Theatre and Dance Previews
Interview: Lorraine Chase
The woman who helped put Luton on the map talks about her latest role and the ad that made her famous!
Grove Theatre, Dunstable
27-30 August 2007
Box Office: 01582 60 20 80 (booking fee applies)
Some 30 years ago, Lorraine Chase soared to stardom by way of a certain local airport, but since then she has developed a very successful acting career on both stage and screen.
Most recently, she became infamous as evil Stephanie Stokes in Emmerdale, a part which she has just left after five years.
She is now back on stage in the UK tour of Dead Guilty, a thriller which can be seen at the Gordon Craig Theatre Stevenage this month.
She plays Margaret, the long suffering wife of John Haddrell. But when he dies of a heart attack at the wheel of his car, the woman at his side is not his Margaret, but Julia, his mistress.
Unaware of the affair, Margaret visits Julia in hospital and events take a sinister turn when Margaret begins to encroach on Julia’s life.
Lorraine told us how she got into acting after her "Nah - Luton Airport" days and the secret of how she keeps looking so glamorous, but first she talked about her latest role.
Dead Guilty is a thriller isn't it?
Lorraine: Yes - it's about a chap called John Haddrell who dies of a heart attack at the wheel of his car and the woman beside him is a lady that he works with. She's recovering from the injuries and is visited by Margaret, his wife, who I play, who apparently doesn't know anything about the affair they've been having. Then events take a dodgy old turn and Margaret begins to encroach on Julia's life because she's a rather desparate woman who's all on her own and a bit twitchy because her old man has been having affairs all his life, so she's quite a needy person.
So she knows that he's had affairs but she doesn't know about this one?
Lorraine: No, absolutely.
So you're the long suffering wife and he has an accident while his mistress is sitting next to him?
Lorraine: Yes, but I don't know that, I think he's just had a car accident while him and this lady, who run an advertising agency, were going to do work.
Does it get a little bit sinister?
Lorraine: It does. Margaret has obviously been in a very dysfunctional relationship in that this chap has clearly not been very kind to her. He's humiliated her by always going out with other women, young girls, so really it becomes quite sinister in the fact that Margaret is very needy and starts to encroach on Julia's life.
Is it just because she's needy or does she have an evil twist to her?
Lorraine: She does have this compulsive obsessive disorder. She doesn't have an awful lot going without the husband who was obviously everything in her life. Her complete focus was her life with him, keeping the house tidy, and all those sorts of neurotic things so it does take a sinister turn, I don't want to give away the ending but I start to take control of Julia's life and make Julia, as these people often do, become not so sure of herself, almost thinking that she's going out of her mind really.
So it's almost like Margaret needs somebody in her life to control?
Lorraine: Yes - I think she's been under control for so long that, it's often the way isn't it, that people who have been abused become abusers so I think she starts to really abuse Julia in the way that probably her husband abused her, taking away her confidence, taking away her reality, her friends, and taking over her life.
It sounds a fantastic role to get your teeth into?
Lorraine: It is, and I think what's rather nice is that it's one that people won't be disappointed in if they're coming to see Stephanie Stokes, because there are some very similar traits like the compulsive obsessive disorder and also this sinister element. It's nice if you see a character that you feel you know a little about.
Yes - it sounds like there are similarities because it turned out that Steph, the part you played in Emmerdale, was abused and what she did resulted from that?
Lorraine: Yes. And it's also incredibly well written by Richard Harris, and the more we go into it, the more we realise that there's that and that and that. There's also a very interesting relationship with Julia (Clare McGlinn) and Gary Turner, who plays Gary in it actually, where she (Julia) actually manipulates the relationship with him. That's also quite sinister, and of course we've also got lovely Abigail Fisher in it who was in Emmerdale when I was there and Gary Turner also came back for a little turn when I was there, so we kind of know each other.
There's lots of clever stuff. You realise that there are parts of the relationship that I show with Julia that Gary also has with Julia but in that relationship she's the stronger one, so it's very, very clever and it's a very well written play.
And people love a thriller don't they? Are you enjoying being on the stage, because you've just come out of Emmerdale after five years?
Lorraine: Well - it is quite frightening, because I haven't been on the stage for some time. People have said 'oh it must be easy to learn' but it isn't. When you're in Emmerdale it's all short sharp shrifts and you learn it and then you have to forget it. But of course now, what I have to do is remind my brain that I mustn't forget it but it keeps wanting to ditch it, so it's been incredibly difficult for me to learn and it's quite nervewracking.
We talked about the similarity between these sorts of roles but before that you'd done a lot of comedy?
Lorraine: Yes - I do like comedy and I would like to return to comedy but yes I seem to be having these roles now don't I? I must say I'm generally [in life] the weedy one and it's rather nice. I do base these on someone I know and had experience of so it's rather cathartic to be able to give it out rather than taking it!
Did you always want to act?
Lorraine: No! I first got into modelling as a fluke because a friend had taken some pictures while he was at photographic college and then someone saw them and the rest is history. Then when I did the Campari commercial it became very, very difficult for me to do modelling because I would turn up and people would go 'ohh - we love that ad but oh dear - product identity - I don't think we could use you for this'. But then of course it was lovely because people knew you and started to get to know you as your name.
Then an agent approached me and asked if I could do anything else and I said I didn't know, but I realised that I had to have a try because it was very difficult for me as a model, I was 27 then and knew that it wasn't going to last forever. So I was thrown into it and my first play was with Kenneth Williams and it opened in Greenwich and went straight into the West End.
So you were literally thrown into it?
Lorraine: Yes - I literally had to learn on my feet and I think I was extraordinarily lucky to be with that cast, to be with very, very good people at the beginning and that they were generous and they realised I wanted to learn. I would listen and learn and even if I wasn't in scenes I would always watch and see how people coped with things and did things. And so I continue, I'm just learning all the time really.
Well it seems that Luton Airport literally changed your life?
Lorraine: The commercial did yes. In fact I've always thought there's a good commercial to be had for Luton out of it because I've changed incredibly from the day I said "nahh - Luton airport" and so has Luton. I always think it would be a wonderful idea for a commercial where you see this very together, elegant, booted and suited, very sharp person from the back. And then, you get to where you board the plane and they say "Miss Chase, you're usual seat' and she says 'yes please' and turns to the camera and says, 'so you think I've changed - you should see Luton'!
And of course that commercial put Luton on the map. I don't think it was about Luton making me I think it was the other way round, it was that commercial which put Luton in everybody's minds. If people didn't know it had an airport, they certainly knew after that commercial!
So you wouldn't want to drop Luton Airport from your life then?
Lorraine: No I don't at all! I loved that ad. It also changed my life in that people would come up and talk to me, so I didn't have to be shy anymore because I was mortally shy.
You say you've changed a lot but you still look so glamorous. How do you do it?
Lorraine: Well, I don't know! In fact, I'm beginning to think that I'm going to have to colour my hair - I don't know if it's playing this part but I swear I've suddenly gone really quite grey! And it's never come to me before! But I've got my long hair and that's because I'm not terribly good at doing all these things women should do like having their hair coloured and going to the hairdressers and having a massage or doing my face. I don't do any of it so it's a kind of laziness really that I have my long hair, but I think I'm going to have to address these things now.
But you wouldn't have it cut would you?
Lorraine: I don't know. But I've got to address this hair colour thing I think.
What would you like the future to hold for you then?
Lorraine: I would love to do some more serious stuff on telly, maybe a female detective, or one of these lovely true life drama type series. I'd love to do period drama, I'd love to do more comedy. I love things like New Tricks, I adore that, and I love Waking the Dead.
And touring will be different for you after so long in a soap?
Lorraine: Yes, but I've toured many times - with Little Shop of Horrors, Pygmalion, Tea for Two. I've done a lot of theatre over the years and I'm very lucky in that I've done a lot of West End theatre such as Me and My Girl and Run for Your Wife, so I have done a lot of theatre but not for a while!
And when you get in a soap people seem to just remember you for that?
Lorraine: Yes - but it doesn't matter - as long as they remember you for something! And people have not forgotten Luton airport and that was nearly 30 years ago!
last updated: 15/08/07
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