Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky on Taking Her Version of Rizzo on Tour in Grease the Musical | Interview

Friday 5 July 2019

Grease is the epitome of a cult-classic musical, after various revivals and reinventions, there's a new tour taking over the country. In this refreshed production, Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky takes on the iconic role of Rizzo and took the time to chat to us all about the experience...

Tell us a bit about your career and highlights so far? 
My first job out of college was cover Nabalungi/Swing in The Book Of Mormon (West End). I stayed there for a year and had the best time there. I then went into Bat Out Of Hell as ensemble/1st Cover Zahara. I have been so lucky to have the experiences I had and the memories I made on both of those jobs. We performed for Prince Harry, performed at Proms in the Park in front of thousands. Mental really. I’m now performing as Rizzo in Grease the UK and Ireland Tour and am having the time of my life. I’m so grateful for the career I’ve had so far.

You finished performing in Bat Out Of Hell at the beginning of the year which featured the iconic Jim Steinman music. Grease is a cult favourite, what’s it like bringing these well-loved songs and characters to life? 
It has been amazing learning and performing this well-loved musical. I grew up with Grease, my family and I watched it pretty much every weekend, I used to sing Hopelessly Devoted To You and There Are Worse Things I Could Do to my teddies in my room haha! So to be performing in it every night really is a dream come true. I never tire of the music and it’s been amazing getting to put my own stamp on the characters, particularly Rizzo. 

Rizzo is a very layered character, which sides of her are you most excited to discover and perform? 
Rizzo is a very layered character indeed. I wanted to try and explore as much of her as I can, and I’m still learning about her every performance I do. I love getting to play the fun, nonchalant side of her seen in Look At Me I’m Sandra Dee as well as the heartbroken side of her in There Are Worse Things I Could Do.

Does this production stick true to expectations from the movie? 
This production still has the fun loving elements from the film; however the creative team have really encouraged us to focus on the truth of the story. We are working class teenagers growing up in the 50s facing all sorts of problems such as body image, love triangles and pressures to fit into society. It’s a lot grittier than the film.

What part of touring are you most excited about? 
It’s my first tour so I’m super excited to get on the road. I think I’m most excited about seeing other parts of the country and exploring. I love travelling! 

If you could play any other character in the show, who would you play? 
If I could play any other character in the show it would have to be Kenickie. He is just so bloody cool! He also sings Greased Lightnin’ and that gets me pumped every time I hear it. 

What’s the last thing you do before you step out on stage? 
The last thing I do before I step on stage is usually drink some water, have a mint and take a couple of breaths just to focus myself. I start the show in the first wing on my own so it usually gives me time to get myself together and focus on the show. 

You have a five minute break in rehearsals, what are you doing? 
If I have 5 minutes in rehearsals I would probably be eating, ha! Or recapping dance steps usually. 

What’s a fun fact that people might not know about you? 
If I wasn’t an actress I would love to be a journalist. I love writing and talking to people. I have short novels that I have written at a young age in my room.

What’s your best piece of advice for an aspiring performer?
LOVE WHAT YOU DO! Keep yourself healthy and keep learning. Never stop working hard. See as much theatre as you can to keep your motivation going.

Grease is currently touring the UK and Ireland, information and tickets can be found here

Interview by Editor, Olivia Mitchell

photo credit: Manuel Harlan