Gina is Chichester's Maria in The Sound of Music this summer

“At least I'm not pregnant this time,” laughs Gina Beck as she embarks on a summer of The Sound of Music at Chichester Festival Theatre.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Two years ago, she was on the CFT’s main-house stage in South Pacific, stepping down from the role at 31 weeks pregnant: “I probably wouldn't have got away with that as a nun this year!”

Now, with a one-year-old and a six-year-old in tow off stage, she's back for another massive Rodgers & Hammerstein classic. Adam Penford’s new production of The Sound of Music runs from July 10-September 3.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I have actually been in the Sound of Music before,” she says. “It was a production that we took to Kuala Lumpur 12 years ago. It was fully staged and we did eight performances in a 3,000-seater convention centre.”

Gina Beck - pic by Manuel HarlanGina Beck - pic by Manuel Harlan
Gina Beck - pic by Manuel Harlan

A long way to go for so few performances perhaps? “But that's just the way the gig goes sometimes, that you're asked to do a week or two weeks in a foreign country and that's what they want but definitely it was 100 per cent useful (in terms of coming back to the show again now). But I do remember thinking at the time that I would never be able to do a long run of The Sound of Music. Maria never really leaves the stage. And now 12 years later here I am doing it but it is going to be nice not to be pregnant at least and to have my own body back.”

South Pacific was an enormously happy experience, Gina recalls. And yes, she was showing by the end of her time in the production, but then again, as she says, theatre is all about getting the audience to suspend their disbelief after all: “And hopefully the audience just went on the journey with it. But it'll be interesting this time. Last time I was in Chichester we were still deep in the Covid time and there were still lots of restrictions. We had to wear masks throughout the whole rehearsal process and two years ago we were still social distancing and only had half an audience until halfway through the run. But the production was so special because Daniel Evans was directing it and he had such a big impact on the Festival Theatre. I think the way he used the stage at Chichester was just fantastic, the magic of the thrust stage, and also the singing was just so beautiful and the score was just so popular.”

And now Gina is back for Rodgers & Hammerstein again, this time the last show that they wrote: “And yes it does feel like it was written by the same people. They wrote so beautifully and lyrically for singers. For me it's been a real joy to sing the music, especially the more soprano repertoire that Maria has. It is my bag. It's such lovely music with such beautiful lyrics and it is just so perfect.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Part of the fascination, of course, is the fact that The Sound of Music is based on a real story: “Maria is a real person, an actual woman, and all that happened to her is in her autobiography. She was a formidable woman who was extremely determined to keep her family together and keep them singing and when you read the autobiography you find yourself thinking that the sequel to The Sound of Music, what happened next, would have been just as fascinating about what happened after they had actually left Austria.”