Friday, 14 September 2012

Interview: Alice Fearn, currently playing Gingy/Sugar Plum Fairy in Shrek The Musical

Alice Fearn is currently playing Gingy and the Sugar Plum Fairy in Shrek The Musical at the Theatre Royal Dury Lane. She also understudies Princess Fiona. Alice's many theatre credits include The Woman In White, Les Misérables and the Regent’s Park Open Air's production of Into The Woods. She also recently played Shazzer in the workshops for Bridget Jones the Musical. Alice will appear in the upcoming film adaptation of Les Misérables. Throughout her career she has worked as a vocalist on many feature films including Sweeney Todd, Mamma Mia, Alice in Wonderland, How to Train Your Dragon and Pirates of the Caribbean. Alice talks to West End Frame about all things Shrek, what it was like working on the film adaptation of Les Misérables and what we can expect from Bridget Jones the Musical...

You have been playing Gingy/Sugar Plum Fairy in Shrek The Musical for nearly a year and a half now, are you still enjoying it?
To play such a loved part is always going to be enjoyable! If I'm ever having a trying day or feel in need of a break I can guarantee there will be a child in the audience that day who laughs so loud and so clearly at that puppet that it can't help but bring me back to realising how special the part is and how much joy it brings. It's lovely to get the reaction I get so it's been a really wonderful opportunity for me. Having said that, by the time my current contract is up I will have played the role for almost 2 years and I think that will be enough. It can, quite often, be very tiring on my voice and a rest will be on the cards when January 2013 comes round.

Why do you think people enjoy the show so much? 
I think it's a light hearted, feel good kind of show. Nothing too deep and sometimes we all need an evening like that. It also has everything: love; laughter; even flatulence. Plus the intention behind the story is what, consciously or subconsciously, we all want: that someone's true character can and does shine through regardless of whatever stereotype has been put on their shoulders!

What is it like understudying Princess Fiona? 

I have to say it is a huge perk to my job. I adore that character, there are characteristics I can easily relate to. She is, on the surface, the archetypal Princess. Slightly snobby (to a degree) and longing for the happy ending she has read about in the fairytales. I think there are many girls, apart from myself, who can see themselves in that description. Yet, deep down, she is as down to earth and independent as they come and always up for a laugh.

I love the extremes she's goes to in the musical. There are a million emotions to play: loneliness, desperation, childishness... and all coming from a simple deep down desire to be loved and to have her happy ending!

How does being in a more light hearted show like Shrek compare to being in a more serious show such as Les Miserables? 
Do you know what, no matter what mood you enter the building in... you leave happy after Shrek the Musical. It's that kind of show! But I'd say that, although in a very different way, you leave somewhat happy and fulfilled after Les Miserables. That has a sense of unity and uplift by the end even though there is so much tragedy throughout. Les Miserables was the show that cemented my love of musical theatre so, of course, I was thrilled being a part of that every night.

What is the atmosphere like backstage at Theatre Royal Drury Lane? 
I think it's probably exactly what you expect backstage at Shrek the Musical. Big laughs, the odd harmless prank. Generally lots of fun. I always think that it not just the cast but the creatives, stage management, wardrobe and wig departments that make the backstage world either enjoyable or hideous and luckily we have an amazing team working with us back there. They make you smile or are a shoulder to cry on if you need it and I'm personally very thankful of that!!

Carley Stenson and Neil McDermott are the latest additions to the cast, what are they like to work with? 
Possibly the nicest people in the world. Dreamworks probably wouldn't be able to cast someone that was difficult to work with. To do something like Shrek you need a sense of a humour and a like- ability factor to pull off these characters. These two, like everyone in the cast, have that.

What was it like working on the film version of Les Miserables? 
Simply put, one of the best experiences of my life. I was only on set for 4 days but I had a blast. I knew quite a few people cast in the same scene which always helps. We were all staying in the same hotel so it was like a working holiday.

I've personally never been on a film set before so I really took in all I could. Meeting and working so closely with Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman was mind blowing. They are wonderful, talented and most importantly normal people. And seeing how Tom Hooper created, what is no doubt going to be an epically brilliant movie, was something I'll never forget. He is a truly amazing visionary and being such a fan of Les Miserables the musical myself, I feel utterly at ease having that man direct the film version. It will be a real and truthful version of a powerful story/musical, and I will be forever grateful that I can say "I was a part of that!".

You were in the cast of the workshops for Bridget Jones The Musical, what can you tell us about the show? Do you think it looks like it’s going to be good? 
It's going to be great! If I were to relate it to another show then it's like the British version of Legally Blonde. Lily Allen's music is really catchy and fits perfectly with the piece! It's a great story and I think real task for the creative team has been to translate the film script to a workable stage script but they will definitely get there.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to become an actor? 
I'd say, if you truly believe in yourself and prepare for hard work then go for it. It's a remarkable career to be in but there are hard times and you must prepare for that. Be honest with yourself: Can you take a "No" from a Casting Director? Can you find other work when the plays/musicals/film auditions aren't going your way? Are you ready for the possibility that one day is never like the next and planning simple thing like holidays can be difficult with work that may or may not show up.

But saying all that I love it. If you have the performing bug it is not to follow those dreams and I would never say to anyone not to have a good old go!

Are there any roles you would like to play, or shows you would like to be part of in the future?

There are many shows I'd like to see myself doing over the coming years... personally I'm dying for Miss Saigon to come back as I'd love to do Ellen. Or any part in Matilda as the most perfect show I've ever seen. There is a huge part of me desperate to do a Shakespeare play. Anywhere and any part, it would be a huge challenge and one I'd love to take on.

But, secretly, I'm always hoping that I can get more into tv and film where the parts are so much more numerous and varied. There is no limit to what I'd like to do in that field.

Finally what would you like to say to everyone who supports you? 
In the simplest terms... Thank you so much! I've been gaining friends and fans since I began my career 7 years ago but have never felt (and/or needed) such support as I had when I started Shrek the Musical. Being understudy to Amanda Holden was a huge undertaking and my supporters were there to cheer me on from beginning to end. To be honest I still find it strange having people so keen and interested on where my career has and will take me next, but I have to say that it is wonderful having fans always on your side...

Follow Alice on Twitter: @Alice_Fearn
Check out Alice's Facebook Page: Alice Fearn Vocal/Rep Teacher

Visit to find out more about the show and to book tickets.

Les Misérables is currently scheduled to be released in the UK January 2013.

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