Fancy a sneak peek inside Wodehouse in Wonderland rehearsals? You’ve come to the right place!
On this page, you’ll find a quick-fire Q&A between Wodehouse actor Robert Daws and writer William Humble, as well as an interview with Robert about bringing P.G. Wodehouse to life in this musical feast.
We can’t wait for you to join us for this marvellous look inside the mind of one of the most celebrated English writers.Book now
Get to know Robert Daws
Interview by Theo Bosanquet
How did the play come about?
It all started with my own interest in P.G. ‘Plum’ Wodehouse. When I was at RADA I was given a copy of Right Ho, Jeeves by Tom Wilkinson, who was directing at the Academy. I read it and loved it, little knowing that a few years later I’d be starring in a wonderful TV adaptation. I have since become a bit of an aficionado, and a few years ago I went to see Perfect Nonsense, a Jeeves and Wooster play in the West End starring Stephen Mangan and Matthew Macfadyen. Afterwards I was talking to some fellow Wodehouse enthusiasts and it made me realise just how big an interest there in his work, but how little I knew about the man himself. So I read a few biographies and learned about his extraordinary life, including his early career as a Broadway lyricist. I called my friend Bill Humble and said ‘do you think there might be a play about this?’, and he replied that he’d just finished working on a screenplay about his life, so I’d called at just the right time. That was around five years ago.
How are you finding Wodehouse as a character?
When you’re playing a character people know, like Winston Churchill for example, people know what they looked and sounded like, so there’s a certain expectation. But with Wodehouse that isn’t the case. There isn’t actually much footage of him, and people always said that in reality he was a very reticent and shy figure. Despite creating these extraordinary, larger-than-life characters, he didn’t really socialise, and generally liked to disappear into his imagination. So to portray him as he was would not necessarily work. I’ve realised I need to let the words and music speak for themselves, in order to give a more rounded portrayal of the man himself. This is very much my take on Wodehouse, rather than an impersonation.
The play features songs by Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Ivor Novello. Tell us more about Wodehouse’s association with these composers?
As a young man, before he became known for creating Jeeves and Wooster, Plum worked as a lyricist on a series of shows which are now seen as the birth of the American musical. I always think it’s quite strange that this man we now associate with such quintessentially English characters, was in those days better known for his work on Broadway. So I perform some of these songs during the show and I’m really enjoying the chance to sing again. I used to do a lot of musicals when I was starting out, and even won a musical award at RADA, though I soon realised my dancing skills weren’t up to it!
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