Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Interview: Amy Booth-Steel

Amy Booth-Steel is currently preparing to star as Joyce Chilvers in the UK Tour of Betty Blue Eyes.

Betty Blue Eyes opens on Friday 14th March at the Mercury Theatre before embarking on a 5 month tour across England in a new co-production between Mercury Theatre Colchester, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, Salisbury Playhouse and West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Amy, who finished twelfth in BBC Talent show I’d Do Anything, was involved in the original workshop stages of Tori Amos’ debut musical, The Light Princess and went on to play Piper in the show’s recent run at the National Theatre. 

Amy’s theatre credits also include Dolly in One Man Two Guvnors (UK Tour), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Watermill), She Stoops To Conquer (National), Ex (Soho), RSC 50th Birthday Celebrations, Swallows and Amazons (Bristol Old Vic), Sister Act (London Palladium) and The Sound Of Music (London Palladium).

Recently I spoke to Amy during a break from rehearsals about the all-new production of Betty Blue Eyes, starring in The Light Princess and how I’d Do Anything led to her association with the National Theatre…

How much did you know about Betty Blue Eyes prior to your involvement in this new touring production?
I had seen the show in the West End and thought it was absolutely amazing and was sad when it didn’t continue. I thought it was brilliant when I found out it had a new life! The score and the story are so lovely, it’s so nice that it is carrying on!

How are rehearsals going?
Great, we have a brilliant team! Andrew Wright (choreographer) is amazing, and the cast are amazing too. Daniel Buckroyd (director) has got a really cool vision for it. The show has a theme of wartime make do and mend; it’s an ensemble piece so everyone is involved in everything. The show has a great vibe!

On paper the story sounds totally bizarre. What can audiences expect?
A lot of laughs! It’s about families; it’s about World War Two and the struggle after the war, of food rationing and how families cope with that. But I think everyone will be able to relate to it because it’s about friendships and mistakes. It’s absolutely hilarious in the way it’s been written. It’s a big farce but with a lot of heart so audiences will be touched as well. There are also some nice sentimental moments.

The cast of Betty Blue Eyes

Do you have dream roles or do you just wait and see what happens?
I’m so lucky as I’ve gone straight into Betty Blue Eyes, so I’m very focussed on this at the moment. Things just seem to crop up for me, I don’t like to plan too far ahead. You never know what’s round the corner. I think being a character actress means there are so many different roles I would like to play so, I don’t know, I just sort of keep going and see what comes up.

You star in both plays and musicals. Is that mix something you always wanted?
Yes, I’ve been so lucky! I trained in straight acting and never intended going into musical theatre, it just sort of happened along the way, so I’ve been very lucky to do both. I’d like to keep it up.

Rosalie Craig & Amy in The Light Princess
You most recently starred in The Light Princess which was just incredible. What was the whole experience like for you?
It was one of the best experiences of my life. I was with the project from the very first workshop about four years ago so I got to see it in all its stages and we got to create it from scratch which is just incredible! And then to have someone like Tori Amos write a song for you is a dream – amazing! I was heartbroken when it came to an end, I mourned for a few days.

You appeared on I’d Do Anything. So many of you have gone on to have remarkable careers; does it feel like a lifetime ago?
Yes, it feels like I was a totally different person back then, it’s hilarious [laughs] - it must be about six years ago now! I’d been out of college for about six months and had done a few jobs, telly stuff, and I’d never done anything to do with musical theatre. I thought I could potentially play the role of Nancy so decided to go for it and it ended up totally changing my life. Even though I was kicked out first I got the best platform and was introduced to a new bunch of people. It’s sort of how I ended up at the National Theatre because Martin Lowe, who is an MD over there, saw me on the show and thought I was interesting so got in touch with me. It’s weird how it was all meant to be!

Imagine this: you have to go to a desert island and can only take three musical theatre songs with you. Which three do you take?
Oh my god that’s too hard! Something from Parade… maybe the duet ‘All the Wasted Time’ which is beautiful. I really like the finale in Shrek – ‘This is my Story’ – because it cheers me up! Finally I would probably have to take ‘Coronation’ from The Light Princess because it would make me reminisce and be happy.

What’s it like having so much support behind you from theatre fans?
It’s crazy that people would wait outside the stage door and come to see the show so many times. It’s so funny because when I look back to when I was 15 or 16 I would save all my money so I could go to see as many shows as possible, so to see people doing that to come and see me feels bonkers but amazing. Support on Twitter and everywhere was amazing, I feel very lucky.

Interviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Betty Blue Eyes Tour Dates
14 March - 5 April Mercury Theatre Colchester
Tickets: 01206 573948 or www.mercurytheatre.co.uk

15 - 19 April New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
Tickets: 01473 295 900 or www.wolseytheatre.co.uk

24 April – 17 May Salisbury Playhouse
Tickets: 01722 320 333 or www.salisburyplayhouse.com

27 - 31 May Norwich Theatre Royal
Tickets: 01603 630000 or www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

3 – 7 June Oxford Playhouse
Tickets: 01865 305305 or www.oxfordplayhouse.com

12 June – 5 July West Yorkshire Playhouse
Tickets: 0113 213 7700 or www.wyp.org.uk

9 July – 2 August Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse
Tickets: 0151 709 4776 or www.everymanplayhouse.com

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