Rachel catches up with Olivia Jacobs, the director of The Canterville Ghost which opens at the Southwark Playhouse this week!

Hi Olivia, how is everyone feeling ahead of opening night? 

I think we’re a good mix of nervous and excited – it’s a really exciting production to be part of, and we can’t wait for our first audiences, but there’s always going to be first night nerves! 

What was the inspiration behind this retelling of Oscar Wilde’s ghost story? 

Oscar Wilde’s brilliant ghost story is the perfect example of a great story told with real flair. Whilst Tall Stories have used Wilde’s words as the springboard for the production, the story has been updated for a contemporary audience. 

Tall Stories production looks at the stories of those who have gone before us and how they are remembered – rightly or wrongly? The legacy of a disgruntled ghost who cannot rest after being wrongly accused of murdering his wife is set alongside the story of four music hall performers as they question the legacy of music hall and how they have been remembered.  

As the Chairman of the music hall explains in the production: ‘Life is like a matchstick, each of us burn brightly for a short while, then we are smoke – and then we are gone.’ The question is what do we leave behind?  

The legacy of music hall is vast, and whilst we have little footage of even the most famous of music hall performers, their influence remains. This production pays homage to those performers and the impact that they have had that is felt even today. 

How are the rehearsals going? 

Rehearsals have been going… fast! Every day is busy and no two days are the same. One day we’re working with our Magic Consultant Scott Penrose on how to make someone’s head fall off and the next we’re working on four part harmonies with Composers Jon Fiber and Andy Shaw or rehearsing detailed routines to the show’s original live music with Choreographer Morag Cross. The only thing that every day has in common is that the company balance working very hard with a lot of laughter. 

What is your favourite moment of the show? 

It’s almost impossible for me to choose a favourite moment – there are so many laughs that I love, but there’s also real heart to the production. Perhaps my absolute favourite moment is hearing the response of the audience… Our aim is to spirit our audiences away from the everyday and provide a little bit of magic. There’s nothing better than hearing that happen. 

What can the audience expect from The Canterville Ghost? 

This production of The Canterville Ghost combines Oscar Wilde’s spooky short story with the tale of four extraordinary music hall performers. It’s a gloriously ghoulish spooky spectacular full of extraordinary illusions, original live music, psychic powers, and a lot of laughs. 

Can you describe the show in three words? 

I’m going to go for ‘Fabulous night out’. 

Why should people come and see The Canterville Ghost? 

The Canterville Ghost is stuffed with comedy, but there is also depth and a real sense of tragedy within the tale.  Intrinsically intertwined with the story of four music hall performers at the peak of their careers, The Canterville Ghost is an extraordinary way to forget the daily grind and enter into the ‘spirit ‘of things. After all, if you’ve got it – haunt it… 

The Canterville GhostSouthwark Playhouse11th of October until the 5th of November



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