NEW Tricks star Anthony Calf might be appearing in his first musical as he joins the cast of My Fair Lady at the Crucible but he does have singing experience – as a choirboy!
Anthony, who is the team’s posh boss in the long-running series about police cold cases, was a Queen’s chorister at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, no less, as he went to a choir school there on a music scholarship.
It does mean that he can read music and interpret it but his voice has changed a bit…
He said: “It’s the first time I’ve ever used it but happily I can talk quite a lot of it!”
Anthony is very familiar with the role of Colonel Pickering in the show because, as a young out-of-work actor just out of LAMDA drama school, he was working backstage on a production at the Adelphi Theatre in London. The actor in his role was Richard Caldicot, most famous for playing Commander Povey in long-running BBC radio sitcom The Navy Lark. Anthony said: “I pulled the ropes for six months, so I know the show another way, just singing along to it.”
He said of his debut in musicals: “It’s great fun but really difficult.”
His character, Colonel Pickering, is the friend of Professor Higgins, played by Sheffield actor Dominic West, who stars in BBC drama series The Hour and portrayed Fred West in acclaimed drama Appropriate Adult. Higgins is an Edwardian linguistics expert who bets Pickering that he can pass off Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle (played by Carly Bawden) as a duchess in high society just by teaching her how to talk properly and have elegant manners.
The Lerner and Loewe musical comedy adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion was made into a lavish-looking classic film starring Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison and Wilfred Hyde White as the colonel. The show features favourite songs On The Street Where you Live, With A Little Bit of Luck and Wouldn’t It Be Loverly.
Anthony joked that what he brought to the role was “extraordinary looks and military bearing”, adding: “The part is purely that, you can’t get away from it. You have to just admit it. That’s the fun of it. Everyone has to look at them and think I’m glad I’m not like them.”
Anthony didn’t agree that Colonel Pickering was unable to resist any of Higgins’ ideas, saying: “I don’t think he’s compliant, If it were to be a problem he would be able to stand up to him. He’s just a bloody nice bloke with strange opinions on women and class.”
He said of taking on the role made so famous by Wilfred Hyde White: “You have to look in the mirror and realise you’re not like him.
“I’ve got to get him out of my head. Six months of listening to Richard Caldicot is exactly the same. That can inform it.”
Anthony’s wife Caroline Harker was in The Village Bike in the Crucible Studio earlier this year and he is excited to follow her to Sheffield.
He was last here about 20 years ago in a National Theatre touring production of the Madness of King George III.
He said: “I can’t wait to get on here. It’s terrific and I love the thrust stage.
”I’ve been staying out in the Peak District and absolutely loving it.”
The man who made some hearts flutter as Colonel Fitzwilliam in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice – although admittedly upstaged in that department by Colin Firth – and had a torrid time as Michael Beauchamp in hospital drama Holby City is currently working on the latest series of New Tricks.
He has recently filmed for a role in Call the Midwife and appears in a BBC mini series, Restless, about a young woman who finds out her mother was a spy, which is set partly in South Africa.
My Fair Lady is directed by Sheffield Theatres artistic director Daniel Evans and also stars Richenda Carey as Mrs Higgins. The show opens tonight, Thursday December 13, and runs until January 26.