Talking Theatre: Maxwell Caulfield Discusses Stage Adaptation of The Lady Vanishes

Talking Theatre: Maxwell Caulfield Discusses Stage Adaptation of The Lady Vanishes

A new stage adaptation of the much-loved Alfred Hitchcock film, The Lady Vanishes comes to Cardiff’s New Theatre from July 16-20.

Socialite Iris is travelling home to England on the train when an accident introduces her to the mild-mannered Miss Froy. After her travelling companion suddenly disappears, Iris is perplexed to find that all the other passengers deny ever having seen her. 

Starring is the  stage and screen, Maxwell Caulfield, who discusses touring with his wife, Juliet Mills.

What’s The Lady Vanishes about?

It’s a thriller set right on the eve of the Second World War, so there’s a lot of dark intrigue whirling around. Nobody trusts anybody and there’s quite a bit of subterfuge involved. The young heroine of the show is in the centre of a web of intrigue; she’s the only person on a train who can remember Miss Froy, who’s gone missing. No-one else seems to have clapped eyes on her, even though she knows full well they all did. The play explores what their various reasons are for denying her existence and being in cahoots with each other.

You’re playing Doctor Hartz. What’s he like as a character?

He’s an enigmatic character. He appears to be the only ally that the younger heroes of the saga can count on… but everybody seems to have an ulterior motive on this train.

A scene from The Lady Vanishes which plays Cardiff’s New Theatre from July 16-20

A scene from The Lady Vanishes which plays Cardiff’s New Theatre from July 16-20

You star opposite your wife, Juliet Mills, and former EastEnders star Lorna Fitzgerald. What’s it like working with them?

Juliet and Lorna have a lovely relationship in the show which is pivotal to the overall dynamic. If you don’t care about their joint plight, it unravels. This show rises or falls on whether you care about the vanishing lady! I think they’re a winning pair and I’m very happy to be on board with them and twirling my moustache.

Are you excited about touring the show?

Juliet and I very much enjoy touring the country together, driving on a Sunday to the next venue, discovering a new British town or city. It’s beautiful to drive through Britain and there’s great spirit in this country.

It’s interesting how different towns have different personalities. It’s a bit of a cliché, but a lot of our tour is up north and I’ve found the northern audiences are very demonstrative in the course of the evening, with either their laughter or their applause or how they greet you at the curtain.

Does it make a difference being able to tour with your wife?

It does. Home is where the heart is, so trucking around together you don’t have any enforced separation. It just makes the whole thing much more pleasant.

It’s good to be on this train hurtling through the night in a blizzard. It’s great to get lost in a good story. That’s what this is, it’s a good yarn.

A scene from The Lady Vanishes which plays Cardiff’s New Theatre from July 16-20

A scene from The Lady Vanishes which plays Cardiff’s New Theatre from July 16-20

You’ve had such an eclectic career, from Grease 2 to Dynasty and Emmerdale. Can you pick any highlights?

Even though I’ve gone to some exotic locations, it’s usually the stage where I’ve had a part I couldn’t wait to do each night.

I loved my experience playing Billy Flynn in the West End in Chicago and I very much enjoyed recently playing Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the show that I met Juliet on, which was The Elephant Man. I was fortunate to be playing the title role and I fell in love with her on stage in character, but needless to say off stage as well.

For all the jobs, one is always hoping and praying that this isn’t your last show. Our industry is fraught with the fear factor, but we also thrive on the adrenalin of it all. I hope there’s still some big challenges ahead, and that this tour of The Lady Vanishes will be fun and challenging.

  • For ticket details visit newtheatrecardiff.co.uk

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