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Alan Magor - The Ladykillers - Interview

The beloved Ealing black-comedy movie, The Ladykillers, first hit cinema screens 67 years ago but remains popular today thanks to its brilliant writing and tremendous performances including leading roles for Alec Guiness as Professor Marcus and Katie Johnson as Mrs. Wilberforce. 

So popular was the story that in 2004 the Coen Brothers brought a remake to the screen, re-locating the story from London to Mississippi and starring Tom Hanks in the leading role. 

It was in 2011 that the play, written by Graham Linehan, first hit the stage debuting at the Liverpool Playhouse before transferring to London's Garrick Theatre. The production starred Peter Capaldi as Professor Marcus and also ran on a UK tour.

Fast forwards to now and Hereford's The Courtyard are reviving the stage production in April where it'll run at the theatre between the 6th and 10th April.

The production will star Alan Magor as Louis. Alan's previous credits a run in The Mousetrap which is where I first saw him being tremendous as Sergeant Trotter. I spoke to Alan about the production and his role.

Alan first discussed the production and the role he'll play. "‘The Ladykillers’ runs at the beautiful Hereford Courtyard Theatre from April 6th-10th 2022. It’s produced by Here To There Productions – an independent theatre company based in Ludlow."

"As a story, it doesn’t really need any introduction – but people are often surprised to hear it’s been made into a stage show! It had a stellar cast for its West End run in 2011, such is the attraction of it to both audiences and creative teams alike."

"I’ll be playing the part of Louis – the role famously played by Herbert Lom in the original 1955 film and by the immensely talented Ben Miller in the West End production of this script."

Alan Magor. Photo by John Clark

I asked Alan what it was that drew him to the role of Louis. "Louis is a real challenge! I’ve always loved multifaceted, complex characters to really get to grips with and pick your way through. There’s the obviously dark elements, but also aspects of trauma in amongst the brilliantly written dark comedy. And then there’s the accent...! I actually read for both Louis and Harry in the auditions, but Louis was a role which I was excited about the prospect of. Thankfully (and oddly) I’ve worked quite a bit with a Romanian accent, so I was able to bring that straight with me!"

We've both mentioned the classic 1955 movie and Alan discussed watching the movie and taking inspiration from it "I watched the film many, many years ago back when I was a young hopeful actor with insomnia who was just looking for inspiration. I loved how theatrical it was, so to have the opportunity to be part of it on stage is a real blessing."
"I didn’t want to watch the whole thing before the auditions because I wanted to take my memories of it and my knowledge of the script to make it my own, but I did watch clips to see how strong Lom played the accent aspects. The fact this production is on stage as opposed to screen means we’ll each have to bring different qualities of performance to the film, which is also exciting as it means we’ll have to work together to find our own ensemble ethic which can feed into the comedy."

We discussed the appeal of the production and why it's lasted and remained popular "Having worked on ‘The Mousetrap’ – this seems to be becoming a bit of a theme for my career! I love the old school classics, and feel quite privileged to be able to have performed in some of the greatest pieces of British Drama history."

"Comedy is comedy, entertainment is entertainment, and good writing is good writing at the end of the day. That doesn’t matter whether it’s written in 1822 or 2022 – if it’s enjoyable and riveting, it will stand the test of time. ‘The Ladykillers’ has certainly done that, and long may that continue. I’m a big fan of new writing and telling new stories, but also believe there’s a place for pure entertainment, escapism, and admiration of where we’ve built from on our stages too."

Being a rather dark comedy, to say the least, I asked if he saw any similarities with himself and the character "On a personal level? No – that would be quite disturbing given the content! On a professional level? Absolutely. 

A lot of my career to date has incorporated more classical aspects of theatre – from Shakespeare to the post-war plays, and a heavy dose of Murder Mysteries and Noir Thrillers/Comedies thrown in. ‘The Ladykillers’ feels like an amalgamation of all of my favourite career experiences to date, and that’s something which became evident the moment I read the play. There are projects you just get a ‘good feel’ for the moment you begin working on the audition, and this was certainly one of those. I’ve had that feeling before and not got the role, but luckily for me with ‘The Ladykillers’ it went my way this time!"

The talk turned to what Alan is most excited about the production and working alongside the team. "I worked with Here To There back in 2019 before heading for London – on their production of David Hare’s ‘Racing Demon’ in Malvern. I’m really looking forward to getting back into the room with the company again, and so many of my ensemble mates from ‘Racing Demon’ too."

"Andrew Whittle will have quite insightfully directed and produced both. Morgan Rees-Davies – a brilliantly intuitive actor – is playing Marcus. Ben Jackson – one of the funniest actors I’ve worked with and tried not to corpse against – is playing One Round. My good mate Phil Jennings – a brilliantly altruistic and flexible actor – is playing the Constable. And the lovely Joyce Marshall – who made me able to rock a dog collar – is back doing costume too! And Wild Edric Media are involved for the trailer and tech as well, whose work is always brilliant and engaging."
"It’s always wonderful to get to work with people you admire and trust implicitly again, so that’s going to be a really exciting aspect of rehearsals. Add to that a couple of great auditions from the other cast members and it whets your appetite to get started for sure! There’s also the additional excitement that we’re planning on going for the revolving set as well, which would be my first time working on a revolve."

Finally, I asked Alan why people should choose to see the production. "I don’t need to sell ‘The Ladykillers’ as a piece – it’s already immensely popular. So, honestly? I’d say the production company. Here To There are entirely independent, and independently funded – and the work that goes into that is hugely credible. They specialise in giving opportunities to not only established professional talents but also affording early career artists – both on and off stage – opportunities to grow and develop within their projects. Some are larger scale, such as ‘The Ladykillers’ and their Hereford repertoire, or their annual Open Air Shakespeare performances at Ludlow Castle. Others are more intimate and smaller scale, and they really did plough a very lonesome furrow in getting theatre back into smaller spaces again in the Midlands post-pandemic. 

"Andrew works damn hard, and he deserves huge kudos for the opportunities he affords others. Their choice of plays is always exciting too – it’s not often as an actor you get to work on plays by playwrights such as David Hare, Mike Bartlett, Harold Pinter, Alan Ayckbourn, and the like barring being involved in premiering productions. Companies like Here To There are pivotal for giving actors the opportunity to work with some of the richest writing and highest calibre theatre to be able to really test and hone their craft, and perform in genuinely wonderful venues – whether they hold 50 people or 1500 people." 

"There’s teeming life in British Theatre outside of London. And companies like Here To There are the pioneers and life-support that prove that in the Midlands."

The Ladykillers runs at Hereford's The Courtyard Theatre from 6th - 10th April 2022. Tickets are available now from

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