Lesli Margherita on Bringing Zorro Back to London for One Night Only | Interview

The musical version of Zorro premiered in the West End in 2008. With a score by the Gipsy Kings, it tells the good versus evil tale of the legendary hero Zorro. In it's first London performance since closing, the musical will be performed as a staged concert at Cadogan Hall this month.

Lesli Margherita, who starred in the original workshops and West End production, will be reprising her Olivier Award winning role as Inez at this concert. Lesli sat down with Rewrite This Story to discuss bringing the show back to London, her advice for performers and the lowdown on her other musical, Emojiland...


You are the Queen of self branding, do you have any advice for performers wanting to create their own space in the industry?
I didn’t try to brand, and I think that's probably the most important thing. This all came out my family calling me queen and being a kid writing ‘Lesli Rules’ on everything. So, the best thing for branding is just being yourself. I think I’m authentically myself and I share the good parts and the bad parts of me, and I think that’s maybe what people or kids have kind of gravitated to. Yeah, so the best thing is to just be yourself, people can tell fake branding from a mile away. This totally happened by accident!


You’ve returned to a few musicals with Mrs Wormwood and now Inez, what’s that like? Do you set out to change parts or just go with the process and see what happens?
I think naturally it’s gonna change, because I’ve changed. It’s inherent that it will change, especially with something like Zorro because I spent so many years on it before the West End, and then I changed it during the West End and then even after that I did a few versions of it. Even just listening to the recording now I’m like “why did I do that?!” so that’s gonna change. And with Matilda there were little things that I’d always wanted to change and I think it’s great to leave something alone for a little while and see what happens.


Do you think because this is a concert version, you’ll have more space to alter things and play around a bit?
Totally yeah. I would love to do a full version to see how it would be different but I think with this the focus is really on the music which is exciting!


You’ve got such an amazing cast to perform it as well!
I know! I’m so excited! I’m really excited to perform with Emma [Williams] again, it’s going to be so nice

The cast of Zorro in concert at Cadogan Hall 

Since you’ve found out you’ll be doing the show again, is there a particular song you’re excited to sing once more?
Every time I get to do Bamboleo I’m happy- it’s my favourite. I never get tired of it, even when the actual Gipsy Kings version comes on on my ipod I never skip it cause it’s just so good. 


Well hopefully we’ll get an updated recording soon, after this maybe it’s time for West End and Olivier number two!?
Oh I mean I would love that. I’d really really love it to come back- hopefully soon!


Can you sum up the show in five words?
Romantic, adventuresome, electric, uplifting and swashbuckling!


Aside from Zorro, you’re working on Emojiland, tell us a little about the show
It sounds crazy! It sounds like it’s gonna be a dumb show but it’s not! It’s about a bunch of emojis living in a phone and what  happens after an update is implemented and a bunch of different emojis come in. It’s really about not looking at things for face value and seeing what’s behind the face, and seeing that just because that’s how someone looks, it might not be how they’re feeling. It also gets a little political, it’s about not wanting change, not wanting different types of people or emojis going into their land; it’s really got so much heart. 

I did it first at a festival two years ago here in New York, kind of as a bare bones version and when I found out they were doing it off-Broadway as a full production I couldn’t wait to be a part of it, I love it so much.

It’ll be nice when people can hear the recording that comes out in a couple of weeks, because the songs are amazing and it really is so touching and funny, but also meaningful which people aren’t expecting cause it’s called Emojiland!

Lesli Margherita in "Emojiland." (Photo: Jeremy Daniel)

Yeah, I mean when I first heard about it I was a bit on the fence but everyone says it’s amazing!
Exactly! That’s kind of what we’re counting on. We’re counting on getting people in there and then them changing their minds because that’s what always happens. People come and say it really wasn’t what they expected and they really enjoyed it!


So you’re obviously a very busy lady with all your shows and travelling, do you have any advice for looking after your voice when it’s under pressure?
Really it’s the same stuff that everybody tells you. It’s the steaming and the rest and all the things you can never do. I never have time to rest, I never have time to steam but they’re the things you’re supposed to do and I really think that they’re important. Also, overall general care of yourself at all times, so that even when you don’t have time, your body is in good condition. It’s just a constant sort of upkeep.

I also think that the foundations and training are so important. I rely on my training so much when my voice is tired. Especially when I was dong Matilda because that role is so difficult vocally and while you’re dancing and screaming, so I really relied on my training and on the vocal team there at Matilda to keep me in shape and healthy.

I think it’s a lot of common sense, don’t go out drinking late at night and try and get some rest!


Mrs Wormwood is a very shrieky role, it must’ve been hard!
Well we worked on it so it was really a mix, it sounded screechy but it was just a mix. My mix has never been stronger than when I was in Matilda! It was really interesting trying to find that place and it never hurt once. It’s really difficult to explain to somebody though, there are all these high schoolers and stuff doing it and losing their voices and I just say “don’t scream!”


I saw your panel at BroadwayCon a few years ago and you mentioned wanting to return to the role of Inez which is happening now, so I just wondered if you have any other dream roles you’d like to put out into the universe?
I’ve been really lucky with the shows I‘ve gotten to do around the country here, but every time I’ve played Adelaide in Guys and Dolls I’ve loved it so it would be great to be able to play her again.

I’d also love to do Evita, and I really want American audiences to get to see Zorro so I hope that’ll happen someday soon!


A huge, thank you to Lesli for taking the time to chat with us. Zorro plays at Cadogan Hall on 23 February for one night only!

Interview by Olivia Mitchell

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