CV in brief
- Appears in Chess In Concert at the Royal Albert Hall
- Graduates from Guildford School of Acting
- Makes West End debut as Tracy in Hairspray at the Shaftesbury theatre
Where did you grow up?
Truro, a little village just outside.
What got you interested in acting?
When I was six we ran a pub and we used to have this man come to do karaoke. I used to get up and attempt, at the age of six, to sing Celine Dion or Whitney Houston. That’s where the singing thing started, but I always knew I didn’t want to be a singer, a pop star, I knew that I wanted to do acting with it and I didn’t really know what that was. When I was eight I got the Cats DVD and I saw Elaine Paige and I thought she’s singing, but she’s acting and she’s a character, that’s what I want to do.
You did Chess In Concert at the Royal Albert Hall while you were training in Guildford. How was that?
That was really strange because I’m Idina Menzel’s biggest fan. I love her. So as soon as they announced that she was doing Chess In Concert I bought tickets to go and see it, so I had two tickets, really good seats, for me and my best friend. And I was at work one night and I got a phone call from one of the musical directors at college going, so blasé, ‘oh, I’ve got to choose eight people who can sight read and sing quite loud to do Chess In Concert, do you want to do it?’ I fell on the floor and cried. I got to meet Idina and live my dream with her really.
Were you nervous about making your professional debut as Tracy in Hairspray?
It was scary but at the same time it was a role that sits with me so well – she’s just like me but a few years ago – so that’s why I thought it shouldn’t be that hard! But actually I underestimated it, it’s a tough job, any role in the West End is tough. It’s not just three hours a day of prancing round a stage, there is so much more than that; it’s hard work but at the end of the day it’s amazing when you get out there and you do Can’t Stop The Beat at the end of the show and all the audience are going crazy, it’s the best feeling ever.
Most obscure job?
When I was 15 I was in the National Youth Music Theatre and I got to work with Sir Alan Ayckbourn, which was amazing. It was an original musical that he had written with Denis King and it was called Orvin – Champion Of Champions. It’s a warrior tale, but a comedy thing, and there was a choir called the Celestial Chorus which I was a part of. It was odd but hilarious and one of the best things I’ve done. Alan was directing it as well so that was pretty amazing. My character was called Berengaria The Spearer Of Bears.
Favourite experience to date?
Opening night [in Hairspray], I’ve never ever felt better, never felt a more amazing experience, it was pure euphoria, it was amazing. And everyone makes you feel so good about yourself.
One of the best moments was meeting Ant and Dec! They came to watch it and that was amazing because I love Ant and Dec and there they were talking to me like I was a star!
Which actor do you most admire?
In musical theatre it has to be Idina Menzel. Everything she does I can’t fault her on it. I love how strong she is. You can tell from when you meet her that she’s really humble, and if something goes wrong she is completely open to admitting it. In musical theatre it is refreshing to have someone who becomes that famous because it doesn’t happen very often. In America people who aren’t into musical theatre know who she is.
Which director would you most like to work with?
I think to be honest working with Alan [Ayckbourn] was a massive highlight for me.
Essential dressing room item?
My clock is pretty essential, because sometimes I don’t really hear the calls because I’m listening to music. Also my iPod, because I like to listen to other things to keep me fresh with things. I always listen to Wicked. It’s terrible, I was wearing my Wicked hoodie to a Hairspray event yesterday, the manager was like, ‘take it off’. I love Wicked! It’s a fabulous show, I think it’s brilliant.
What is the best thing about being on stage?
Seeing people afterwards who have genuinely enjoyed it, and meeting people that are genuine fans of the show as well. We’ve got some people that come dressed up, they come quite often and they really, really support the show, and they are not the ones that go home and write nasty things, they genuinely just love it. It’s so nice to know there are people like that.
Also just being on stage with such professionals every night. We have such a good time, and even though it’s really hard work we do come out knowing that we’re lucky to be in work and knowing that it could all change tomorrow. Working with Liam [Tamne], Verity [Rushworth] and Adrian [Hansel] – we’re the four young principals of the show – we just have such a good time every night, we’re all really good friends.
Me and Liam joined together so we have got a very special bond. He was in Wicked before this and I was a superfan of his so that’s embarrassing!
And the worst?
I got quite ill when I started just because you work up such an adrenaline. Going up to opening night we were working so hard. Once I’d done opening night I released and then got really ill. But I carried through, I didn’t have a day off or anything.
Last week we did a 10-show week. Things like when we have extra shows in a week or we have rehearsals, it becomes a lot of hard work, but once I step onto the stage every night I forget all that and you just have an amazing time.
How do you relax off-stage?
24 is what I watch between shows because it de-cheeses me! I need something to get me away from the cheese, so I watch an episode of Jack Bauer, always good. And when I go home I watch Sex And The City, I watch America’s Top Model; a lot of American things, I’m a bit of an American obsessive. Then I have a cup of tea. I’m not asleep until about 01:00 most nights, because of the adrenaline, you’re so high all the time.
Any bad habits?
I have to kiss Liam and Adrian before I go on stage every night, that’s like a little superstition. I have to kiss Liam on the cheek and Adrian kisses me on the hand, that has to happen every night.
Do you get stage fright?
I get nervous every now and again. There are some nights where I go, ‘oh yeah, I’m performing in front of 1300 people’. You really do forget that you do that sometimes. Occasionally I just get nervous for no reason. I get stage fright sometimes about certain scenes and you sometimes see the lines go out of your head and you think, ‘I’m going to forget them’. They always come back to you.
Which production you have seen do you wish you had been in?
There’s two: We Will Rock You and Wicked. I love anything with big singing: Scaramouche, Elphaba. They are such strong characters as well, and they are a bit like Tracy in that they get something you wouldn’t necessarily get; they get the boy or they conquer something or they change something. I’m not a big fan of the Prince Charming and Princess thing, but I wouldn’t ever be [that] anyway.
If you weren’t an actor what would you be?
I think I’d either be a journalist or something to do with children, because I love kids. Like an American camp counsellor or something like that.
What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
A man at home said to me, ‘always know that there’s going to be someone better than you’. Not in a way of putting yourself down, but never get too big for your boots basically, keep your feet on the ground and always know that there’s someone higher than you and then you’ll never assume you’re going to get stuff. Also, positive thinking. I try to never be negative, I hate negativity with a passion.
What has been the highlight of your day today?
Today I went to the gym, went for a steam in the steam room, watched a bit of Sex And The City, talked to my boyfriend and then went to physio. The gym was really good today, I had a really good session.