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A thrilling new stage role for former EastEnders star
One of the greatest thrillers of all time, Gaslight, returns to British theatres next year, beginning a three month tour at Birmingham New Alexandra Theatre on January 6.
The plays stars Kara Tointon of EastEnders, Mr Selfridge and Strictly Come Dancing fame. She plays Bella Manningham, memorably portrayed by Oscar winner Ingrid Bergman in the classic 1944 film adaptation. Rupert Young of BBC 1's Merlin joins Kara as husband Jack Manningham and Keith Allen is cast in the role of Detective Rough.
Stepping out: Strictly Come Dancing winner Kara Tointon will star in Gaslight
Kara reveals that she has never seen the Gaslight movie.
''I've only seen clips from the film. The director of the play said I shouldn't watch the whole movie until we're well into rehearsals because I may get influenced by it. With any Hollywood movie they sparkle it up and change it so it's not entirely the play as it's written for the stage.''
A highly suspenseful play, Gaslight was written by one of the 20th century's most renowned British writers, Patrick Hamilton, whose works also include the chilling Rope, successfully adapted for the screen by Alfred Hitchcock.
Elegant: Kara Tointon as Bella Manningham in Gaslight
In the tradition of heavyweight thrillers from Hitchcock, Christie or Priestley, Gaslight is a genre-defining, all-round elegant masterpiece. It tells how while Jack Manningham is on the town each evening his wife, Bella, is home alone. She can't explain the disappearance of familiar objects, the mysterious footsteps overhead or the ghostly flickering of living room gaslight. Is she losing her mind? Does the terror exist in her imagination or are dark secrets living in her home? The surprise arrival of retired Detective Rough leads to a shocking discovery that will shake her respectable Victorian marriage to its core.
Back in time: Kara at Birmingham's Edwardian Tea Rooms
Kara says that after recently working in television and film she was keen to return to theatre.
''Gaslight came in and it was just a little bit different in that I'd not done a thriller before and it isn't your usual whodunnit, it's more of a psychological thriller and I was gripped and hooked within the first few pages – I wanted to read on and thought, yes, this is something I really want to do. It ticks another box of something completely different.''
The 33-year-old played Dawn Swann in EastEnders and Rosalie in Mr Selfridge, and won Strictly Come Dancing in 2010. She starred in the live TV version of The Sound of Music in December 2015, appeared in the horror film Let's Be Evil, which was released in the summer, and stars as a jazz singer in the forthcoming big-budget TV drama The Halcyon. She also has a leading role in the new TV comedy, Henry IX, written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais.
Sitting pretty: Kara Tointon looks forward to touring the UK in Gaslight
Gaslight will be her second UK theatre tour.
''I toured for five or six weeks with a play called Relatively Speaking a couple of years ago, before we brought it into the West End after a six month gap. It was put on the road to test the waters, to see how it would go down with audiences. It's a way of discovering if it gets a good response, and if it does they sometimes transfer it to the West End. It would be lovely if that's what happens with Gaslight. With theatre, you've got to really love the piece because it's a long commitment. Three months touring is a nice amount of time.''
Gaslight 2017 tour dates:
January 6 – 14: New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham; January 16 – 21: Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury; January 23 – 28: New Victoria Theatre, Woking;
January 30 – February 4: Grand Opera House, York;
February 6 – 11: Theatre Royal, Brighton;
February 13 – 18: Arts Theatre, Cambridge;
February 20 – 25: Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield;
March 6 – 11: Richmond Theatre, Richmond;
March 14 – 18: New Theatre, Cardiff.