Interview: Sandra Marvin – Show Boat

Widely regarded as one of Oscar Hammerstein’s greatest and most romantic musicals, Show Boat is coming to the Crucible Theatre on December 10th. It follows the story of the cast and crew of the Cotton Blossom down the Mississippi and spans 40 years of American history. It’s already one of the most popular shows to come to Sheffield Theatres with the run being extended by a week due to demand for tickets. We chatted with Sandra Marvin, who plays Queenie, about the upcoming musical. 

It’s only a week now until the first performance, how have rehearsals been going?
It’s going amazingly, we had the first sit in with the band and it was stunning to hear all the voices and musicians together. It’s a really exciting time building up to the opening performance.

Show Boat is being described as one of the biggest shows to come to Sheffield and its popularity has meant it will now run for an extra week. What do you think makes it such a popular show?
I think it’s a combination of things. The Oscar Hammerstein songs are very beautiful and they’re songs that everyone knows and loves like ‘Old Man River’ and ‘Make Believe’. At the heart of Show Boat is a story about love and community and how that community endures over time. It makes it a story that everyone can relate to and enjoy. It also challenges ideas of racial prejudice and those messages are still relevant today.

Show Boat has gone through several iterations on stage and on screen, what makes this version unique?
We approached this version with an open mind without looking at previous versions of the story. We really looked in depth at the history and the period the original writing was set in and tried to imagine what the people and characters would have been experiencing at the time.

SHOW BOAT by Hammerstein, , Writer - Oscar Hammerstein II, Director - Daniel Evans, Designer - Lez Brotherstoni, Lighting - David Hersey, Choreographer - Alistair David, Music - David White, The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, UK, 2015, Credit - Johan Persson - /

The musical spans 40 years in time, how does that work on stage?
Well I don’t want to give too much away but we’re using some very exciting and modern techniques to portray the passing of time. I won’t tell you how it all comes together on stage though; it’s worth saving that as a surprise.

In the show you play the character of Queenie how would you describe her?
She’s a lovely person with a lot of heart. Being the house cleaner and cook she’s at the centre of everything that happens on the show boat. She’s a very motherly figure for a lot of the other characters but she’s also strong and playful. As the show goes on you get to see her age and develop which made her a very fun character to explore.

Show boat includes some iconic songs do you feel the pressure when performing them?
No, when you approach those sorts of songs it’s more just part of the story. It’s a part of the performance so when you’ve got the privilege of doing one of those classic songs you’ve just got to enjoy it, there’s not so much pressure.

You’ve played some of the biggest theatres in the UK including the West End, how does The Sheffield Crucible compare?
It’s been amazing here, it’s a great theatre and there’s a really warm sense of community both in the theatre and in the town. The cast have come here from all over the country and we’ve all been made very welcome.

show-boat-castYou’ve been enjoying your time in Sheffield so far then?
Yes I’m loving it, there’s still a lot more to explore but I’m keeping focused on the show at the moment.

You’ve had a few interesting jobs away from stage having toured with the Charlatans after the release of their new album, how did that come about? Did you get the chance to unleash your inner rock star?
Absolutely! I love the Charlatans and listened to their music loads when I was younger. It was such a fun thing to do and I sang on their recent album as well.

Show Boat has now transferred to the New London Theatre. Head here for tickets and more info.

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