Is this a new musical? "No, it's a revival, but it hasn't been seen in London for 20 years. It was last on at the Duchess Theatre in 1983. This production was first seen at the Rosemary Branch Theatre in Islington, and now it's coming to Jermyn Street. I'm playing Snoopy, which is a wonderful role for any actor, as you can imagine."
We tend to think of Snoopy as a little dog, but you're very tall. "I'm six foot three, and taller than the last person who played Snoopy, so we've had to make the kennel a bit bigger for me."
How do you dress for the role? "I have a sort of a pajama suit, rather like a Pierrot costume, and I hope to get a pair of floppy ears — black floppy ears are one of the things people associate with the character."
What about a tail? "I'm not sure we'll go that far, though it's something you associate with dogs — hence the line in "How Much is that Doggy in the Window?""
You also starred as a dog in a play last year? "Yes, at the Pleasance Theatre. I was the family dog in Space Family Robinson. I'm very good at vocalizing like a dog — I must get cast because of my bark. Though I yap pretty well, too!" Can you tell us something about Snoopy The Musical? "For a start, as you'd expect with something based on an enormously popular and long-running cartoon, it's very funny. The script made me laugh out loud, which is always a good sign.
"And there are some wonderful songs. Snoopy gets to do a song and dance number called "The Big Bow Wow" with a top hat and cane — he has a lot of imagination, and class, for a little Beagle. There's also a very sad song called "Mother's Day," where he sings about how much his mother loved him, but the audience realize, from the lyrics, that she didn't."
You did a lot of song and dance numbers in Over My Shoulder at Jermyn Street last year. "Yes! It's a musical about the life and career of Jessie Matthews, which we're touring later this year. One of the parts I played was Fred Astaire, so naturally I got to dance a little."
Do you mind going from playing Fred Astaire to a fantasizing dog? "Not as it's Snoopy. And I seem to have this strange affinity for playing dogs. I think, though, that if I play an animal again in the future — and at least I'm going back to being human in the Over My Shoulder tour — then I'd like to broaden my range and play a cow. I think, as an actor, I've achieved the stillness that's vital for the role."
Perhaps there's a role for you as a cow in the opening, hillside, scene of The Sound Of Music when it eventually gets to the London stage? "That would be lovely. I'd certainly have a tail for that role, and given it's a West End production, I'd probably get to wear a bell as well. Let's hope Andrew Lloyd Webber reads Theatrenow!"
Stephen Carlile stars in Snoopy the Musical at Jermyn Street Theatre, Feb. 17 to March 1.