Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Interview: Rosanna Hyland, starring in world stage premiere of Shock Treatment

Rosanna Hyland is starring as Betty Hapschatt in the world stage premiere of Shock Treatment, the sequel to The Rocky Horror Show.

Directed by Benji Sperring, the show opens at the King’s Head Theatre tonight (21st April) and runs until 9th May 2015. Shock Treatment has music and lyrics by Richard Hartley and Richard O'Brien. It is based on the 1981 movie.

Rosanna recently starred as Hope Cladwell in Jamie Lloyd’s production of Urinetown which transferred to the West End’s Apollo Theatre following a run at the St James Theatre. 

Her credits also include: understudy Julie Jordan in Carousel (Savoy), Sister Act (Palladium), understudy Princess Fiona in Shrek The Musical (Drury Lane), Helga in Cabaret (Singapore) and the workshop of Stephen Ward (Sydmonton Festival).

I recently spoke to Rosanna about why she’s had so much fun working on Shock Treatment, what advice Richard O'Brien gave the cast and what it’s like to look back on her time in Urinetown… 

Did you know anything about Shock Treatment previously?
Yes – I already knew about it because I’m a big Rocky Horror fan… to the point of writing my college pieces about it [laughs]. I’d seen the film years ago so knew quite a lot, when I found out about this it was exciting news because I knew it was the first time it had ever been staged!

It sounds very relevant – the piece almost predicted the rise of reality TV. What can people expect?
Exactly, Shock Treatment really was ahead of its time in the sense that it was produced in 1981 but is dealing with reality TV going beyond documentary and actually consuming people’s lives and this whole idea of packaging people up into something that’s really appealing to the masses. It’s something we’re really playing with a lot – it’s the theme we’re emphasising so people can definitely expect to relate to it. There’s an X Factor-ish element in there. 

Rosanna and the cast of Shock Treatment 

You play Betty who was played by Ruby Wax in the movie. Have you gone back to the film for reference?
Of course, but we’ve taken the show into our own hands. It’s been adapted from film to stage so we’re doing some new and exciting things with it. I’ve taken her as inspiration and hopefully put my own stamp on it as well.

Have you enjoyed working on something brand new for the stage? You get to be much more creative!
I am loving it! It’s so much fun! Because the material is so rich in humour it’s such fertile ground for jokes [laughs]. We’re spending a lot of time laughing. Richard O'Brien’s advice to us was “If you’re not having fun you’re not doing it right.” So we’re definitely doing it right [laughs]. 

How involved has he been?
We haven’t met him yet! He passed on that advice through Benji Sperring (director). We’re hoping to meet him eventually. I think he might be coming to opening night – that’s what I’ve heard… hopefully he likes it!

We have to discuss Urinetown! Now that you’ve moved on to another project, what is it like to look back at your time in the show?
From day one we all got in that room and we all thought ‘I think this is a really interesting and great group of people!’ Sometimes you can be wrong about these things, but a year on we still thought it was a really interesting and great group of people. Everyone was so wonderful to work with and it was such a creative show for all of us. We learnt so much and it was pure joy. It was really, really thrilling – Shock Treatment is similar in that sense. It is a pre-existing piece but we’re able to create together and collaborate. We have been allowed to bring a lot to the table and that’s what Urinetown was like too.

How do you feel about performing in the King’s Head? It’s extremely intimate!
It feels really exciting! Because I’ve done huge really big musicals I’ve been craving something smaller and more intimate where you can make a connection with the audience. This is very intimate and there is going to be a lot of contact with the audience – it’s right up my alley.

I’m sending you to a desert island and you can take three musical theatre songs with you. Which three are you going to take and why?
Oh no! Oh my god! Oooo… that is a really, really tough one! There might need to be a little bit of ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ (from Funny Girls) because I feel like if I’m going to be on a desert island I’m going to want to have something to just belt out to myself [laughs]. I’m really thinking now… I would take something cathartic… actually I might have to take ‘Good Morning Baltimore’ (from Hairspray) because I feel like that would force me into feeling like I’m ok and happy to wake up and face my day. Then finally I would take the overture to West Side Story because that’s something which always carries me away to a world of total escapism… and I think I might have to choreograph dances to it on my desert island [laughs]. I would just be all the parts, playing the Jets and the Sharks [laughs]. 

Rosanna in Urinetown 

Finally, it must be so nice to have so much dedicated support behind you from theatre fans?
It’s fantastic… literally fantastic! It’s something I really identify with because I’m like that, when you see something and connect with a character or fall in love with a song you feel that by liking it you are almost participating in it. The wonderful thing about Twitter is that you actually get to hear people, we’re not living in a world where you sit in a room wondering what everyone else is thinking! I love that people are loyal and have faith in your abilities to create something else. It’s wonderful and so nice to have support! 

Interviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Shock Treatment runs at the King’s Head Theatre until Saturday 6th June 2015.
Please visit www.kingsheadtheatre.com for further information and tickets. 

Photo Credit 2-3: Peter Langdown
Photo Credit 4: Johan Persson

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