Stars of ‘The Smallest Show On Earth’ Pay Tribute to Coventry’s Golden Age of Cinema
This week saw the arrival of a new musical adaptation of The Smallest Show On Earth at the Belgrade Theatre starring Coronation Street favourite Brian Capron and Smethwick-born stage and television actress Liza Goddard.
The show, which takes its inspiration from the 1958 film starring Peter Sellers and Virginia McKenna follows the hilarious misadventures of newly-weds Matt and Jean who unwittingly inherit a cinema which turns out to be a total flea pit. Determined to restore the dilapidated ‘Bijou’ to its former glory, it isn’t long before the cinema falls victim to a ruinous campaign by their closest rivals, ‘The Grand Cinema’. Will they manage to escape the wrecking ball or will the whole venture ‘fade to black‘’?
To celebrate the show’s arrival in Coventry, cast members Brian Capron – best known for his role as Coronation Street super-villain Richard Hillman, stage and television actress Liza Goddard and Rugby rising star Laura Pitt-Pulford – who recently won great critical acclaim for her leading role in the West End production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and West End leading man Haydn Oakley paid tribute to Coventry’s own cinematic heritage with a visit to the former ‘Astoria’ Cinema in Earlsdon on Tuesday 13th October.
The ‘Astoria’, originally named the Broadway in 1922, closed its doors to the public in 1959 and is now owned by the Nexus Institute of Creative Arts.
This brand new version of an all-time British classic film features songs by Irving Berlin including Blue Skies, Shakin’ the Blues Away and Steppin’ Out With My Baby. Brian, who plays the irascible Mr Quill in the show, was joined by co-stars Liza Goddard (starring as eccentric manageress, Mrs Fazacklee), Laura Pitt-Pulford, a former pupil of Coventry Youth Operatic Group and Haydn Oakley for a themed-photo call outside the iconic Coventry landmark.
We caught up with the cast to find out more about what to expect from the show…
What first attracted you to this new musical adaptation of ‘The Smallest Show On Earth’?
Brian: “What I love is that you get into the musical numbers almost without realising it; there’s none of that awful ‘it’s time for a big musical number’ kind of set up. It’s been so well thought out that you suddenly find yourself almost accidentally getting into a song, which really works.”
Laura: “It’s so British, that’s why I love the story and we’ve found ingenious ways to make our staging deliberately low-tech to suit the period, because too much technology tends to hinder romanticism. Even falling in love has become slightly more manufactured because of meeting online, whereas in this story people just meet in person.”
Liza: “It really is such a charming show; moving, funny and romantic. I think people will come and have a lovely time and will be wonderfully entertained. There are some fantastic numbers and amazing dancing. It’s quite overwhelming for someone at my stage in life; thrilling but scary at the same time,”.
Brian, as an actor, you’re perhaps best known for your role as the murderous Richard Hillman in Coronation Street. Can you tell us a little bit about the character you play in this show – Mr Quill?
Brian: “Quill is described quite early on as having got into his clothes in the dark…he is a bit of a rumpled alcoholic who always gets things back to front, but he’s in love with Mrs Fazackalee and has been for years. There’s a lovely song called Don’t Brush Me Off when finally they get together. Slowly, but eventually, after thirty-six years, he gets the girl!”
What is your favourite thing about being on tour and is this your first visit to Coventry?
Brian: “I’ve visited the city before but have never really had the chance to explore Coventry properly. I hope that this time I can get to know it better and see a bit more!
Laura: ‘’That’s where I come in! I’m from Rugby originally so Coventry is like a second home to me. I used rehearse at The Albany theatre as part of Coventry Youth Operatic Group so its familiar territory for me! I’ve spent many a night out in the city as a teenager!
Liza: “I like to see as much as I can of a place when touring. My mother’s side of the family all come from Birmingham and my sister lives in Stratford-Upon-Avon so I will I’m currently staying with her during our stop off in Coventry, which is a real treat as I don’t get to see as much of her as I would like to,”
The Smallest Show On Earth runs until Saturday 17th October on the Main Stage. For tickets, call the Box Office on 024 7655 3055 or visit www.belgrade.co.uk where tickets are cheaper.