After taking on the role of Shirley in the 2018 Off-Broadway production of Martin McDonagh‘s Hangmen, newly graduated Gaby French was poised to make her Broadway debut in 2020 when the pandemic shut down production after a handful of previews. “I was desperate for it to happen again. Our set got destroyed. Our costumes were thrown in the bins on the streets of West 45th. I thought it was over,” Gaby recalled in an EXCLUSIVE interview with HollywoodLife as part of our Tony Contenders series. “When I heard the set was in the bins, I thought this was never going to happen again. So, it was just an incredibly special moment because I feel very lucky to have a second chance at it.”
In the 2022 production, Gaby is joined by newcomers David Threlfall, Andy Nyman and Alfie Allen. “It really gave a fresh take on it and injects something that wasn’t there before. It makes you think about what you’re saying all over again. Especially with Alfie and David, because it’s a little more dark and because David delves into that darkness, it has a ripple effect on all of the cast,” she explained. “Even though my character feels the same and the words are still exactly the same, I may deliver a line completely different because of how those characters are affected and how they affect me. It’s been brilliant to work with them.”
Gaby has also found that she’s evolved within her character, after having the opportunity to embody her in three different productions. “She’s a 15-year-old trying to navigate through a difficult home and there’s a lot going on. For me, for me to have the chance to explore this role for kind of nearly four or so years now, I feel like I delve a little bit deeper every time,” she said. “I absolutely have taken on the challenge of this role and try to find the right balance with Shirley, because she can react to something instantly, but then the next day be fine. You find a way to kind of flip the switch, and on stage it makes it a little bit exciting because you’re toeing the line with it!”
McDonagh’s Hangmen takes place in 1965 in the UK and centers around executioner and pub owner Harry Wade, who is the second best hangman in the land. His daughter, Shirley, played by Gaby, finds herself in the middle of a rift between her father and a stranger named Mooney, who forces Harry to hang him illegally. “There’s never a dull moment,” Gaby gushed. “It just feels like a really special moment to be here and now at this particular time. we have a responsibility to let the audience enjoy those two hours that they’re in, especially after the last two years.”Click to Subscribe to Get Our Free HollywoodLife Daily Newsletter to get the hottest celeb news.