Classic thriller The Lady Vanishes heads to Horsham's Capitol

The Lady Vanishes
The Lady Vanishes

After a successful stage tour of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes, The Classic Thriller Theatre Company have extended into the autumn with dates now including The Capitol, Horsham from Monday to Saturday, October 21-26.

Andrew Lancel is revelling in the audience response: “I saw it earlier this year with a different cast, and it really is a good old-fashioned caper that manages to be both quite moving and also quite modern.

“And I said that to one of the cast, and he said ‘You have absolutely summed it up.’

“Of course every actor is always going to say that the audience reaction has been great, but it really has been. You have got the good guys who are being pursued by the bad guys amid a huge political and world storm… Does any of that sound familiar!

“But you have also got good well-rounded characters who really do represent the worst in humanity and the best in humanity.”

Building on the decade-long success of The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, The Classic Thriller Theatre Company offers a devilishly fun filled thriller based on the Hitchcock classic, ranked one of the best British films of all time. When socialite Iris’ travelling companion disappears, she’s bewildered to find fellow passengers deny ever having seen her. But with the help of musician Max, she turns detective, and together they resolve to solve a perplexing mystery…

For Andrew part of the reason for the success is that producer Bill Kenwright is the man behind it: “This is my seventh production for Bill Kenwright, and he is just great. He gives people what they want and he gets good casts together that give you a mix of new faces and old school. You don’t get away with 45 years in the business at his level without knowing exactly what you are doing.”

And yes, Bill has been very closely involved with this current production too: “Bill would probably be able to tell you what colour socks I am wearing in Act Two! I have worked with Bill as producer on five different shows, and he has also directed me. It has been a great experience.”

Director this time is Roy Marsden, and again Andrew knows he is in good hands: “Roy is great at looking at it all from outside the box. He gets to know placement. Placement is very important to me, the location, the character, the date, all the things you need to know. Roy really knows how to find the play and make it work, whether it is Ruth Rendell or Agatha Christie or Hitchcock.”

Andrew has enjoyed a huge array of stage and TV credits, the latter including Coronation Street; The Bill; Liverpool One; Queer as Folk; Bad Girls; City Central; First Post; Inspector Alleyn; Casualty; Peak Practice; Heartbeat; Go Back Out; The Wanderer; and Soldier, Soldier.

But one of his most satisfying roles – and repeatedly – has been as Beatles manager Brian Epstein on stage. Andrew was Epstein in 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2018 and found it fascinating: “You think that from his office in Liverpool, before the internet, he recognised talent. Lennon and McCartney’s talent was God given and would have been found at some point, but before he was 26 years old, Epstein was doing deals and sorting it. And he was doing things that had never been bone before. No band had done merchandising before; no band had played stadiums before.”

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