Monday, 27 May 2013

Victoria Hamilton-Barritt | Interview

Victoria trained at Central School of Ballet and Urdang Academy of Performing Arts, when she graduated she was cast in the UK Tour of Oh What a Night! In the role of Cat and then moving with the production to Germany. Her other credits include Stephanie Mungano in Saturday Night Fever (UK tour), Connie in the Saturday Night Fever (Scandinavian tour), Carmen Diaz in Fame (Aldwych), Anita in West Side Story (international tour) Maria and understudy Susan in Desperately Seeking Susan (Novello), Alex in Flashdance (UK Tour and West End), Rizzo in Grease (West End), Gypsy Rose Lee in Gypsy (Leicester Curve) and has appeared in Bohemian Rhapsody (international tour). She is currently playing Diana in the London Revival of A Chorus Line at the London Palladium. She was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions…

Your family has a musical background, how influential was that for you growing up?
Very much so in the sense I was always being entertained by my uncles who always made a racket with pots and pans and anything else they could find around the house! They are both musicians who played in bands The Clash for a brief time before the band got super famous and other bands that would play the north west London scene of Kensal rise and Camden. They are a talented drummer and bass player and pots and pans terrorists! My dad sang the soho night life were he did his Billy Fury and Elvis numbers! 

Did they support your decision to go into Musical Theatre?
Sure they did which I'm grateful for even though musical theatre is not particularly Rock & Roll but my family have been very influential with the music I was brought up on for my own band ‘Charlie and the Band of Demons’ it being Rock, Blues, Soul and jazz. I fell into musical theatre after having intense training in dance, singing and acting; wherever there's those 3 things there's a musical! 

Your career is very varied; you’ve played lead roles as well as understudying them. Is there any particular job you hold fond memories with or that taught you something you’ve never forgotten?  
It has to be playing the role of Gypsy Rose Lee, that will always be my fondest memory. She's a wonderful girl who had a very interesting and fast life and was an absolute joy to play.

Over your whole career you’ve worked with some incredible people, but is there anyone that stands out for you for any special reason?
I've worked with so many inspiring people so it's hard to say. My first job I worked with Kid Creole who was an absolute Star with so much professionalism, I learnt so much from right from the start. More recently I did a workshop for Pedro Almodovar who I'm the biggest fan of so meeting him was quite something in itself but the actress Doon Mackichan who's done Smack the Pony, Green wing, Plebs to name a few was so interesting to see the ways she worked and I learnt so much from her process in the rehearsal room. An Incredible actress.

Unfortunately both Flashdance and Desperately Seeking Susan are among the long list of new musicals that haven’t lasted in the West End. From a cast member’s point of view, what’s that like?
Shows come and they go, some quicker than others. It's sad of course for all involved most of the time. Especially the writers which is what always upsets me the most as they've put so many years investing their time and soul. It's just how the cookie crumbles unfortunately and that's theatre.

You created the role of Alex Ownes in the premier of the musical adaptation of the hit movie Flashdance, how was it for you to be able to do that and then take it into the west end?
It was a wonderful experience first taking the show on tour for a year. The rehearsal process was so new, exciting and fun.The writers are marvelous in my opinion and deserve great things. We did so well on tour and it was fabulous, town was more complicated and not the best time. It could of been something really special for me and those involved but yet it had its troubles. Flashdance is now touring America with a Broadway transfer so I hear and I wish all those involved the best of luck!

Out of all the shows you’ve been in, what’s your favourite role/show and why?
Louise/Gypsy Rose Lee! I've never felt so at home and so content with a character. The cast, company, Paul Kerryson, David Needham and all those at Curve theatre created something very special for us all and I will never forget the magic of that story and production! I loved Louise's transition, journey and heartache into this Incredible women that is Gypsy Rose Lee. It's the ultimate underdog success story that everyone revels in hearing.

If you could play any role in the world, what would it be?
Sally Bowels from Cabaret has to be up there with job satisfaction and of course when I'm maturer Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard. I love the heartache and drama these characters find themselves in. These are the best kind of roles to play, unpredictable loose canon type females is what I find most fun. 

You’ve been lucky enough to have played some iconic roles in your career (i.e Rizzo, Alex, Gypsy), it must be slightly intimidating to take on these characters but how do you go about doing that?
Rizzo has been played thousands of times before me which is always a tough one to stomach but then also thrilling once you get the knack of it! She is fun and furious and I loved her. Alex was a truthful being with no funny business straight down the line and I was lucky enough to create the role after Jenifer Beals of course and had great fun doing so. Gypsy's character I actually got help from videos of the real Gypsy Rose Lee off youtube and her memoirs. She was a real person and I wanted to try my best at capturing the real her and not what was adapted for Hollywood in the movie's. You do your best in creating these roles for yourself to understand them first before the audience and hope for the best without getting to hard on yourself about it. It's all good fun.

Being a musical about an audition you obviously have experienced the emotions the characters in the show feel but how much do you relate to your character in A Chorus Line?
I relate to all these people in A Chorus Line; these people and stories are documented in truth from actual personalities of dancers from the 70's interviewed by Micahel Bennett himself. He knew these people and is still sharing their lives with everyone today.
I see myself in Morales,Bobby and other characters in the show.. I'm sure some of the audience do too!

Shows like Superstar, Any Dream Will Do and Over the Rainbow put the audition process onto the nation’s TV screens, some say this is a false interpretation of what its actually like in the industry and A Chorus Line comes at a time where this is a huge marketing scheme for shows. What’s your opinion on this?
A Chorus Line was the first ever reality show! This is where it started and the interest came about. A Chorus Lines process of how an audition can pan out it very accurate apart from breaking into song whilst introducing ourselves although some might beg to differ! I'm not too sure about the TV shows as I don't watch them, auditions don't tend to be our favourite subject so I'd rather save my nerves for something else. We audition everyday apart from Sunday being in A Chorus Line and its nerve racking every time. If people are interested in how it all works come see our documented show, it's far better than any Britain's got talent or  X Factor baloney!

Aside from musical theatre, is there anything else you do to keep yourself entertained?
Spending time walking and playing with our new pup and fronting my band ‘Charlie and the Band of Demons’ I also am into property porn (so I call it) like Escape to the country and other shows like that and have enjoyed making chutney in the past!

If you had to describe A Chorus Line in 5 words, what would it be?
Emotional, nerve-wracking, beautiful, insightful and precious. 

A Chorus Line only opened a few months ago but have you got anything planned for the future?
I'm sure I have loads of things planned but I just don't know all of them yet!

And finally, is there any advice you would give to people who are aspiring for a career in Theatre?
Work hard, don't stress if your not the best as its subjective, learn to like your person, trust yourself, don't waist energy worrying on unimportant things like unimportant things and whatever you don't take yourself seriously.

Victoria is currently in A Chorus Line at the London Palladium. 

Follow Victoria on Twitter: @iamVHBgaribaldi

Left to right: as Louise (Gypsy, Leicester Curve), as Diana (A Chorus Line, London Palladium), as Alex (Flashdance, UK Tour)

Headshot Photo credit : Darren Bell / 

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