An Interview with Suzie Mathers, Akina Edmonds and Joshua Reckless from Barnum – The Circus Musical

Here is part of the group interviews from Barnum – The Circus Musical media call with Suzie Mathers (Jenny Lind), Akina Edmonds (Joice Heth) and Joshua Reckless (Tom Thumb).

What: Barnum – The Circus Musical
Where: Comedy Theatre, Melbourne

Performances run until June, 2019
For more information, please visit www.barnumthemusical.com.au

Suzie on returning to Australia to play Jenny Lind
“I got the call from Tyran Parke, our director, late last year. He said, “How do you feel about coming back to play Jenny Lind?” And it’s always been a role I’ve wanted to play. She’s got a beautiful classical song half way through. I mean look, she steals the husband and there’s that side of her too, which I don’t identify with just as much, but I do love having that big classical sing and getting to explore this role and what she means. Also the fact that she’s a real person, all of a sudden you’re delving into research; who Jenny Lind was and what kind of a singer she was. Having roles like that, they’re a gift. It is really nice to train classically again to get up to scratch for this and explore the different parts of my voice again.”

Suzie on Barnum’s debut in Melbourne
“We’re only playing here in Melbourne. It’s a limited season. We’ve got lots of people coming to see the show. It’s been selling really well. We’re really excited to show this to Melbourne audiences, especially because it’s an all Australian creatives, cast and backstage crew. That is very rare these days, so it’s really, really good.”

Suzie on the show being family-friendly
“Of all the shows I’ve done, this is one to bring the kids. There are people flipping in the air and up on trapeze wires. In terms of the spectacle, it’s a feast for your eyes! I find sometimes I’m missing my cues because I’m standing watching the monitor looking at them. It’s mind-blowing! I think people will have a really good time, but also get to learn the darker story of PT Barnum and what he was about.”

Suzie, Joshua and Akina on the elaborate costumes
Susie: “[Wearing the costume] has changed [the way I move/play the character] completely. Especially considering it’s the biggest hoop skirt I’ve ever worn! Much the same as the bubble dress for Glinda in Wicked. There’s a lot of maneuvering around the stage in this dress, but it’s a lot of fun. She feels like an Opera singer now. I think I need to do one of those ‘Who Wore it Better’ and have me in [Jenny’s blue dress] and Glinda, and then I played Cinderella in the UK a couple of years ago, and she wore a blue dress as well, so all I ever get to do is blonde hair and blue fabulous dresses. It’s amazing! The design is beautiful.”

Joshua: “Putting on a general coat makes your shoulders press back and you just get this new sense of poise. It’s so great!”

Akina: “When you put on a costume, it does affect the way you hold yourself and carry yourself and move.”

Suzie and Joshua on the circus elements
Suzie: “We had a bit of a workshop, juggling, on the trampoline and standing on peoples shoulders, which was quite exciting. One of the wonderful things about this production is we do have all the different elements of trained singers, actors and then incredible circus performers – and we’re weaving all of it together. Just because I can’t touch my toes, doesn’t mean I’m not going to be lifted from great heights. It’s nice to mix all the skills all together and fulfill the story.”

Joshua: “It’s really interesting for us because Tyran is really looking at using these circus acts as a vessel to tell the story. Rather than here’s just a special act, then we’re going to continue telling the story and then here’s another act. It’s really woven and written into the piece as well. It’s amazing to explore everyone’s individual skills, not just from what they’ve been trained to do but their lives and inter-weaving that with the story.”

Suzie: “Also our full circus trope are next level. You watch them being thrown up into the air and twisting about, and I’m just like, “how is that humanly possible?” It’s been wonderful being in the room with that energy because it makes you want to explore different things. One of the first exercises we did as we walked in as a company, was exploring how a character sits inside your body and we did a bit of a circus warm up. Having that circus element and thinking about your character as a clown – it was a really nice way of exploring physicality. That’s something that I’m excited to take into other work. Because you forget that you can explore your body in a different way when you’re trying to be a little more less-than-real, like taking the reality out, and exploring the heightened emotions which clowning lends to.”

Joshua: “When I was growing up, I worked at a trampoline centre and I loved acrobatics. [This show has] definitely [made me] want to get back into that world.”

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