Actress, singer and renowned puppeteer, Louise Gold, first wanted to be a ballet dancer but, she tells me, ‘luckily my mother realised I would be much too tall at 5’ 9”,’ writes Michael Holland.
Louise has lived in and around London all her life and now lives back in East Sheen where she grew up. Her mother was an actress and at the age of 11 she went to the Arts Educational Stage School: ‘I never considered doing anything else but act,’ she says.
But then something happened that took Louise’s acting career in ‘a whole different direction’, she recalls. ‘I got sent to an audition for The Muppet Show by my acting agent. They wanted someone tall, I got the job, they trained me and that was the beginning of my puppeteering career,’ she says matter of factly. This led to working on several series of The Muppet Show, Muppet films, Sesame Street and on to become one of the founders of the legendary Spitting Image show. Modestly she doesn’t consider any of this a ‘big break’. Conversely she claims, ‘Most of the jobs I thought would be big breaks were disasters!’
To balance out being unseen by viewers as she brought various puppets to life, Louise has been a West End regular in some of the most famous musicals, and says she feels ‘incredibly blessed to be able to go between the two.’ And Ms Gold obviously loves the work that she does, even with the precariousness of never knowing what is on the horizon: ‘I never know what I will do next and that is part of the joy of what I do – It’s scary too. I don’t know any performer who doesn’t think that every job might be their last; I’ve just finished a long puppeteering job and I’m now back in the theatre; I am very, very lucky.’
Her work has also brought her together with other stage icons. She tells of a wonderful lesson learnt from Dame Judy Dench who directed her in a play in Regents Park: ‘She did whatever was necessary to make the show work, including helping paint the set! What I learnt was that the most successful people are the ones who work the hardest!’
And hard work is something that Louise is more than willing to do because she is now rehearsing under the direction of Trevor Nunn for the Menier Chocolate Factory’s Fiddler On The Roof. ‘I am loving rehearsals, the thing I enjoy most about acting is trying to put yourself into other worlds and lives,’ she says excitedly. ‘My father was Jewish and my grandparents came from Russia and Poland, so this story has great resonance for me.’
Louise plays Yente the Matchmaker, ‘an essential part of the community,’ she emphasises before her big finish: ‘Fiddler on the Roof is a wonderful show. It is an absolute classic musical for very good reason. It’s funny, moving and truthful…This story of a community in a state of change really is for everyone, and it has beautiful music. What’s not to like?’
Nothing at all, and my tickets are booked.
Fiddler on the Roof is on at The Menier Chocolate Factory, 53 Southwark Street, SE1 1RU from 23rd November – 9th March. Times: Tues – Sat 8pm; weekend matinees 3.30pm.
Admission: £45 – £57.50. Phone: 0207 378 1713.