Craige Els has recently taken on the role of Miss Trunchbull in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s West End smash hit, Matilda: The Musical.
Q: They say you should never work with children and pets, how are you getting on working with A LOT of children?
A: They have so much to do, and they work so hard that you have to raise your game. They truly are the stars of the show.
Q: Miss Trunchbull is quite a sprightly old dear, how do you have the energy to play her night in, night out?
A: You build up your stamina in rehearsals and over the first few weeks. Plus, all the physical stuff is so much fun – the audience’s reactions get you through.
Q: You’ve worked on both stage and screen, which do you prefer and why?
A: They both bring different challenges and are exciting in different ways, but roles like this – performed in front of a live audience – are hard to beat.
Q: Positive reviews in other shows have branded you as a “scene stealer” and a “figure of comic charm.” How important are critics’ reviews to you?
A: It’s always nice to have critics who, along with everybody else, appreciate your work. Everyone has their own idea of what they want to see and you can’t please everyone all the time.
Q: What attracted you to the role of Miss Trunchbull?
A: When I first saw the show, I thought it was truly brilliant, and I’ve always loved the book. Miss Trunchbull is the ultimate villain, nasty, troubled, maniacal, and ultimately destined to be beaten.
Q: How does it feel to play a woman?
A: It’s a lot of fun making her feminine enough, but still ogre-like.
Q: What is your favourite Roald Dahl novel and why?
A: ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’ has always been my favourite since I was a boy. It’s such a dark and funny story with brilliant characters.
Q: Finally, what makes Matilda: The Musical a great night out for schools and groups?
A: It’s a genuinely beautiful piece of theatre. The script and music are fantastic, along with the set and all the costumes. Plus, the action is non-stop. It will move you and make you laugh. You will want to see it again straight away.
Cambridge Theatre, Earlham Street, London, WC2H 9HU. Groups 10+ best available reduced to £45 (Tuesday to Thursday performances only). Groups 40+ best available reduced to £39.50 (Tuesday to Thursday performances only).