Taking on an iconic role is not an easy task, but singer Pixie Lott says she is up to the challenge, she told Sarah Freeman how.
There are a handful of stage and screen roles, so closely linked to a to a particular star that it’s impossible to imagine them played by anyone else. It’s a brave woman who follows Vivien Leigh by taking on Gone With the Wind’s Scarlett O’Hara, it’s a rare performance of The Wizard of Oz that ever produces a Dorothy to rival Judy Garland and who else, but Ingrid Bergman could have played Casablanca’s Ilsa Lund?
Above them all, perhaps, comes Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly. Of all Hepburn’s films, it’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s which has endured. It’s probably something to do with that little black dress, that cigarette holder, that hair do and of course that performance of Moon River. It’s now more than half a century since the original film, also starring George Peppard, was released and in recent years it has been reborn as a stage show.
Anna Friel was the first to take on Golightly and managed to emerge from press night with her reputation intact. In fact she had most of the critics swooning, although they didn’t think much about the rest of the show. Next up is Pixie Lott, the 25-year-old London born singer who is about to bring the kooky Holly on a UK tour.
“I’ve always loved Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the character of Holly is just wonderful. Of course everyone associates that role with Audrey Hepburn but when I heard about the audition I jumped at the chance. Who wouldn’t? It’s every girl’s dream. I think the trick though with these iconic roles is to separate yourself from the original. This is my version of Holly Golightly.”
The society girl who pays her way through life by dating wealthy men, was described by Truman Capote as an American geisha and this production goes back to his original novella.
“That does make it easier to put some distance between what we are doing and the film. We take that action back to the 1940s rather than the 1960s so immediately it doesn’t feel like we are trying to be a copycat of the film.”
Early reviews of her performance have been favourable. When we speak she’s in her dressing room, preparing for another matinee performance of the show, which comes to Leeds next week. She’s in good spirits, but admits the rigours of theatre are both physically and mentally demanding.
“It’s fun, but it’s tough. The good thing though is that you get to share those pressures. Being one member of a bigger cast is great. And I am learning so much.”
Lott is not exactly a novice. From the age of five she began attending Saturday classes at the Italia Conti Academy and became a pupil at the main stage school from the age of 11. Before she had completed her GCSEs she has already appeared in a West End production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium and there was only one thing she ever wanted to grow up to be.
“I was always a little girl who loved to sing and perform. Initially I only went to those Saturday classes because my best friend went, but I was hooked immediately. No one in my family is from a musical or acting background, but mum and dad did love music.
By the time she signed to Mercury Records when she was just 16 she already had enough of her own songs to fill a couple of albums and she even had a name which sounded like it has been dreamt up in a music marketing department.
“My mum called me Pixie because when I was born I was tiny. My real name is Victoria, but Pixie just stuck. When I think back to that first record in some ways everything happened so fast, but it also seemed to take so long. I had been writing songs for as long as a I could remember and as soon as I signed that deal I was ready to go, but obviously things don’t happen quite like that.
“When my debut single, Mama Do, came out, suddenly everything went a little crazy for a while. Overnight there were paparazzi camped outside my house. Life before that single and after it was a complete contrast, but I hope that it didn’t change me too much. When you suddenly become famous people can find it difficult, but this was always what I wanted and I’d like to think I’ve taken it in my stride.”
Since that single there have been three albums, an appearance on Strictly Come Dancing (Lott and her partner Trent Whiddon were eliminated at the quarter final stage) and Breakfast at Tiffany’s is another box ticked.
“This is the first play I’ve done in about 12 years and given the amount of music in this production it’s a nice one for me to do.”
This new adaptation by Richard Greenberg, has new musical numbers by Grant Odling, who wrote songs for One Man, Two Guvnors, but Lott knows its’ Moon River that the audience really want to hear.
“I love that song and what’s really nice is that it’s just me on stage with the guitar. Of course you have to be true to the original, but there is also chance to change it up. It’s true what they say that every night in the theatre is different and that’s really exciting.”
With two weeks off before taking Breakfast at Tiffany’s on the road, Lott was planning to finish her next album.
“Music will always be my number one love. That’s what I do.”
Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Leeds Grand Theatre, April 4 to 9.
For tickets and more information call 0844 848 2700 or visit the website at leedsgrandtheatre.com
Breakfast at Tiffanys was originally published in a volume with three other short stories, House of Flowers. A Diamond Guitar and A Christmas Memory.
Holly Golightly is one of Capote’s best known creations.
Capote was most famous for ‘nonfiction novel’ In Cold Blood about the murder of the Clutter family in rural Kansas.
Capote travelled to Kansas to research the book with his childhood friend, Harper Lee who wrote To Kill A Mockingbird.
In Cold Blood was Capote’s final fully published book.