We chatted to Jenna Robinson Child and Sven-Eric Müller about their latest musical engagement in Funny Girl, and about their “furniture” status at The Fugard Theatre. The musical, made famous by the Barbra Streisand movie version in the 60s, opened last month and is directed by Matthew Wild (West Side Story).
Q1: Tell us about your characters. Which one is your favourite?
JRC: I play two different characters in this production of Funny Girl. First up is Bubbles, she’s a balsy show girl who’s been dancing at Keeney’s Theatre for some time. I also play one of the beautiful Follies girls in the extravagant Follies numbers in the show. I really do enjoy portraying both characters and have loved exploring the realm of the Ziegveld Follies. They really were very special in their time, so it has been a treat to get a taste of what that must have been like.
SEM: The characters I play don’t have much time on stage so to portray them accurately can be quite challenging. I do really enjoy the tap number (Cornet Man); he’s a suave hoofer that has a lot of fun on stage.
Q2: Both of you seem to be part of the Fugard furniture. Does it feel like coming home when you walk on stage or into rehearsal yet?
JRC: Ha ha! Hardly! I am so grateful to be a part of another Fugard production and as always it is so special to be on the Fugard stage again. The theatre definitely is a favourite of mine – whether I’m on stage or in the audience – I love being there. I must say, returning to the Fugard with Funny Girl does feel a bit like “coming home” in a sense. It is wonderful seeing all the familiar faces again, and being known and greeted by name when you step into the building is something special.
SEM: Performing back at the Fugard is always great. The building does feel like a second home and it has a great energy and ambiance to it. I definitely enjoy playing on the Fugard stage.
Q3: Speaking of familiarity, you’ve both worked with director, Matthew Wild, musical director, Charl-Johan Lingenfelder and choreographer, Louisa Talbot, and in fact you’ve both worked together several times before. Does it feel like a weird family working in the Cape Town theatre business?
JRC: The entire team at the Fugard – the creatives, Matthew, Charl, Louisa, the production team, management, all the ushers, our theatre manager, Iris, as well as the bar staff – certainly do inspire a family environment. I have learnt and grown so much in my experience working with Matthew, Charl and Louisa and I am so grateful to them for allowing me the opportunity. This industry is so very small in South Africa, and when handed the chance, you make those you are working for, and alongside, your family for sure.
SEM: The industry is quite small so you end up working with a lot of people regularly. The cast and team this time round, some new and some furniture, are a great team. The familiarity brings a very relaxed and playful energy into the room which is always fun.
Click here to book for Funny Girl. Show closes mid-June.