A Damsel in Distress at the Chichester Festival Theatre

Richard Fleeshman in A Damsel in Distress rehearsals. Photo: Johan Persson
Richard Fleeshman in A Damsel in Distress rehearsals. Photo: Johan Persson
As You Like It, with Jessica Hayles centre. Picture by Keith Pattison

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The character he’s playing has got a Midas touch. You could say that so too has Richard Fleeshman himself.

At the age of 19, he was touring the world with Elton John; he’s now in Chichester, doing the thing he loves best, creating a new role in a new show.

If you were doing All My Sons or A View From The Bridge, you would be looking at the way it had been done a thousand times before, and that’s what you would stick to. But this is much more malleable, much more changing.

Richard Fleeshman

After huge success as Sam in Ghost the Musical in the West End and on Broadway and as Warner in Legally Blonde the Musical at the Savoy Theatre, Richard is now starring in A Damsel in Distress on the Chichester Festival Theatre stage (until June 27).

Based on the novel by P G Wodehouse, with songs by George and Ira Gershwin, A Damsel in Distress sees Richard slip into the role of George, an American composer working at the Savoy Theatre in London.

There he comes across Maud, a thoroughly-English Lady Marshmoreton, a beautiful socialite who lives in a castle with a ha-ha and a drawbridge. They really shouldn’t have met because George needs to complete his musical and Maud needs to marry most urgently…

For all involved, the challenge is that the show has never been done before.

‘When you are doing something new, it is really the most exciting and the most difficult thing, but also the most frustrating and the most terrifying,’ says Richard, speaking mid-rehearsals. ‘Every day things are changing. If you were doing All My Sons or A View From The Bridge, you would be looking at the way it had been done a thousand times before, and that’s what you would stick to. But this is much more malleable, much more changing, and you get the chance to work with all the orchestrators of it.

He adds: ‘George is this incredibly-successful young composer. Everything he touches turns to gold. His show has transferred from Broadway after three very successful years to London, and he decides to come to England because he and the leading lady have this lovely maternal relationship together. She really relies on him, and in fact they really rely on each other.’

Tickets: £15-£48, 16-25 tickets priced £8.50. Visit cft.org.uk

PHIL HEWITT