Showing posts sorted by relevance for query in the heights. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query in the heights. Sort by date Show all posts

Monday, 16 May 2016

In Conversation With... Lily Frazer | In The Heights | Interview


Back in October, I took a little trip to the Kings Cross theatre after my lecture to watch In The Heights. I didn't really know what to expect because I'd only heard a few of the songs but I was utterly blown away and have been in love with the show ever since! Check out my review here

I recently reached out to Lily Frazer who plays Nina in the show and she has been kind enough to do an interview with me about all things In The Heights...


For those that don't know, can you explain a little about the storyline of In The Heights and how your character Nina fits into it.

Lily Frazer as Nina and Cleve September as Sonny

In The Heights shows a few days in the life of the people who live in Washington Heights. There's a lot of poverty and financial struggle. Rent is rising due to gentrification and everyone seems to be trying to 'make it out' and make their mark on the world. The Rosarios for example own a taxi company which is failing financially. Nina Rosario the daughter has become the hope of the neighbourhood after leaving the barrio to go to Stanford university on a scholarship. However because she's been trying so hard to juggle her school work and working to pay for the rest of her tuition she has been failing her exams and after losing her  scholarship has decided to take leave of absence. She obviously feels a huge amount of guilt and anxiety on the way home and feels as if she has let the whole community and most importantly her parents down. She's come home to tell her parents the news and to also to try and get back to her roots and that's where her story begins really. 


I know you saw the show on Broadway, in what ways is the West End production similar and different to it?

I didn't actually see the show on Broadway. (AN. I was having a moment writing that question, I thought I'd heard Lily say she'd seen the show on Broadway!) I was studying at Arts Ed in London when it was on Broadway but I remember everyone in college was still just as excited about it. The soundtrack and libretto in the library were always checked out by someone. So naturally years later when it came to London I was thrilled. 

As for the West End production the staging is in traverse rather than a traditional proscenium arch so the setting is more intimate I think and with the cast dancing in the aisles as well it allows the audience to feel submerged in the setting. Our theatre is unique! The Kings Cross theatre makes the whole experience quite magical. The audience enter along actual railway tracks and through the 'subway' onto our stage. 


You played Eponine in Les Mis who is quite a contrast to Nina to say the least! Do you prefer portraying the family orientated, upbeat dance atmosphere of In The Heights or the highly dramatic, deep emotional atmosphere of Les Mis?

I wouldn't say I prefer either. I like a challenge and both roles are equally as challenging for different reasons. I feel that both roles are equally as vocally and emotionally demanding. 


Throughout In The Heights there is the overarching theme of home and the importance of it. What three things remind you of home?

I get home sick after a holiday abroad. I'll be sat on my plane and we'll be landing and I'll get a first glimpse of the green fields through the clouds and I'll suddenly get really excited to feel the cold weather on my face. Hilarious because I hate being cold so this feeling doesn't last long! 

I grew up in the West Midlands so I get really excited when I hear someone with a Midlands accent! Especially if they're a fellow actor! Feel like I've found a team mate! 

The Eagles greatest hits was played on almost every car journey my family ever went on when I was a kid. So I can't hear The Eagles without thinking of my family! 


Congratulations on the Oliviers, 3 awards is incredible for the show and you looked stunning! How has it been for you seeing the positivity of critics and audiences alike? Did you know you were doing something special when rehearsals started?


Lily at the 2016 Olivier Awards
I’m so unbelievably proud. That sentence actually doesn't do justice to how I feel about In The Heights. Cast, Crew, Production, Creative team have been through a lot since we opened in October. And not always good times like the Oliviers. There's been a lot of hard work that's been done on and off stage to make this production possible which is why I have so much pride in it. 

Last year when we opened the theatre wasn't very well known so at the start of our contract a lot of us were worried people wouldn't come. Also with the show being described as a rap musical we were worried about our target audience because of course that's not all In The Heights is. Also if it wasn't for the sell out production at the Southwark Playhouse we might not be here. It's been great to watch the audiences get bigger and to hear more and more people talk about how much they love the show. Turning up to a little gig at the Theatre Café a few weeks ago and not being able to get in the door because it was so packed with fans wanting to show support was so touching! I am extremely proud to be apart of that. 


If you switched roles with anyone in the cast, who would you choose and why? (I think we'd all love to see Nina rap!)

Lily Frazer as Nina and Joe Aaron Reid as Benny

Daniela looks like so much fun! 

Also I think I'd love to play Benny. I think he gets the best of both worlds. He gets to rap and dance but also gets to sing some beautiful love songs with Nina. Jammy! 


As someone who studied and went straight into a West End show, what advice would you give for anyone currently at university hoping to get into the performing arts industry?

I did a degree course at Arts Educational Schools in Chiswick. So I'm not sure if you would call it a university. 

Before I got accepted into ArtsEd when I was studying for my A levels a lot of teachers told me to go to university and study drama or Theatre Studies which after doing my own research wasn't the right for the kind of actor I wanted to be. I'm very proud of my degree but I'd say that my training at ArtsEd and the connections the school gave me were key to my success in the industry. Not only is the training impeccable but I would never have had an audition for Les Miserables if I wasn't given the opportunity to audition in front of casting directors when they were invited to audition us in my final year. You need to really do your research on exactly what you're going to get out of your training and more importantly what YOU want to achieve at the end. Eg. Do they provide a showcase or a show at the end of your third year? Do they invite agents and casting directors? Do they specialise in one area of musical theatre or all three? I was lucky in that Arts Ed pride themselves on preparing you so well for everything! If theres something I wish I'd done more of though whilst I was training would be to take class out of school hours to broaden my training. Take class outside of school hours. Get a head start. Always be one step ahead of your classmates and take everything that your teachers tell you with a pinch of salt. Criticism is good for you but don't let it destroy you! Make up your own mind. Take inspiration from other performers but directly comparing yourself to others is poisonous! Don't do it! I had to learn that the hard way. I could talk about this all day but I'll stop now! 


Finally, for someone deciding whether to see In The Heights, what 5 words do you think best sum it up?

Olivier 

Award

Winning

Breakthrough

Musical 
;) 


I want to say a huge thank you to Lily for taking the time to answer these questions. The show is unbelievably brilliant and Lily is wonderful as Nina. Please, if you can get to the Kings Cross theatre, go and see In The Heights! 

Also, keep and eye out on RewriteThisStory for some more In The Heights themed posts which are coming up! My original review of the show is here!

Interview by Olivia Mitchell, Editor

Monday, 30 May 2016

10 Reasons You Should See In The Heights

Shock horror! Another post about In The Heights! In case you still haven't seen the show, here are ten reasons why you should definitely take a trip down to the barrio!

If you want some background information on the show check out my review here and if you fancy reading a cast interview, there's one here.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Hamilton Dream Cast


My Hamilton obsession has been out in full force recently and the prospect of it coming to the West End in 2017 has got me ridiculously excited and kind of nervous. I'm praying that I'll get tickets and that I won't have to sell a body part to pay for them! 

So with all the Hamilton fever going around, I wanted to do my own dream cast for the show (I was inspired by this post.) Before I start I want to say that I basically want the whole of the In The Heights cast to become the Hamilton cast so there's going to be a lot of them in this....! 

Saturday, 22 April 2017

In Conversation With... Damian Buhagiar | Thoroughly Modern Millie | Interview


Damian Buhagiar recently finished starring in In The Heights, is currently part of the UK tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie playing Ching Ho and will soon be starring in Mamma Mia  in the West End. Damian was lovely enough to do this interview for Rewrite This Story and I can't wait to see him in the show!

For those who don't know, can you explain a little about your career and highlights so far?

I have always been attracted towards theatre and musicals from a young age of 3. Being a Maltese student at Stagecoach was a great introduction to this form of career. When you are young, you don't actually realise that this could be a future job so it all starts as a hobby and a recreation from other school work, or activities. 

As I grew older I started taking it even more seriously by taking private singing lessons, dance classes and acting classes. When I hit the age of 15, the time i had my GCSEs back home in Malta, my singing teacher adviced me to audition for Tring Park School For the Performing Arts, a brilliant boarding school. So I did and after  a couple of weeks I was accepted to persue my musical theatre training further as well as do my A levels for 2 years. Without the love, help and support from my parents this would have never happened especially being away from home. After those 2 years I was than chosen to attend the BA Hons musical theatre course for another 3 years which was such a incredible excperience. You learn new things everyday, you learn so much about yourself and the training and the teachers have been fantastic. 

Once my third year was coming to an end we started having people from the business coming to see our shows and showcases, people such as directors, choreographers, producers, agents and more.  To me that was one of the highlights as I got to introduce myself to the business and express what I love most, my passion for theatre which leads me to my second highlight which was being a massive part of Lin Manuel's hit  musical 'In the Heights' playing the role of Sonny at the Southwark Playhouse. The reason I say this was one of the highlights in my life is because it has enabled me to show my passion in my own style of dance and defined me and so it couldn'thave been a better show to enter the musical theatre business with. 

I then moved on to an 18 month UK Tour of Jersey Boys playing the role of Joe Pesci and 2nd cover Frankie Valli which was another highlight in my career as I got to explore England a bit more, see different cultures and make new friends outside of London as well as the insanely stunning theatre built around the country. I have than moved on to playing on stage swing in Bugsy Malone at the  Lyric Theatre, working with the choreographer  Drew McOnie and which then led me to reprising my role as Sonny in In the Heights, this time at the Kings Cross Theatre in London for 4 months. Of course the biggest highlight from this was the fact I got the chance to meet the legendary Lin Manuel Miranda in person. I am now currently on the UK Tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie playing a completely different character to what I normally play called 'Ching Ho', a Chinese role which I am glad to say I am loving.


Was being a performer what you always wanted or did you have a different career path in mind when you were younger?



As mentioned earlier, I have always taken musical theatre, singing, dancing and acting as a hobby up until the age of fourteen. I was mainly aiming to invest time in my studies to eventually become a Mechanic Engineer (seeing I am pretty into mechanics and cars) or an architect.




You recently finished playing Sonny in In The Heights, did you know from the Southwark that you were a part of something special? How was it returning to the show?

In The Heights, has been one of the biggest adventures that has happened in my life. Playing the role of Sonny, literally has been my unexpected dream role straight after grauduating from college. It felt like it was just meant to happen and came at the right time. What made even more special was the company. Seeing how we all become one unit and one family creates something magical. Creates a spark that is unexplainable. As the Southward was a small intimate venue this proved how much of a unit we really were as we all shared our passion with the audiences which gave such a great response. 



Returning to the show after a year and a half this time at the Kings Cross Theatre, created that spark again in a different way. It was interesting to see that my heart was always there, my spirit enlightened and I was just 'Living' and recreating Sonny again, sharing the live with different members of the cast..(some of them from the Southwark).




How was the transition from the Southwark to Kings Cross theatre? What changed in the show?

I think moving to a different style of venue definitley created a change in space and motion however the one thing that made it feel like there was no difference at al was the spirit and the community we as a cast and a team all had.  As the Southwark Playhouse had much of a smaller theatre, there was a lot of intimacy and more of an interraction with auditiences which makes it even more appreciative being that close. Kings Cross had a wider stage being on Traverse stage, so that as a team made us work harder to use eachother to get the story accross morr and put our chatacters on a higher level that in the southwark for audiences to have the same feeling. 


The idea of heritage is very important in Heights, being from Malta, did you face any of the same struggles as Nina and Usnavi?

In The Heights couldn't possibly be a successfull show/production if there isnt any heart and love and care between not just the cast but even the company. Same with everything, if you are working in a lovely safe environment where you feel you can trust and open up your heart to your collegues without being scared, that same feeling will definitely show on stage. Especially for someone like myself being away from home away from my loved family, having a second family in a show like that has made me feel like home and it has always been a job travelling to work to express this love shared with the other talented cast members. Luckily I have never been in Usnavi's or Nina's position however I can relate to how difficult it really is to follow your dreams and what really genuinly makes you happy. Luckily I had ultimate support from my loved family where both my parents have enabled me to follow the dream career I have always wanted. A big sacrifice on their part that without them I woudn't be here doing what I love most...theatre/performing and hopefully being an inspiration to others.


You're currently starring in Thoroughly Modern Millie, can you explain the storyline a little and how your character fits into it?

The story is about this new naive girl in town called Millie, coming to new york for the first time when she sets her sights on marrying her whealthy boss. Problem arises when she checks into a hotel owned by the leader of a white slavery ring in China. Where my character "Ching Ho" along with his brother "Bun Foo", helping to kidnap pretty and suspecting orphan girls and shipping them to the Orient. Ching Ho however takes a shine to one of the 4 girls "Miss Dorothy'' and rescues her from Mrs. Meers, who at the end the truth is revealed and Mrs. Meers is captured.



What's the biggest challenge about taking on this role?

The biggest challenge in taking the role of 'Ching Ho', the Chinese part, is because of the obvious....its a Chinese role and I am Maltese. Performing this role everyday has enabled me to discover more aspects of him that allow me to invest and play around with on stage. I have been blessed to have my fellow cast memeber Andy who is actually from Hong Kong himself so has tought me the language patiently. It has been an interesting process however I always love a chalenge and at least I could say I have tested that language and might want to investtime it too in future. I've also learnt a lot about Chinese history and what makes the characters: Ching Ho and Bun Foo work as slaves in the show... their background stories.



How are you enjoying touring life? What do you miss most about being away from home?

I have always loved touring. I just love getting away from london and get to see different cultures in different places in the UK or abroad, make new friends in the digs I stay in as well as enjoy my own company and driving. Being away also makes you apreciate lot of things and miss a lot of things. Having a lot of free time on my hands make you think about your life in depth such as my parents and my lifestyle back home and the time I share with them.



What are your hobbies and passions outside of performing? 

Drawing has always been a massive part of my life that enables me to forget the real world and just zone out completely and focus on one things...cars. The passion I always had ever since I was 5 years old. 


Can you name a few of your dream roles?

Playing Sonny in the musical In The Heights has already been one of my dream roles. I would say playing Phantom in Phantom of the Opera and Clyde in Bonnie and Clyde would definitely be two of my dream roles in musical theatre however I like variety and a challenge so I love exoloring as opportunities come my way, what a dream role would be.



If you could go back to any era, when would it be and why?

If I had to go back to an era I would go back to 1950s. I love that all men were mostly gentleman with manner, respectful towards their women and also live a fashionable suit. Life back that would have been very classy.



What's the best piece of advice you've ever received and what advice would you give to aspiring performers?

Best advice I have ever recieved have been to just be yourself. If it makes you happy do it. Always follow your gut. If you ever come in doubt just ask yourself 'but why not?'. If you have a dream, fight for it however long it takes to achieve it.


A huge thank you to Damian for doing this interview. Make sure you book tickets to see Thoroughly Modern Millie on its UK tour!


Interview by Olivia Mitchell, Editor

Saturday, 2 July 2016

In Conversation with... Gabriela Garcia | In The Heights | Interview




Gabriela Garcia is an incredible performer who recently took over the role of Nina Rosario in In The Heights at the Kings Cross theatre. Since training at Arts Ed, Gaby has starred in some brilliant shows and she is sure one to watch. From her fantastic vocals to stunning acting and amazing dancing Gaby overflows with star power! I was lucky enough to interview Gabriela about her career, goals and all things In The Heights...




Was being a performer something you always yearned for or did you have a different career path in mind when you were younger?

When I was younger I wanted to be writer and archaeologist and I aspired to be the first woman Mexican President. I started dancing at 13 and then said maybe I would want to be a dancer and by 16 I said...actually maybe an actress- hopefully as an actress I could play a writer, an archaeologist and a president at some point ha! 


So you recently saw Hamilton which must have been amazing. How does it feel being in one of Lin's shows, do you feel extra pressure now Hamilton has had such success? 
No, I wouldn't say I feel pressure. I feel lucky and privileged to be able to perform Lin's material every night.



Your drive, talent and passion have led you to some wonderful shows but you've said Nina was one of your dream roles. What are some of the others?
Anita in WSS...is that too cliche? Fosca in Passion, Molly in Ghost, Evita, Eliza in Hamilton, Jenny in Love Story...gosh so many...I would love to create a new piece where I get to create a new character, maybe a musical based on Frida Kahlo's life!


You studied at Arts Ed which is known for producing West End stars, what was the best piece of advice you were told during your time there?

'Your training never stops' - always keep learning.



Lets talk about In The Heights, you've been in the show since the run at the Southwark, did you know them that you were part of something special? How has the show changed since it moved to Kings Cross?

Yes! we all knew it was something really special as we all gave up our time and money for it. The staging has changed slightly, there's more people in the cast and the band are in a different place but the heart and sentiment of the piece is still the same.



Taking over the role of Nina must have been somewhat daunting. What are the biggest challenges of the show and what are your favourite parts? 

I am the luckiest girl in the world! It was really daunting but the support from my cast mates and company made it all much easier. I feel like I got the best of both worlds. I got to know the show from Yolanda's perspective and from Nina's! There are so many favourite parts of mine...if I had to pick one: When you're home when I sing 'my people, my people...' I always think of Mexico then even though I should be thinking of Puerto Rico as Nina...There are so many challenges and every day they change - I guess the biggest one is to be able to tell the story for the first time every day and to not take it for granted.



It must be exciting as a Latina to play a role so focussed around the Latina heritage. Were you always proud of your heritage or did you face some of the same struggles as Usnavi and Nina when you moved to England?

Omg yes as a foreigner you always feel like you don't belong and then you go back home and everything has changed and you feel like you don't belong there either! I have always been very proud of being Mexican and always will although now I say I'm British too as I consider London my home too!  


The idea of home and family is very important in the show. What things remind you of home?

My grandma and my whole family, good Mexican food, sunny weather, Mexican music and vibrant colours.



If you had to sum up the show in 5 words, what would they be?

Family, dreams, faith, support, hot.



Finally, do you have any advice for people hoping to get into the performing arts industry?

Be kind and never give up.




Thank you so much Gaby for taking the time to answer these questions. Be sure to catch In The Heights which is currently booking until October!


Interview by Olivia Mitchell, Editor

Monday, 6 February 2017

In Conversation With... Cleve September | Hamilton | Interview

Cleve September is a rising star of the West End. He recently starred in Annie Get Your Gun and In The Heights to much acclaim and has just been cast as Laurens/Philip in the upcoming West End production of Hamilton so it safe to say he's destined for stardom! 




Was being a performer what you always dreamt of or did you have a different career path in mind when you were younger?


I've been singing since I can remember but only started dancing about 6, nearly 7 years ago. Before that I was really into my sports.. I played a lot of basketball and rugby. And I also love 100m and 200m sprints. So I was quite athletic because I got into musical theatre. And the dream back then was to be in the Olympics.


You just finished playing Sonny in In The Heights to much acclaim. It just seems like the funnest show and cast to be a part of. Can you sum up that experience?


Really there are no words to describe how incredible the experience was! In The Heights will always have a place in my heart, as will the cast! They were all such incredible human beings! And they really made my first professional job so amazing.


Did you feel any extra pressure joining so many original Southwark Playhouse cast members when you joined the show at the Kings Cross Theatre? How did you put your own spin on the role?

Not at all because everyone was so welcoming and everyone was so supportive! And I wasn't expected to do the things that Damian can do or did in the show so I could do a bit of creating and figuring out how my body wanted to move in terms of the dance routines. And we just found new things.


You definitely became a fan favourite at Heights; did you expect to gain so many fans in your first role after training?


I didn't know that I was a fan favourite... I had no idea what to expect but I am so thankful for the fans because their love and constant support was amazing throughout the run.


The Kings Cross theatre is super intimate. Are you excited to perform in the Crucible and other larger venues in the future? Do you prefer more intimate or bigger venues?


I'm yet to experience a bigger venue... so I'll let you know!


Annie Get Your Gun is such a Classic musical. Did it get a modern twist in your recent production or did it stick to its original roots?



Nope there was no modern twist to it, we very much stuck to the roots and played it truthfully! The choreography was stunning and it was such an honour and a pleasure working for the team of creatives behind that show!


Can you explain a little about Annie Get Your Gun and how your character Tommy fits into it?


AGYG is about a woman called Annie who is an incredible shooter. She falls in love with a 'swollen headed stiff' named Frank Butler and their story of how they fell in love through the circumstances that they were put through. My character had his own little love story going on with a character called Winnie Tate, who's older sister Dolly, forbids them to be together.


What was your biggest challenge with taking on this role?



I had more than one big challenge haha. The style of Choreo and also singing in a legit style were the two biggest challenges for me as they were both very new to me. However once I managed to kinda wrap my head around it I had the most incredible time! 


If you had a magic wand, which show would you do next? 


Hamilton 👀👀


You have a five minute break during rehearsal, what do you spend that time doing?


If there is food near my I'm eating, or trying to wrap my head around something that may have confused me or I might have done wrong..


You studied at Mountview, what was the best piece of advice your were told during your time there?


To be a sponge and soak everything up that works for me!



Thank you so much to Cleve for taking the time to answer these questions. Make sure you go see Cleve in Hamilton and any other shows he does- you'll love him!


Interview by Olivia Mitchell, Editor

Follow Cleve on twitter here


Wednesday, 23 November 2016

In Conversation With... Sarah Naudi | In The Heights | Interview

Sarah Naudi is currently starring in Lin Manuel Miranda's glorious brainchild In The Heights as the feisty, loved up Vanessa. Her other credits include the short film In The Name of Bjorn and By The Sea in which she acts alongside Angelina Jolie, to name a few.




After a wonderful performance of In The Heights, Emilie and I interviewed the lovely Sarah. We found out about her journey to becoming a performer, her love for Lara Croft, her future aspirations and so much more. So without further ado, here is our interview:

Was being a performer something you always yearned for or did you have a different career path in mind when you were younger?
I always wanted to be a performer. Oh my god, I have to get into my sob story now! Anyway, I was born with a deformity in my foot and it's a disability and they were like “oh she’ll never dance, she’ll never do anything” so my mother was like “oh I’m gonna send her to ballet lessons then”. And I was always the shittest and the worst but I was facially always the happiest and having the most fun so I just carried on dancing for years. 

Then when I was 15 I told my parents that I really wanted to go to England cause I had seen The Lion King here and I was like “oh my god in England they do musicals” so that’s kind of why I came here and again, struggled very much in dance and then was dancing amongst these [the cast of In The Heights] amazing people! I’m very lucky and it's just a dream come true really so yeah, to answer your question, this is what I’ve always wanted to do… but I really want to do film! So I think after this, because this is the part I really wanted to play in musical theatre, and I’ve done Carla and Daniela, Nina and Vanessa which is amazing, I really want to act seriously.


What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Probably meeting Angelina Jolie, that was amazing. I don’t know if you’ve seen By The Sea it's her film with Brad Pitt? So basically she filmed it in Malta so I had to do a scene me and her and she's like my idol, I’ve always wanted to be like the next Lara Croft or something so when I met her I was like “this is it” and she’s an amazing, amazing woman. She’s motherly, very nice and was like “thanks for being in my film Sarah” and I was like “thank me?? Thank you!”. It was amazing yeah, definitely a highlight!


With all the success of Hamilton do you feel extra pressure being in one of Lin’s shows?
Well I can’t wait to watch it [Hamilton] here, its going to be honestly amazing, just gonna blow everyones minds! Oh god its gonna be so good! 

With the success of course there’s more pressure because its brought more attention to the show because everyone knows who he is now but everyday -no matter what happens backstage or in your own personal life- when you hear the music we just realise how lucky we are.

And Gaby (Gabriela Garcia) and I, these were our dream roles at college. We lived together, went to school together, everything and we just cant believe that it's happened, not just for one of us but for both of us. When we’re on those stairs together at the end we look at each other and we go “wow, how did this happen, we are so lucky”. So everyday listening to Lin’s music its just, yeah! And I can’t wait to watch Moana, it looks amazing and the music sounds incredible!


You’ve been with In The Heights since it was at the Southwark, how has it changed since then?
I feel like at the Southwark we loved the show and not the story yet. So there was a lot of heart for the show and it was a ball of energy and that’s why it was such a success but now I feel the focus is on the story, whereas before it wasn’t because we didn’t have time to invest in it whereas now, most of us know it so well and we’ve been doing it for so long that we’re like “this is why he wrote the song!” 

And even getting to meet him and hear him speak, when he said he is Nina and Sam is Usnavi like wow, what a compliment for Sam! That’s what I feel the biggest difference is, now I really understand the story, whereas before I loved the music and how I  felt, now I really really love, you know the whole Paciencia y Fe and all of that!


The idea of heritage is prevalent in the show, did you face some of the same struggles as Nina and Usnavi when you moved to the UK from Malta?
100% I mean I’m from a tiny island in the Mediterranean and people haven’t even heard of it and I always had these big dreams, kind of like Vanessa, really just wanting to go and get out and do something and when I came here I found a massive culture shock. I found, at first, my classmates were very cold. It's a colder culture here, it's more polite, whereas in the Mediterranean we’re used to hugs so I used to talk to people on the tube all the time like “oh I really like your nail polish” and they thought I was a psycho because you don’t do that here! So I really had to learn that but I think when the Brits really get to know you as a foreigner they fall in love with you. I have so many close British friends now but I did struggle. All of them making fun of my accent oh god…. they still do it backstage now!


Have there been any challenges playing Vanessa in general or with your transition for Carla to Vanessa?
More nerves. First of all, more pressure because I have been begging to play this part for I don’t know how long so its like "uh oh the producers are looking at me now", so you really have to deliver. 

And vocally there's more pressure. As Carla, if I was having a bad singing day I could do okay. And also when I was playing Carla I could hide behind the humour and really get along with the audience whereas with Vanessa, it's really hard to make her likeable because she's always moaning on stage! So I really wanted to make sure that I kind of play her more sweetly and just like she's trying to get out of here but has a good heart, so that was kind of a lot of pressure to try and get that across. And it was difficult doing 'The Club' with a completely different track and all that... yeah just more pressure!


The idea of home is therefore very important, what three things remind you of home?
The smell of the sea reminds me of home. Damian [Buhagiar], his Maltese accent backstage! He speaks to me all the time in Maltese which is really sweet! And probably my family.


Whats your favourite moment in the whole show?
To play, definitely Champagne. In my life and so many of my friends lives theres that moment where you really want to tell someone to stay and I feel like every night I get to do that and tell the person to stay and I know he doesn’t do that, he stays for the great but I can get over that! But yeah, every night I have the opportunity to do it, in life I sometimes don’t do that so I love playing it.

To listen to as a song definitely Benny’s Dispatch. Every night backstage I’m vibing along and also probably in ‘Carnaval’ Sam’s bit where he sings “a corner full of foreigners” and all that section.


If you had a magic wand, which show would you do next?….. although you want to do film!
Lara Croft the Musical?! haha, no I don’t know. I actually have no idea because this was my dream show! I love Spring Awakening, I think I’d be too old for it now but probably Spring Awakening

Moulin Rouge… that’s what I wanna be in! That’s the one… something gritty!


If you could be any fictional character for a day, who would you be and why?
A superhero definitely! [Lara Croft?]  Yeah! I didn’t want to say it again but lets be honest. Yeah I just like the idea of being a really strong woman who can save lives.


What does your perfect Sunday look like?
Ohh definitely involves a party of some sort! I go to these things called Morning Raves. They’re for people who don’t drink or don’t do anything they just love music and you just party from like six in the morning until 10 to start your day and you start your day really fresh and happy. Also seeing friends, Winter Wonderland- going on the  the rides, just something adventurous. Once on our day off Courtney (Mae-Briggs) and I went skydiving in Peterborough! We’re just adrenaline junkies! We booked it two days before and it said ‘North London Skydiving’ but Peterborough is not North London, just saying! It took us ages! 


Whats your best piece of advice for an aspiring performer?
I would say always be prepared because success is when preparation meets the opportunity. So if you’re always ready and the opportunity comes, then boom. If the opportunity comes and you’re not ready then you're not going to get the part or get into the school you know, so always, always, always be prepared. Keep improving yourself. Gaby (Garcia) is a master at that, I mean, she inspires me everyday because she is always learning and always asking us what she can do better. She goes to lessons all the time so just keeping that. No matter how successful you become just keep working at it. Be kind, be really kind to people. People will wanna work with you again. And be on time… don’t be late!


A huge, huge thank you to Sarah for being so lovely, kind and inspirational. A truly talented lady who I hope to see become a movie megastar in the future! Thank you to Emilie for joining me on the interview and as usual thank you to Lin Manuel Miranda for creating the best musical ever!

Interview by Olivia Mitchell, Editor

Thursday, 15 October 2015

In The Heights, King's Cross Theatre | Review


From the moment I stepped into the King's Cross theatre and was transported from the busyness of London rush hour to a bustling Subway station in New York, I knew this show was going to be something special. I'd heard the buzz since previews began and with all the hype around Hamilton I was expecting great things from the brainchild of Lin-Manuel Miranda, and oh boy, I was not let down at all!

In The Heights is set over the course of 3 days and centres on a small community living in Washington Heights in the Northern tip of Manhattan- a place where the doors are always open, the music is always flowing and theres always gossip to be heard. The community is full of the hopes and dreams of those trying to build a better life whilst keeping their traditions with them. In The Heights won four Tony awards in 2008, a Grammy Award and was also nominated for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Miranda's mix of typical musical theatre melodies with a rap score perfectly creates an energy and story that you can't help but fall in love with. Combined with Drew McOnie's athletic, racy and hip-swivelling choreography the show has an urban salsa vibe which totally complements the West Side Story-esque plotline.

Each musical number is delivered impeccably by the stellar company and superb band. Sam MacKay's Usnavi tells the struggles of wanting to leave but needing to keeps his roots exquisitely; whilst Joe Aaron Reid's Benny combines both comedic and emotional scenes in a seemingly flawless way whilst interacting perfectly with the other characters namely Kevin (played by David Bedella) and Nina (played by Lily Frazer) both of whom's killer acting and vocals make every scene pop and flow. Jade Ewen's incredible belting skills are shown off in her portrayal of Vanessa and a special mention must go to Victoria Hamilton-Barritt who despite being heavily pregnant still manages to dance and sing like crazy! The whole company are harmonious and truly feel like the community they are portraying.

Luke Sheppard's production creates the perfect night out with an electrifying energy that will leave you wanting to salsa your way to the box office to book another night in Washington Heights.

***** 5 out of 5 stars

Friday, 23 September 2016

In Conversation with... Victoria Hamilton-Barritt | Murder Ballad | Interview



Rewrite This Story recently caught up with the wonderfully talented Victoria Hamilton-Barritt whos had a fabulous career from Gypsy and Saturday Night Fever to In The Heights most recently. Victoria told us all about her upcoming musical Murder Ballad, her career so far and her advice for aspiring performers...

You've had a fantastic career that many performers would dream of. What have your highlights been?
Paul Kerryson cast me in Gypsy at Curve Theatre playing Louise/Gypsy and I had an absolute ball in that role. Finally I was playing a role that had so many layers with an epic journey. Paul gave me the greatest opportunity with that show and I absorbed every drop of that incredible production. Another highlight close to my heart is creating the role of Daniela for the London run of In The Heights, Southwark Playhouse and Kings Cross Theatre. I had the best time in that role and changing it up a for a London audience. 


Was being a performer what you always dreamt of or did you have a different career path in mind when you were younger?
I worked in London Zoo when I was younger and was told if I stayed on I would one day be made a zoo keeper. I absolutely love wildlife so I know that's where I would have ended up otherwise.


You went from A Chorus Line to In The Heights, both of which received amazing audience reactions. How was it to be a part of that? Both shows must have felt like a true family!
I've never felt family in a show to the degree of what In The Heights delivered. What a special place. We all shared an obsession for the show which was heartbreaking when I left.

A Chorus Line was tricky because there were no interval and we were on stage for a solid 3 hours. The cast were so lovely but because of this obstacle we never fully got to know each other in that 8 month period. Talented writing in the sense where it's an audition and keeping distance. Clever.


Both Diana and Daniela are kickass characters; how do you bring so much sass on stage? Do you have any diva inspirations?
I was always Inspired by Joanna Lumley, Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French. Ruby Wax and all women who make you laugh whether it be with an aggressive undertone or just damn right silly.


So last time you were performing you were heavily pregnant (how did you manage to still dance in heels!?) Since then you’ve had a beautiful baby (congratulations!) Has this changed the way you approach material?
Thank you! She is gorgeous and has made my life. I would have had a harder pregnancy had I not been in a show. It's better to just get on with things and do what makes you happy. Pregnancy was tough for me as I got so big where I looked full term at 4 months so come 8 months I looked like I was going to pop which caused discomfort for audience members who new I was pregnant for real. People really didn't believe I was pregnant though, where there were a lot of gasping at stage door. Some critics thought it a character choice... honestly.


You’ve gone from the Palladium to the Southwark Playhouse to the Kings Cross Theatre and now you’re going to perform at the Arts Theatre.  These venues couldn’t be more different. Do you prefer the bigger theatres or the more intimate settings? 
I love intimate spaces where you can see every expression and subtle choice. Small venues grant that, which always makes the connection with the audience more connected.


Can you explain a little about Murder Ballad and how your character fits into it?
I'm the narrator of the show which shares a story of a love triangle which gets complicated and things go wrong. Very wrong. That's all I will say for now. ðŸ˜‰


Can you describe it in 5 words?
love, lust, betrayal, sexy, oops.


Your talent and career make you an inspiration for many people hoping to get into musical theatre, whats your best piece of advice for an aspiring performer?
Work hard but don't take yourself too seriously. If it doesn't make you happy find the right time to stop. If you'd like to pick it up again do so when it feels right for you. You're enough and they're lucky to have you in their room.

Interview by Olivia Mitchell,  Editor


Read an interview with Victoria's Murder Ballad co-star Kerry Ellis