Q&A: Show Boat’s Gina Beck & Chris Peluso

Q&A: Show Boat’s Gina Beck & Chris Peluso

Updated On: May 1, 2018
By Nicki McIntyre
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    We recently caught up with Show Boat cast members Gina Beck (Magnolia Hawks) and Chris Peluso (Gaylord Ravenal) ahead of its long-awaited return to the West End at the New London Theatre.

    Gina Beck transfers with Show Boat from the Sheffield Crucible. Her theatre credits include 'Glinda' in Wicked both in the West End and on tour in the USA, 'Christine' in The Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre) and 'Cosette' in Les Misérables (Queen’s Theatre).

    Chris Peluso is new to the production, having most recently played 'Chris' in Miss Saigon at the Prince Edward Theatre. His theatre credits include Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (original cast, Stephen Sondheim Theatre), Assassins (Studio 54), Elton John’s Lestat (Palace), Sky in Mamma Mia! (Winter Garden Theatre), The Glorious Ones (Lincoln Center), and Fiyero in Wicked (US national tour).

    What is your favourite song to perform and why?

    Gina Beck: I like singing “Can’t Help Lovin’That Man” because I get to sing it again in the second act as a kind of audition, in a way. The thing is that it is very low key for me and I really enjoy the way it feels to sing it. I also love singing all the high stuff, but I really don’t get a chance to sing so low.

    Chris Peluso: My favourite thing, just vocally, would probably be “You Are Love” because it just has these open vowels and a great soaring arch to the song.

    How would you describe the show to someone who’s never seen it?

    Gina Beck: It’s a show that takes you on a journey with these character that you’re really invested with, interspersed with exhilarating and heart-breaking musical numbers – it’s like a roller coast of emotion this show. And don’t be put off about what you might have heard about Show Boat in the past, because this is a whole new version where everything has a really succinct, contemporary feel to it.

    Chris Peluso:
    I have always been a huge fan of Jerome Kern’s music, and I still think Oscar Hammerstein II is the greatest librettist and lyricist ever. To me it’s sort of a history piece in the sense that it was truly the first musical that was fully integrated, that had the songs integrated with the plot. And not only was it the first, it is excellent. It happens to be about serious issues that are relevant today with the racial tensions that exist in America right now, which you can see on the news here. I remember when I first arrived here I think the incidents in Ferguson were on the news. I think in the US it has a different feel. It’s almost like a foreign story here. But to me, it is personal and it does exist in my hometown of Pittsburgh. There are racial issues there and all over the US, and I’m sure they exist here in the UK as well although I’m just not as informed on them.

    It’s been about 20 years since the show has been in the West End; how do you think it’s going to appeal to a modern day audience? 

    Gina Beck: I really hope it does. Currently there is nothing in the West End like it. I hope it appeals to the older audiences who will remember it, but I also think it is something that young people will enjoy too.

    Chris Peluso: I think that if you like hearing good singers and watching a good story, then you’re going to love Show Boat. Especially the way the storytelling is done in this production, it’s seamless. It keeps moving and it’s fascinating. It is talking about real issues, and it’s done with a score that is one of the best ever.

    How would you describe Show Boat in three words? 

    Gina Beck: Uplifting. Powerful, and delightful.

    Who do you think will be Show Boat's target audience?

    Gina Beck: I don’t really want to say “target audience” because it’s going to appeal to everybody. Groups of schoolchildren are going to learn something amazing. We had groups of schoolchildren come to performances in Sheffield and getting feedback from their teachers, they said it blew these children’s minds. They had never experienced anything like it and they could learn a bit about history. But of course older people can come and relive memories of their own.

    Show Boat is now in previews at the New London Theatre.