Tales from the Street. Coronation Street fan Christine Warren in Canada went to see the show last night and shares her experience and pictures with us here on the Coronation Street Blog. It's well worth a read and when you've read it, have a look at Christine's Corrie fan site - Coronation Street Fun Pages.
And so, it's over to Christine...
"I had heard from a friend in Calgary that the Corrie stars, Charles Lawson (Jim McDonald), Nicholas Cochrane (Andy McDonald), Steven Arnold (Ashley Peacock) and Julia Haworth (Claire Peacock) were not looking forward to coming to Winnipeg, as they had heard it was always cold here. The gods must have heard them, because when they were here yesterday, the temperature was hovering in the mid 20s, which is unheard of for March 22nd.
We had a long line-up to pick up our VIP tickets at the box office, and were then directed into a large room where the meet and greet was to take place. We were supplied with bottles of water and sweet treats to eat, which was a surprise. I was busy chatting away to other Coronation Street fans when a huge roar went up, and in walked our stars, who seated themselves behind a table. Everyone around me remarked on how tiny Julia is in real life.
It was then suggested we form a line around the room to make the meet and greet move as smoothly as possible. Unfortunately I then found myself almost at the back of the line, so had a very long wait to get up to the table. However with so many people to talk to about the one topic of conversation that we all had in common, it wasn't too bad.
All four were personable and very friendly, laughing and joking with everyone they met. I did note that Charles was kept supplied with a beer to his right hand, which kept him amiable.
We had all been given a lovely souvenir brochure when we arrived which contained a large photograph of each of the stars, so we all had something for them to sign, and they did this most willingly. I had a photograph of myself with Julia Haworth which she recognised immediately as having been taken at Andy Whyment's birthday party last year, which she signed for me. I mentioned to Steven Arnold that I didn't expect him to remember me from that day, as he had been three sheets to the wind, and he grinned and said "Good party wa'nt it?" :-)
He then introduced his co-stars, and they seated themselves - or should I say tried to seat themselves on the provided chairs. They were like high bar stools with backs that swivelled at the slightest provocation, and Steven Arnold especially had great difficulty balancing on it. Nick remarked to the audience that you could see why he didn't last long in 'Dancing on Ice', as he has no balance. He finally resolved the problem by lowering the seat until his feet could touch the floor.
They then got down to the subject of Coronation Street and their individual time on the show. With a lot of banter thrown in between them I might add. Charles (who also had a table brought out with a beer on it) told us that he was a serious stage and screen actor before the call came for Coronation Street, and the first time it came, he turned it down because in those days, it was considered beneath an actor's dignity to perform in what was then known as a soap. But he later relented, and has never regretted it for a single day.
Julia told us that unlike Charles and Steven, she had to audition for her role as Claire. She went for her first audition, which went fine, and was then called back for a second one, which was to be filmed. She related that she went back thinking it would be like the first, only on camera, but was led right on to a set, and had to do a scene with Steven Arnold and John Savident. She said she was terrified! However, it went very well, and she was picked for the role.
Nick told us that he and Simon Gregson (Steve McDonald) were in school together, and were picked from there. They also had to audition along with other boys with Charles and Bev Callard who played Liz. While they were waiting afterwards, Bev poked her head around the door and told them she thought they were great, and hoped they got the job, then Charles poked his head around and told them he thought they were crap! (Pause for much laughter).
Nick also told us that John Savident was absolutely nothing like his character of Fred Elliott. He remarked that he is the only person to ever call him 'Dear Heart'. Steven Arnold told us a story of John taking him to the theatre wearing a cape and hat. In the intermission he was told he couldn't smoke in the bar. So he went into the lobby and was told he couldn't take his drink out there. So he stood with one leg in the bar and one in the lobby with his drink and cigarette in the appropriate hand!
After the intermission, the lights were brought up and questions were invited from the audience. I guess by the time they got to Winnipeg they were sick and tired of answering the same old tired questions, so requested nobody ask if the beer is real in the Rovers, etc. Some were feeble, but some were very good. Carol McKibbon asked what it was like to work with the children on the show, and it led to several stories about working with children. Julia said that you have to spend time with them off screen to get good scenes on screen, and Steven said that the little guy who played Joshua for so long always called him Dadda dadda, vs his own father whom he called Dadda. This way, if he slipped up on screen it didn't matter. They both had nothing but good things to say about the children though, and told us that with Freddy, when they had a big storyline, they worked with up to 10 twins, so never knew who they were going to get.
They had a question about their favourite directors, whom they didn't name, but did say they liked some more than others. Charles had a lot to say about what he thinks of Producers who go in thinking they have to make their mark by culling half the cast. He also said he preferred the good old days when scenes were longer and there was more dialogue between the actors.
They were also asked about actor firings, the person was speaking in particular about Bruce Jones. However, they were not going to be drawn into that one, and just said that with few exceptions, actors are let go when their contract expires.
The evening flew by, and I was very sorry when it ended. I think without exception, everyone left the theatre happy. I would highly recommend it to anyone who has yet got the opportunity to see them.
I do feel a bit sorry for the actors though. It is one thing to be on tour with a play where you have set lines to repeat night after night, but this is all off the cuff, and they must get sick and tired of repeating themselves each place they go. I think they did well to make it come across as fresh as they did, after all, they have had a long gruelling tour, with very little time off, and I am sure they will all be very relieved to go home.
Christine Warren, Coronation Street Fun Pages
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