The smash hit musical ANYTHING GOES, starring Tony Award winner Sutton Foster and directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall will sail onto Australian cinema screens for two days only on Sunday March 27 and Wednesday March 30 in a live recording filmed at London’s renowned Barbican Theatre.
Originally from the Gold Coast, Vivien has spent the last sixteen years performing in London’s West End. She was thrilled to be cast in Anything Goes at the Barbican understudying the incredible role of Reno, played by Sutton Foster.
Upon graduating from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), Vivien began her career touring Australia with We Will Rock You, concluding the tour in Tokyo. She then headed to London where she attended an ‘open casting call’ for Guys and Dolls at the Picadilly Theatre and was cast, performing alongside Patrick Swayze and Don Johnson. Productions of Evita (Adelphi Theatre), Eurobeat (Pleasance Grand, Edinburgh) and Oklahoma (Kilworth House) followed, before Vivien landed the leading role of Velma Kelly in Chicago in the West End (Cambridge Theatre). She has worked at the National Theatre in productions of Medea, with Helen McCrory and Michaela Coel, and with Tori Amos and Samuel Adamson on the world premiere of The Light Princess. Past credits include playing Amy Chapman in Radio Times and Nicki Pignatelli in Sweet Charity, both at the Watermill Theatre. Vivien played Baroness Schraeder in The Sound of Music (Pattihio Municipal Theatre), Myrtle in Fings Aint Wot They Used T’be (Stratford East) and Betty in The Tailor Made Man (Arts Theatre). She was in the original cast of Soho Cinders (Soho Theatre) and Beautiful in the West End (Aldwych Theatre), playing Marilyn and understudying Carole King, with whom she performed live in Hyde Park.
Can you tell me about your background with performing?
Vivien: My Mum was a dancer and I grew up obsessively watching videos of the Royal Ballet and Fred and Ginger from about 3 years old. I was desperate to start dance classes and trained on the Gold Coast with Peta Mckenney before studying Musical Theatre at WAAPA. Early on, my biggest home-grown inspirations were Todd Mckenney and Caroline O’Connor and of course people like Anne Reinking, Chita Rivera and Gwen Verdon. The Aussie/Tokyo production of We Will Rock You was my first job out of WAAPA and after that I wanted to travel around Europe. While backpacking, I went to an open audition for Guys and Dolls in the West End, and have worked in London ever since.
How did you find understudying Sutton Foster?
Vivien: When I found out I was going to be understudying Sutton I was so excited! She created this version of Reno based on her incredible triple-threat skills and when I found out she was playing it again, I knew I’d get to do all the dancing – the high kicks, the full tap number – without any of it being cut, which is rare nowadays. Sutton is a great company member and team player. She’s kind, approachable and so down to earth. We both have 4 year olds so we bonded over that. We all adored her and admired her talent, warmth and professionalism.
What was the most difficult part of working on the show?
Vivien: I think the most difficult part of working on the show was the underlying threat that we might have to close due to Covid. We were testing every day and other shows around us were having to shut down for weeks at a time so it felt precarious. We loved going to work and didn’t want to miss a moment of it.
And the most exciting?
Vivien: I loved learning all of Reno’s big song and dance numbers and rehearsing them over and over to build stamina. I love roles where you feel like you use every part of yourself. Reno is so joyful and fun and I was basically buzzing the whole job, even though I wasn’t even playing the role! The other moment I have to mention is our first audience. Robert Lindsay turned to me halfway through Act One and said, ‘I’ve never experienced anything like this’. The atmosphere was electric and this feeling of all being together again, being connected and experiencing this show live after so much isolation, was euphoric. The power and magic of Theatre.
Why do you think audiences still love Anything Goes?
Vivien: Anything Goes is escapist theatre at its best. The slapstick/screwball comedy is timeless and rolls along at a fast pace, cramming in as many gags and as much silliness as possible. And then there’s Cole Porter’s exquisite score played to perfection by the orchestra with each character having their own unique voice expressed through song. It’s also set on a cruise liner as it crosses the Atlantic so it’s like diving into that world of 1930’s glamour. Musical Theatre heaven.
For tickets and more information visit www.anythinggoesmusicalcinema.com