The Interview: Michelle Collins
The Interview: Michelle Collins
The actor reveals what it’s like to play the iconic Cluedo character Miss Scarlett on stage, why we should cherish local theatres, and what’s next for her
Michelle Collins is loving being back on stage. Like most actors, she has missed the buzz of hearing the reaction of the audience. And Cluedo, a spoof murder-mystery based on the board game and film, has been the perfect play for that, she says.
“It’s so great to be back doing something creative, and to see audiences really loving being back. The play appeals to everyone from eight to 88. It’s a real family show – it’s funny, it’s clever, it’s a bit of escapism, which is what we all need right now. And to hear people laughing in the audience is brilliant. Laughter is a great tonic.”
Michelle, star of EastEnders, Coronation Street and Two Thousand Acres of Sky, was attracted to the role not only because she loved the board game but also because it’s by the same director, Mike Bell, who was behind the huge hits The Play That Goes Wrong and A Comedy About A Bank Robbery.
“It’s very stylised. It’s very choreographed. Every look, every move… it’s all down to timing and fine tuning. We also play it with a kind of honesty and truth, and that makes it funnier. I think once you tell an actor they’re funny, they start embellishing it and being a bit self-indulgent and then I don’t think it becomes funny, so we played it very straight.”
“Miss Scarlett is kind of iconic to play too – the only downside is having to get really glammed up for performances!”
The role also came at the right time even though it means a long tour, Michelle says.
“My mum had been ill for quite a while and sadly died in April so while she was ill I didn’t really want to go out of London too much as I wanted to be near her. After that, I just thought, you know what, maybe it’s time to do it. When you have young children it’s also difficult [Michelle has a grown-up daughter]. So now, particularly after two years of the pandemic, it seems like the right thing to do.”
Not only for her but for audiences too, she says, with local theatres playing a vital role in their communities.
“It’s so important to support the arts. We need creativity in our lives for our mental health and there is nothing like the shared experience of live theatre. People are so appreciative that these spaces are still open. And they don’t just put on plays – they are also often the hub of the community with the various groups they run as well.”
Michelle is very much looking forward to coming to Richmond Theatre and the New Victoria in Woking. She knows Richmond well. “My partner is in the fashion business and actually used to have a clothes shop in Richmond [which his partner still runs], and he has family there so we go a lot.”
“I’ve also played Richmond Theatre before and it’s a really gorgeous venue. It’s a bit of a nightmare driving from where I live in North London, but I’ll deal with that. I’ve also got a lot of friends who are coming to see me in Richmond.”
“I love coming to Woking too. I recently saw Adam Woodyatt there in Looking Good Dead.”
“Woking and Richmond are great for me as I can commute to them, and still be able to walk my dogs in the morning before work!”
Next up for Michelle, who has her own production company, is a couple of independent British films she has coming out soon. She would also like to do some more commissions for TV, and also revive her one-woman show, which was curtailed due to the pandemic.
When she’s not working, Michelle’s ideal day off is walking her dogs, meeting friends for a coffee or doing a hot yoga class. “I enjoy spending time with family, my partner and my friends. The pandemic and the lockdowns really made you appreciate how you need to make more time to spend with loved ones. It is so important. You know, I’m generally a positive person anyway, but it’s made me more so, and to really take life day by day.”
New Victoria Theatre 21 to 26 February
Richmond Theatre 7 to 12 March
And touring until July