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Interview with Charlie Griffiths 2011

Charlie Griffiths

Actress and singer Charlie Griffiths is set to tread the boards at Liverpool’s Unity Theatre in Brian McCann’s much acclaimed musical-history play, Down Our Street, from September 1st. Here, Charlie tells Chris High what it’s like to be playing back in Liverpool and, also, the difficulties an up and coming actress faces when searching for that all important breakthrough.

Tell me about Down Our Street. 

Down Our Street is a wonderful musical about Cammell Lairds, the people of Birkenhead, Liverpool and the workers of Cammell Lairds, it begins with the opening of Cammell Lairds and follows the story of the wonderful shipbuilders and the people of the towns right up to present day, the story is lead with brilliant catchy songs and score, which is played live by the writer and director Brian McCann. The story is full of comedy ,tragedy,  vibrant characters and catchy songs, you’ll leave the theatre with a wonderful warm feeling inside.

What is your character like, and what attracted you to the part?

Down Our Street is an ensemble piece of theatre, there are so many different characters I play from a shipbuilders wife up to one of the Prostitutes on Corporation road to make ends meet, I’ve known Brian for many years and know his work well, I love his scripts and music and thoroughly enjoy working with him, Down Our Street is one of those scripts you enjoy as you have so many different characters you can play around with using voice and movement, bringing that character on paper to life, putting your own stamp on it, and with Brian you’re given the freedom to do so, and his songs are very well written.

You had a smaller role in the original run, so what’s it like having more of an influence on the play as a whole?

Back in 2004 performing to sell out audiences I was Pauline Daniels understudy for Down Our Street, I was only 17 studying Performing Arts at college, during rehearsals I would watch how the other actors worked and how a professional piece of theatre was put together. Now, through the years I’ve worked here, there and everywhere and have been very fortunate to work with many wonderful actors, actresses, writers and directors, so this time round I’ve gone into Down Our Street with a more confident look on it, having a little more life experience and so I incorporate that into my characters. As for me influencing the piece, I feel it’s the cast as a whole, I’m working alongside great Actors and Musicians.

How will this production differ from the original?

It’s a different cast, so new and different energy, there is also a mixture of ages between the cast, the wonderful and lovely Mickey Finn is back on board and we are very fortunate to have Ruth Laird on board, she is the great- great-great-great granddaughter of William Laird, one of the co founders of Cammell Lairds, also her Father Bruce Laird has written the finale song to the show, which Ruth will be singing, and so there is a very personal touch in there.

Other than Down Our Street, you’ve worked with writer Brian McCann before and with Active Drama. What is it about both Brian and the company that you like?

Yes, I was very fortunate to be part of both of his musicals ‘Bully!‘ and ‘LIFE’,  I love Brian’s style of writing, it’s the way he has the audiences in pleats of laughter one moment then sobbing their hearts out the next, his songs stay in your head for weeks afterwards, his work has an everlasting impression on you, his plays always have a message whether it be about a community or bullying, no matter your background you can always relate to either the story or a character in his plays . The Active Drama Company do so many brilliant projects working with young people writing new pieces of historical theatre, as well as their ongoing work in schools with their tours of issue based plays, which have been seen by thousands of school children, they are always striving to bring theatre to all walks of life.

When did you decide that acting was what you wanted to do and how did you set about it?

My idol is Judy Garland and I always wanted to be a performer like her, whether it be singing, dancing or acting,  I was in many youth theatres, I began in Wirral Youth Theatre, then went onto numerous other youth theatres, Off The Ground and Everyman, as well as keeping up my singing, until I had an agent at 13 years old, that’s when I began getting professional acting work, I landed a small role in Children’s Ward, and have always had the performing bug, I continued school, went onto college and LAMDA after completing college I was very fortunate to be in full time acting work, so took courses in acting to keep my skills fresh, it’s not easy being a freelance actress, it’s far from it, you are always on the look out for work and should always help actors alike, I also sing with my sister in a band and duo, so luckily I have that to fall back on while searching for the next acting job - It’s all part of it, if you have the passion for it, you will get that next job.

What’s the hardest thing about being an actor and what would you like to see change so as to make it easier for those trying to become established?

The hardest thing is trying to make sure your diary for the year is FULL!!!! Also, I think more actors should help one another out, networking is a massive part of this career and you have to help one another out and as for getting established, I’m still trying to get there.

If you were to give anybody advice about acting, what would it be?

If you have the passion for it, keep it up, stay strong if you don’t get that job you uditioned for, there will be more auditions, always be a first rate version of yourself, never a second rate version of somebody else and always learn from other actors no matter what experience they have and  always, always listen to the Director!

It’s been a busy year. What’s been the highlight so far?

There are so many highlights, I performed in new play ‘The Ciggie Run’ I played 2 completely different characters in it that was fun. I also did my first Easter Panto which was Aladdin playing Laughing Water, I also got a great review for my character ‘Janeece’ in the play ‘Blind Faith’ which is written by the amazing Becky Hill, as well as performing in musical ‘LIFE’ as the lovable geeky leading lady ‘Veronica Shuttle’, they are just a few highlights, this year I have been extremely fortunate with the work I have got.

After Down Our Street, what’s next, when, who with and where?

Well, next there are a few short Films in the pipeline one of which is called ‘Reality Check‘, a BBC3 Sketch show pilot, and I’ve had a dance track released with LoKey LTD called ‘Beating of my heart’ (originally sang by Madonna as Live to tell) so promoting that, and a tour with Active Drama, aswel as gigs with duo ’Mi-Sis’ then Panto I’m playing The Empress of China in ‘Aladdin’ at St Helens Theatre Royal.

Down Our Street is at The Unity Theatre, 1 Hope Place, Liverpool from September 1st  - September 3rd. For  booking information go to OR telephone  0844 873 2888


If you would like to comment on this interview with Charlie Griffiths 2011, please feel free to contact me - GUESTBOOK

“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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