Fisher explored other options including presenting TV programmes and guesting in shows such as Casualty (the bruises gained on the show are visible at the launch). Treatment by a specialist, who has treated, ironically Julie Andrews, solved part of the problem but left Fisher unable to reach some of the higher notes. Unable to make use of the musical equivalent of ’muscle memory’ Fisher learned to sing around her condition.
One option Fisher considered was comedy, so Wonderful Town was an ideal opportunity to try a new direction as a comedian/actress as well as a singer. She felt that a non-singer could have played the role of aspiring writer Ruth Sherwood. Fisher shares the view of director Braham Murray that the show should be forward-looking.
She draws parallel with Sex and the City in which a writer relies on her friends to help cope with the hassles of New York pointing out that Ruth is dependent for support from her sister Eileen played by Lucy Van Gasse. If you look at the poster for the show you can tell that the marketing department certainly share the SATC comparison. Let’s just hope that the actual show is less vapid than Carrie Bradshaw's misadventures.
Fisher consulted Maueen Lipman who has previously played the role of Ruth and her influence is apparent in the short excerpt at the launch. Impressively Fisher, Van Gasse and Michael Xavier did not just sing a couple of numbers but performed them – throwing themselves into the songs and engaging the audience as well as demonstrating vocal powers that, at such close quarters, were staggering.
Lucy Van Gasse – a veteran of Love Never Dies plays Eileen. She regards the role as a complete change of pace from past roles being full of humour and a character who doesn’t die at the end.
Michael Xavier – born in Knutsford and trained in Manchester- is delighted to return to the region. He is accustomed to playing the romantic lead but feels that Bob Baker has more depth than the norm being disillusioned by the failure of his efforts to become a writer. But, as Michael acknowledges, love will conquer all.
Even if, like me, you’re not a fan of musicals there is no escaping the energy surrounding Wonderful Town. It is an opportunity to develop a new collaborative approach to regional productions and there is the thrill of seeing a show that could, on this scale, be a once in a lifetime production.
- Dave Cunningham