Wind in the Willows - an interview with director Sally Cregan

PUBLISHED: 07:00 22 July 2018 | UPDATED: 09:04 24 July 2018

Sally Cregan, when she was in Slepeing Beauty. Picture; Contributed

Sally Cregan, when she was in Slepeing Beauty. Picture; Contributed

Archant

Honiton Community Theatre Company (HCTC) is producing The Wind in the Willows musical at The Beehive, Honiton, Resident spoke to director Sally Cregan.

Ryan Hutter plays Rat and Beth Hibbert plays Mole. Picture: ContributedRyan Hutter plays Rat and Beth Hibbert plays Mole. Picture: Contributed

When and where did you first get interested in live theatre?

It kind of crept up on me gradually from an interest in classical music believe it or not and the now extinct Youth Music service is Staffordshire, my home county. I did GCSE drama and went on to complete a degree in music. Whilst studying I started performing in the University Theatre company. I’m proud to say I was awarded title of ‘Young musician of the year’ in Staffordshire when I was …young.

Where have you performed in the past?

In Honiton and the surrounds over the last four years or so but I have also performed as a singer in choirs and as a soloist across Europe, although that is a few years ago now. More recently I was delighted to perform alongside friends from Honiton at The Last Night of the Proms in Sidmouth a couple of years ago.

Honiton favourite Shaun Bonetta plays Mr Toad. Picture: ContributedHoniton favourite Shaun Bonetta plays Mr Toad. Picture: Contributed

Have you directed before and which was your favourite show?

I directed HCTC in Private Peaceful in 2016. That was the first serious play we had done, the cast were so committed and it coincided with the anniversary of the end of The Battle of the Somme, making it feel so real and poignant. It entertained the audience in a totally different way to what we normally do as there was no comedy and very little music.

What challenges do you personally face when directing and how do you overcome them?

I am registered as sight impaired and things are a lot more time consuming for me. I have to have all the scripts and music enlarged to a massive font in order to see it! So from a script that is normally 80 pages long I end up with about 400 pages!

Sally Cregan. Picture: ContributedSally Cregan. Picture: Contributed

What attracted you to direct Wind in the Willows?

Erm...well actually I got my arm twisted to co-direct with a certain Mr Alex Jackson who then went and left me to work in London so here I am on my own! However it’s a lovely show with fabulous music and dance and a brilliant script so I’m really enjoying it, although it is a lot of hard work. The show is exciting, has just been in the West End, it’s really modern so it really is an opportunity that amateur companies don’t get very often.

Which is your favourite song in the show?

There are so many so that is a really difficult question... so I’m going to cheat and give you two. ‘Taking over the Hall’ and ‘A friend is still a friend’.

Sally Cregan - Queen Caligula, Kayley Docherty. Picture: Lewis LawSally Cregan - Queen Caligula, Kayley Docherty. Picture: Lewis Law

How are you going to get the best of the cast?

The cast are amazing and hugely motivated which makes leading them easier. The group are hard workers and we have a really great committee and group of helpers who are really supportive of all the additional behind the scenes tasks that need to be done to create a successful show. Hopefully my love for this particular show and for developing young people both on stage and as a team will help.

There’s been a lot of negative press about The Beehive in the past so what is it like to rehearse and perform in?

This is the best space I’ve ever worked and performed in. It has superb facilities and a really flexible space. To have a cast of 52 people of all ages coming together each week would not be possible if we did not have the facilities that the Beehive provides.

What’s next on the directing agenda for you?

I’m leading a facilitated direction for the play ‘And Then There Were None’ for which rehearsals will start around September. It’s a straight play based on the Agatha Christie novel and will be put on at The Beehive in November.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of joining an amateur theatre company?

Do it and do it now. I moved to Devon in 2012 from London and I did not know anybody. I joined HCTC two weeks after we moved here and I’ve never looked back. I have a huge number of close friends within the group. There are so many benefits from being in a group such as this even if you don’t want to be on stage.

How could you best persuade someone to come and see your show?

HCTC aim to develop and get better for each show. We’ve been sold out for our last two productions and we hope to do the same this time so don’t delay, buy today!

The Wind in the Willows will be staged from Wednesday, August 1 to Saturday, August 4. Tickets are £12 for adults and £8 for children and can be bought from The Beehive in person or online at www.beehivehoniton.co.uk

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