Life is a cabaret. And in my experience, cabaret’s are bloody wonderful.
I have always known I wanted to perform. I remember forcing my sister to learn my choreography to an S Club 7 medley and the entirety of the Chicago soundtrack (I even drafted a performance programme for our dedicated audience – my grandma and great aunt. My parents were only allowed to see the polished shows). I took school very seriously too and was a competition diver and swimmer so didn’t actually step on stage for the first time until High School Musical at the Edinburgh Playhouse aged 12 (Only 2,000 odd seats there. I started small, of course). It was most definitely the ‘start of something new’ (sorry, couldn’t reist) and I got the theatre bug and joined a few am dram youth groups in Edinburgh.
Flash forward 7 years (school exams; a premature move to Guildford; jobs as a tour guide, bar person and waitress; and a HNC in musical theatre from Motherwell College) and I’m back on the Edinburgh Playhouse stage, this time as Rizzo in Grease, ready to move to London to study at the London School of Musical Theatre.
I had an incredible year at LSMT and was lucky enough to work with and meet some amazing directors (Matt Ryan, Jim Henson and Sam Spencer-Lane – I owe so much to you and ‘Violet’) and casting directors, some that went on to become my employers. I made my professional debut at The Union in London with ‘the dreaming’. Emotive ballads and crying on cue have always been my forte, so for my first part to be the comedy role of Jennifer (the adaptation equivalent of Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream) it was a challenge, but SO much fun.
I then got to fulfil a childhood dream by playing Cinderella at the Glasgow SECC alongside John Barrowman. After quickly seeing EVERYTHING John had to offer, I decided not to tell him my teenage memories of going to his concerts and reading his autobiographies. I also got to work with the sweetest and funniest (and teensiest) comedians I have ever met (The Krankies) and being a panto princess truly was incredible. I remember sitting in the flying carriage with John at the end of Act 1 (with 5 performances of the run still to go), absolutely bawling my eyes out because it all hit me how lucky and special I felt.
In 2015, no big auditions and no promise of future work hit me really hard. But it taught me to work hard, keep learning my craft, stay positive and passionate and the right thing always comes along. And fortunately I was cast in new British musical ‘Duncton Wood’, working with my LSMT Les Mis module director Michael Strassen. It meant going back to the Union, so I was a little skeptical about working in the same Fringe venue again for little money (more than normal thanks to writer Mark Carroll’s dedication obtaining funding) but I am so unbelievably glad I did. If you are ever lucky enough to get an opportunity to work with Strass DO IT. I have learnt so much from this man – from people and psychology, to rhythm and motivation and important etiquette and respect.
Now it’s time to get my teeth stuck into the next project. And I can’t wait to keep learning and exploring. I started this blog to record my experiences of being on the road with a show, so I can look back and reflect on experiences I have and lesson I learn. Hopefully, I might share some useful realisations along the way and I’m sure there will be an entertaining moment or ten.
In my job, sometimes the hours are long and hard. I can put in so much work outside of rehearsals or auditions nobody sees or appreciates. Sometimes after a 60 hour week of promo work, I feel like the next job will never come around the corner. And yeah, sometimes I get paying-rent-in-London-anxiety because there really isn’t much money in theatre.
But my god, do I love what I do.