Follies actor Christine Tucker: ‘When you arrive at the National, you realise who has come through its doors and it’s overwhelming’
She fell in love with musical theatre aged six during an amateur production of Annie, made her West End debut in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang aged 10, and, after training at Bird College, has performed in both casts of Follies at the National Theatre. Christine Tucker tells Giverny Masso about the challenges of trying to move from ensemble roles into playing lead parts.…
Tell me about your character in this run of Follies?
I’m the younger, ghost version of Phyllis, played by Janie Dee. The whole show is a reunion of women who used to be in the Follies chorus dancers in the 1930s and 1940s. The story focuses on two women and their husbands and the love-square situation. It’s interesting, because you are seeing your older self. Initially, I am thrilled with how she has turned out; glamorous and married to the guy she always wanted to be with. But as the show progresses, the cracks start to appear and you see that maybe she’s not quite what I wanted her to be.
What has been the biggest challenge with Follies?
I don’t have many spoken lines, but am present the whole time. This is different to last time. Director Dominic Cooke really wanted us to be present to see the interactions with the other older characters. To be able to portray emotion and evoke a response with no dialogue is quite tricky. Getting my head around that was the hardest thing for me, as obviously you don’t want to do loads of eyebrow acting and looking angsty.
How did you go from drama training to performing in the original cast of Follies?
I auditioned for the UK tour of Mary Poppins in my third year at Bird College and was offered an ensemble role and second cover of the lead. It was an 18-month UK tour that extended and went to Zurich and Dubai. The tour ran until the beginning of 2017. Then I auditioned for Follies the first time it came around and was cast as Young Deedee. It’s the first time I ever met the team at the National, and, if I’m honest, I didn’t really realise the calibre of theatre until I got here, which I think is something that quite a lot of young people feel. As soon as you’re here, you realise the people that have come through those doors and it’s quite overwhelming.
What happened in between the two runs of Follies?
I discussed making the move into being considered for covers of leads and playing leads with my agent Ollie. This industry is quite hard if that’s what you want to do, especially when you’re young and you haven’t made a name for yourself. I had to make the decision to not take jobs or only go for jobs that I really wanted to do, so I did end up not working for 12 months. I was offered Follies this time round as young Phyllis, six months after finishing the last job, so I did know I was going to be doing that. During that year I worked in a menswear store in Covent Garden, as a receptionist in a gym and I also did some hospitality work.
What would be your dream role?
Frozen has just been announced and I’d love to play Anna. I think she’s hilarious. I also saw Anastasia on Broadway and I’m praying that it comes to the West End. I also love the old-school musicals like Singin’ in the Rain and Carousel.
CV Christine Tucker
Training: Diploma in musical theatre at Bird College, London (2011-15)
First professional role: Ensemble and second cover, Mary Poppins UK and international tour (2015-17)
Agent: Oliver Thomson at Intertalent
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