Five minutes with… actor Stephen Frost

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Published: Monday 12th December 2016 by Rich Sutherland

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December 2016 marks East Riding Theatre’s second anniversary, and what a busy couple of years it’s been. With a range of shows all year round and sell-out performances each Christmas, this festive season presents the final part in the venue’s Dickens Trilogy.

Following A Christmas Carol (2014) and Oliver Twist (2015), Great Expectations is very fitting for this provider of high quality and ambitious work.

As with its predecessors, Great Expectations has been adapted by Hollywood star Vincent Regan. Directed by Andrew Pearson of Ensemble 52, audiences are in for a real treat.

The cast includes comedian and actor Stephen Frost (The Oblivion Boys, 12 Angry Men, Whose Line Is It Anyway?) as Magwitch, which he plays alongside his real-life wife Janet Prince (Murder, Margaret and Me, Pleasure Island) as Miss Havisham. We had a chat with Stephen to find out more about the show. 

Have you visited East Yorkshire before?

I actually studied at drama school down Spring Street in Hull and graduated in 1976. I met my wife, Janet, whilst there, and we got married here too.

Since then we’ve visited East Yorkshire countless times. We have family that lives locally, so we’re here for Christmas, birthdays, Easter – you name it. We commute here, so we were very glad when they built the Humber Bridge!

What’s it like performing beside Janet?

We did plays together all the time when we were studying. The thing is, due to the nature of our parts in Great Expectations, we’re never on stage at the same time aside from the curtain call!

Were you a fan of Dickens already?

Yes I was. I’ve got most of his books and already knew this story very well. I’m reading it again too; it’s very good. Like anyone who loves reading, Dickens is in my top ten authors. He’s a barrel of laughs!

You have a long career in comic performances. Is there comedy in this show?

There is when I come on! But yeah, there’s a lot of humour in the show. It’s a clever adaptation and very different from others. The comedy is character-based; there are plenty of bits that will make you smile.

Considering that I play a convict being sent in shackles to the colonies in Australia, whilst Janet’s character bursts into flames, we still manage to have some fun.

What else can the audience expect?

It’s very Christmassy. It’s not panto or children’s theatre specifically (although kids aged ten and over can enjoy it), and it’s not even a typical Dickensian theme. However, it’s a brilliant story and it does have a nice ending.

It’s set in the 1860s, when England was a horrible place to live. But there’s good heart and soul to the show; it’s a rites of passage piece and makes great theatre.

How are rehearsals going?

The entire team is great. There are ten actors in the show, working as an ensemble cast, plus a boy and a girl from Longcroft School. We’re all getting along really well… as long as no one starts stealing my lines!

Apart from East Riding Theatre, what’s your favourite thing about Beverley?

I love the place! Nellies, or the White Horse Inn, is one of my favourite pubs in the world. The entire town is beautiful: the Minster, the lights, walking through the square and down Lairgate. London can be a nightmare at Christmas but Beverley is the perfect place to be.

Finally, what’s on your Christmas list this year?

A free drinks pass for Nellies would be very welcome!

Great Expectations runs at East Riding Theatre in Beverley from 14 December until 7 January. Tickets are priced £13.50 – £17 and can be purchased by calling the box office on 01482 874050, or you can book online.

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Published: Monday 12th December 2016 by Rich Sutherland

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