Watch The Snow Queen at Southampton’s Nuffield this Christmas, and your abiding memory will be Rob Castell’s outrageously-camp, endlessly-enthusiastic, OTT Californian Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer (until January 4).
It’s going to go down as one of the best comic creations this festive season.
“It wasn’t actually written as an American, but I have roots in the States,” Rob explains. “There was a bit in the script that was ‘Oh my god!’, and I just thought I should do it as a camp American, and that’s how it came out at the audition.”
Other options have been explored. We might have had an eastern European Rudolph; equally, we could have had a real Londoner-type approach.
“But the American kept coming back, this enthusiastic, camp-as-Christmas guy. I spent some time in LA this year. I was there from January to March, and I met a few characters like that, always gleefully excited about everything, extremely positive and quite high-pitched. It’s an amalgamation of several people I met in the States!”
Rob isn’t so sure they’d be terribly flattered if they happened to drop into the audience at Southampton this Christmas!
Rob’s other show-stealer in The Snow Queen is the Prince: “There is the posh, class element, this slightly-rambling character, and there is a little bit of Hugh Grant in there. And I found it quite a flip to show the other side, that this couple aren’t necessarily very happy.”
The Prince suspects he preferred Snow White when she was fast asleep: “He doesn’t really appreciate the idea of getting to know his wife. But it’s just something we worked on in rehearsals. I had a good rapport with Nicola (Munns who plays the Princess), and we would go posher and posher and then pull it back a bit. It was great fun to work on.”
In fact, the whole rehearsal process was fun, a great chance to explore your character with a fair degree of freedom as to what exactly worked.
“It was great working with Sarah (Tipple, the director). We had four weeks in London before we came down to Southampton. The first week or two we just spent exploring ideas. Some things we dropped. Some things we kept it. It just developed.”
And may continue to do so, within the existing structure, now it’s up and running.
“It will probably live and breathe a bit with a five-week run. You have got to be able to sustain the energy so we might do the odd joke slightly differently; we might to do the odd line a bit differently just to heighten things or lessen things a little.”
Tickets on 023 8067 1771.