Chichester’s Abigail back on the road in Scrooge

Everyone can expect good Christmas presents once again this year, promises Abigail Jaye.

After the Rocky Horror Show in Brighton last Christmas, she’s back again in Brighton this Christmas, this time with the rather more obviously festive show, Scrooge The Musical, starring Tommy Steele.

And once again, there’ll be that extra special advantage: she will be spending Christmas close to Chichester where she grew up and where her parents still live. Her mother is the Chichester-based opera singer Jacquelyn Fugelle.

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The show is at the Brighton Centre from December 23-January 4; before that, it’s at Southampton’s Mayflower from November 12-16.

For Abigail, this is her sixth time in the show, but after stints as Ebenezer’s one-time fiancée Isabelle, this will be her first time as the Ghost of Christmas Past.

“I think I am too old to play Isabelle now, so I have graduated to a ghost! The Ghost of Christmas Past is something that I have always wanted to play. She gets to do a couple of fantastic magic tricks, and she gets a beautiful song.”

But inevitably, a big part of the pleasure is simply to be working with Tommy Steele again: “I just can’t believe that year after year he is doing this, and he is just so energetic at his age. He doesn’t change. Over the ten years since I first did the show, he has still got exactly the same energy live.

“And he is just such a wonderful person. He is so cheeky and funny, and he is amazing because he tells such stories. He worked with Walt Disney! He knew Elvis. He is great to sit down and have a cup of tea with.”

As Abigail says, there really aren’t very many shows that you would want to keep coming back to, but Scrooge is most definitely one of them: “Tommy taps in beautifully to the old curmudgeon, and by the end of it he is Tommy Steele again. He plays both sides so well, and he is so clever at making people warm to him even though he is playing such an awful character to start with.

“Even having done the show six times, there are still bits that he does that still make us cry,” Abigail says.

This time last year, the fun was something altogether different, the Rocky Horror Show: “It was fantastic. It was nice to be involved with something out of your comfort zone. It wasn’t a show on my wish list. I would never have thought I would be cast in it, but I got the job and it was a bit of a shock. It’s a fantastic show.”

And there the pleasure was working with Philip Franks, for a number of years associate director at Chichester Festival Theatre: “Philip is the funniest and loveliest man I have ever known in my entire life. He is a true British gentleman, but I just didn’t know how he could be so naughty and rude in the show! He changed it every night. Every night he was coming up with something different.”

After Christmas, Abigail is planning on a quiet month or two, which might just involve a little operation she needs on her neck, a disc replacement. After that, she is hoping that 2014 might be a year of more concert work, after so much touring and living out of hotels in recent years.

A longer-term dream would be an album or two of her own...

Tickets for Southampton on 02380 711 811; tickets for Brighton on 0844 847 1515.