Jodie Jacobs talks about acceptance, diversity, love and music in UNEXPECTED JOY

You’ve recently opened in the European premiere of a new chamber musical called Unexpected Joy at the Southwark Playhouse. What is the show about and what character do you play?
The show is about acceptance and diversity and love and music and how all of those can be used to hurt and to heal. That’s the best way to sum it up! I play Rachel, the semi-estranged daughter of the title character, Joy. Joy has an enormous reveleation to make to her conflicted daughter and sassy, pubescent grandaughter. They’re all such terrifically different people it seems impossible that they share genes!

It seems this is very much a musical about strong women through different generations that would be perfect for a mother, daughter and even grandmother to go and see. What is it about the show that will also appeal to other genders?
Its bloody good! The songs are excellent and varied and story is utterly universal. The themes are as important and relevant right now as they could possibly be. It’s not just for women. It’s just we are better represented and more dynamically drawn in this show than usual. I don’t ask “What is it about Jersey Boys or Five Guys Named Moe that will appeal to other genders?”!!!! They are all just great pieces of musical theatre. That transcends gender.

There seems to be more musicals appearing featuring strong female leads. Do you think there is enough female oriented theatre out there and are we getting better and handling diversity in the arts?
No I don’t think there is enough and no i don’t think we’re getting better. It needs to stop being about token diversity and gimmicky theatre and start being about all encompassing inclusion. Disabled, female, trans, gay, Bame, older than 30 and not just on stage. Creatively and back stage too.

In 2017 you were nominated for a West End Wilma Award for your role in Lizzie. Public voting opens next week for 2018 – what have been some of your theatre highlights over the past year?.
I took some time out of the industry after Lizzie. I am so passionate about that musical and would love to do again. But I was beginning to take it all for granted a bit and I had to recalibrate and deal with my anxiety. Since then, I have been much more considered about the work I’ve chosen and it’s really paid off. Ive loved everything I’ve done this year for different reasons. A great big handful of workshops, My beloved Bananaman, a Shakespeare, this beautiful, happiness and hope affirming show im doing now and of course my heart will always belong to Myth, Sam Cassidy’s masterpiece in my opinion.

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
Offstage actually. Forgetting to come on one night in Rock of Ages for my highly focused and usually very loud solo line in “Here I Go Again”. The end of act 1 climax. The ENTIRE cast turned to point at me, upstage centre on a platform. And I wasn’t there. I nearly passed away with shame.

Apart from acting, what is your biggest passion?
FOOD. Food is paramount.

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?
Oooh Imma gon’ cheat on this one. Two of my all time favourite plays, Terrence McNally’s ‘Frankie and Johnny in the Clair De Lune’ and Patrick Marber’s ‘Closer’ have both been adapted as movies and I KNOW if you could write lyrics and tunes even half as good as the dialogue in those pieces, I’d never need listen to anything else again.

If you could be the opposite sex for the day, what theatre role would you love to have a go at playing?
Oy! What a question!
Jamie in The Last Five Years. Just imagining singing Shiksa Goddess, I gotta take a nap…

Why do you think people should come and Unexpected Joy?
Because its 100 minutes of moving music and beautiful story telling and I know you will have a really lovely evening and I want you all to always have lovely evenings.

Thanks for having Tea With Wilma

Unexpected Joy plays at Southwark Playhouse until 29 September 2018.


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