INTERVIEW: Liz McClarnon talks ELF THE MUSICAL

Liz McClarnon in ELF THE MUSICAL

Liz McClarnon chats to Frankly My Dear UK about her role as Jovie in ELF THE MUSICAL

Following its record-breaking run in London’s West End in 2015-16, ELF THE MUSICAL finally heads to Salford’s The Lowry next month for a seven week run over the Christmas period.

Based on the 2003 hit film starring Will Ferrell, ELF THE MUSICAL tells the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s sack and is transported back to the North Pole. After inadvertently wreaking havoc on the elf community due to his enormous size, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity. The popular musical ran both on Broadway and in London’s West End, becoming the fastest selling show at the Dominion Theatre since its opening in 1929.

Ahead of the cast rehearsals which start this week, Frankly My Dear UK caught up with Liz McClarnon who plays Jovie in the touring production of ELF THE MUSICAL. The former Atomic Kitten star is super excited to be starring in the show, especially in its first Christmas season outside of London.

“I am obsessed with Christmas” gushes McClarnon in an exclusive interview with Donna Kelly from Frankly My Dear UK.

“When I first met the director [Morgan Young] – before I started singing for him – we started talking about Christmas and I was like “I love Christmas”. If I could start talking about it in April that would be fine with me.”

McClarnon plays Jovie, a store assistant at Gimbles toy shop in New York who lacks Christmas spirit. Despite her cynicism, Buddy quickly falls in love with her, eventually winning her over by showing her the true meaning of Christmas. Yet despite Jovie’s initial lack of Christmas cheer, McClarnon describes the role as ‘perfect’ for her.

“Jovie has this sarcastic, dark humour and actually being a Scouser, I’ve lived that my whole life” comments McClaron.

“When I went in and read for the part, I added a few little bits and they were like, “Oh my God, that’s so funny” and I was like “Yes!” I’ve definitely got the dark humour but I’ve also got the Christmas love at the end of it.”

Best known as one third of British chart topping girl group Atomic Kitten, McClarnon is no stranger to performing on stage. During the 2000s, the group accumulated countless awards and a multitude of chart topping hits including the number one single WHOLE AGAIN which spent four weeks in the UK charts. Yet despite her pop background, McClarnon admits she’s always had a love for musical theatre.

“I’ve been obsessed with musical theatre since I was a kid. I just stumbled into Atomic Kitten and found out that I was a good songwriter so that worked for me. Song writing is a massive thing for me and is something I still do but for some reason, singing musical theatre is so much more natural to me.”

Following her time in Atomic Kitten, McClarnon embarked on a solo career in 2006 before eventually turning her hand to musical theatre. ELF THE MUSICAL marks McClarnon’s fourth theatre production following JEFF WAYNE’S musical version of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS in late 2010, and SHOUT THE MUSICAL in 2016. In 2011, McClarnon was also cast as Paulette in the first UK tour of LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL, yet despite her experience, admits she still gets nervous before a show.

“Just before you go on stage, you are filled with dread and fear. You feel sick and you’re like “why do I do this job?” Then three seconds into being on stage you think “this is why I do it”. It’s the best feeling ever.”

“I’m more worried about the ice skating bit. Honestly, I am the clumsiest person. I probably should have said that in the audition to be fair.”

One trick McClarnon hopes will help prevent any mishaps is a little superstition she performs before each show.

“I have different superstitions for different shows. For LEGALLY, Paulette had a lot of earrings and massive shoes so the left earring had to go in first and the left shoe had to go on first because that’s how I did it on opening night so then I had to do it like that the whole time. It’s just something that happens and then I remember it so it’s usually left shoe, left earring. We’ll see what it is in this production.”

Whatever happens, ELF THE MUSICAL is sure to be hit, especially when you look at the cast and creative team. With a book by Tony Award winners Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin and songs by Tony Award nominees Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, it seems like everyone wants a ticket for ELF THE MUSICAL, including members of McClarnon’s family.

“What’s hilarious is that I’m finding that I have family that I didn’t know I had!” comments McClarnon.

“I got a text the other day saying “Hi Cuz” and I was like “who is this?”. No joke, I had no idea who this person is. It said “I just heard that you’re going to be at The Lowry…” and I was like *sigh* “Ah, come on”. Seriously, everyone wants to come to this production.”

ELF THE MUSICAL runs at The Lowry Fri 24 November 2017 until Sun 14 January 2018.

About Donna

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