Zizi Strallen’s back where it all began – in Chichester

The Music Man at Chichester Festival Theatre in 2008 was Zizi Strallen’s first professional job as an adult – “if you can call 17 being an adult!”
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Zizi is now back there for the first time since, in Rock Follies which takes us back to the celebrated 1970s TV series and puts it on the stage in a new version in Chichester 's Minerva theatre, running from Monday, July 24-Saturday, August 26.

“The Music Man was fantastic. I was the girl that shouts ‘Ye Gods!’ at every chance. It was amazing. My oldest sister Scarlett was playing the lead and it was lovely to ease into the theatre like that. I was with my sister in digs and it was just such a lovely thing to do, to work together.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

15 years later she's now crossing the divide, adding the Minerva to her Chichester experiences after The Music Man in the main house: “I think the Minerva is just a more intimate experience. The festival theatre is quite big even though it can still feel quite intimate but in the Minerva you have that lovely feeling of being in the same room as the people and this production is done in like a gig style. It is going to feel like a really intimate lovely gig and that's what the Minerva can do. We have an on-stage band and we are the three singers and the aim is just to make it really authentic as a gig.”

Zizi Strallen in rehearsal for CFT's Rock Follies. Photo Johan PerssonZizi Strallen in rehearsal for CFT's Rock Follies. Photo Johan Persson
Zizi Strallen in rehearsal for CFT's Rock Follies. Photo Johan Persson

And yes, as part of that an authenticity they are using wired mics. In fact Zizi was watching some of the performers at Glastonbury recently to see how they coped with wired mics, to see how it was possible to move with them.

“I'm playing Q and she is an it girl, quite a posh girl but she has been cut off from her family. She has been in soft porn movies and her posh family have cut her off but she's got these two friends and they start out doing a show together, this big 1930s vaudeville musical and the director is a really horrible dictator. In the end they just say stuff this and decide that they're going to set up their own band as women. What they're saying is that women can have men but when they want them; and they don't need them and they don't want to do things like washing-up and cleaning. It's all about female empowerment and we are having a lot of fun with them. My character is big flirt and loves men and the songs are great. Every song is a classic. When we were hearing them, we were all thinking ‘I absolutely love this song’ and then you hear the next one and you're thinking ‘Oh, I absolutely love this song!’ and so on. They are all the original songs from the TV series. We can't have all the songs from the TV series but there are a lot of them and we've got some brilliant new arrangements. It's going to be really like a band on stage.”

With a book by Chloë Moss and original songs from the ground-breaking TV series by Howard Schuman and Andy Mackay, the show is directed by Dominic Cooke, former artistic director of the Royal Court. His recent work includes Medea and Good (West End) and his award-winning production of Sondheim’s Follies.