The World Goes Round – The Songs of Kander &Ebb transfers to the St James Theatre andThe Reviews Hub‘s John Roberts caught up with Alexandra Da Silva just before the start of rehearsals
Where did your love of musical theatre come from?
Everyone has that special showor moment that happens to them at some point in their life, whether it be four years old or 40, when the absolute beauty and magic of theatre just hits you right in the chest and never leaves you. I’ve been lucky enough to have two of those moments – one was when I was about eight and my parents took me to seeCasper: The Musicalin London. Yes, I promise you, that is a thing. Google it! I barely remember the show, but I do remember thinking that if being on stage and having that much fun was something people did as a job… then that was the job for me. The second moment was in December 2005, when I was taken to seeBilly Elliot. I laughed, I cried and I clapped until my palms were red. It still, to this day, remains my favourite show of all time. I’ll play Mrs Wilkinson one day… I just need to get myGeordie accent up to scratch.
The World Goes Round played at The Pheasantry in Chelsea and is nowtransferring across the city to the St James Theatre. Is it the same show?
It is indeed the same wonderful show with the same cast (Oliver Tompsett, Debbie Kurup, Steffan Lloyd-Evans and Sally Samad) and band as before. We’re all really excited to be back on stage again, as this time around we have a bit more time to perfect the more challenging pieces.
For anyone who hasn’t seen it, could you describe The World Goes Round?
It’s a musical revue consisting of a collection of songs written by John Kander and Fred Ebb, ranging from the team’s big hitsCabaretandChicago, to their lesser known but equally brilliant musicalsThe Happy Time,70, Girls, 70andThe Rink.Although this may sound like it’s a cabaret of songs from various shows,The World GoesRoundhas been carefully crafted by Scott Ellis, Susan Stroman and David Thompson. It includes a version of Cabaret like you’ve never heard before, and New York, New Yorkis sung in five different languages!
What are you looking forward to most about doing the show again?
Working with such a fantastic company really made this show one of my favourite jobs I’ve ever done. During the last run, we only had a week of rehearsal to put everything together. I honestly think that with anyone else it could’ve been a disaster, but working with such seasoned pros who just came in and knuckled down to business (and all the while still having a laugh) is what made the show a success. Our brilliant MD Kris Rawlinson and his band of merry musicians were the glue that held us all together, and it’s very rare that all of you in a company gel so well and have such a good time. But we did – and I think this came across on stage.
Kander &Ebb have written hit shows such as Chicago and Cabaret.What do you thinkis the lasting appeal of the music?
Every one of their songs is written with so much wit and energy. Although it’s some of the most challenging music I’ve had to learn, you appreciate just how much effort, love and emotion has been put into each number. They are definitely one of the most important songwriting teams in the history of Broadway; they just knew how to write a timeless classic that would still strike a nerve with audiences over 50 years later.
How does it feel to perform songs that icons such as Liza Minnelli have performed before?
I actually thinkCabaretwas the first song I sang in front of an audienceand, of course, being 14 and not knowing much, I pretty much copied her performance (as best I could) to a tee. What I love most about Liza is how she tells a story – her enthusiasm is infectious.I always try and channel her energy when I perform.
Is there a musical number in the show you’re not performing, but wish you were?
All of it! Honestly, ALL of it! I hadn’t listened to much Kander and Ebb before this show (I can hear the die-hard musical theatre fans sharpening their pitchforks as I speak…) but I’m now a convert. If I had to pick one number, it’s definitelyIDon’t Remember You / Sometimes a Day Goes By, sung by our wonderful boys Oliver and Steffan. I remember dropping everything the first time I heard it in rehearsals, and I still smile whenever I hear it. A shout out must go to David Loud who merged those two songstogether and created this utterly gorgeous duet!
What is your favourite lyric of the show and why?[Looks at her vocal score] I’ve just had a look over the score to answer this question and for me, it’s something from the song Yes from their musical70, Girls, 70– “When opportunity comes your way / You can’t start wondering what to say / You’ll never win if you never play, say yes”… I could go on! I’m seriously considering having that printed and put on my bedroom wall or something – it’s brilliant life advice.
What’s been the biggest challenge for youin regards to The World Goes Round?
Definitely the harmonies. As I said, it’s some of the most intricate music I’ve ever had to learn, and I think everyone in the cast will agree. However, we all stepped up to the challenge, and it was so rewarding when we finally got it right! Personally, I always said a little prayer before the opening of Act II, which is Ring Them Bells– an absolute classic. If I got any of that wrong, I don’t think I’d ever forgive myself!
I see you’re doing a solo concert at the Pheasantry at the end of February. What can people expect from that?
I’m so thrilled I was asked back to do another gig at the Pheasantry as I’ve got so many fond memories of that place. My good friend Joe Louis Robinson is MD for my solo show,La Petite Divatante,and we’re currently in the process of finalising the set list – we had a meeting a few weeks ago and spent all afternoon coming up with countless ideas, which was great. It’ll be a step up from my last gig – more mash-ups, more medleys and probably the same amount of belting!