How are rehearsals?
So fantastic. This show is one of the best productions I have ever been a part of.
And you have a nice cast and creatives too?
Yes! Everything’s going so well. You know when everyone brings their strengths?! This show is a celebration of everything that everyone is good at. And I love that about this whole team.
This show came about quite last minute for you didn’t it?
Yes, it was a very quick turnaround! And the genre is very different for me. It’s a show that I’ve always wanted to do but never believed I could. I got invited to come in and audition. I wasn’t sure if I was going to but I did it anyway. I went in and loved it! I ended up finding out 5 days before it was announced so I only knew two weeks before rehearsals started! I was at the Edinburgh Fringe with my solo show and I got back at 3am on the Monday night and started rehearsals at 9am on the Tuesday.
It must be nice to show people another side of your talent with a character that is so different to Dorothy?
The shows and characters are worlds apart! We have to pole dance as part of the show… and I was given a pair of red shoes for it. They’re a very different kind of ruby slipper! It’s so fun to be challenged in a completely different way though. I’m honestly having the time of my life.
What is your favourite moment in the show?
There are so many. She starts off so innocent but in every scene she has to deal with a new challenge so she is affected as it goes on. When he gets pushed out of her job and everyone turns their back on her she becomes a stripper. That scene is so shocking because of the character but also because it’s me! Also, pole dancing is SUCH a sport. That’s probably the biggest challenge but also another of my favourite parts. Luke Walsh, who plays drew, my leading man, is so good so every scene with him is so dreamy.
Obviously, as you found out so quickly, you didn’t have much time to learn and practice the pole dancing before rehearsals started?
I’m going to be stood on stage in my underwear for the first time which is so terrifying. Some people have months to prepare for that so that was a bit of a shock. I’m being quite vocal about how I feel about it though. I’m quite a curvy girl so it’s a brave thing to get your body out and a challenge mentally. I’m embracing it though and I have such a supportive cast.
Do you see yourself in your character? I doubt you’ll suddenly want to become a stripper but there must be similarities between you two?
I see certain parts. She has such big dreams and aspirations. It’s so hard so leave your hometown and be brave enough to go into the big wide world. For me, it was Manchester to London, but for her its Kansas to LA.
You’re always escaping Kansas?!
Yep. I have to look at the scripts before I accept – if there’s Kansas and red shoes involved then I can do it. Honestly though, it’s so funny right?!
She has a kind heart. She’s naïve but it’s because she’s from a small town. She’s not stupid. I think it’s really important to realise that and to not play her as young and dumb.
I’m also the first Sherrie to be brunette. Which is nice because having no wig means it takes half the time to get ready. There’s also no worries about whipping your hair too much. The wigs are put on so well but of course it’s only pins. Once, when I was doing Les Mis, Jean Val Jean’s wig came off, he was stuck in a wig cap and he just had to own it. But that’s what I love about live theatre, you never know what’s going to happen.
At one point we can assume that Dorothy was your dream role but have you got any others?
I think Mary Poppins. It was my favourite movie as a child so if there are auditions I will be first in line!
A bit of a broader question, but what’s a favourite moment of your entire career?
It would be silly to not mention Over The Rainbow as it was a wonderful start to my career but when I was in Les Mis I met my best friends for life. I loved it because I had an amazing role and so much responsibility but the whole show wasn’t resting on my shoulders like it was in The Wizard of Oz.
That’s something people often forget about theatre – the friendships that are made back stage.
Yes exactly. It’s so important. You live with them, you go on holiday with them – especially on tour. I met up with the cast I did Grease with and we went to see our Kenickie do his new show. Honestly, you should never stop supporting them.
You mentioned about being on tour with Grease. Do you prefer touring with shows or doing them in the West End?
I love adventure and my dream is to tour the US and the rest of the world. I find touring strenuous because you’re constantly moving. It’s actually so draining on your body and voice so I’d love to be in something in town because I love having a home and an anchor. But every time I finish touring I miss it so much because I love wandering and exploring. I’ll always aim to have a mix of both.
Dream show to do in the US?
Why should people come and see Rock of Ages?
It’s a crazy, fun celebration of the wild and wonderful 80s. Plus, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Even if someone doesn’t usually like musicals they will love this show. It’s full of all the classic tunes and the cast are so talented.
Interviewed by Evie Freeman