'It has the wackiness of a Marx Brothers film wrapped around a dark satire': Pippa Winslow on the Gershwins' Strike Up the Band

08 Mar
Posted in: Features Interviews
Author: Staff
Pippa Winslow

The Marx Brothers wrapped around a dark satire is what you'll get with little-known 1927 Broadway gem STRIKE UP THE BAND, says cast member Pippa Winslow. But which is her favourite Gershwin song?

Written with George S Kaufman in 1927, the original script for Strike Up The Band was rewritten by Morrie Ryskind in 1930. This production presents the original, with the dark satire on America’s war-mongering over a trade deal re-established.

In 1927, Horace J Fletcher is a typical self-made American businessman. His cheese factory dominates the market, he influences the White House, and he’s secured his business future by agreeing to marry his daughter, Joan, to his factory manager. He does have one problem. Switzerland has the audacity to protest America’s heavy new tariff on imported cheese.

Fletcher convinces the US government to declare war, backing it with his bucks. Jim Townsend, a newspaperman, suspects all may not be wholesome, but he and Joan fall for each other. Will making the world safe for American cheese be more than just a walk in the Alps?

Strike Up the Band runs from 6 to 31 March 2019 at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate Village, London N6 4BD, with performances Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm and Sundays at 4pm. Tickets are priced £16-£20. Phone 020 8340 3488 or CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!

Talking to... Pippa Winslow

Pippa's other musical credits include Oklahoma!, Perfectly Ordinary, The Sound of Music, Alan Turing - Guilty of Love, 9 to 5 The Musical and You Give Me Fever. Also in the West End, she's appeared in Buried Child, Other Desert Cities and Strangers on a Train.

Tell us about your character in Strike Up the Band.

I play Mrs Draper, a widow and society woman aiming to hook up with rich factory owner Horace J Fletcher (played by Richard Emerson).

Why should people come to see the show?

The script is hilarious in the style of the black and white, fast-talking Hollywood comedies of the 1930s. It has the wackiness of a Marx Brothers film wrapped around a dark satire on big business war-mongering to increase profits. The fact that this was written in 1927 and yet almost works with our world today still amazes me.

What's the funniest thing that happened in rehearsals?

The brilliant cast makes me laugh every day. The other day we were working out a physical bit that had us all in stitches. There are certain members of the cast that are notorious for corpsing - we love catching them out.

What's your favourite Gershwin song & why?

My favourite song in our show is one I’d never heard before called Homeward Bound. It has a very modern vibe to it and some gorgeous harmony. I also have always loved The Man I Love - classic Gershwin - and in our production, Beth Burrows and Paul Biggin sing it beautifully and the band really does the music justice.

Enter to win by 11 March

Tell us your favourite Gershwin song and you could win one of five pairs of tickets to Strike Up The Band. Deadline for entry is 11am on Monday 11 March 2019.