Hannah-Jane Fox appears in The Menier Chocolate Factory’s world première of Close Up – The Twiggy Musical.
Elena Skye stars as Twiggy, with Lauren Azania AJ King-Yombo (Kay), Matt Corner (Justin de Villeneuve), Darren Day (Michael Witney), Beth Devine (Sally), Aoife Dunne (Cindy), Hannah-Jane Fox (Nell Hornby), and Steven Serlin (Norman Hornby), with Emma-Katie Adcock, Liam Buckland, Harriet Bunton, Leanne Garretty, Luke Johnson, David McIntosh, Danny Nattrass, Sydney Spencer, and Karen Walker.
Written and directed by Ben Elton, the production opens at Menier Chocolate Factory on 27 September, with previews from 18 September, and runs until 18 November.
You’re appearing in Close Up: Twiggy The Musical, what can you tell us about the show?
It is a juke box musical based on one of the most famous icons in the swinging sixties – Twiggy. There is an eclectic mix of music spanning many decades with some absolute classics tucked in there too!
What was it about Ben Elton’s script that made you so keen to be part of this production?
My mum grew up in the sixties in Soho, so I grew up with many of these stories. I knew all about Biba and Twiggy, The Beatles and the hippy vibes. I also loved the idea of talking about class. As a working-class London born girl myself, from a single parent family, I was lucky to have attended Grammar School and then win a full scholarship to Drama school.
Both things that have helped me find opportunity. Twiggy was a working-class girl from London, who really did live a life that transcended her class, she made it to the stars. A first in so many ways. I have been lucky enough to work with Ben Elton many times, both in theatre and in television and he’s a very, very clever man. He’s telling this story in a way I find most interesting.
What have you learned that surprised you the most about the life of Twiggy?
I really didn’t know much about Twiggy’s career other than her very famous modelling and ‘that’ era defining haircut. One I doubt most of us could pull off! So, finding out she performed musical theatre as a leading lady on Broadway was very impressive!
You’re playing Nell Hornby, what do you love about this character?
Getting to understand her stoicism. Wondering how and why she felt as low as she did so often. I love that understated pride, that was so how it was back then. Also, it is bringing my wonderful late Grandmother to my mind often. She also had ECT shock therapy in the sixties, as did many women of that time. Hers was administered for grief when she lost her young son. It’s really shocking to think about that now.
And what do you think will be the biggest challenge?
To make a sometimes, draining character still a watchable character. Also, to do justice to Twiggy’s actual mother. She saw me do it in the workshop and was very supportive. We all want to get the people in her life right. I get to play the odd other character here and there, so a good few fast wigs changes, not to mention changing tights quickly. Tights. What a palava they are, any gal in the west end will tell you that!
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking to see Close Up: Twiggy The Musical?
Get your tickets fast! Come see some wonderful singing, dancing and good old-fashioned storytelling. With a wonderful warming nostalgia and of course, it’s Ben Elton, so there will be more than a few good laughs.