Star of Into the Woods, Rhashan Stone, interviewed by the BBC
Rhashan Stone, star of Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods at the Theatre Royal Bath, sat down with BBC Radio Bristol presenter Claire Cavanagh this week to talk about the show. Into the Woods started performances this Wednesday, 17 August, in Bath, ahead of a widely tipped West End run. The show is directed by Monty Python's Terry Gilliam, and co-directed and choreographed by Leah Hausman. Designs are Jon Bausor; with costumes from Antony McDonald, video design by Will Duke, sound design by Paul Groothuis, and casting by David Grindrod. In the interview Rhashan talks about the spectacle of the show, saying that the special effects and sets are resulting in everyone "just gasping and putting their hands over their mouth, because they cannot believe what they're seeing in the theatre." On the director Terry Gilliam, Rhashan says that he's like "an eight year old trapped in an 80 year old's body", and that he is "the funniest man and he's such a lovely guy, and he's always watching and thinking of new ideas." The cast of the show is impressive. Alongside Rhastan Stone as the Baker is Alex Young as the Baker's Wife; Julian Bleach as Mysterious Man; Audrey Brisson as Cinderella; Nicola Hughes as the Witch; Barney Wilkinson as Jack; Charlotte Jaconelli as Florinda; Lauren Conroy as Little Red Riding Hood; Maria Conneeley as Rapunzel; Nathanael Campbell as the Wolf / Prince; Gillian Bevan as Jack’s Mother; Henry Jenkinson as the Prince; Jamie Birkett as Lucinda; Samuel Holmes as the Steward; Alexandra Waite-Roberts as Cinderella’s Stepmother; and Jessica Barton as Little Girl. Listen to the interview Listen to the interview on BBC Sounds More about Into the Woods Rhashan Stone and Alex Young rehearsing as the Baker and the Baker's wife in Into The Woods Interview with Rhashan Stone Claire CavanaghWe've got another guest for you, very exciting. He's an actor starring in Into The Woods with music by Stephen Sondheim, which you can see at the Theatre Royal Bath from Wednesday. You may have also seen this man on telly in Hollington Drive, in Finding Alice and in Keeping Faith. Turns out I've seen them all. Welcome to the show Rhashan Stone. Hi, Rhashan. How you doing? Rhashan StoneAm, okay. I'm very well. You watch a lot of television! Claire CavanaghIt turns out I do. Does that make me into a superfan before we've ever met? Rhashan StoneBut they're all great shows. They're good fun to sit down and watch with a pizza. Claire CavanaghOh my goodness. I just feel like Telly is just churning out really great drama right now. Rhashan StoneThere's some really great stuff at the moment. Claire CavanaghAnd you're in it all. Rhashan StoneWell I am at the moment until they get bored of me and start on someone else. Claire CavanaghI mean, Hollington Drive was kind of bits of it were sort of bonkers, but it was, what they describe as compelling, wasn't it? Rhashan StoneAbsolutely I have to say when I got the script through, and I had a look, I honestly had no idea who had done it until I actually read it in the script. Because very often you sort of have a look and you think yeah, I can see where this is going. I was as taken by surprise as everybody else. Claire CavanaghAre you somebody who watches a lot of Telly? Do you watch as much as me for example? Rhashan StoneI love Telly I have to say, I do love telly and especially now that I'm in gorgeous Bath and I've got time to sort of, I've got extra time. I've got a family, kids and everything, but while I'm here I'm on my own, so I get back after the show and I plug into a good old box set and I'm awaty. Claire CavanaghDo you sort of act like a single man again, when you're away on tour? Rhashan StoneI do a bit! But I do tell my wife, she doesn't mind. I think I go to the pub a bit more than I do when I'm at home. Claire CavanaghOf course you ! So this is Into the Woods, music by Stephen Sondheim. Of course, who we lost only last year, wasn't it? Rhashan StoneYeah, very recently. Claire CavanaghTell us something about this show. What can we expect if we come to see you? Rhashan StoneOh my goodness. This show is about, goodness me, it must be about 30 years old now, I'd say. And when it was first performed, I was young and I was at drama school. And I just thought it was the most brilliant thing, and I remember thinking, God I would absolutely love to be in the show one day. And it's been done quite a few times. But I think this is the first time that it's been done on this scale because we have the amazing Terry Gilliam and Leah Hauman directing the show, and honestly I mean we come out and we look at the special effects and we look at the set and we know what's coming and everybody's just gasping and putting their hands over their mouth, because they cannot believe what they're seeing in the theatre. It is so exciting. And so I think people will be absolutely blown away. I mean it's a real visual feast. In true Gilliam style. Claire CavanaghI have read the description and I have to say I then reread it and thought, oh kay. So if you are going to this show, I imagine there are a lot of surprises. Rhashan StoneThere are a lot of surprises. So did you know the story before? Rhashan StoneSo it's about a baker and his wife who happen to live in a sort of enchanted Kingdom where all of the Grim fairy tales live in the same place. So we have Little Red Riding Hood, we have Cinderella, we have the wolf, we have Rapunzel. And the Baker and his wife are the only two sort of invented characters. So Stephen Sondheim and James (Lapine) invented them. I play the baker and Alex Young plays the Baker's Wife and we have a sense of the audience and we're taking the audience with us on this story. And we are desperate to have a child and in true fairytale style, a witch promises us that she can furnish us with a child if we do one thing, and it's the one thing that sets them off on this odyssey. But it's a very rich show. The music is amazing. The story doesn't go where you think it's going to go. It's a real treat actually, and it's very playful and very funny, and it's very irreverant, yer I think it's absolutely fantastic. Claire CavanaghNot really, no. Claire CavanaghAnd is it crazy having Monty Python's Terry Gilliam involved in this? Rhashan StoneIt is! I say to him, you're like an eight year old trapped in an 80 year old's body. He's the funniest man and he's such a lovely guy, and he's always watching and thinking of new ideas. And he's so mischievous. He's always saying, let's put this in the show. And at first you think, that's never gonna work. And they've made it work, and it's absolutely wonderful. Really. Claire CavanaghIs it your first time in Bath performing? Rhashan StoneIt isn't actually. I was here in a production of Sweeney Todd that the National Theatre did, quite a few years ago, I can't actually remember how many now. And I've worked in Bath because I'm in McDonald and Dodds and we did Agatha Raisin which also shoots in and around Bath, so I know this neck of the woods pretty well now. Claire CavanaghAnd what do you do when, because you've got a couple of days I think before your first performance in this show. Do you get much chance to do anything else besides go to the theatre and…? Rhashan StoneNo, honestly we're here, and because it's a musical it's very different, I've mostly done plays in my life, so once you know your lines and you vaguely know what you are doing, you sort of get into it. But with t he addition of the music you constantly have to revisit, so every night I have to go back, refresh myself on my music as much as on the script and everything else. Claire CavanaghLots of people, because you've done so much television recently, won't realise that you are a singer and a songwriter. Is it exciting to combine that with your acting? Rhashan StoneOh, I love it, I absolutely love it. And particularly in a show like this, which is very character driven. So it's got great story. It's got great lines, proper belly laughs I mean, there are some bits where I sit out and watch, where I'm wiping a tear away because it's very genuinely very, very funny. But it's yeah, it's lovely being able to sing and act and be in this beautiful theatre. Bath is one of the most beautiful cities in the country. It is stunning. And yer, I am just so happy to be here. Claire CavanaghI think what you get with Bath as well, is a city that loves theatre. I think its part of the city you know, going out. That is your entertainment. Rhashan StoneAbsolutely. And I can see when I look out the window, is that Bath likes to go anyway, the restaurants are full, everyone's out in the lovely weather, sitting in the park, it's wonderful. Claire CavanaghYou are starring alongside Audrey Brisson from Amelie. Wow, that's cool. Rhashan StoneI know, and she's absolutely fantastic and she's playing the role of Cinderella in the show, and she just brings something so unique to it, anybody who saw Audrey in Amelie will know how talented she is. She's just wonderful in the show. And it's a very, very difficult role. It's a beautiful part but for a singer it's actually really, really challenging. And she makes it seem so effortless, which is wonderful. Claire CavanaghWell enjoy your time there Rhashan. Such a joy to have you on the show. Thank you so much. Rhashan StoneGreat to talk to you. Cheers. Bye bye. Claire CavanaghRhashan Stone, who appears in all telly: Hollington Drive, Finding Alice, Keeping Faith, actually there's a whole long other list as well; McDonald and Dodds he was talking about that as well. You can see him in Into the Woods, music by Stephen Sondheim. And it starts at the Theatre Royal Bath from Wednesday and runs into September as well. So if you can get yourself a ticket, please do it because it sounds so good, doesn't it?