Julie Atherton chats about THE GRINNING MAN at Trafalgar Studios

The Grinning Man has got a star-studded creative team, with Tom Morris as director, teaming up once again with the masterful puppeteers behind Warhorse. What has it been like working with such innovative creatives?
I’ve loved it. Great to be in a show where the creatives are left to be creative by the producers – no gimmicks no celebrities just a talented team – not enough females but we can’t have it all ha!

You’ve just opened at the Trafalgar studios in a specially configured space. How have audiences responded so far? It’s been overwhelming- standing ovations every night.

The show has been described as “a romantic gothic musical love story” suitable for “brave 12 year olds and above.” What should audiences expect when coming to see the show? Exactly that! It’s quite Tim burton-esque I think.

In the show, you play the Queen. If you could be Queen for a day, what would your first royal orders be? I’d sack all of parliament and hire people that actually know what they’re doing. We would look up to scientists and figure out how to stop destroying our planet. Women and men would be treated equally and our media would only be allowed to print the truth. No scaremongering- just positive helpful progressive news.

You’ve previously starred in Avenue Q, another show where puppetry is an integral element of the production. In what way do you think the use of puppetry adds to The Grinning Man?
I think it adds a magical element, also not sure we’d still be alive if there was a real wolf in the show. 😜

Many people may know you from your smash-hit parody music video, “Portrait of a Princess”, which has nearly 800,000 views on YouTube and features stars including Sheridan Smith and Steven Webb. Were you expecting such a huge reaction to the video? Nope.

This West End run of the Grinning Man follows a hugely successful opening of the production at the Bristol Old Vic in 2016. How has the piece developed since its premiere last year?
I’m not sure as I wasn’t involved in the Bristol show but I’ve heard it’s shorter and the characters played by others who didn’t do Bristol will be different as there was no preconceived ideas.

What message would you like audience to take from the show?
There are lots of messages in the show so hopefully each audience member will take something different.

Thanks for having Tea With Wilma
Interview by Olivia Dowden


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