When it was announced that Scottish actor and Holby City star Joe McFadden would bring the mysterious world of Agatha Christie to Aberdeen, there was only one question on everyone’s mind…
Will the 2017 Strictly winner get to show off his dancing skills?
“Oh I absolutely get to dance in The Mirror Crack’d,” laughed Joe.
“It’s funny, most shows that I do now I do a bit of dancing. The last tour that I did, it had a bit of a dance in it. The pantomime I did at Christmas time in Swansea had a bit of dancing in it. And even in this show, there is a dream sequence in which myself and Sophie Ward waltz.
“I feel it’s compulsory now – audiences come to expect it now,” said the actor who lifted the glitterball trophy with his dance partner Katya Jones.
“So we get in out of the way at the beginning and then we get to some serious acting,” he laughed.
The Mirror Crack’d to thrill Aberdeen fans
The Mirror Crack’d follows Miss Marple as she uncovers a web of lies, tragedy and danger in 1960s England. She investigates the murder of a local woman who consumed a poisoned cocktail apparently meant for an American film actress…
“Susie Blake is a wonderful Miss Marple,” said Joe.
“She has a mind of a scalpel but she is also a sweet motherly character. She’s also a fantastic comedian so there are real moments of humour and tenderness.”
Joe plays film director Jason Rudd who moves to Miss Marple’s village with his movie star wife Marina Gregg.
He said: “We come to this sleepy little English town thinking we’re getting away from it all. We come over to make a movie, we have a party at this house that we bought and very quickly somebody dies.
“Throughout the course of the play, the audience and Miss Marple find out who killed this person and why.
“Jason is quite an interesting character. He’s very much in love with his wife but you’ll think ‘Why is she so under his control?’ and he also seems a bit obsessive with her.
“It’s quite a difficult play to talk about as I don’t want to give too much away!”
First time performing in Aberdeen
Not only is The Mirror Crack’d Joe’s first foray into Agatha Christie’s world of intrigue and mystery, but it’ll also be the first time the talented actor – who also starred in The Crow Road and Heartbeat – performs at Aberdeen’s HMT.
“I’ve become a real fan of her work,” said Joe.
“Watching the TV shows, I didn’t really appreciate how intricate and how complicated and how well written the stories are.
“There is so much in the writing and the relationships are interwoven.
“And she writes such brilliant female characters and audiences respond so well to that. They are really interesting three-dimensional complicated characters.”
Susie Blake agreed and said: “Playing Miss Marple is every actor’s dream over the age of 50. To play a bright, independent, older woman is surprising and exciting for the period it was written in as well as in our society today.”
Preparing for the role
Joe, who grew up watching murder mysteries with his mum, said he looked up Agatha Christie films, TV shows and videos of famous directors to prepare for the role of Jason.
“My mum loved murder mysteries – we were always watching Murder She Wrote and Poirot and Taggart.
“There’s also a very camp movie with Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson is playing my part. So I had a look at that and very quickly decided ours wasn’t going to be like that,” laughed Joe.
“There was a Julia McKenzie version (ITV, 2010) that I managed to get a hold of and that was quite interesting.
“If you know Agatha Christie quite well, our show is kind of different from other plays you may have seen before. The characters are not at all what you think they are in the beginning and they go on a real journey throughout the course of the play.
“I also looked at videos of people who were like my character – like film directors from back then including Vincente Minnelli and Busby Berkeley – to soak up the period a little bit because our audiences will remember the 60s.
“You want to get the hair and suits right – the details have to be correct. And we also have a great reflecting set – not something you would expect.”
‘Reason why Agatha Christie is best-selling novelist’
With Aberdeen being the last stop on the UK tour, Joe would like to encourage murder mystery fans to come see the show at HMT. He said that fans all over the UK were “loving” the play.
“There’s a reason why Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time. She writes these brilliant stories and our director made it really interesting and surprising too.”
Joe – who’s only ever been to Aberdeen once before – is really looking forward to returning to the Granite City.
“Director Richard Wilson took us there for the weekend,” he said.
“I was doing a play called Rainbow Kiss by Aberdeen playwright Simon Farquhar. The play was set in Aberdeen and none of us (the actors) had been to Aberdeen so Richard said we had to come because it was such a specific place.
“And the second we got off the plane, I just thought I had never seen anything like it. It’s a very very interesting place so I’m really looking forward to working at His Majesty’s. I hear it’s one of the most beautiful theatres in the country.
“I love coming back home to Scotland so it feels right that my last venue (on this tour) is going to be in Aberdeen.”
The Mirror Crack’d is at Aberdeen’s HMT from Tuesday February 28 to Saturday March 4. Tickets can be purchased here.
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