Muddy meets West End star Amanda Waring to chat about chocolate
West End star Amanda Waring is the face of the Guilford Fringe Festival, the arts festival running in Guildford for the whole of July serving up theatre, comedy, poetry, music, visual arts, kids events, workshops and talks. She’s also the star of the one-woman musical comedy show, For The Love of Chocolate, which celebrates the power of chocolate. The show had sell out runs in Edinburgh, London and Brighton. Here’s the DL on Amanda, chocolate, and, um, Hugh Jackman and Robert Downey Jr.
Okay Amanda, as the star of a show that’s all about chocolate, and since we all lurve the stuff – let’s keep this chat strictly about this gorgeous food of the gods. Even so, I have to ask, why chocolate? And not, say, wine or Champagne?
It’s because chocolate reaches the heart, and because there’s no hangover if you overindulge – just a little more more of you to love. I’m always excited about chocolate in my show. Everyone loves chocolate – it has such fabulous way of uniting people. I start the show by throwing out chocolate to the audience – it’s a good way to get them on my side!
What’s your favourite chocolate to eat – bar, block or otherwise?
Well. Okay, I have to say firstly, it’s not bar. I absolutely love aphrodisiac fondue chocolate balls.
No regular chocolate for you then?
No. Absolutely not. Only aphrodisiac fondue chocolate balls. They’re an original recipe made by Paul Young, the renowned chocolatier, and me. I also hand these out to the audience, so you have to be careful who you’re sitting next to. The effects only lasts for 20 minutes though, so you have to hurry home. So, that’s my favourite chocolate, of course, and I teach the audience how to eat them.
Ohhh. How many of these special chocolate balls do you get to eat during the show then?
Actually, it’s only one. I’d feel very worried for my poor guitarist if I had more than one. Andy Robinson, he’s a renowned 12 string guitarist, and he’s brilliant. He’s got amazing deadpan face. He gets a little messy too – and he does it in the name of chocolate. I pay him in chocolate.
What is your favourite thing to do with chocolate?
Oh, well. This is easly. I pour melted chocolate all over myself, then I roll around on the floor and I create a Jackson Pollock style artwork on the floor. It’s so liberating, and it’s just so fun. This is something I had always wanted to do, and now I get paid to do it – it’s brilliant. And i encourage everyone to do the same. It’s about honouring who you are as a woman, it doesn’t matter what size or shape you are, chocoalte crosses all those boundaries.
And your favourite place to do it? Surely it has to be on the stage – in front of a big crowd?
Yes, absolutely. It’s on stage in front of a big crowd of smiling people. I did have a couple in Brighton – two women who had just got married that day, coming to the show as part of their honeymoon. They were both in white wedding dresses, in front row. It was a particular splashy chocolate that day – it’s not always, you know. But they did get a bit covered in chocolate.
So I guess you’d probably suggest to most people, if you are going to come in a white wedding dress don’t sit in the front row?
Well, yes. But after the show I spoke to them – half expecting them to hit me with their dry cleaning bill, but they were thrilled and said they would never was their dresses. They’d been to the show before, so perhaps they knew what to expect.
Who would you most like to share chocolate with?
Always my audience. my beautiful audience. But I’d quite like Hugh Jackman to be sitting about half way along in the middle of a row, next to Robert Downey Junior. That would be great.
Phwoar! I couldn’t agree more. I wouldn’t mind sharing a ball or two of the aphrodisiac fondue chocolate with Hugh and Robert. I once had breakfast with Hugh Jackman, and he really is a truly a lovely man [true story mudsters, but I’ll tell you about that another day!]
Oh yes, Hugh comes across as a really lovely man. But *Amanda, lowers voice in confiding manner* it’s the talent that fires off them that I just find so attractive. They’re both amazingly talented. It just sparks off them.
Do you have a favourite film about chocolate?
Oh I do. And it has to be Chocolat (the film starrin Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp). *Here Amanda lowers her voice again in the manner of someone about to disclose a big secret.* Did you know, that originally, because I had a love of chocolate anyway. I adapted Chocolat as a one-woman show. It went down so well. It was really good. Joanne Harris (the author of the book) gave me the rights. But then my agent called to say that Disney had the rights, and that I couldn’t do it. They said they’d sue me if I did show. Then the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh, where I was supposed to be doing the show, said they’d sue me if I didn’t do the show. So I had to come up with a solution, and I said to the Assembly Rooms, can I write another show about chocolate. So this show came out of desperation. And you know, I’ve had more fun and adventures doing this show than I ever would have done doing Chocolat. It’s made me be bold and brave, and push the envelope out. So Chocolat has a big part to play in it. That was 10 years ago, and the show has evolved and had different incarnations in that time. It’s kind of different every night. I improvise a lot and change things.
You run The Healing Temple in West Sussex, and I’m sure we’ve all turned to chocolate in an our of need – does chocolate feature at the centre?
Oh yes. Chocolate certainly factors int0 the healing process. I’ve used raw cacao to help ground clients, to help them realise their feminine power, and to regain focus, and their joy. Cacao reminds us to have fun. It seeks out places that become deadened or bitter – the power of raw chocolate as a medicine helps to allow us to gently face and melt the things that have held us back. It’s a very very good emotion support and a tonic for the heart. I use group cacao ceremonies, in the dark. It’s nice to have the opportunity to work with this practice – the sacred nature of chocolate.
Wow – you’ve really got all bases covered with chocolate, haven’t you. Is there anything else we should know?
I was asked to be the Flake girl once. At the casting, I had to run around a room and eat a Flake bar really sensuously, and be sexy and elegant. Who eats chocolate that way? It formalised my relationship with chocolate, in that I can be sensual with humour. I’m not a model. Not surprisingly, I didn’t get the job. But now, I putting two Flakes up to them.
Amanda’s show, ‘For The Love of Chocolate’, is in The Back Room at the Star Inn, 2 Quarry Street, Guildford, GU1 3TY, on Sat 30 July. Tickets: £10. guildfordfringefestival.com