INTERVIEW: Jodie Jacobs chats all things bananas

You have starred in some great shows over the years so far, including Rock of Ages in the West End and more recently Lizzie at the Greenwich Theatre which earned you a nomination at the 2017 Wilma Awards for Best Performer in an Off-West End Show. What have been some of your career highlights so far?
You know what? The highlight is looking back and actually being lucky enough to have a career. The industry has changed so much and there have been many ups and downs but I am so deeply grateful for every gig, every part, every workshop and mostly for every friendship I have made over the last 16 years. OK I’m getting emosh now. Say something funny…

You’re still so young, are there any dream roles you would love to play either now or in the future?
You think im still young? Hahahahaha!

Ok, I’ll take that 😋. There are so many roles I’d love to play, songs I’d love to sing, jokes i’d love to land and emotional speeches I’d like to deliver, but I’ve learned over the years that its not always the end of the world if they don’t happen for you. Very often, something unexpected will touch you deeper and leave more of a mark than something you’ve always wished for. So I’m keeping my mind open!!!

You are about to star in Bananaman the Musical play the role of Crow. What is the show about and what attracted you to the part you are playing?
Bananaman is BANANAS!!

Its based on a 1970’s cartoon strip about a young, weedy boy who eats a radioactive banana and transforms into an incompetent super hero. Like Spiderman but with groceries.I got involved with the show at its original workshop stage as Bananaman’s sidekick, Crow, originally voiced by Bill Oddie in the cartoon TV series. Back then, none of us knew what we were in for!!!!!!! We’re still scratching our heads and thanking the gods that its actually happening!!!! Notice all my exclamation points!! It’s some of the best, most complicated music I’ve ever had the pleasure of singing and we haven’t stopped laughing since we all started the first day of rehearsals, two years ago. What more could you wish for?

How does the musical differ to the TV series?
The musical is closer to the original comics but it still has all of the familiar references from the cartoons I grew up watching. Same baddies, theme tune and comic book pastiche elements. Except now with songs. All the songs. You know songs? Well they’re ALL in Bananaman the Musical. Its taken us two years to learn the music accurately. I’m not even joking.

What is your favourite fruit? Are you a banana fan?
My favourite fruit??? Guava. Which is a bummer cos its hard to get hold of and never tastes as good in your living room in Ilford as when you’re on holibobs in Cuba. With regards to bananas, I love ’em. But the brown ones. Keep your dusty, chalky green ones. Bleagh.

Who are your biggest inspirations in the theatre industry and why?
My biggest inspirations in the theatre industry? Ooooh, we’re getting deeeeeep. Anyone who can keep going, through all the knock backs and heartbreaks and closing nights, dreadful commutes and low pay, while still being creative, industrious, resourceful, proactive, fun, positive and kind (and awake.) That’s a massive cop out answer I understand but its so hard sometimes to keep all your balls in the air, all your ducks in a row and all your bananas in a bunch that I admire EVERYONE who even gives it a go. Two people in particular come to mind though, Bleu Woodward, currently playing Nicola in Kinky Boots and Carl Mullaney who plays General Blight in Bananaman. Both these friends possess all these qualities I admire in civilian life let alone in theatre. Good bananas.

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?
If I won the Lotto, tomorrow? Well, I know… I’d love to commission Sam Cassidy, who wrote ’27’, to write a beautiful, contemporary musical score for Frankie and Johnny in the Clair De Lune by Terrence McNally. Its my favourite play, one of my favourite films and I would have Alexandra Spencer Jones direct it and I would want to play Frankie opposite Simon Bailey as Johnny. I know I’m probs allowed to pick Hal Prince to direct, Sara Bareilles to write it and Oscar Issac as Johnny for my hypothetical dream team but I only wanna work with my talented friends who deserve to be rewarded for everything they’ve always plowed into the industry and all the encouragment, help and joy they’ve given me. Even if its the ‘96,000’ imaginary version. Doesnt hurt that theyre supremely talented too, right?

Why do you think people should come and see Bananaman?
You gotta see Bananaman the Musical. It’s got this mad combination of incredible, unexpectedly grown up music full of hooks as good as STEPS circa 1998, money notes from heaven, slapstick, farce, so many gags its almost impossible to laugh at them all, lots of heart, a cast that all deserve awards and a grown man in a royal blue cod piece. I meeeaaan…

Thanks for having Tea With Wilma

Bananaman the Musical, written and composed by Leon Parris, directed by Mark Perry, will run at Southwark Playhouse from December 15 to January 20 2018.