Jenny Platt On ... Dreaming Under a Different Moon at The Edge, ChorltonDate: 26 October 2012
Since leaving Coronation Street, Jenny Platt has forged an interesting stage career - performing in the likes of The Merchant of Venice at the Bolton Octagon and recently starring in Spinach at the Royal Exchange Studio. Her next role is in Dreaming Under a Different Moon - which is being performed at a brand new 70 seat theatre in Chorlton. We caught up with her to find about the play, the venue and life away from the cobbles.
Can you tell us a bit about the play, Dreaming Under a Different Moon?
It’s a new piece of theatre set in another world and time where art and culture are outlawed. Cassie, a teenager living with her widowed father, is transported to this world from Edwardian England and finds herself on a ship of outlawed actors, condemned to drift for all time. It’s a crazy, heart-warming story of adventure and romance with beautiful songs, lots of laugh, a stunning set and a great cast!
What attracted you to the piece?
Having worked with The Edge before I said yes before I had even read the script. I love working with Janine and Simon and I knew from my experience on Spinach that this would be more than your average Christmas show! It's intelligent, funny and warm with a healthy dose of surrealism. I haven't heard the music yet but Simon is a genius so I've no doubt it will be wonderful!
It's being held at a new venue. How did it come about?
The team at The Edge have been busy transforming an old Victorian Sunday school building into a new 70-seat theatre and arts centre for Manchester. They were delighted to discover this great space in Chorlton, which is perfect in so many ways for arts activities. The Edge gave them the opportunity to develop not only their own work as theatre makers, but to attract the best small scale theatre on the touring circuit. They’ve recently become part of a consortium with, among others, Z Arts, to bring the best theatre for children and families to the region. This year The Edge became a Manchester City Council Cultural Partner and have been funded to produce this show by the Arts Council, after the success of their last production of the sung play Spinach in association with The Royal Exchange (which I was part of). It’s a great new space and perfect for developing and producing new writing, which is at the core of the company’s work.
Can you tell us a bit about theatre company The Edge. What's their selling point as a new company?
As producers, they create high quality mainstream and community theatre believing that both complement and benefit from the other. They work hard to engage people who might not normally become involved in the arts, both as audience and as participants. As theatre makers they strive to create theatre which is relevant and entertaining for as wide an audience as possible. As a venue the Edge is committed to developing new writing with a particular emphasis on musical theatre and children’s theatre.
You mentioned Spinach at the Royal Exchange earlier. How was that experience?
It was amazing. One of the best theatre experiences I have ever had. Singing for the duration of a play with no dialogue was a daunting prospect but in the end it was quite liberating. The music really helped you to make emotional shifts and to find the character night after night. The audience reaction was overwhelming, they really loved it and the show was a sell out.
Being a jobbing actor, what do you think about TV talent shows which rely on the public to choose a star to tread the board in shows like Jesus Christ Superstar or The Wizard of Oz?
Wow, that's a really tough one especially as Dave (David Hunter) who was in Spinach with me was one of the Jesus finalists. I have no real issue with the contestants who want to take part, it's a tough industry and nowadays if you want to take a lead role in the West End then you need more than talent to get you there. I think it's depressing that anyone who gets cast in anything seems to have to have some kind of 'celebrity' credentials but that's a whole other issue! I can also see that these programmes make good TV but I do have a problem with the way that they present the contestants and the casting process to the viewers. They like to make it seem as though all the contestants are just guys off the street with good voices, but the reality is that pretty much all of them are trained, professional actors and you need to be a trained professional actor to take on a lead role, especially in musical theatre. I think they like the perception to be, "oh yeah, anyone can do it, all they need is a lucky break" but it takes more than a good voice to play Jesus Christ for a year doing eight shows a week.
You went back to Coronation Street to make a guest appearance. Do you miss the show as it was constant work or is it more empowering to tread the boards in small venues like the Edge?
I loved Coronation Street, it was a fantastic place to work but, especially now that I have my little girl, I'm thrilled to be able to take the jobs I really want to do and then have time with her in between. I loved the challenge of playing one character regularly and I also love the challenge of taking on different characters... I just love acting I suppose.
Why should people come and see the play?
It’s a great opportunity to see high quality new work in a new theatre, a show that I think anyone from the ages of 10 to 110 will enjoy. We’ve already got bookings from schools and community groups as well as individual theatre goers. It really is going to be a play for everyone!
Jenny Platt was speaking to Glenn Meads.
Dreaming Under a Different Moon is at the Edge in Chorlton from 26 November - 22 December.