Hannah Waddingham on Bringing a Queen to Life in The Pirate Queen | Interview


Based on the real-life story of history’s Grace O’Malley – an Irish Chieftain and notorious pirate, The Pirate Queen is an adventure chronicling the compelling, inspiring heroine who led an extraordinary life as a rogue, lover and mother in 16th-century Ireland. To protect her people and save her one true love, O’Malley must confront the one woman more powerful than her— her fierce rival, Queen Elizabeth I of England.

From the writers of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon, the show combines classic storytelling and a sweeping score, with the powerful, vibrant traditions of Irish dance and song, to create a modern musical event that is both historic romance and a timeless epic.

Playing Queen Elizabeth I in this one night only extravaganza is Hannah Waddingham, who told us what we can expect from the musical, what other historical figure she'd like to play and what her favourite moment of the musical is...



Tell us about The Pirate Queen, what can we expect?
Audiences can definitely expect an absolutely glorious wall of sound to hit them from the get go. Just sitting in on rehearsals the last few days I can’t quite believe what the ensemble have already achieved, quite irritatingly quickly really! It’s the most beautiful, expansive, atmospheric  piece and I can’t wait for us to unleash it on the London Coliseum. 


You're playing Queen Elizabeth, what's it like brining a royal to life?
What’s struck me most about trying to mould myself into Queen Elizabeth I is the sense of responsibility and how information received by her from her court must be firstly processed as Queen, not as a woman. 


What's your current favourite moment of the show?
My current favourite moment of the show is when she and Grace (Rachel Tucker) are in their own heads ruminating about the “other woman” in the duet She Who Has All. 

It’s that beautiful construct of the audience seeing and hearing their insecurities in life and about the other person before they see it in each other in the flesh. 


If you could star in a musical about any other historical figure, who would you choose?
If I were to take on the role of any other historical figure it would have to be a biblical one! Nothing touches Judas Iscariot for me. Both vocally and emotionally there could be no more satisfying a role for me than that. 


Why should people come and see The Pirate Queen?
People should come and see The Pirate Queen because it deserves to be heard in the beautiful, epic setting of The London Coliseum. They are such fitting bed fellows. 


The score is Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg at their atmospheric best, and what greater cause could there be than for the Leukaemia Uk charity. The evening will be a great privilege for everyone to be part of, both on stage and off. 


The Pirate Queen plays at the London Coliseum on 23 February, 7pm

photo credit: Danny Kaan

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