5 Minutes With The Webb Sisters From The Hills Of California

Following their multi award-winning triumph The Ferryman, writer Jez Butterworth (Jerusalem) resumes his partnership with director Sam Mendes (The Lehman Trilogy) to bring you The Hills of California. Set in 1976 in Blackpool during the driest summer in 200 years, The Hills of California tells the story of the Webb sisters who are returning to their mother's run-down guest house, as she lies dying upstairs.

This week, we sat down with Lara McDonnell, Nancy Allsop, Sophia Ally, and Nicola Turner who play the four Webb sisters.

Check out our conversation below, and book your tickets today!

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Can you tell us a bit more about the character you play in The Hills of California?

Lara: I play ‘Joan Webb’ who is the eldest of the four sisters. Joan is daring and effortless in everything she does. There is an ease in how she approaches life that allows her to sit back and revel in it, sometimes a little too much which causes some tension between her and her mother. But at her heart, Joan is entirely devoted to her mother and her sisters. She takes the most joy from being and performing with them. The element of performance comes naturally to her and so she is able to truly just enjoy the fun in being with her sisters, doing something she truly loves. She will do anything to lift their spirits, achieve their dreams and protect them.

Nancy: Gloria is a challenged but passionate child. Though she gets immense joy from singing and dancing with her sisters, it comes the least naturally to her and it is tainted somewhat by a feeling of inadequacy. She desperately wants to be enough for her mother and somehow always misses the mark, wrenchingly over-striving to fit in and be as effortless as Joan.

Sophia Ally: When we meet Ruby, she is a bubbly, energetic and loving young girl who enjoys nothing more than spending time with her sisters. She finds joy in the little things and doesn’t let anything crush her colourful spirit. She always puts her heart and soul into her performing and although she finds immense joy in singing and dancing, what she cherishes the most is the time spent with her family. They truly are her best friends.

Nicola: Jill is the youngest sister of the Webbs. She is quite the introvert but as she grows up, she definitely isn’t afraid of standing up for sisters and her mum. She loves a good crossword, is a little bit wheezy but most importantly, she really enjoys singing and dancing with her sisters.



The Hills of California has an amazing star-studded cast and crew. What has it been like working with this group of people?

Lara: It has been an absolute dream come true. Even the idea of being a part of such an incredible cast and crew is incomprehensible, and then for it to excel all your dreams is a true pinch me moment. I feel unbelievably lucky every single day I get to go to work with such amazing people. Everyday is a masterclass.

Nancy: Incredibly inspiring. Sam and Jez are absolute masterminds. Not only has this been a brilliant learning experience, but it has made our lives very easy in having such a beauty of a play and director. Also, working in a company led by such talented and wise women has created an environment that is extremely compassionate, intelligent and electric. I can only hope that writers as brilliant as Jez continue to construct such rich, three dimensional, female characters that represent women so truthfully and unapologetically.

Sophia Ally: Nothing short of amazing! As a young actress it has been truly incredible to see such strong women lead this play with such grace. I’m in complete awe of them. It has been so valuable to listen to them speak about the play and their characters, which has really helped me make some of my own character decisions. They are beautiful to watch and even more beautiful to work with. I’m very lucky to say that I have had the pleasure of working with Sam before on The Ferryman, and this has been just as incredible, if not more insightful, due to having more ownership and input over the work now that I am older.

Nicola: It has been an absolute dream! Everyone is just so kind and we all have each other's backs. I feel so inspired being surrounded by such an amazing group of people - from rehearsals to the stage, I have felt like the luckiest person to get to share this experience with this cast.



Without giving any spoilers for people who haven’t seen the show, do you have a favourite moment or line in the show?

Lara: I would find it incredibly hard to choose a singular moment from this beautiful show, so I will have to choose two! Any scene that I am lucky enough to share with Laura Donnelly who plays our mother Veronica is an absolute dream. You are just able to completely lose yourself in her performance. Being able to share some beautiful and heart-breaking moments while portraying the unique, but yet still familiar, mother-daughter relationship that Joan and Veronica share is an honour. And then I think some of my favourite moments from the show would have to be whenever I am singing with Nancy, Sophia and Nicola who play my sisters. The four of us have become incredibly close throughout this experience and have become so in sync with each other, that when we sing together you can just feel such joy and warmth and love amongst the four of us. It is an incredibly special feeling.

Nancy: My favourite moment in the play has to be when Ruby and Jill recall, at full volume, a childhood song and tap jingle from their childhood, much to Gloria’s annoyance. It is all too representative of me and my siblings.

Sophia Ally: I adore singing 'Rum and Coca Cola'. Not only is it so much fun but it sums up Ruby perfectly - silly, and full of life.

Nicola: My favourite line is ‘I want to Marry Mystery Man A’. I think it really highlights what life is like for Jill and the audience’s reaction is different every time!



And finally, can you sum up this production of The Hills of California in 3 words?

Lara: Family. Hope. Sacrifice.

Nancy: Hip as f***.

Sophia Ally: An emotional rollercoaster.

Nicola: Heart-breaking. Emotional. Beautiful.


You can book tickets now for this critically-acclaimed play!

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