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Brief Encounter with... Miss Nightingale's Jill Cardo

The hit musical Miss Nightingale embarks on a new tour next month. We caught up with leading lady Jill Cardo to find out a bit more about the show.

Tell us about your role?

Jill Cardo
© Joe Armitage

Maggie Brown is a loyal and generous soul who just can't help but be truthful, sometimes to a fault. As a proud, Yorkshire lass, she takes a fairly no-nonsense approach to everyday life but a conformist she is not. Working diligently as a nurse through the pressures of wartime London, Maggie's love of music and longing for glamour help her find a new lease of life by stepping into the shoes (and stockings) of Miss Nightingale.

Sometimes Maggie's imagination gets the better of her- her judgement is often clouded by her own optimism and so she has a vulnerable side but she'll never admit it. Keeping her friends close and her enemies unwittingly closer, she embodies the Keep Calm and Carry On spirit- she just sometimes forgets the Calm part. Maggie has all the fascinating facets of British stoicism and is politically progressive- it just so happens she favours fishnets over nylons and would rival any solider in the ‘filthy laugh' stakes!

What attracted you to the show?

The opportunity to discover more about such a fascinating time in history was a big draw- the effects of International conflict on everyday lives really interests me- and although wartime London has been pretty well-documented, there are certain voices that aren't often heard. Miss Nightingale provides the opportunity to tell stories of the marginalised minorities of the time and challenge ourselves to consider current roles within society. As a trumpet-player, the fantastic original music in the show, composed by Matthew Bugg, is also hard to resist. I love the energy and ritual of music hall and variety and I suppose I see burlesque as an extension of that tradition and so I reckoned it'd tickle my fancy.

Is it a sexy musical?

Well that rather depends on what floats your dinghy, but all-in-all I'd say Miss Nightingale has titillation pretty well covered (or uncovered). The innuendo and suggestive lyrics of Miss N's numbers sometimes don't leave much to the imagination, but we also see a lot of truthful sensuality and visceral desire between Frank, George and Maggie.

What do you think it offers audiences that other musicals don't?

Excellent new music played live by the cast, a snapshot of a familiar era with all its charming nostalgia and nuances, but told from a new perspective and comedy spectacles.

Has anything amusing happened during rehearsals?

We begin rehearsals in March so the pressure is now on for it to be a hilarious romp from start to finish… Actually, I've already had the pleasure of working with Pete (Peter Rowe-Director), Matt (Matthew Bugg- Writer, composer, MD) Tomm (Coles- Frank) and Harry (Waller- George) and so I'm really looking forward to rehearsing and performing with them all again. Rehearsing actor-musician shows always provides a few laughs - there's an inevitable stage one comes to when working a new number, whereby your feet are learning one rhythm for the routine, your mouth is learning another for the song-line and your fingers are learning a third part for the accompaniment; that first moment that one attempts to execute all three simultaneously can make the most co-ordinated of people feel like the bedraggled love-child of Mrs Overall and Les Dawson.

Why should audiences see the show?

1. It's toe-tapping, victory-digging, rollicking set pieces, a poignant and thought-provoking script and a dazzling delight of a score (with NEW numbers for 2014!)

2. Your local theatre loves your support - there's nothing like live performance and Miss Nightingale is certainly an unique piece of theatre. (You'll kick yourself if you miss it. Ouch.)

3. There are comedy spectacles.

What are your plans when the tour is over?

This year is slightly unusual in that many of my close family and friends are, extremely inconsiderately, celebrating momentous Birthdays- (30, 60, 80 etc) within a period of about seven weeks throughout Spring, so the end of the tour will be an opportunity to play ‘match the thoughtful gift to the correct loved-one'. Joking apart, I'm really fortunate to have a wonderful family who are all extremely supportive and, as they're based in Sheffield, I'll be lucky enough to see them much more frequently than usual whilst we tour to venues in the North. I'm also getting married at the end of August so I've plenty to be getting on with in preparation for the day. After all- I'll only have a few months to work the full surprise burlesque routine into our first dance! (My fiancé won't proof-read this, will he?)

Miss Nightingale is at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich from 27 March – 5 April 2014, Cast, Doncaster 10 April, MAC - Birmingham 11 - 12 April, Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold - 14 - 19 April, City Varieties Leeds - 24 - 27 April, Library Theatre, Sheffield from 28 April - 2 May and the Victoria Theatre, Halifax - 3 May.