funny, crazy crazy crazy, you can’t miss it!
Thanks for taking the time to speak to us today. We're looking forward to the show!
Ruthless! runs at the Arts Theatre from 16th March - 23rd June 2018. Tickets available here.
Keep your eyes peeled, as we've got an exclusive interview with double Olivier Award-winner Tracie Bennett, also starring in Ruthless!, coming next week!
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