Meet the Cast of Rent: Frankie McKean

Rent opening night is just 2 days away, but there is still time to book here for Thursday, Friday or Saturday at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Woking.

"... bringing love, sex and a lot of angry arguments to the stage!"

Name: Frankie McKean

Character Name: Maureen Johnson

Frankie in rehearsal annoying  Maria Langford   (Photo courtesy of  Front of House Photography )

Frankie in rehearsal annoying Maria Langford (Photo courtesy of Front of House Photography)

Tell us about your character: She’s a typical flamboyant “artist”; a bit of a diva, bratty, and self-obsessed - she’s used to getting everything she wants and having everyone pretty much fall at her feet. Maureen is responsible for the dramatic protest against Benny amidst the bubbling social unrest of the story. She also creates enough drama in her social life due to her care free, often unfaithful, approach to relationships. An ex-girlfriend to Mark, who she still has wrapped around her little finger, Maureen is bisexual and currently in a passionate relationship with Joanne. Throughout the show we see their fiery partnership unfurl, bringing love, sex and a lot of angry arguments to the stage! 

Is there anything in your own life that helps you connect with your character? There are many traits of Maureen’s character that I hope I don’t share (my friends and family may disagree here) but we are both performers, which we have in common. I am also known to be a bit mad, crazy and OTT at times, so I guess we are similar in our “larger than life” characters. I also think beneath her sexual front and playing of people, deep down she is very loving and truly cares for Joanne and her friends. We really see this in the show during Act 2 and Angel’s descent. I hope we have this in common, as I love my friends and family lots!!

What’s your favourite song in the show and why? This to me is so difficult because Rent is genuinely one of my favourite shows - which is a huge deal for an musical theatre geek like myself! However, I think I’d have to say the whole “Halloween/Goodbye Love” section is my fave - it is so beautifully and intelligently written that the emotion is so easy to convey. It’s all just there in the music and lyrics. I think the emotions are so honest, that the couples all go from being so frustrated and angry, to seeing what is actually happening in their circle of friends, and the realisation that other things are more important.

What other shows have you done? I love performing and have done my whole life, but most recently I was lucky enough to perform in The National Youth Music Theatre’s new commission ‘Prodigy’, at the St. James in London. It was an absolutely insane experience and I met some incredible and inspiring people. I also recently did the local Camberley panto, where I got to play a Seal… *career highlight*.

Can you recall a particularly memorable on-stage moment? I think that with every show comes a particular moment that you really relish and look forward to. A couple of years ago, at college, a group of us performed “Elegies for Angels Punks and Raging Queens”, which is similar to Rent in its themes and is also made up of true stories. I still remember the opening number of that, all of us just standing belting out harmonies that we’d made up, at the end of a long rehearsal process - it was a ‘goose-bump/arm-chills’ moment.

Can you remember the first time you thought “I want to be in theatre”? As cringe as it is to mention it, when I was 11/12 I was honoured enough to perform at the Palladium in the Sound of Music. It was my first proper experience of a big audience and theatre, and I just remember thinking that there was no other feeling like it… From then on I haven’t looked back and, to this day, I still want to do it for the rest of my life - crazy!

What are you enjoying most about being part of Simply Theatre? I know it’s easy to say this but it has, genuinely, been the people. Many of them were strangers at the beginning, having not done Simply before, but I feel part of it now thanks to the cast and Alison and Emma being amazing leaders… and I am NOT looking forward to it being over! Simply also allows me to stay besties with my best girl from college, Grace Mouat (playing Mimi- amazingly!) which makes it all the more worth it, as I adore her lotssss!!

Is there room in your life for anything else apart from singing, dancing & acting? Is it sad to say not really, no?...I joke - I currently am on my gap year working full time in events, specifically in Weddings, which is extremely fulfilling and allows me to remain in the real world for a while longer! I also love being with friends and family, and cooking FOOD (which doesn’t help the leather cat-suit side of my costume…). However, musical theatre is what I want to do with my life, and is my main passion, so it does take over a huge part, which will become bigger as I go on to full-time training this month - yay!

No Day But Today

Frankie in rehearsal  (Photo courtesy of  Front of House Photography )

Frankie in rehearsal (Photo courtesy of Front of House Photography)

Meet the Cast of Rent: Akhil Gowrinath

"the opening night managed to crack my kneecap without realising"

Name: Akhil Gowrinath

Character Name: Benjamin “Benny” Coffin III

Tell us about your character: He used to live with Mark, Collins and Maureen in squalor as a Bohemian but has since sold out, marrying Alison “Muffy” Grey, heiress to the Grey fortune. As a result, he becomes landlord to Mark and Roger. I think deep down he is a decent guy who wants to be the same person he was before getting married, but gets caught up in his current lifestyle. He makes some questionable choices during the course of the show, which make him quite unlikeable on the face of it. 

Akhil   in rehearsal, with  Freddie Cox ,  Frankie McKean  &  Maria Langford   (Photo courtesy of  Front of House Photography  )

Akhil in rehearsal, with Freddie Cox, Frankie McKean & Maria Langford (Photo courtesy of Front of House Photography )

Is there anything in your own life that helps you connect with your character? Haha – well two things: As the show suggests Benny likes money and I’m also partial. Also, like Benny, I do like my car (although I don’t drive a Range Rover).

What’s your favourite song in the show and why? Out Tonight - I love the fact that it sounds like a wolf howling “Ouwoooot Tonight”!

What other shows have you done? Far too many to say all here but highlights include, Hairspray, The Last 5 Years, Footloose, Company, Sweeney Todd, Parade, A Christmas Carol, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.

Can you recall a particularly memorable on-stage moment? The one that comes to mind instantly (for the wrong reasons) is when I was playing Smee in Peter Pan, had to do a comic fall and on the opening night managed to crack my kneecap without realising! I carried on with the rest of the run and discovered it had cracked (and healed) 5 months later!

Can you remember the first time you thought “I want to be in theatre”? Probably when I was in year 5. I had just been cast as a Wise Man in the nativity and had so much fun doing it.

What are you enjoying most about being part of Simply Theatre? The cast are really friendly – it’s a great vibe in rehearsals. Also, Alison is a great director, she really knows what she wants, which makes it so much easier for us as the performers.

Is there room in your life for anything else apart from singing, dancing & acting? By day, I’m a tax advisor at a global accountancy firm!

Rent runs from Thursday 17th September until Saturday 19th at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Woking - You can book here.

No Day But Today