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Thursday, 18 May 2023

INTERVIEW: Bronté Barbé, currently starring as Katherine in NEWSIES at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre

Bronté is currently playing the role of Katherine Plumber in the London premiere production of Newsies at the Troubadour Theatre in Wembley.  

Bronté’s work in theatre includes 'Kathy' in Kathy & Stella Solve a Murder (Edinburgh Festival), 'Mary' in What's New Pussycat' (Birmingham Rep), ‘Ado Annie’ in Oklahoma at Chichester, starring as ‘Carole King’ in the first UK tour of the musical Beautiful, ’Jane’ in the concert version of Girlfriends at the Bishopsgate Institute, ‘Nadine' in Drew McOnie’s production of The Wild Party at The Other Palace, ‘Little Match Girl’ in Striking 12 at the Union Theatre, ‘Helen/Vinnie’ in The Donkey Show (Proud London) and ‘Princess Fiona’ in the UK tour of Shrek, and ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ before this. She started performing at a very young age in her hometown of Macclesfield. In 2010 she was selected as one of the final 10 in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s search for Dorothy - Over the Rainbow’. Following this, Bronté attended Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts where she gained the Gyearbuor Asante prize for Acting and graduated with first-class honours.

After finishing Mountview she made her professional debut as ‘Odette’ in Carnival of the Animals (Riverside Studios).

We caught up with Brontè about her time in Newsies! 

You are currently playing Katherine in the long-awaited and now Olivier award-winning production of Newsies. Thinking back to when you got the audition, how did you feel about potentially playing this part when you were going through that process? 

I saw Newsies on Broadway around 2014 / 15 and it was my first trip to New York - and I think it was the first musical that I watched there. I just remember being blown away and thinking ‘If that ever comes over, that is the Disney part that I want to do, she’s so strong and so interesting and I love to tap and it’s a period piece with such an important message’ so it was my dream show. 

I remember I flew back to London from a different holiday and the audition came through. I was chuffed because I’d worked with Max and Jane before in Oklahoma and I’d heard they were going to be doing it but I’d been waiting for ages. I’d been asking my agent ‘please get me seen for it when it comes here!’ I’d heard people had gone in for the Newsies and I hadn’t gotten an audition through, so I was worried I wasn’t going to be seen!

Friday, 24 July 2020

The Corona Diaries: Bronté Barbé

These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times. 

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

Bronté Barbé was most recently seen playing Ado Annie in Oklahoma at the Chichester Festival Theatre. Her other credits include Carole King in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (UK Tour); The Little Match Girl in Striking 12 (Union Theatre); Nadine in The Wild Party (The Other Palace); JEst End (Waterloo East); The Donkey Show (Proud London); Princess Fiona in Shrek (UK Tour); Sharon in Cool Rider (Lyric Theatre); Momentous Musicals (UK tour); Hairspray (Kuala Lumpur/Singapore); Carnival of the Animals (Riverside Studios) and she was a finalist on Over the Rainbow, the TV search for Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. 

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction?

I’d just got home after a rehearsal workshopping a new musical. We had spent the day ferociously using anti-bac and there’d been a lot of discussion and worry about when our theatres may close, but none of us could have anticipated that it would be that evening. I think I saw it on twitter first. I remember we returned to rehearsals the next day with heavy hearts, knowing that the rest of the week would be cancelled. It was the strangest feeling, we finished the day with a group song and it was quite emotional. We had no idea how long it would be until we could come together again and do what we love and we still don’t know now.

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing?

I’ve tried to be productive and positive, as time goes on I’ve found it challenging to stay creative. I started by making a list of all the things I’ve wanted to do but have never had the time; learning a language, painting, baking more, piano. I realised quickly that I wasn’t going to do these. In reality, I’ve spent a lot of time cuddling my dog and reading. I really enjoy planting and have been spending a lot of time taking long walks. What surprised me the most is I’ve had a burning desire to start my own business, something I’ve never been remotely interested in. I have an idea so fingers crossed something will come of it! There has been a little bit of performing, I’ve done a few videos including a home concert as part of the ‘Leave a light on series’ and got together with the Over the Rainbow girls to create a ten-year anniversary video in aid of Mind which was an absolute joy.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Where are they now? Over The Rainbow!

This year is the 10th anniversary of the programme 'Over the Rainbow', the TV reality show that searched for the role of Dorothy in the newly staged production of The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium. This programme follows on from How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria, Any Dream Will Do & I'd Do Anything, the programs that searched for the roles of Maria, Joseph and Nancy. Rival TV shows to these BBC produced series also came up in Superstar (The search for Jesus), Grease is the Word (The search for Danny and Sandy) and Fame: The musical (the search for Nick and Serena). John Barrowman, Denise Van Outen, Zoe Tyler and Bill Kenwright were all judges on the previous series but they were replaced by John Partridge, Shelia Hancock and Charlotte Church with, of course, Andrew Lloyd Webber. If you are a theatre geek like me, you'll remember these TV shows! And if you don't, you'll certainly know some of the contestants. So, where are they now? 

Danielle Hope 

Danielle went on to win the TV show and played the role of Dorothy in the new version of The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium. After leaving the show, she went on to play Eponine in Les Miserables at the Queen's Theatre, a role she returned to in 2015. Her other roles include the title role in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Birmingham Hippodrome & London Palladium); Cathy in The Last Five Years (Greenwich Theatre & The Warren Theatre in Brighton); Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (UK Tour); Maria in The Sound of Music (UK Tour); Sandy in Grease (UK Tour); Sherrie in Rock of Ages (UK Tour) and most recently Betty Haynes in White Christmas (Dominion Theatre). @DanielleHope26

Sophie Evans 

Although Sophie just missed out on winning the TV show, coming second to Danielle Hope, she did go on to alternate the role of Dorothy at the London Palladium and eventually went on to play the role full time when Hope left. Since then she has appeared in Irving Berlin: From Rags to Ritzes (UK tour), Lord of the Dance (Playhouse Theatre & Lyric Theatre, Broadway), You Won't Succeed on Broadway Without any Jews (St. James Theatre) and most recently has just finished a run as Glinda in the London production of Wicked, becoming the youngest person to play Glinda in the show's history. @SophieEvans

Lauren Samuels

After coming third in the show, Lauren was the first Dorothy to hit the West End after the show, playing Sandy in Grease at the Piccadilly Theatre. Her other credits include Cathy in The Last Five Years (Tabard), Scaramouche in We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre & World Tour); the title role in Vampirette (Manchester Opera House); Ellie in Water Babies (Leicester Curve); Jenny in Love Story (Bolton Octagon); Jules in Bend it Like Beckham the Musical (Phoenix Theatre); Polly in The Buskers Opera (Park Theatre); Mary in Vanities (Trafalgar Studios); La Ronde (Bunker Theatre); Romantics Anonymous (the Globe's Sam Wanamaker Theatre); Rory in A Hundred Words For Snow (Arcola); Jenny in The Big Corner (Octagon Theatre) and Katherine in Henry V (Barn Theatre). She most recently appeared in the infamous Lyric Hammersmith Pantomime, playing Popsy in Cinderella. @Laurensamuels88

Stephanie Fearon

Stephanie got cast in Smokey Joes Cafe at the Landor Theatre after being eliminated from the show and released an album entitled 'My Parade' Her other credits since the show include Dorothy in The Wiz (Milton Keynes Theatre), Diana Morales in A Chorus Line (Tel Aviv Opera House), Ella in Run (Polka Theatre), Mimi Marquez in RENT (Greenwich Theatre) and Ruth in Molly Wobbly Tit Factory (Leicester Square Theatre) and Lisa in the West End production of Mamma Mia!. She currently runs her own business, Charlies Whiskers, which is a Doggy Daycare, Boarding and Grooming in South East London @stephfearon89

Jessica Robinson 

After the programme, Jessica gained a place at Arts Educational Schools in London to study musical theatre after Over the Rainbow and afterwards became Jessica Daley professionally. Her theatre credits include Ali in Mamma Mia! (Novello Theatre); Tess in Tess of the D'Urbervilles (New Wimbledon Studio); alternated the role of Maria in The Sound of Music (UK Tour); Ensemble and cover to the role of Fantine in Les Miserables (Dubai, Manila & Singapore); Frenchy in Grease (Dubai) and Lynette in An Officer and a Gentleman (Leicester Curve & UK Tour). She was most recently seen starring in the title role in Evita in the original, Hal Prince directed, production in the International tour. @jessicacaca7

Jenny Douglas

After the show, Jenny landed the part of Meat in We Will Rock You on the touring production of the show. She has since appeared as Princess Jasmine in Aladdin and the title character in Cinderella (The King's Theatre Royal); the title role in Snow White (Edinburgh Playhouse); Holly in Viva Forever (Workshop); Little Sally in Urinetown and Julia in Willy's Bitches (Edinburgh Festival Fringe); the title role in Cinderella (Gardyne Theatre, Dundee) and most recently starred as Snow White at the Gardyne Theatre, Dundee. She is also part of a vocal and piano duo, The DaCapo Daughters. @Jaydeedouglas

Stephanie Davis 

After the TV series, Stephanie went on to play Sinead O'Connor in the soap opera Hollyoaks. She left the show in 2015 and returned to playing the role in 2018. She also went onto to appear in 'Hollyoaks Later', the spin-off show to the original soap. She has since gone on to appear in Celebrity Big Brother before returning to her acting career. In February 2020, she released her debut single entitled 'Lights Out'. 

Emilie Fleming 

Emilie was the Wildcard Dorothy in the programme, after the show she went on to study Musical Theatre at Guildford School of Acting. Her theatre credits since include Maggie in Only The Brave (The Wales Millennium Centre); Lucy in The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe (Birmingham Rep); Elsie in Monster: A One Woman Show (Edinburgh & Camden Fringe); Cosette in Les Miserables (Queen’s Theatre); Charlotte in Oliver (The Sheffield Crucible) and Susan in Berlin - The Musical (The Bloomsbury Theatre). She most recently played Maria in the UK touring production of The Sound of Music. @emiliekfleming

Dani Rayner

Dani has graduated from Kings College London with a First Class Honours in English Language and Literature. She went on to play the title role in Sleeping Beauty at the Lyceum in Sheffield and was also seen in Aladdin as Princess Jasmine at the Liverpool Empire opposite Pamela Anderson. She has since gone on to work in marketing for companies such as Netflix and the BBC. @DaniRayner

Bronté Barbé

After being eliminated second in the series, Bronté has gone on to have a huge career in theatre. Her credits include Sharon in Cool Rider – The Grease 2 Concert (Lyric Theatre);, Momentous Musicals (UK tour); Penny in Hairspray (Kuala Lumpur/Singapore); ensemble & cover Princess Fiona, a role she later went on to take over, in Shrek (UK Tour); Jest End (Waterloo East); Nadine in The Wild Party (The Other Palace); Carol King in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (UK Tour) and Light Bulb Seller/ The Little Match Girl in Striking 12 (Union Theatre). She was most recently seen playing Ado Annie in Oklahoma at the Chichester Festival Theatre. @BronteBarbieee

Amy Diamond 

After being eliminated first on the show, her theatre credits include Janet in The Drowsy Chaperone (Upstairs at the Gatehouse); Vocalist in Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show (UK Tour); Sue in Dreamboats and Petticoats (UK Tour); Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty (The Grange Theatre, Northwich); Shelia in Hair (European Tour & West End Gala); Ensemble and understudy Satan Baby Jane in Tonight's The Night (UK tour); backing vocalist for Josh Groban and Celine Dion (Arena Tour); Vocalist with Giorgio Moroda (World Tour) and most recently, vocalist in Rip it Up (Garrick Theatre). @amydiamondsings

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