For Rebecca Lock, playing the title role in Kiss Me, Kate at the Crucible is a dream come true.
The Cole Porter musical centres on the tempestuous relationship between the two leading actors in a touring company, Fred Graham and Lilli Vanessi.
They are a divorced couple coming together for the first time in a year to play opposite each other in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew.
So she’s playing not only the Hollywood actress but also Shakespeare’s Kate as played by Lilli.
“It was a part I always wanted to play,” she reveals, “and it’s very rare that all the planets align. You’re in the right place at the right time at the right age with the right look so I was thrilled to get the job. It was something I always had my eye on.
“For a woman it is a really meaty part. It has everything, it’s funny, it’s emotional, it’s dramatic, her journey is crazy. She’s strong and vulnerable all at the same time. It’s a massive palette to play with which is a real gift for an actress.”
But aren’t the gender politics of Kiss Me, Kate at odds with the current climate of #MeToo?
“The idea that she has to be submissive comes from the Shakespeare play,” insists Lock. “In past productions Lilli comes back to Fred and that’s seen as submissive but not in this, it’s a coming together of equal standing. They bring it right up to date, Kiss Me, Kate with a 2018 standing.”
Then there is the music of Cole Porter. “It’s quite challenging in the different styles of singing. “There’s top coloratura, soprano style and then big jazzy voice for I Hate Men so it is a massive spectrum and also in acting terms so for those two things to come together is a dream.”.
Her previous experience in a production of The Tempest has stood her in good stead when it comes to performing the Shakespeare.
Otherwise her career has mostly been in musical theatre, most recently in Heathers in the West End. “I played Miss Fleming the hippy teacher. It was a good fun comedy part,” she reflects.
She was at the Crucible five years ago in Oliver! directed by Daniel Evans. “It was the same time of year and coming back to Sheffield made me realise how much I did enjoy my time here. How lovely the place is and the people and the theatre.
She was Widow Corney, Mrs Bumble, keeper of the children. “She was a nasty piece of work and I’ve played a few of those in my time like Carlotta in Phantom. But they are the fun parts. That’s why this show is so good and I am having a fun time because she can be bad and good, she’s a real mix of both which is lovely because I get to do everything.
Being in the business have she observed couples behaving like Fred and Lilli? “Not couples as such but you definitely see tempestuous relationships between people, those who play opposite one another and don’t get on. I’m not going to name names but you do see that.
“It is a very intense environment, you are working very close together. Day one and I am kissing Edward (Edward Baker-Duly playing Fred), you don’t do that in your office. Every cast becomes your family and that’s hard when it is all over. I have been lucky, most of my work has been in the West End for most of my career. I toured for the first time a year and a half ago with Mary Poppins that’s not bad going in 22 years.”
She admits she cherishes the brief breaks to go home to her husband and 15-year-old son and “sleep in own bed”.
Kiss Me, Kate continues at the Crucible until January 12.