21 April 2020

Isolation Interviews: Kerrie Nicholson (Wheelie Stagey)

Next up I have the magnificent Kerrie who runs the site Wheelie Stagey. Kerrie is a freelance writer, theatre lover and an absolute champion for accessibility within the arts. Alongside her website, she also runs a Wheelie Stagey Podcast.

Q - What inspired you to get into blogging about theatre?
A - I’ve always felt that writing is that “one” thing I’m quite good at and that I want to make a living out of one day, and theatre is one of my biggest passions, so it made sense to combine the two. It also struck me that I didn’t feel disability, especially physical ones like mine are widely represented in the industry, so I wanted to be a voice for those of us out there.

Kerrie with Jenna Russell, Maddison Bulleyment and David Perkins after The Bridges of Madison County.

Q - Whose performances/productions have had the biggest impact on you?
A - I’ve always a bit of a love/hate relationship with dance, in that I get a little bit jealous as my own disability leaves me physically restricted despite being in awe of the skill and the artistry; I finally got to see  Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake in the flesh last year and was utterly transformed by it – Will Bozier was my Swan/Stranger and Dominic North my Prince. I remember feeling really drained, shaky and emotional after it and led in bed that night shedding a few tears because I was overwhelmed in the best way possible.

The Bridges of Madison County headed by Jenna Russell and Edward Baker Duly at the Menier Chocolate Factory was a massive deal for me. It’s one of my favourite shows and scores on this earth and one having started life on Broadway one I thought I’d only ever experience via a cast recording.

Seeing my Broadway goddess Kelli O’Hara perform in person in the King & I was an absolute dream come true, as was seeing Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus, my favourite Shakespeare play!

It’d be silly of me not to answer this question without mentioning Hadley Fraser – he’s one of my absolute favourite theatre performers and has enriched my life in so many special ways, both onstage and off.

Q - What is your favourite musical movie?
A - I’m old school and love all the “Golden Age” movie musicals – all the Rodgers and Hammerstein adaptations, West Side Story and so on. My absolute favourite is Seven Brides for Seven Brothers – I love everything about it, especially the choreography.

Q - What are your favourite show tunes? (You can up choose up to 5 songs)
A - In no particular order, five of my favourites are: Finishing the Hat, Stars, Be Prepared, Rose’s Turn and Wondering – from Sunday in The Park with George, Les Mis, The Lion King, Gypsy and The Bridges of Madison County, respectively.

Q -  What are you favourite theatre quotes?
A - Let me combine musicals, plays and Shakespeare to answer this: a few of my favourite things:

“However you live, there’s a part of you always standing by, mapping out the sky”, from Sunday in the Park with George

“The cat’s back…Hello kitty” – Scar, when Nala & Simba return in the musical version of Lion King

“So Hold This Moment Fast, and Live and Love as hard as you know how” from La Cage Aux Folles

“Love is always better” from Bridges of Madison County

“Strange isn’t it, what comes from within” from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

 “You common cry of curs! Whose breath I hate
As reek o’ the rotten fens
Whose loves I prize
As the dead carcasses of unburied men
That do corrupt my air,
I banish you” (from Coriolanus)

Kerrie with Dale Rapley, Edward Baker-Duly, Paul F Monaghan,
Shanay Holmes, Maddison Bulleyment and Gillian Kirkpatrick
after a performance of The Bridges of Madison County.

Q - What are your favourite theatres to visit?
A - London – The Lyceum, Almeida, Trafalgar Studios, Donmar Warehouse
Elsewhere – Chichester Festival Theatre, Manchester’s Royal Exchange & my local, Bristol Old Vic! I have loads of incredible memories tied to each of these.

Q - As someone who has a disability and is a champion for accessible theatre. How do you feel are dealing with accessibility?
A - The theatre is special to me because it’s where I found my tribe and where I feel welcome because the friends I’ve made don’t treat me any differently in light of my disability, and the performers I’ve been privileged enough to meet are always appreciative of the effort I make to come and see them knowing that said disability can make my theatregoing a logistical challenge because of travel, availability of wheelchair space and so on.

There are theatres out there doing fantastic work to improve and promote accessibility, and
London’s Old Vic is a superb example of this, but I think more could and should be done. The biggest change I’d like to see within the industry is two-fold: have theatre staff of all levels and types of roles reach out to consult disabled patrons and gain our insight about experiences in theatre and ask what they can do to help improve accessibility. Secondly, I would love to see more disabled creatives writing and involved in creating the stories we tell. I believe wholeheartedly that if that’s done, the industry I so love will become richer and more accessible to everybody, disabled or otherwise.

Q - If you could have dinner with 3 theatre-related guests (doesn't have to just be performers). Who would you invite and why?
A - Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Mear and Tom Morris. My favourite composer, choreographer and director. I’d love to hear all the stories they must have and about their work, and see if between the four of us we could come up with a plan for a new musical or play! Subsequent dinner engagements would have to follow as our crew and cast is assembled, of course!

Q - Away from the theatre what are your other favourite hobbies?
A - I absolutely love to read, and am actually on an online course with a bestselling author right now that teaches her method she uses to plan and outline her novels and about the publishing process. I’ve always wanted to write a novel of my own and excited to see where this leads, but more importantly see if I can focus enough to finish the first draft of something I write for a change! I’m also a proud member of Bristol Show Choir, gamer and a sucker for a tv boxset.

Q - Can you tell us a random fact about you?
A - Ian McKellen once shared his chocolates with me!

I'd like to thank Kerrie for her time and wonderful insights. You can visit her website https://wheeliestagey.wordpress.com/ and follow her on Twitter https://twitter.com/wheeliestagey and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WheelieStageyBlog/

Kerrie with Hadley Fraser.

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