INTERVIEW: Natalie Casey

Posted by: Ashley Birch
INTERVIEW: Natalie Casey  supporting image

Natalie Casey and Company in rehearsals for Guys and Dolls. Photo by Johan Persson

The Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisp star is taking centre stage as Miss Adelaide in the upcoming Sheffield Theatre’s production of Guys and Dolls, so we popped along to the Crucible for an eye-opening chat

We meet Natalie in the Crucible’s bar area, and she introduces herself to us by shouting across the room in her distinctive Lancashire tones, telling us to get on the cous cous that the theatre’s laid on for lunch (we did - it was pretty good!).


It quickly becomes apparent though, that she’s got a bit of a problem today – she can’t open her eyes properly! She has what she’s calling ‘stress-induced eyeball-itits’! We’re not sure this is a recognised medical condition, but we promise to set up a support group for her, nonetheless.  


“We’re in the second week of rehearsals and we’ve only got two weeks left of actual rehearsal,” says Natalie: “so for someone who’s in it, we’re half way through, and the half way mark is where everybody starts freaking out because we’ve had a lovely time up until now, but now we have to do it in front of people. So we’re in panic mode. Hence the eyeballs!”


Natalie Casey in rehearsals for Guys and Dolls. Photo by Johan Persson.


“I’m relatively philosophical about the work that I do now, though, because you realise the show always goes on, regardless of whether you’re ready for it or not and you’ll get ready cos you have to – people have paid!”


We can understand her concerns, of course. It’s no small feat taking on a musical as revered as Guys and Dolls and Natalie is well-aware of its magnitude. Fortunately it’s not the first time she has taken on one of the classics of musical theatre, after performing in Abigail’s Party a couple of years ago and the trick, she tells us, is to try not to pre-empt what you think people might want from the performance and to ‘just do the show!’


She said: “The thing to remember, If ever you feel insecure about taking on a role, or being part of a show that is very, very famous, is to always go back to looking at the script, and whatever the script tells you to say, you will find the answer in that.


“You have to make a conscious decision to just do the show. Not copying what someone else has done. Doing your own thing. It’s just your own insecurities that can stop you, so you’ve got to be like Buddha on lotus leaves.”


Natalie Casey and Company in rehearsals for Guys and Dolls. Photo by Johan Persson


This is the first time Natalie has been part of a production at the Crucible, although she has always wanted to work here since seeing her sister Anna-Jane Casey in numerous Sheffield productions over the years.


Natalie said: “What’s amazing about Sheffield and Rob (Hastie) is that he understands that audiences want to see a show, but he also understands that the audience in Sheffield are very, very smart and very, very intuitive.


“Sheffield Theatres have a knack for employing people that are not only good, but people who will get involved in the ethos of the theatre, which is basically, 'we’re all in it together, don’t be a d*@k!'


“It’s a long time since I’ve had an experience like I’ve had in Sheffield. This is a magical theatre and what’s really weird is that I live in London, and I was nervous about going away for an extended period of time, but I have learned very quickly that this is going to be a very joyful experience.”


Take Back Your Mink! Natalie Casey and Company in rehearsals for Guys and Dolls. Photo by Johan Persson.


Many people will probably best recognise Natalie from her TV work in Hollyoaks as well as the long-running BBC comedy Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisp, but theatre and musicals have always been something she’s enjoyed being a part of.


“Since being a kid, it’s something that’s always been a part of my life,” she says. “In recent years, not so much of the singing and dancing, more of the acting but it is been something that I’ve always done. What I have noticed this year, and getting a little bit older, is that it’s a little bit harder doing the dancing!


“There’s still nothing like the immediate response of an audience though. If you’re s@*t, they won’t clap – that’s how that works. So you get very good, very quickly at learning things that you’re doing that work.


“I enjoy theatre and I do think you get a much greater sense of the diversity of human spirit in theatre than you do in TV. Representation is a really important thing. If you’re not represented in art then it makes you feel shut out of the human spirit. Everybody deserves a seat at the table and if someone won’t give you a seat, then bring your own.”


Martin Marquez and Natalie Casey. Chris Saunders


Natalie seems to have firmly got her seat under the table and even though she claims to enjoy the ‘miserable spirit’ of places like Prague and feels that similar connection with the North of England, she seems, on the face of it, to be in a pretty good place. In fact, her only gripe right now is that she’s not in some of the biggest numbers in the show.


“I’m going to sneak in at the back,” she tells us, “I’m going to get a monocle and moustache and I’m going to sneak in, so look out for that!”


She’s joking (we think), although let’s just hope that she doesn’t need a monocle and that her eyeballs are functioning at 100 per cent capacity on opening night!


Guys and Dolls is in the Crucible theatre from Saturday 7 December – Saturday 18 January. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased from Sheffield Theatres’ Box Office in-person, by phone on 0114 249 6000 or online.

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