In a tizzy with Christianne!

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Oldham Evening Chronicle - by Paul Genty

Christianne Tisdale loves to chat:  catch her on a bad day -- she was in the process of moving into her new Leeds apartment and in a rush -- and she can still manage to converse for over an hour.

Goodness only knows how long the conversation might last if she has plenty of time.  She admits her nickname is Tizzy:  it suits her.  Tizzy is what you might think of as a typical New Yorker:  born on Long Island, a long-time resident of Manhattan: open, direct, chatty, amusing, and only too glad to support her current appearance in the latest acclaimed attempt by Opera North to cross over into the field of the Broadway musical.

"You might be forgiven for not knowing this on," Christianne explains.  One Touch of Venus hasn't had a full-scale performance in the UK and hasn't had a major revival since the premiere -- in 1943.

The neglect might well be seen as remiss;  the music is by Kurt Will -- but not the composer we know from The Threepenny Opera and similarly "difficult" shows.  "This is about the nearest Weill came to Cole Porter," said Christianne.

"It's got some lovely songs and not only Weill's tunes but a book by S.J. Perelman -- best known as a writer for the Marx Brothers -- and lyrics by the greatest American poet of the period, Ogden Nash.  It's tremendous."

Christianne plays Molly, spiky -- what else? -- secretary to a millionaire who falls for a beautiful statue of Venus.  Unfortunately for him a humble barber brings the statue to life by putting his fiancee's ring on its finger -- and Venus falls not for the millionaire, but for the barber.

The satire on American suburban life has a sting though:  the former statue realizes she would have to live as a humble housewife . . . and dumps the barber.

Christianne is one of four American singers in the cast of nine principals -- the show is set in New York in the glamorous Forties -- and is loving her first visit to the UK.  After starting out as an opera singer, Christianne turned instead to music theatre:  "Opera needs a certain type of singer and dedication and it wasn't for me, I eventually realized.  I was happy to leave the opera world . . . and it was happy to let me," she laughed.  Since then has played in dozens of Broadway and other musicals, in U.S. TV and in straight theatre.

"I had a rule that I would only work within a four-hour train ride of home in Manhattan," she said.  "I'm not entirely sure what happened to that rule on this trip, but I'm glad I came.  This area is wonderful:  I adore York and the people I'm working with are lovely!"

It almost stopped before it started:  Tizzy tore a calf muscle before Christmas, but followed the Broadway tradition that the show must go on.

"I was determined not to lose the fee after coming all this way," she joked.  "I did six performances in pain and with a funny walk.  It was fun in a sort of oh my God! way.  Luckily it's more fun in performances since then."