We catch up with the mother hen of the “Macaw Sisters”, Vera – a.k.a actor Anna Stolli. Read about Anna’s previous credits on the Love Birds cast page.
Tell us about your character, Vera Macaw?
Vera is a strong independent woman – who just happens to be totally in love with Armitage, the show proprietor. She’s the leader of the Macaw sisters and choreographs all their numbers. She has been in show business all her life (she was born in a trunk in the theatre) and loves it!
What’s been the best bit from rehearsals?
My favourite part of any rehearsal process is always the sitzprobe, which is the first time the band and the actors play through the music together. It’s a really exciting time as, until that point, you have been working with only a piano accompaniment, so it’s incredible to hear the music really come to life.
What have you learned so far from being part of Love Birds?
I’ve learnt a lot about Twitter [from Terri Paddock – editor’s note]!
Love Birds returns you to Edinburgh for the first time in eight years. Why did you want to come back?
EdFringe is a huge celebration of theatre, comedy, music and live entertainment in general, and each time I come I’m reminded how lucky I am to be part of not only this festival but the entertainment industry as a whole. I love immersing myself in the shows, the people and the energy that vibrates around this beautiful city. I’m always thrilled to return.
Does your experience working on various Ray Cooney farces help with the quick-changes required on an Edinburgh show? Or anything else?
Ray Cooney‘s plays are a masterclass in British farce. I worked with some brilliant comedy actors who shared some real gems with me. You have to be brave, bold and you never stop learning about comedy (I don’t anyway). As for quick changes, I’ve had them on a lot of shows and they’re all about being organised, meticulous and staying calm (and doing exactly what your dresser tells you!).
What advice would you give to performers making their Edinburgh debut for getting through the whole month?
Pace yourself! This time I’m doing daily yoga practice, blending fruit and veg in my Nutribullet and sleeping as much as I can.
What advice would you give audiences to make the most of their Edinburgh visit?
Get organised. There’s a great app that the Love Birds cast are all using called Edinburgh Festival Fringe (it’s free) where you can search for shows by genre, venue or title, organise your favourites and buy tickets. It has maps to help you find venues and even a near me now button for last-minute decisions.
Any favourite Edinburgh bars or restaurants?
The Witchery is always lovely for a special meal (book early!), but this visit I’ve discovered a great Italian restaurant called Positano, which makes everything completely fresh and the staff are great fun.
You’ve done a huge mix of both new and established musicals. What are the special challenges and rewards of working on new work?
The real joy of working on a new piece of theatre is that you are creating from scratch. No one has spoken the words or sung the songs before, and if you have a good team, it’s a lot of fun. Our director Stewart Nicholls is very funny so the rehearsal room was full of laughs, even though time was short and we had some pretty tricky routines and seven-piece harmonies to learn. One of the main challenges with new work is that it changes and evolves continuously so you need to be adaptable and not too attached as things also get cut!
You released your debut solo album Happy Here in 2012. What kind of music is on the album? Where can we buy it?
My album is a mixture of classic American songbook and musical theatre with some popular music thrown in for good measure. My personal favourite is “Rainbow Connection” (from the Muppets films). You can have a sneaky listen to it and couple of other tracks on Soundcloud. Until my website is live again, you can order directly from me on my Facebook page.