Following a string of contemporary musicals, including Dogfight and Ghost, she is now taking on the lead role in a classic American musical. Georgia Snow talks to her as she stars in Show Boat at Sheffield Theatres.
How much did you know about the show before working on it?
I knew some of the songs and I think I had seen a film of it a long time ago, but if I’m honest I had always thought of it as a slightly dusty museum piece. I have since come to realise that I was a complete idiot about that. It is the most astonishing, beautifully written show and it’s incredibly important. We cover 40 years of American history in the show, so epic is the right word, and it’s still incredibly pertinent, even now. Particularly the racial elements of it. I think it’s important we bring shows like this to audiences, wherever they may be.
You trained at Mountview, how important a role did your training play for you?
For me, I absolutely wouldn’t be working now had I not gone, for many reasons, especially just in terms of the exposure you get to agents, the third year and the practical elements – they are so important. Having said that, I have worked with people who didn’t train and have been phenomenally successful, so ultimately it is the individual’s decision. I can’t imagine it hurting anyone to train per se, but it’s difficult these days because grants are getting whipped away left, right and centre, and it’s terribly expensive. I felt the brunt of that myself and I think it is only getting harder.
What have been your career highlights so far?
The last couple of years have been one long highlight, starting with getting to take over as Molly in the UK tour of Ghost the Musical. I loved that show and it was really important to me personally, but I think it slightly changed people’s perception of me. I had spent a lot of time understudying and it felt like an opportunity to take a step forward. Then Dogfight was a really wonderful surprise, none of us expected it to turn into what it did. After that, I worked at the Donmar Warehouse, London, which is somewhere I have wanted to work for donkeys years, so that was amazing.
Have you always wanted to do musical theatre?
Given the choice, I would love to do it all, as I’m sure most people would. I love musical theatre, don’t get me wrong, and if someone said to me that I could only do one thing for the rest of my career, I would love to be in musicals. I hate that distinction between straight plays and musicals, though; you’re still acting, and the joy of being in a musical for me is that you can use all of those skills.
Training: Mountview (2001-04)
First professional role: Aladdin, Leeds City Varieties (2004)
Agent: Jonathan Arun
Show Boat runs at Sheffield Theatres until January 23