11 questions: Around The World In 80 Days star Andrew Pollard

Andrew Pollard, star of hit family show Around The World In 80 Days, tells us about playing Phileas Fogg, audience interaction and manic costume changes.

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This summer the whole world is coming to London. Not just for their holidays, but more specifically in theatrical form to Cadogan Hall. There, Jules Verne’s great globe-spanning adventure Around The World In 80 Days entertains family audiences throughout the summer period.

Its story is a daring, rip-snorting quest. Phileas Fogg bets his entire fortune that he can circumnavigate the Earth in just 80 days. Bearing in mind the story takes place in the days before passenger jets, that’s quite an ambition.

It’s an ambition matched by this production of Around The World In 80 Days, which uses a cast of eight to play more than 100 roles and brings planes, trains and an elephant to the stage. Leading man Andrew Pollard tells us more.

How would you describe Around The World In 80 Days?

It’s a great adventure story with a heart-warming romance threaded through it. This production is very fast-paced and funny with lots of stylised fights and visual comedy. It’s very filmic, actually.

Why did you want to be part of the production?

This is the third outing of this show and I’ve been involved since the beginning. It is such a joy to be part of. I never tire of doing it. Audiences just seem to love it and it’s great to entertain people so much in these often-troubled times.

How would you describe your character, Phileas Fogg?

He’s a bit of an innocent, really. In London, he leads a very ordered and quite lonely life. The bet to travel the world transforms him. Through meeting people from various countries, and finding love on the way, he is transformed. This show is a great advocate for showing people not to be closed and to embrace other cultures!

Is there an audience that would particularly enjoy this show?

It is a great family show. We have such a wide-ranging audience, which is fantastic. The kids really respond to the adventure and the playfulness of the show.

How much fun do you have with eight actors playing more than 100 roles?

It is great seeing everyone madly swapping roles. I’m lucky as I am just one character throughout. We often say you could sell tickets to watch the show backstage as it is manic!

How do you feel about performing at Cadogan Hall?

Well, it’s great to be performing in London. And the Hall has a terrific Victorian feel to it, which helps the show. It doesn’t usually host plays, so this is a bit of an experiment, I suppose, but it is a great, intimate venue and we’re hoping families will embrace us there.

Andrew Pollard (left) stars in Around The World In 80 Days
Andrew Pollard (left) stars in Around The World In 80 Days

What was your first experience of theatre?

Watching my grandparents do amateur panto in the local church hall. I was instantly hooked!

Why is live performance so special?

Because you are sharing a unique experience. There truly is nothing like it. Some shows nowadays are so automated that some of the “live-ness” (Is that a word?) is lost. Our show is very theatrical and playful with some audience interaction, so people always say they feel a part of it.

What’s your favourite London theatre?

Well, I would have to say Greenwich Theatre as I have written, directed and played Dame in panto there for 11 years! It has become my second home. I shall be missing it this year (though I’m still writing it), as 80 Days has a Manchester Christmas residency.

What one piece of advice would you give aspiring performers?

Stick at it! Tenacity is a big part of this job. And it’s never too late. Although I was a performer from my 20s (street theatre), I didn’t go to drama school until I was 30.

What’s your top tip for a trip to the theatre?

Turn off your phone!!! Sit back and be transported!

 Around The World In 80 Days runs at Cadogan Hall from 2 August to 2 September.