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Around the World in 80 Days, Matthew Ganley Interview: “Dolphins are incredible creatures.”

You’ve probably heard that Around the World in 80 Days is currently on at Cadogan Hall, London, so it seemed like a good opportunity to talk to Matthew Ganley who is currently starring in it.

The show is on at Cadogan Hall for five weeks and continuing as part of a wider UK tour. The production features an ensemble of 8 who play over 125 characters in an imaginative and physically inventive high-spirited escapade. Follow the mysterious and fabulously wealthy Phileas Fogg as he wagers his life’s fortune that he can circumnavigate the globe in just 80 days. Brilliant.

Here is what we discussed.

Hi ya! How is Around the World in 80 Days looking?

It’s looking great thanks. A riotous spectacle!

Great! How would you best describe Theresa Heskins’ approach to directing?
Detailed, rigourous and playful. Her rehearsals are brilliantly full on. So much care and attention is taken and her shows have real integrity as a result. As an actor I am trusted and scrutinised in equal measure. You bring all of yourself into the process and after a week your brain and body have had a full workout!

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
The Baiji Dolphin. A Chinese river dolphin recently declared extinct due to human impact. We could learn to do things differently to give them another shot. Dolphins are incredible creatures.

There are a lot of characters in Around the World in 80 Days aren’t there. How do you tackle playing several different characters?
Having a few different accents is useful. Also discovering the differences physically between the parts. Working with opposites can help. If one character is a smug plonker, I might explore making the next one kind and likeable. Above all, discovering the truth for each character and realising their role within the story is the most useful approach.

Who would play you in the film of your life and why?
Jason Statham. We look vaguely similar and he’d make my life look that bit cooler.

How is this role different to your previous roles in The Lady Killers or Once?
In Once and The Lady Killers I had just the one character. In 80 days I have 28 (including an elphant’s arse!) It provides a different challenge. Being able to switch in an instant from an English reform club member to a street seller in Bombay without leaving the stage is a challenge but a very fun one! There’s not a moment’s rest.

How challenging is it staging this show?
It’s such a fast paced and technically busy show. Portraying each country and culture in a such short space of time means the acting, movement, music, quick costume changes, lighting, fight sound effects etc. must all work seemlessly together. The whole team both on and offstage can’t afford to drop the ball. There’s never a dull moment!

Around the World in 80 Days is quite unique in that it is old fashioned but also post-modern isn’t it.
That’s interesting. I’ve never thought of it in those terms. It’s great that an audience might elicit those observations and I’d say our amazing design team definitely contribute to placing us in a very specific period. From my perspective the show is so well written that the stuff I’m responsible for, i.e. the people, relationships and the story to me are timeless.


What do you think audiences will enjoy most about this production?
The comedy, the suspense, the brilliant fight sequences, the elephant, the epic journey and the romance.

What is top of your bucket list?
At the moment it’s a sky dive.

Cadogan Hall seems like an unusual home for this show. Is it?
Transferring from traditional theatres to a concert hall has had its challenges. It has also gifted us with great acoustics, a wonderful auditorium and the new addition of projecting images of each place on to the backdrop of the stage. We’ve had some brilliantly lively crowds so far and the show is settling in very nicely here.

Is there anything that you’d like to add?
Come and see it. You’re guaranteed an unforgettable night out.

At Cadogan Hall until 2 September, then on tour. Box Office: 020 7730 4500