Strong themes for musical

Sandra Marvin, who playes Queenie, in rehearsals for Show Boat at the Cruciible 'Credit - Johan Persson - /
Sandra Marvin, who playes Queenie, in rehearsals for Show Boat at the Cruciible 'Credit - Johan Persson - /
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One of the stars of the Crucible Christmas musical, Show Boat, believes that the issues of racism that it tackles are still all too relevant today.

The musical, first performed in New York in 1927, tells the story of a Mississippi River show boat in the American Deep South over 40 years from 1887 and the changing lives of the musical performers, crew and gamblers on board.

The show tackles issues of racial prejudice and love and includes classic songs written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, such as Old Man River and Can’t Help Loving that Man of Mine.

Sandra Marvin plays Queenie, the ship’s cook and the wife of Joe, a dockworker on the boat.

She said: “I think the story is very relevant today. I’d say it is dated because it’s in a different time but all the issues are still current.

“There might not be the exact same laws against racial mixing but I think we are still working those boundaries and issues out now.

“More than ever, it is a very current and very important piece.

“When they came out the first time, they had a broad integrated cast on stage at the same time, performing together and singing the same things.

“We have come a long way but the issues are still relevant. Show Boat has got so much heart and it’s about a community where there’s a lot of love. That’s what’s beautiful about it.

“Ultimately, it feels like eight couples’ journey through life and how the outside world affects them when they are on the boat and how the outside world affects that love that they have.”

She said that the cast and director Daniel Evans have started from scratch from the script and the show is not influenced at all by previous versions, including the 1936 and 1951 Hollywood films.

“I’m really enjoying playing the character and learning about it. What’s really exciting is that any preconceptions about the show’s characters have been screwed up and thrown out of the window.

“We are re-creating things and it’s an opportunity to discover who the characters are for ourselves. We’re finding out who that person is and does she really feel about the characters.”

Sandra, who celebrated her birthday on Sunday,has worked extensively in musical theatre and is also a versatile singer.

She has performed with Michael Buble on two tours, appearing at Sheffield City Hall twice. Sandra was also thrilled to perform as a backing singer for Kate Bush on her London comeback shows last year.

She said: “It was amazing and so empowering for a woman. She is very inspiring and feels like my family now.”

Speaking of family, Sandra is determined to do more work at Sheffield Theatres. She said: “They’re not going to get rid of me if it’s anything to do with me! That’s how I feel.

“People that have been here before are coming back. There’s so much support, everyone loves this theatre. There’s such a warm, friendly community feel.”

Show Boat is at the Crucible until January 23.

Box office: at the theatre, online at or call 0114 249 6000.