Friday, 21 May 2021

COMING HOME: Nicole-Lily Baisden, soon to be starring in Anything Goes at the Barbican Centre

Pocket Size Theatre and Liza Heinrichs (Captured by Liz) have teamed up again and created our new series 'Coming Home'. In this new piece, we look at the reopening of Theatres in London and around the country and celebrate our industry coming back. We got together some performers who will be some of the first to return to theatres and created this piece to bring some positivity to the theatre industry which has been through one of the toughest years in our lifetime. Whilst it is important to acknowledge the hardships we've all gone through, it's important we pull together as a community and celebrate our beloved industry finally coming back! 

Nicole-Lily Baisden only graduated from Arts Educational Schools in 2019 and pretty much went straight into her first professional job, as she played Nabulungi in the original UK & International touring production of The Book of Mormon. The tour opened in June 2019, so they had a reasonable run before the theatres shut down but still, unfortunately, didn’t fulfil the full list of touring dates they had prepared themselves for. 

Nicole-Lily has recently been announced as playing the role of Hope Harcourt in the London revival of Anything Goes at the Barbican, featuring a full star line up! She’ll be starring alongside the likes of Broadway legend Sutton Foster, Robert Lindsay, Felicity Kendal and Gary Wilmot as well as West End regulars Samuel Edwards, Haydn Oakley and Carly Mercedes Dyer. 

Over the pandemic she has appeared in the choir for the BBC’s Musicals: The Greatest Show and she also appeared in the short-lived production of A Christmas Carol at the Dominion Theatre in December 2020, which closed due to London moving into tier 4. Talking about these projects she discusses how the changes she experienced in the rehearsal processes for those might actually stick around for a while, “All the material was sent to us to learn beforehand to reduce the amount of time spent in the rehearsal room, this helped to keep rehearsals more efficient. I think that could also be a new norm. Also, more and more auditions have moved to self-tapes which I think could be a more permanent change for convenience.” 

As we discuss the changes in theatre, the topic of representation in our industry came up. Nicole looks at it with positivity, expressing that there have been some very progressive steps towards a fully representational industry but at the same time, we still have a very long way to go. As well as representation, she highlights how people are feeling more confident about being vocal in regards to other issues in our industry, like the bullying and sexual harassment movements we’ve seen on social media. “The industry has changed a lot. Going forward I hope people continue to have the confidence to speak out about their experiences and that the right action is taken. I really hope that people will keep pushing so real change can be made.” 

Whilst working as a performer during the past year, she has also been swapping hats and has been building up her skills as an estate agent. Having family who work in property, she took on a part-time job with them and has been learning about the industry. “It’s been lovely to meet new people all the time and have a snoop around some gorgeous houses!” 

Nicole is super excited to get back to being on stage, telling us how its always been her passion and her dream but she also shares how she cannot wait to be back in the audience, “Nothing compares to sitting back and watching a new show or even one you’ve seen before and love. I can’t wait to be back in an auditorium. Also, the theatre community can be so loving and supportive so to have that sense of community back will be amazing. Even more so as everyone is so excited to get back.” When we spoke about which shows she’d love to be at the opening night of she mentioned Hairspray, a great show with an important message but also a wonderful feel-good piece. She has quite a few friends in it so she can’t wait to be able to go and support them, “The atmosphere will just be electric.” 

Nicole also shares how she’s changed as a person over this pandemic, as she talked to us about how she’s grown in confidence, learning that life is too short to hold back and not put yourself out there. “I’ve learnt to appreciate what I have a lot more. It’s easy to always be looking forward to something in the future and pushing towards goals but having the time to stop and be grateful for what you have and what you’ve already achieved is really special.” 

Anything Goes opens at the Barbican for a summer run this year starting from the 23rd July 2021. We can’t wait to be back in a theatre and Anything Goes is just the perfect show to fulfil all those stagey feelings we’ve missed out on over the past year! 

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