Hadley Fraser talks about starring in CITY OF ANGELS and how Vanessa Williams is ‘playing the part she was born to play’

Hello and thank you for taking time out to talk to us today at West End Wilma.

What have been some of your highlights in your career so far?
There’s not much I’ve done that I haven’t found some way to enjoy. I guess I’m programmed like that. My Dad always said the best thing I’ve ever done was The Glass Menagerie in the lower sixth, so go figure.

What is your current show about and what attracted you to the part you are playing?
City of Angels is a show about Hollywood – making movies. It follows a double storyline of a writer, Stine, adapting his own novel into a screenplay and the action of the screenplay itself – about a private detective, Stone, trying to solve a case. The two worlds, Technicolor and black & white, become entwined and Stine is confronted by Stone (his own fictitious creation) when his craft becomes compromised. It’s all very glamourous and sexy. I have always loved the show (I played Stone in a production at University), and so jumped at Josie Rourke’s suggestion to do it at the Donmar a few years ago. As far as playing Stine the attractions are many. He gets some fab songs, some wonderfully witty scenes and a enough jumping around to satisfy even the most swashbuckling performer.

What West End show would you like to see make a comeback and why?
Now I can no longer say our own production of City of Angels I have to say Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman – but that’s on it’s way back too I see, so my wish has come true. The original production at the NT was one of the most visceral and affecting nights I’ve ever had at the theatre. Can’t wait to see that again.

If I asked your friends to describe you in three words, what would they be?
Not too bad.

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
I got stuck on the top of the gates playing Marius in Les Mis once. Had to sing A Heart Full of Love about 10 feet in the air struggling to detach my trousers from a gate spike. Classy.

What are your thoughts on theatre etiquette? What things annoy you when you are performing or when you are in the audience?
Oh I don’t know. I’m not too draconian about these things. Theatre is a living, breathing thing. Noise and response is to be welcomed I think. I suppose in a perfect world I’d arrange for the audience to drop their phones off somewhere before entering the space. More important to me than screen light or people filming is the sense of switching off from the outside world and committing your brain and heart to something without distraction.

We are living in a time where films are often being turned into stage plays and musicals. If you had to choose one, what film would you like to see adapted to the stage?
Living with Lions. The classic rugby documentary of the 1997 tour to South Africa. It’s got everything. Adapt THAT! Bagsy playing Keith Wood.

If you could be the opposite sex for the day, what theatre role would you love to have a go at playing?
As far as hogging the parts is concerned I think us fellas have had it pretty easy over the years, so I’m reluctant to covet a female role too much. I’m far happier watching my wife play them all anyway. She’s the best.

If you won the lottery and could stage one theatre show of your choice, what would you choose and who would be your dream cast?
Sweeney Todd. Me, Rosie and lots of friends. Perfect.

Why do you think people should come and see your show?
Rob Houchen singing like a dream. Marc Elliott being brilliant and hilarious. Vanessa Williams playing the part she was born to play. Theo James giving Humphrey Bogart a run for his money. Jonathan Slinger snapping like a shark. Rebecca Trehearn oozing class. Rosalie Craig blowing your mind. The Angel City 4 stealing the whole damn shebang. The swingingest band in the West End. I could go on…

Thank you

Photo: Matt Crocket