George Parker talks about his role in 1950s rock ‘n' roll musical TEDDY

Molly Chesworth and George Parker in TEDDY. Photo by Scott Rylander

Molly Chesworth and George Parker in TEDDY. Photo by Scott Rylander

George Parker talks to Frankly My Dear UK about his role in 1950s rock ‘n’ roll musical TEDDY

Following its award-winning premiere at Southwark Playhouse in 2015, 1950s rock ‘n’ roll musical TEDDY makes a welcome return to the stage as part of a UK tour.

Set in the aftermath of the Blitz, TEDDY tells the story of two teenagers, Teddy and Josie, who get ready for an unforgettable night out, no matter how dangerous the consequences. The musical includes well-known hits from the era, as well as original numbers written by Dougal Irvine.

Ahead of its run at Salford’s The Lowry this week, Donna Kelly of Frankly My Dear UK caught up with George Parker who plays Teddy in the award-winning musical to ask him about his role and why TEDDY is so different to other jukebox musicals.

Frankly My Dear UK (FMD): Can you start by telling us a little bit about the show and the character that you play?

George Parker (GP): The show is set in Elephant and Castle and is about a Ted and a Judy, Teddy and Josie. Both are totally in love with rock and roll, particularly Johnny Valentine. They both begin the play separately but are brought together because of this mutual passion for music, they hang out in the same derelict spaces and go to the same cinema. They meet one night and completely hit it off. From then on they keep on bumping into each other, whether by coincidence, or because Teddy is putting the moves on her, you’ll have to see the show. Suddenly they’re alone together and decide that tonight is their night and they’re going to see Johnny Valentine, whatever the cost. This leads them down a path of chaos, fun, love and destruction. In the end, there actions have huge consequences, but you can’t fault them for living whilst they could.

FMD: How does TEDDY differ from jukebox musicals?

GP: Teddy is great value as it is full of original tunes as well as familiar hits from the 1950s.

FMD: The show is described as a “play and a gig happening at the same time”. Why is music so important to the story?

GP: The Teddy boys and girls loved their music, but when Bill Haley was first heard on British shores, rock’n’roll swiftly took a central position in the Teddy culture. It hit like a lightening bolt, it was quick, aggressive and didn’t give a damn about what people thought about it. That sort of attitude was what the Teddy boys loved.

Molly Chesworth and George Parker in TEDDY. Photo by Scott Rylander

Molly Chesworth and George Parker in TEDDY. Photo by Scott Rylander

FMD: As well as Teddy, you also play other characters in the show. Is it challenging to switch between roles?

GP: It is, but it is also a very freeing experience and tests your skill as an actor. The tricky bit is when you have a conversation between characters and two aren’t there. The trick is, I think, to give yourself enough time to switch between them and allowing them to be sharp and easily identifiable.

FMD: Do you see any similarities between the teenagers of today and the teenagers like Teddy and Josie in the ‘50s?

GP: Certainly, in the sense that both then and now, kids like to go out and party. The difference is Teddy and Josie are children of war and witnessed the blitz first hand. There was a sense that life didn’t have much security, another war could break out, or planes would appear in the sky and bombs could rain down. So when the Teds went out, I think they enjoyed it more, because who knows, they might’ve never had the chance to go out again.

FMD: Why do you think Rock ‘n’ Roll music is still so popular today?

GP: Rock and Roll has always been about expression. It’s a genre which allows you to vent and express your frustrations with life and the world. Life has only got more complex, and Rock and Roll has survived and flourished for that very reason.

FMD: What changes, if any, can audiences expect to see in the touring production from the original show?

GP: I wasn’t part of the original production, but I can tell you, be ready for a physical piece, its frenetic, full of dance and never stops. It’s rock and roll!

TEDDY runs at The Lowry from 13 to 17 February 2018.

Donna is the Editor of Frankly, My Dear UK. By day, she is a digital marketing whizz, by night she reviews film, theatre and music for a wide range of publications including WhatsonStage, The Public Reviews and ScreenRelish. Loves Shakespeare, prosecco and Formula 1