Playlist: Threepenny Opera’s Debbie Kurup

Published May 16, 2016

Never underestimate a musical theatre star. It’s all too easy to presume an actor whose career has seen her appear in virtually every major musical – Chicago, Anything Goes, West Side Story, Guys And Dolls… the list goes on – would have a major thing for tunes that go hand in hand with jazz hands, but Debbie Kurup’s journey through a musical lifetime shows that to be anything but the case.

Yes, Miss Saigon makes an appearance, but so does everyone from Howlin’ Wolf to Black Sabbath, Damien Rice to D’Angelo… There’s protest songs, folk ballads and the blues.

What you won’t be surprised by is the passion with which Kurup tackled our challenge to create a playlist of tracks that are the most important to her, which happily includes Jealousy Duet, the next number you’ll see the acclaimed actor perform when she takes to the stage alongside a cast including double Olivier Award winner Rory Kinnear in the National Theatre’s hugely anticipated revival of The Threepenny Opera.

You can catch Kurup in Rufus Norris and Simon Stephens’ bold reinterpretation of Kurt Weill’s seminal show from 18 May. Until then, plug yourself in Kurup’s Spotify playlist below and read on for an equally epic journey through a very musical life…

The song that reminds me most of my childhood…

 

Golden Brown by The Stranglers. My mum used to sing it to me. Being told I had beautiful “golden brown” skin with “texture like sun” really helped counteract some of the racism I encountered as a child growing up in Sunderland. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realised the song was about heroin. Nice!

Either that or one of the many hideous Jive Bunny mega mixes which made our epic family car journeys up and down the A1(M) even more soul destroying. 

The song that reminds me of the time I realised I wanted to go into acting…

 

The Movie In My Mind from Miss Saigon. I was 16 when I first heard the soundtrack. Up until then I only really wanted to dance. I remember sitting in my bedroom for hours mulling over the lyrics. It was then I realised I wanted to tell stories and to make people feel the range of emotions I felt listening to it. 

The song that makes me happiest…

 

Raspberry Beret by Prince [not available on Spotify]. My hero. I still can’t get over his death. I was lucky enough to see him in concert five times. His music fills me with endless inspiration. 

The song most likely to make me cry…

 

The Blower’s Daughter by Damien Rice. The cello part kills me… And those lyrics… And that voice… “I can’t take my mind off of you….” Argh! F**king heart-breaking. 

The song that reminds me most of terrifying auditions…

 

Scarborough Fair. Don’t ask….

The song I’ve been listening to most outside of rehearsals for The Threepenny Opera…

 

Sugah Daddy by D’Angelo. The album Black Messiah came out at the end of 2014. I’ve basically had it on loop ever since. 

The song I am most looking forward to performing every night in the show…

 

Well I only get to sing one song. It’s called The Jealousy Duet so I guess it’d have to be that!

The song that most reminds me of my parents is… 

 

Ok I’m gonna have to cheat and give you a few… Iron man by Black Sabbath or The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel. Mum loves Bob Dylan so The Hurricane is one I hear her play a lot. And she is also obsessed with Queen. But Dad is now more into the blues so I’ll say Smokestack Lightnin’ by Howlin’ Wolf. 

The song that reminds me of falling in love…

 

Not telling.

The song I have to turn off when it comes on the radio…

 

Laserlight by Jessie J. She has the most incredible instrument but by God, shut up. 

The song I’d like to remind people of me when they hear it…

 

Saving All My Love For You by Whitney Houston. Loved singing that in The Bodyguard every night. 

 

The Threepenny Opera plays at the National Theatre Olivier from 25 May. You can book tickets through the National Theatre website.

"I remember sitting in my bedroom for hours mulling over the lyrics. It was then I realised I wanted to tell stories and to make people feel the range of emotions I felt listening to it."