Jane Seymour Makes Her Asian Theatre Debut
The veteran actress takes on a role that she’s never done before with the British Theatre Playhouse's staging of Noël Coward’s The Vortex.
Had knee injuries not ended her ballet career, Jane Seymour might not be the triple-threat actress that she is today, with roles in film, television and theatre. She gained Hollywood celebrity as a Bond girl in Live and Let Die and later the titular role in the TV series Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman, and among other awards earned an Emmy, two Golden Globes and the Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
This month, the British-born actress will make her Asian theatre debut with the British Theatre Playhouse’s staging of Noël Coward’s The Vortex (April 27 to May 15, at Raffles Hotel Singapore’s Jubilee Hall), directed by acclaimed West End director Bob Tomson.
“I haven’t done theatre in a long, long time — 36 years! I was in the original cast of Amadeus [pictured right] on Broadway with Ian McKellen and Tim Curry in 1980. It’s really going to be very interesting to get back into theatre. I’m looking forward to this wonderful challenge,” enthuses Seymour. She takes on the leading role of glamorous socialite Florence Lancaster in the play set in the world of 1920s London high society.
Seymour is also the guest of honour at the British Theatre Playhouse’s art‑for-charity gala show and dinner on April 29, where part of the proceeds will benefit the International Committee of the Red Cross and Singapore Red Cross Society. She tells us more about the role, what keeps her busy apart from acting, as well as her work with the American Red Cross.
HOW IS FLORENCE LANCASTER DIFFERENT FROM THE ROLES YOU HAVE EVER PLAYED?
The Roaring Twenties, that whole hedonistic experience, is very interesting, and exciting and attractive for us to watch. The Vortex is particularly interesting because Florence Lancaster is a woman ahead of her time. It’s really about a kind of sexual vanity — she wants to stay young forever and its embarrassing, almost, to her that anyone would imagine that she has a grown son. I have never played anyone remotely like Florence before and I look forward to finding her.
HOW WILL THE PLAY RESONATE WITH THE SINGAPORE AUDIENCE?
The Vortex is one of Noël Coward’s earlier plays that most people don’t see very often. It speaks to the grand colonial spirit of 1920s London that still infuses the world today. It’s glamorous, passionate and irreverent — but not irrelevant — to the 21st century. I can’t wait to come to Singapore and bring Florence to life. We have a wonderful cast, so I’m very excited.
WHAT KEEPS YOU BUSY APART FROM ACTING?
I spend time designing, painting and doing a number of different things. I design the Open Hearts jewellery collection, which features the symbol of two hearts that are open and connected [the symbol of the Open Hearts Foundation, which Seymour co‑founded to empower people to transform adversity into opportunity]. Open Hearts was inspired by my mother, who always said, in times of challenge, the natural instinct would be to close off your heart. But if you could accept what happened, open your heart and reach out to help someone else, there would always be someone worse off than you.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR WORK WITH THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
I’m on the National Celebrity Cabinet of the American Red Cross, so I’m called upon to alert the public, especially my fans, to lend their support to important initiatives and response efforts. I have worked with the Red Cross since I was a little girl and I love the volunteer aspect of it. In the US, the Red Cross is always the first responders, so it’s very important for me to be involved with them. Celebrities have an extraordinary platform — we’re on television, we’re listened to on social media, and we can get a message out for organisations that need that extra help.