Interview: Daniel MacPherson – The Women In Black

Hailed as one of the most terrifying live theatre experiences in the world, The Woman In Black has begun a national tour of Australia, and is currently performing here in Adelaide. 

Based on Susan Hill’s acclaimed ghost story, The Woman In Black dramatically comes alive thanks to Stephen Mallatratt’s ingenious stage adaptation that is full of illusions and controlled horror.

The Woman In Black features two of Australia’s most renowned actors, John Waters and Daniel MacPherson. MacPherson recently spoke to Glam Adelaide’s Arts Editor about the show.

With a career that has spanned over 25 years, MacPherson has conquered film, television and stage roles across the world.

“I was thrown into it by accident when I was 16 or 17. In fact, I was picked off the side of a road at a triathlon by an acting manager who asked if I was interested in coming and doing some acting classes. I wanted to go off and be a professional athlete – cycling, triathlon and swimming were my sort of passions as a kid growing up. I got glandular fever and chickenpox, one after the other. I had this chance meeting with this acting manager at a triathlon and I started doing acting classes after school instead of going to swimming training. Just as I was finishing high school, I landed a role on Neighbors. I thought that sounded like more fun than university, so I accepted it. It was in my fourth year on Neighbors I started going out to the UK to do pantomime productions and I started to learn what it took to work on the stage as well. I really started to commit to pushing myself, and 25 years later…here I am!

“The more you grow and the more you work, the more you learn; the more you invest in it, the more you get out of it. Even after 25 years in the industry, I still feel like I’m at the very beginning of my career. I’m loving the expansion of my own ability and my own craft and my own curiosities and my own skill set. I’ve always thrived on challenging myself and The Woman In Black is another way of doing that.”

John Waters is no stranger to many of us. Whether we know him from stage, film or even growing up watching him on Play School. The Woman In Black is the first time that Waters and MacPherson have worked together.

“It’s the first time we’ve ever worked together. We’ve met previously through mutual friends and sort of mutual cast friends. But this is the first time we’ve ever worked together. We’re six or seven weeks into this five month process and it’s just an absolute joy – both on stage and off. He is a wonderful co-star and a wonderful workmate.”

We asked MacPherson what drew him to this play.

“I did 2:22 last year down in Melbourne, which was my first time back on stage in 20 years. I just loved being back in the theatre; I loved working backstage, and I had such a great experience, so when The Woman In Black came knocking, I just had to take it. Not only is it a wonderfully refined piece of theatre of that classic English style, but it has endured the test of time. Then there was the opportunity to play opposite John Waters. John actually did the show 18 years ago.”

Based on Susan Hill’s novel, The Woman In Black is the second longest running play in West End history, after Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap.It also was successfully made into a film adaptation starring Daniel Radcliffe.

MacPherson shared with Glam how audiences have been receiving this current production.

“The audience responses so far have been amazing. We have had sold out houses and incredible reviews and amazing reactions and standing ovations, which as an actor is very humbling. There’s plenty of laughs and plenty of comedy in the script, as well as this really deep, dark, twisting and turning story which has a heart at the centre of it. Audience responses during the show too have been great. There have been some shock screams, there have been some vocalised ‘Oh my goodness’, and a few swear words coming out of the audience too.”

The Woman In Black is currently playing for a limited season at The Dunstan Playhouse. For full details and tickets, visit: 

Photo credit: James Reiser

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