Tell us a little bit about your past theatre experience. Ever performed at Centre Stage?
I have been fortunate enough to be cast in numerous roles at Centre Stage, with each of them bringing their own challenges. In my native England, I have acted in many prestigious venues, such as the Royal National Theatre, and the Royal Albert Hall.
Tell us about your character in the show. What was your process in getting prepared for the role?
Frank is Shirley’s husband and loves her to bits, but realizes that he has to accept her perfectionism about Christmas, and the craziness that entails. At the core of this character is a family man who just wants everyone to be happy. Having two grown up kids (can they still be ‘kids’ in the late 20’s ?), I was able to tap into that jumble of feelings, such as pride, concern and the struggle of letting them go, but still wanting to hold on.
“Happy Christmas Shirley” is all about family. What is your favorite family Holiday tradition?
It wasn’t Christmas unless the Phil Spector Christmas Album was playing. Also my Dad would make fresh Mince Pies, so that’s the aroma that I associate with happy family Christmases (Frank gets to eat plenty of them during the show, which is a bonus). Without fail, we’d have to wait for my Grandma to get out of bed, have a bath, get dressed etc, before we could open our presents, which would be an interminable wait. The sound of The Salvation Army brass band can reduce me to happy tears in an instant.
Centre Stage is producing the U.S. Premiere of “Happy Christmas Shirley”! What is it like bringing a brand new play to the United States?
It is an honor to bring this to a US stage, and be able to put our mark on this premier production. Of course, as an English man, it is extra special that I can bring a taste of my homeland to SC. As the Dialect Coach for this production, it has been both challenging and rewarding. So proud of what this cast has created !!
In the play, Shirley just wants her family to experience the best Christmas possible. In your opinion, what makes the perfect Christmas holiday?
Good food, good company and laughter. I want it to be a time when people eat far too much, drink a little more than they should, and tell stories of Christmases and people that are long gone. The sound of laughter is as sweet as the peel of Christmas church bells to me. The feeling of surveying the wreckage of our house, once the guests have left, means that everyone enjoyed themselves and we did Christmas right for one more year.
Anything else you’d like our audiences to know about you?
I am a proud husband to Teddy Raye, a magnificent author (check out her books). Aside from my kids, who live in the UK, I have another kid in the US, albeit he is smaller, fuzzier, has whiskers, and is more demanding than any human child could be. I am also a Bass Guitarist, so if anybody is looking for one… you know what to do 🙂