Adam Woodyatt talks about his comedic role in My Fair Lady
THE last time Adam Woodyatt was in a musical, he played one of the kids in Fagin’s gang.
“I was at Oliver!” in 1980. It was my first musical and actually my last so far,” he says, adding with a laugh: “I played one of Fagin’s gangs and I had a lot more to do on that show. than in this one.
Adam, who played Ian Beale in EastEnders for more than 25 years, returned to musical theater to play Alfred P Doolittle – father of Eliza – in My Fair Lady, heading to Bradford this month. “I’m not on stage, but it’s so much fun,” he says. “The story and the characters are rooted in the history of musical theater, as are the two songs I perform: With a Little Bit of Luck and Get Me to the Church on Time. When it happened, I said to myself: “I have to try”.
There is, says Adam, an advantage in Alfred: “He is very frank, very socialist, and he does what he wants. He has opinions and always thinks he’s absolutely right. He has this wonderful speech where he says, “I’m not the deserving poor, I’m the unworthy poor.”
“I have so much fun playing with it. Bartlett Sher (the director) wants him to not just be a comedy character, but a character who, as I said, also has an edge. There’s something else behind it, there’s something else driving it.
While Adam says Alfred is “quite a man of this era”, he points out that George Bernard Shaw, who wrote the play Pygmalion on which My Fair Lady is based, “favors women in his writing”.
“Just like Alan Jay Lerner’s book for the series. They create strong female characters while showing that the men aren’t so good. There may be stronger words to describe most of the men on the show, but I’ll refrain from using them.
As a child, Adam trained at the famous Sylvia Young Theater School in London. “I only took evening classes because I was too busy working. I didn’t have too many evening classes either because I kept getting jobs. So I never studied singing and dancing,” he says. “They were very patient to let me know (for My Fair Lady) because it’s been a long time since I’ve sung. Singing is not something that comes naturally to me, I have to work on it.
Why does he think this show is so loved? “It’s such a compelling story and the characters are brilliantly written, even supporting characters who just have an odd line here and there. They’re all so well defined and it’s just a classic, timeless show. Then there’s the music; numbers like that wouldn’t love? and I could have danced all night. Everyone knows those songs.
Adam landed the role of Ian Beale when EastEnders started in 1985 and left last year. “The program and the character changed so much, the moment Ian got on a subway and disappeared,” says Adam. “It became a completely different beast, but throughout I loved the camaraderie with the cast and crew, and with Ian he was doing something different all the time. He was constantly evolving.
He was the oldest actor. What was it like saying goodbye to Ian? “Did I say goodbye to him?” I don’t know!” he says. “I think as long as I live, Ian Beale will always be part of the fabric of EastEnders, whether I’m in it or not. I could go back but again I couldn’t. I have no idea what the future holds, what storylines they are planning, or if Ian is part of those plans. But I’m very happy right now to be back in the theatre. I love that.
He adds, “I love the rehearsal process. With most things on TV, it’s very immediate. You do something, change it up a bit, start over and it’s “done, move on”. With a play or a musical, you can really investigate things like “Why should I walk there?” or ‘Why would I say that?
“Not everyone can travel to London to see a show or can afford to. This tour gives people the opportunity to see a large-scale West End show at their local theatre. I’m never Been to Bradford before and love exploring new places so can’t wait to spend some time there It’s such a famous old theatre.
My Fair Lady is at the Alhambra, from September 22 to October 2. Call (01274) or visit bradford-theatres.co.uk
* LIVE music does not necessarily mean late nights and a headache the next day. Bradford DJ and promoter Tony Sykes launches a new round of Sunday afternoon entertainment at the Midland Hotel.
Tony says: “The pandemic has brought social events to a halt, much to the dismay of not only the hospitality industry, but also those who missed face-to-face entertainment events. Now the Bradford scene is thriving again. These Sunday afternoon shows offer something different. They start with a three-course dinner on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. and the live show is from 2:15 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. Upcoming shows include Franki Valli tribute act and TVs Stars In Their Eyes winner Peter Sarsfield on September 18; The Everly Brothers on October 2, a big tribute followed by a rock ‘n’ roll show by Jive Bunny, aka Terry Webster, who was the frontman of Rockin Berries in the ’60s.”
For those who prefer lively parties, The Ultimate Boyband Experience (September 24) pays homage to Westlife, Take That and Boyzone, and Beatles for Sale (October 1) celebrates the Fab Four and other 60s sounds. We’ve created a buzz at the Midland Hotel and there’s more to come! Don’t miss.
Go to the Tony Sykes Productions Facebook page, call (01274) 735735 or visit tonysykesproductions.co.uk
* WHAT happens when two groups of parents meet to discuss their unruly children? A calm and rational debate between mature adults? Or a hysterical night of name-calling, tantrums and tears before bedtime?
When an 11-year-old hits another, their parents meet. But as the evening progresses, the “protective parenting” ends up being used as an excuse to “unleash the primordial beast buried in all of us”.
Bringing the social satire of Abigail’s Party into the 21st century, Yasmina Reza’s dark comedy God of Carnage hits the Bingley Little Theater next week. Director Bruce Sturrock says, “This play is human satire of deceptive depth. I wonder which of the four characters the audience might recognize in themselves. Sharp four-handed stars Rachel Conyers, Mark Simister, Becky Kordowicz and Andy Price.
God of Carnage runs at BLT’s Theater Upstairs, Bingley Arts Center, September 13-17 at 7:30 p.m. Call (01274) 567983 or visit bingleyartscentre.co.uk