Maddison relishing key role on stage for University of Chichester

Maddison Cathrow
Maddison Cathrow

From Hackney to Bognor Regis, it’s been quite a leap, says Maddison Cathrow – but one she has relished.

Maddison is thoroughly enjoying life on the University of Chichester’s triple-threat musical-theatre course, particularly for the part it’s bringing her in their double production of Kander & Ebb’s first and last shows.

Curtains ran from Thursday to Saturday, November 14-16 at Bognor’s Regis Centre; now the venue hosts the next instalment, Flora The Red Menace (Thursday to Saturday, November 21-23).

Maddison is one of two performers (double-cast) as Flora Meszaros – a great challenge in a great show.

Flora The Red Menace opened in the 1960s with a 19-year old Liza Minelli in the title role. She won the Tony, the youngest person to have done so.

It offers the tale of Flora, a plucky New York fashion illustrator newly graduated and ready to change the world. She aspires to balance her ideals and personal happiness with humanity, ro-mance and a fine set of tunes.

As Maddison explains: “It is set in New York City in the 1930s, and it is all about the Great Depression and the people who lived in New York at the time. It is about the rise of communism and it is about how young people lead their lives, how they are learning what they believe in politically and socially… and it is really interesting with what is going on right now with all that is happening in politics, with all the young people being encouraged to vote and to find their own political ideas.

“Flora is like someone I have never met. She is loud. She is not delicate at all. She says exactly what and when she thinks. She is never on time for anything. She works by her own clock, but she is also one of the most generous characters I have ever read about. She is great fun to play – and the great thing is that all the creative team have been really accepting of people being able to develop their own interpretations.”

Adding to the pressure of it all, it won’t just be a question of impressing the audiences. The company will also have to impress their tutors who will be assessing them.

“We get assessed throughout the year. We get assessed specifically on the acting and singing and also the technical stuff, but the creative team are very supportive. The technical stuff is really im-portant, but it is also about finding your character through the dancing and singing.”

Maddison is from east London originally: “I grew up around the Hackney area, so moving to Bognor was quite a big jump. Living in London and coming to Bognor was a pretty big difference, but when you come to uni on a really intense course, it is really good to be exploring somewhere new, and unlike other conservatoires, we still have that uni experience which is great.

“I have really enjoyed the course. It has been intense but intense in a really good way. I am in my second year. I will graduate in 2021, and with all the training, I think we will be ready. In the third year, we get a lot of stuff about the industry. We get to meet lots of industry professionals and we have lots of stuff on how the industry works… so I think we will be pretty well prepped when the time comes!”

Plus it looks like Maddison is a natural: “When I was younger, my mum said that I just never stopped talking. She thought it would be good to find a way get all that energy into something else!”