ONE OF the most successful independent British films of all time is set to be performed on stage when it comes to Malvern Theatres from Monday (April 27) to Saturday (May 2).
Observer chief reporter Jonny Bonell spoke to Colwall-born actress Felicity Houlbrooke who is coming back to her roots to perform in The King’s Speech at Grange Road.
HAVING grown up on the outskirts of Malvern, Felicity recalled numerous performances she saw at the theatres and said coming back to the town where it all began for her will be a surreal experience.
“It is always nice to come home,” she said. “Watching so many productions growing up, you remember the impact those had on you when you were younger and to see it from the other side is a bit overwhelming really. It is very momentous.
“It is always really special to come back but it feels ever so slightly surreal because I love where I grew up and when you are on tour you form this very intensive routine and the people you are working with you become very close to.
“Having them in Malvern is so special because it marries the two important things in my life together for a brief week so it is really special.”
Starring as Wallis Simpson – the wife of King Edward VIII – Felicity will work alongside talented English actor Raymond Coulthard as King George VI and former Neighbours star Jason Donovan as speech therapist Lionel Logue.
The Chichester Festival Theatre & Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s production tells the story of King George VI – who was crowned after his brother King Edward VIII abdicated after falling in love with Wallis – and his relationship with his speech therapist as the country stands on the brink of World War Two.
And Felicity, who has been in theatre since 2009, said the experience she has received working with ‘well established’ actors will only enhance her own work.
“It is always a pleasure and an honour working alongside actors with that wealth of experience,” she added.
“As I am very early in my career being able to watch them throughout rehearsals and then once the production is up and running is a real privilege.
“Learning from them and the wealth of experience they have is incredibly valuable, so I consider myself very lucky to be in that position.
“They are lovely people to be working with and the whole company has a wonderful vibe and atmosphere. It is almost a family set up, everyone gets on really well indeed and has lots of fun.
“It is lovely to be working with such brilliant people and well established actors who have done lots of incredible things is a real privilege.”
After leaving Malvern for an English Literature degree at Sheffield University, Felicity got involved in a theatre company in the Steel City and went on to study a post-graduate acting degree in London before breaking onto the circuit.
And despite admitting she leans towards theatre work, a future career in film and television is something which has caught her eye.
“I would love to be working in theatre as long as there is any work for me,” she said. “However I think a variety is really important and the skills you use in film and TV are so important and so different I would certainly love to be able to do those aswell.”
Visit www.malvern-theatres.co.uk or call the box office on 01684 892277 for tickets.