Steve Elias finds himself in a very fortunate position, comfortably switching between two very distinct strands to his career.
He’s got a string of credits to his name as a choreographer at Chichester Festival Theatre including Doctor Faustus (Minerva Theatre) and the Chichester Festival Youth Theatre productions of Oliver!, The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe, Peter Pan and Alice In Wonderland in the main house.
He’s also got a string of on-stage credits at the CFT including Out of This World, Just So, The Master And Margarita, The Gondoliers, The Merchant Of Venice and The Water Babies.
Now he’s back and he’s once again in performance mode, playing Laadislav Sipos in the summer season opener, the musical She Loves Me, which runs in the Minerva Theatre from May 9-June 18.
The tale which famously spawned You’ve Got Mail, She Loves Me is the story of Georg and Amalia, lovelorn assistants in a 1930s parfumerie. Forever squabbling by day, they secretly find comfort in the passionate but anonymous love letters they write by night, both unaware that each is the other’s correspondent.
“Laadislav is a lovely role to play. He is a gentle soul,” Steve says. “He is described as being 45, but looking older. He is a senior clerk in the parfumerie, and he is a yes man. He goes through life saying ‘Yes, sir, yes, sir, three bags full, sir!’ He is the put-upon senior clerk, and he is going through a bit of a mid-life crisis. Unemployment is looming around the corner, and he has got it into his head that he is going to be the one to go. He is desperately trying to compensate, but deep down he thinks that he has had it.”
In performance, Steve leaves Steve the choreographer behind: “When I am the choreographer, I have no anxieties. It is a very different part of my brain. I am in control. But as a performer, I got the all the usual anxieties, thinking ‘Oh my god! They have miscast me!’ and then thinking ‘I can do this!’ and then thinking ‘Oh my god!’ But as you are going through your character, I don’t think at all about the choreography. That half of the brain is switched off! If I started getting involved in commenting on the choreography, nothing would get done!”