INTERVIEW: TV favourite Andrew Lancel on finding The Sound of Music

Millennium Forum, 4th - 8th February

Considered to be one of the greatest musicals of all time, The Sound of Music will undoubtedly captivate audiences yet again when it arrives at the Millennium Forum from 4th - 8th February.

Starring Andrew Lancel, (The Bill, Coronation Street) as Captain Von Trapp and Emilie Fleming (BBC One's Over The Rainbow) as Maria, Bill Kenwright’s production has already earned rave reviews and sold out shows, yet the tour has only really just begun.

Andrew Lancel is no stranger to Derry as one of his closest friends is from the city, however this will be the first time that he will be performing, and he can’t wait.

“I’ve been wanting to come to Derry with a show for a long time” Andrew told us ahead of arriving.

“I’ve been to Derry a lot as my best friend Paul Farren, who is an administrator at St.Eugenes, lives there. I first came in 2012 to do a talk in St.Eugene’s and I’ve been back often ever since. Any tour I get I ask, ’are we going to play Derry?’ And now finally we get to do it” 

Andrew revealed that the cast have been trying to turn the actor into a tour guide for the Derry stop over. “I have certainly given them a heads up” laughed Andrew.

“I speak to Paul all the time but because we haven’t seen each other in a while, we have a lot of plans” laughed Andrew. “I’m really looking forward to it and I am really fond of Derry. Whenever I have been the welcome has been brilliant and there’s an honesty about the place and the people. The location’s good, great bars and lots of places to eat and you can just get out and about very easily” said Andrew. 

The tour has only just begun, and already the cast have been blown away by the reaction during the first leg in Dublin. “We’re looking forward to getting on the road but it’s going to be sad to leave Dublin at the same time” admitted Andrew. 

“We’ve been mostly selling out here and the reaction has been truly breathtaking. If we get half of that reaction in Derry we’ll be happy. I think Irelnd as a whole has a soft spot for the Sound of Music.

“It’s a big show and is one of those few shows that you can safely call eternal. It matters to people, and even now is still very topical with what’s going on in the world it has still got this relevance, plus its music, as soon as the intro starts it makes the hairs stand up. I think that the Sound of Music is in everyone’s heart and that is why it is one of the best, if not the best."

With a wide and varied CV, Andrew has shown through the years just how versatile he is as an actor. With a host of well known roles to his name, Andrew has shown that he is as home on stage as his is in front of the camera. 

Once lifting the title of 'Villain of the Year' at the British Soap Award for his role as Frank Foster in Coronation Street, the much loved actor is still remembered by The Bill fans for his role as DI Neil Manson in the long-running ITV series, a role which he played from 2003–10. Andrew, however, has always had a love of theatre, in particular The Sound of Music. 

And speaking about which role tends to get most recognition he revealed: “In the UK there’s a massive generalisation” admitted Andrew. “In the north it’s Corrie and in the south it’s The Bill. Last year I was playing a football match on a beach in Dubai with my son, and this lady walked out onto the pitch and was wanting a selfie. She was very nice but I was thinking, is this Corrie or the Bill, when in fact it was because she had just been to see Cilla The Musical.

“Theatre really also has a lasting impression, which is great. It doesn’t really change, you still have to book your tickets, get into your car, a bus or a train and make your way to a hall and sit with strangers and watch a show. And there’s a lot of value for money in a show like Sound of Music and that is what Bill Kenwright does brilliantly. He takes huge productions around the UK and gives people the opportunity to see West End shows on the road. With TV, you can watch it anywhere, even on your phone, but theatre doesn’t change which is great. 

Speaking about how he first got the acting bug, Andrew explained: “I lived in a very small village, my mum was a district nurse, my dad involved in the local council so it was very much village life, and we would work on the farms in the market gardens before school. 

“I knew I could sing and I used to go around to old peoples homes, and that’s something I still do. I was quite good at drama as a kid. I had got onto telly and started doing child voice over before then joining a musical theatre group. So it was a gradual thing really” explained Andrew.

“Musicals have always been a very big part of me” admitted Andrew. “I had been doing musicals ever since I was a boy, but the Sound of Music was my first big major production performing as Captain Von Trapp in 2016, and when I finished it, I had hoped that I would be coming back to it. 

“I missed him. He is a fascinating, difficult, complicated lonely character and it is a big part. I always look at the different side of him than most people might. The big clue with him is that he has seven children so obviously loves life, but his life has been struck down as his wife has died, his country is disintegrating, and the world is at was again. 

“He is kind of lost so he puts up this huge wall of discipline so that he can hide what is really going on inside. But then Maria comes into his life and everything changes.

“It’s hard work being on the road away from your family, but it’s also a really nice feeling when you have a role within a production that you are really proud of” revealed Andrew.

The Sound of Music will take to the Millennium Forum stage from 4 - 8 February 2020. Tickets are now available from the Box Office, telephone 71 264455 or visit here for bookings.

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