The story of Hansel & Gretel is a familiar tale… 

The Rose Theatre in Kingston has announced a new festive version of Hansel & Gretel.  This new version by Ciara McConville turns the classic story as we know it on its head, with original music and lyrics by Eamonn O’Dwyer and directed by Rosie Jones. 

TBB Talks caught up with actress Vanessa Fisher who joins the cast of Hansel and Gretel, as ‘Red‘…

Introduce Yourself…

I am Vanessa Fisher, actress by occupation and creative by way of life. I also run my own charity and a performing arts school for under 18s. I am a wearer of many hats.

You became an actress because?

I always loved the idea of being able to step into someone else’s shoes, imitate them and (hopefully) convince onlookers that I had done a good job. I didn’t know it was a profession until it was recommended to me in my last year of secondary school.

Talk about your steps into acting…

After completing a year of A Levels, I decided to discontinue my studies at sixth form and applied for a BTEC course in musical theatre because – to my tutors’ amusement – my muscles didn’t ache after dance lessons, so I concluded that I wasn’t being worked hard enough. After a wonderfully gruelling two years, I gained a national diploma in musical theatre and was awarded a scholarship on the degree course at the Urdang Academy. Acting remained my first and true love, however I could not pass up an opportunity to train in the three core subjects.

What was the first role you accepted and what did it mean to you?

Hello, Miss Dynamite” were the first words my agent said to me when I picked up the phone and I screamed on the bus! ‘Hairspray‘ the musical is and I am sure will always be, my favourite job, simply because it was the first. It was a dream come true and playing the role of one of the three Dynamites was definitely my Girl Band moment. Hairspray was my introduction into this bizarre and phenomenal industry. I learned more about looking after the body; what to eat, when to sleep and most importantly, I learned about the importance of being a good company member.

Tell us about your character ‘Red‘ in Hansel & Gretel

It’s difficult to accurately describe a character or even a person in a few lines but she’s loyal, she’s a survivor, she has a sarcastic sense of humour and she’s streetwise (or forest-wise if you like). She is everything we already know about her, with an edge. She has dropped the “Little” from her name, and simply goes by ‘Red’.

How did you develop your character and what is Red’s significance in the production?

All Red’s lines are extremely blunt and direct and she certainly is not one for mincing her words, so identifying her as a bold character takes little effort as it is all there for you in the script. What I have tried to spend a lot of time doing is analysing the spaces in-between text. Carefully examining her intentions and her relationships with the other characters. Discovering, why she’s had to be so tough, has allowed me to humanise her and make her more relatable. I’m having the most fun playing and exploring her in depth and I hope audiences are able to see past her tough exterior.

Most people know the story of Hansel & Gretel, how close to the classic story is this play and what adaptions have been made?

There are some wonderful additions to this story but I really don’t want to spoil it for audience members. I will say this though, all aspects of this production will both surprise and thrill you. Especially the set, think Shrek’s swamp and Peter’s Neverland. You really are in for a treat!

What has been your favourite musical character you’ve been cast as?

I have been extremely fortunate in my career thus far and I’ve had the pleasure of playing many different roles and not just restricted to women! (I played the role of ‘Paul’ in a Christmas show when I was 10. Really hoping those photos do not re-surface). Anyway, for the mere fact that I enjoy play and variation, I can’t pick a specific character as they have all been so interesting and each has left something with me. Saying that I believe that Red is one of the first – if not the only – role that I’ve played that did not specifically require me to be Black. As an actor, it can become very easy to be typecast, especially with regards to your race and I’ll be forever grateful for this experience.

If you could play any part in any theatre production what would it be and why?

One of my favourite shows is, ‘Legally Blonde’ because it’s fun, girly and very pink! I would truly be living my American high school teen dream, if I got cast in that!

What’s Next?

Right after Hansel & Gretel, I’ll have the pleasure of joining the National Theatre’s production of Follies playing the part of ‘Young Stella’. To say that I am excited is a total understatement. After that, ‘next’ will hopefully include more creativity, more opportunities and laughter – plenty of that please!

Hansel & Gretel runs at the Rose Theatre, Kingston until Sunday 6th Jan 2019. Find out more and book tickets here


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