Get to know the cast of Hopeless Romantics
Get to know the cast of Hopeless Romantics.
We caught up with Blake Aidan, Hannah Douglas, Elliott Rennie and Chandrika Chevli. The four actors will be performing in Hopeless Romantics this July.
In this interview, the cast told us more about their careers and how they’re feeling about performing again.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
BLAKE: I grew up in Portsmouth in a household of performers. My parents were part of an amateur dramatics group, my brother was an actor and did drama at university and my sister was and still is a dancer, so performing has always been a big part of my life and I’ve never really wanted to do anything else. I went to study drama at the University of Winchester in 2012 and in 2016 made the big move to London where I trained at The Poor School, graduating two years later, and I now live with my girlfriend just a few doors down from where we trained. Outside of work, I’m a huge Portsmouth FC fan (for better or for worse) and do stand-up comedy when restrictions allow.
HANNAH: I’m from London, I’ve been performing pretty much my whole life. My poor mum spent every waking moment being a taxi service to dance/drama/singing classes, watching me prance about on stage or screen and sewing sequins onto costumes like a boss. (Thanks mum. Hope it was worth it!) I trained at ALRA and I recently won best actress at the Buenos Aires International Film Festival, which is a bit nice.
CHANDRIKA: Whilst at university I fell into working in radio news, which I kept going for 16 years, including on Radio Five Live and Radio 2. I’m delighted to have left that for good…now I’m just trying to stop being cast as newsreader/reporters!
ELLIOTT: I’m an Actor Musician from the Derbyshire Dales. I play a couple of instruments and really enjoy playing and listening to lots of different styles of music (a lot of disco though) I support Arsenal and I’ve just bought a van to do up as a camper!
How do you feel to be performing your role/s in Hopeless Romantics at The Courtyard?
HANNAH: I’m really looking forward to revisiting the role of Zoe. I was in the original production, so I am excited to find new things this time around. It’s especially nice to be performing back at The Courtyard too!
CHANDRIKA: Really looking forward to it, especially the variety of roles I am taking on. Despite the fact that we will only be in Hereford, I may be churning out accents from across the nation!
ELLIOTT: I feel really fortunate to be back doing this job, I work on building sites in between jobs and although that’s been great that I have a side-hustle that still has been happening (lots of friends lost all of their incomes this last year) it’s going to feel such a high to be in room with an audience.
BLAKE: I’m really excited. It’s such a great opportunity for me. When I got the script through for the first round of auditions, I knew this was a part that I really wanted so I’m grateful to be here now talking about it! It’s an excellent play with an excellent story, so I’m excited to be a part of it. I’m also really looking forward to be working somewhere I’ve never been before and in such a beautiful theatre. On top of all of that, I’m just so excited to be working again given the events of the last year.
What are the parallels/differences between you and your character in Hopeless Romantics?
ELLIOTT: I think I used to be a lot like Jamie – cynical and assured that love doesn’t exist. Now I’m definitely less sure that I know what’s right. I may have also softened on the love thing.
BLAKE: We both know absolutely nothing about cars! I think we’re actually quite similar, although I like to think I’m slightly less awkward than he is! Al just wants to please people and wants everything to go smoothly and I have to say I’m much the same. I quite often worry about making sure everyone is happy and I too am guilty of saying “sorry” too much! I think it’s safe to say I have a much calmer family life than Al does and I certainly don’t dread family occasions, but at the same time I do find him very relatable, which is one of the reasons I’m excited to be playing him.
CHANDRIKA: Well I’d like to think I have the romanticism of Martha…and with any luck not quite as much of a harridan as Avril.
HANNAH: We definitely both use humour as a defence mechanism! And I also feel way more comfortable in trainers than stilettos! I don’t think I am as stubborn as Zoe though…?! Not quite anyway!
How are you feeling about being back on stage, live in front of an audience after the pandemic?
BLAKE: I really cannot wait. We all know the last year has been incredibly difficult for the industry with numerous setbacks. It’s tough not being able to do the thing you love with no indication of when you might get to do it next, but I think this has spurred me on to work even harder than I was before. Everyone has worked incredibly hard to get the industry up and running again and (touch wood) it feels like we’ll be back to normal very soon. The atmosphere of a theatre with an audience is irreplaceable.
CHANDRIKA: Quite giddy. I’m looking forward to every aspect of live theatre again both as an audience member and performer.
HANNAH: I feel REALLY GOOD ABOUT IT!! The theatre world had such a knock this past year, it’s so great that it’s coming back!
ELLIOTT: I can’t wait, it’s the best.
Why should people come and see Hopeless Romantics at The Courtyard?
BLAKE: Firstly, to support your local theatre after almost 18 months of not being able to! But also, it’s such an engaging story of two very different people being stuck together and their unlikely relationship, and it makes for a thoroughly enjoyable night. It’s funny, it’s heart breaking, it’s incredibly moving and I think it’s a story you can really get stuck into.
HANNAH: It’s a really heart-warming, funny story and after the year everybody has had, I think people need some well written light relief!
ELLIOTT: Nick writes characters that are truthful, and we recognise everyone is multi-layered with good and bad traits all thrown in. You’ll love and be frustrated by these characters like family members. Nick’s a romantic but also a realist, he’s a genius and loves to be the idiot. This play of his has all of that and for me, it makes me think that life’s too short to keep things bottled up. Just come and see it, you’ll have a lot of fun and we all need that right now.
CHANDRIKA: To enjoy the return of live theatre with a show that is fun and full of heart.
What has been your favourite role to play in your career?
ELLIOTT: Tiny Tim…..I’m 6’4. No one saw that coming.
HANNAH: Patience in Lapwing – my first lead in a feature film, which is coming out in UK cinemas later this year. It was such an incredible part to play. Plus, of course, Lizzie Bennett right here at The Courtyard!
CHANDRIKA: My favourite job was doing an episode of Not Going Out. Getting to rehearse for a week and then perform in front of a live studio audience was joyous. Just like theatre…but with TV cameras thrown in as well.
BLAKE: It’s really hard to pick one, to be honest! I’ve been quite fortunate with the number of roles I’ve had since graduating from drama school. If I had to pick one, I’d have to say Dan in a short comedy-horror called Quoggers, made by the excellent Hollow Dell Media. I was a hopeless romantic in that too! It was a genre that I hadn’t really got into all that much until then, so it was such a great experience to see how a horror is made. It was a lot of fun to work on and I’m really proud of it.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to become a performer?
CHANDRIKA: It’s really not an easy option, but if you are passionate about it then you have to be determined to stick to it and carve your own way!
ELLIOTT: It’s a kind of stupid job: I was told early on by someone that doing this job would be frustrating: I’ll be skint and unhappy and moving around all of the time. I’m not unhappy but it can be hard. I’d say to really try and work out what kind of performing would make you truly happy, not just what you think you should do. Also find a side-hustle for between jobs. Something that you enjoy, it’s taken me a long time to find a good one.
BLAKE: There are so many things I could say! Be prepared to work hard. Get some training. Keep active. Take opportunities. But perhaps most importantly (and this is a lesson I had to learn myself recently), remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Things don’t just happen overnight, which is why you have to be prepared to work hard. Be patient and be kind to yourself. Keep practicing and when the opportunities come, you’ll be ready.
HANNAH: Don’t let people tell you to “get a real job”. They’re just jealous!
Do you have a crazy or funny dating story of your own?
BLAKE: It’s a short story, but here goes… when I was 16, I had a big crush on a girl I was at school with for a long time. I always thought there was something there, but nothing happened for ages. Eventually, we started seeing each other and started going out. Two days into our (very brief) relationship, I went to see her feeling excited and all loved up, but I left after less than an hour after being broken up with… via her mum! Quite a harrowing experience for 16-year-old me, but luckily, I can look back on it now and laugh. I promise!
HANNAH: Nope! I did use to keep a snog diary like Zoe though!
CHANDRIKA: Not that I can share publicly!
ELLIOTT: What happens in Peterborough stays in Peterborough.
Hopeless Romantics will be on our Main House stage from Tuesday 20 – Saturday 24 July at 7.30pm. There will also be a Saturday matinee performance at 2.30pm. Audio Description will be available for the matinee show.
After a year away from the theatre it feels good to be back. Hopeless Romantics is the perfect Comedy-Romance to return to with moments that will being a tear to your eye and others that will make you laugh out loud. Don’t miss it this summer at The Courtyard.