Tuesday, 1 December 2020

INTERVIEW: Emma Hatton, star of Wicked, Evita & Cats on Launching her new Podcast

Leading Lady of the West End, Emma Hatton, is probably best known from her run in Wicked playing the role of Elphaba in the West End and as Eva Peron in Evita on tour and also in London. Her other credits include Grizabella in Cats (Kilworth House); Fantine in Les Miserables in Concert (Milton Morrissey); Maisey in The Distance You Have Come (Cockpit Theatre); 1st cover Scaramouche/Meatloaf in We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre), Donna in Dreamboats & Petticoats (UK tour) and as a lead vocalist for Postmodern Jukebox and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. As well as being a West End superstar she has also had success as a solo artist in the music industry, she even opened for Jools Holland at the Royal Albert Hall! She is launching her new podcast '"Dear Music..." and we got the chance to speak to her about her upcoming adventures!

How are you and Hendrix the cat holding up during Lockdown 2.0?

To be perfectly honest, I think Hendrix is pretty fed up of me being at home all the time! Lockdown this time around feels very different to the first one. I thought the first lockdown wouldn’t last too long so I took advantage of a bit of downtime to breathe and reflect but as things have gone on much longer than we anticipated, I, like most people, have started to adjust and am now quite busy. I try to just take things one day at a time otherwise I get a bit overwhelmed.

Your performing career to date has covered some of the most iconic music of all time; from Queen to ‘Wicked’, Soft Jazz to ‘Evita’, Blues to ‘Cats’ and so much more! What music do you normally find yourself gravitating to when you choose a playlist?

It completely depends on my mood but Jazz FM is my go-to radio station which is usually on in my house. Or the UK Jazz playlist on Spotify.

You also recently took part in ‘Wicked Women’ and a hugely successful ‘West End Musical Drive-In’. How was it performing again with so many incredible women, including your old Wicked first- cover counterpart for Glinda, Sophie Linder-Lee and current West End Elphaba, Laura Pick?

There is a real sense of community, not just in Wicked but in the theatre community in general. It is always so lovely to connect with fellow performers who you might know of but haven’t met or worked with and you usually have many mutual friends. But there is something very special and bonding when you meet any fellow Elphabas or Glindas as you have shared a really special and quite unique experience. There’s a mutual appreciation and respect and I love that. Sophie and I are close friends and I always jump at the chance to share the stage with her at any opportunity.

As we celebrate the launch of your new podcast “Dear Music...” can you summarise what music means to you?

Music to me, is everything. It’s life, it’s connection. It punctuates so many important moments in our lives and can enhance our emotional experiences. It doesn’t discriminate and its impact is universal. I couldn’t live without it.

Can you tell us about your work with the charity Nordoff Robbins and how this inspired the creation of this podcast?

Discovering Nordoff Robbins and the work that they do was like someone turning a light on. I had always felt the impact of the power of music and used it as a form of therapy myself but had no idea that there were charities and organisations whose aim was to offer this and raise awareness. I had spent many years working as a performer and eventually a leading lady and there is so much focus on you and the ego. It’s quite a selfish industry, necessarily. But I had this urge to give back and I felt like this would be a positive way to use my platform and fanbase to spread the word about the myriad benefits of music.

Congratulations on your recent appearance on Magic at The Musicals at The London Palladium! How wonderful was it to revisit ‘Defying Gravity’ and be part of a line-up with some of the most iconic Elphabas London has ever seen?

Thank you so much. I was pinching myself because I have such admiration for my fellow Elphaba's. I love the fact that we are all so vastly different as people and performers but at the heart of it, we are strong, resilient women. To stand next to Louise Dearman, Rachel Tucker and Alice Fearn and sing that iconic number as part of that team, with the wonderful LMTO and my good friend Freddie Tapner conducting at the gorgeous London Palladium was such a highlight of 2020 for me.

You’re now preparing to present Magic at the Musicals “Behind The Stage Door” on Magic FM while Ruthie Henshall is away. How does recording and editing a podcast compare to live radio?

I am having the time of my life! 7-year-old Emma wouldn’t believe it if I told her what my current job is! I have a few guidelines from Magic about the structure, whereas my podcast is completely self-managed. I write the content for both but I guess the main difference is that once I’ve recorded my radio slot, the technical side is managed by someone else. I don’t quite have that luxury to hand that over to someone else with my podcast yet!

Coronavirus and its lockdowns have obviously taken a huge toll on the industry. Which show will be the one you rush to first when we’re allowed back into theatres as they used to be?

Either Come from Away or Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. I have friends in both and had promised to go and see them just before lockdown set in so I’m hoping I can honour my word and get to see them both. I’ve heard wonderful things about both productions.

In September, you took part in ‘The Final Countdown‘ at The Turbine Theatre which was a glorious celebration of 80’s Pop and Rock. What can you tell us about the process of putting these events together in a Covid-19 world and performing for socially distanced audiences in Covid secure theatres? It must be quite surreal.

It’s funny how we’ve all adjusted, to some degree. I really struggle with the compromise in connection with the audience. Particularly with virtual events. But there are some great producers who are doing what they can and taking financial risks to ensure that we all feel safe and that these events can go ahead when they are legally able to do so. Lots of zoom rehearsals which I won’t miss but we have to make the best of what we can do right now and stay positive that things are starting to move in the right direction.

“Dear Music...” will no doubt resonate with listeners of all ages. What do you hope people will take from the podcast?

My main hope is that people will start to consider turning to music as a way of helping their situation. We all benefit from music subconsciously but I really want to raise awareness of the multiple benefits of music and for people to recognise its value, particularly within education.

What kind of guests will be joining you throughout this first series of the podcast?

I have some lovely guests lined up including songwriters, jazz singers, personal trainers, sports presenters and a young girl with a brain tumour who receives music therapy. The conversations are so varied and interesting... I feel so lucky that people are happy to talk with me about my favourite subject!

‘Dear Music...’ is available on all mainstream Podcast platforms including Spotify and Apple.

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