‘A man who’s full of love’: Andrew Lancel on his lead role in The Sound of Music at New Wimbledon Theatre

Taking on the iconic role of Captain Von Trapp, Andrew Lancel explains why he’s happy to be playing against type as the family patriarch.

His role as evil factory boss Frank Foster in Coronation Street earned him a ‘Villain of the Year’ award at the British Soap Awards.

He is also remembered for some equally controversial storylines playing DI Neil Manson in the long-running ITV television series The Bill.

Andrew has since won praise for starring stage performances in Epstein: The Man Who Made The Beatles, and as Brian Clough in The Damned United.

“It was an intense role,” admits Andrew.

“And most of my roles are!”

He accepts without complaint that actors become identified with certain roles or types of roles.

But looking to move away from the dark characters for which he is best known, for him a musical was an obvious choice.

“I was truly, genuinely looking for something lighter, something that my son could enjoy and come to,” he said.

“I’ve always wanted to do a musical.”

Certainly, it’s come as a surprise to many of his fans that Andrew can sing.

“But I’ve always sung,” he said.

“I’ve always done cabaret and concerts.

“And I’ve sung on TV – Children in Need and Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes.

In fact, Andrew won the celebrity edition of the show in 2005 appearing as Morten Harkett, lead singer of 80s synthpop/rock band A-ha.

The role of the Captain also requires Andrew to dance, something he admits he’s had to work at.

“I can dance, I’ve always moved a bit – but you know, I’m 46 now.

“And the pressure’s on when you’re married to a dancer and you’ve got to do a little waltz!”

But for Andrew, the real appeal of taking on such a familiar and cherished character was the opportunity to do something different with it.

“Captain Von Trapp is an underrated, terrific role and there’s much more to him,” he said.

“I was very keen to make him much more accessible and not as strict as he usually is.

“This is a man who is full of love, he’s lost his country, he’s lost his wife, and he’s torn.

“And then this moonbeam comes into his life and everything changes and she unlocks who he really is.”

The Sound of Music first opened on Broadway in 1959, in the West End in 1961, and has been revived many times over the years.

“It’s a show full of hope. This is a mad world at the minute,” said Andrew.

“There’s crazy things going on everywhere, from Brexit to Trump, to Syria – and it’s crazy.

“But for three hours you can sit with this show full of love, and hope, and songs – and I swear you’ll come out feeling better.”

Appearing at the New Wimbledon Theatre marks something of a return to home turf for Andrew.

Filming for The Bill took place in Morden and the surrounding area and he still has a home nearby.

“When I’m in London, that’s my local area,” he said.

“We’re coming to an end so I think it will be quite a special week in Wimbledon.”

Andrew admits that although he’s looking forward to taking a bit of time off, the close of the tour is bitter sweet.

“I’ve done it for six months now, 170 times, so I’ll miss him,” he said.

“I won’t miss his frocks – but I’ll miss him.”

The Sound of Music runs at the New Wimbledon Theatre from Tuesday 25– Saturday 29 October.

Featured image courtesy of Matt Martin, with thanks

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