An Introverted Actress

The 'Fantine' Audition

When my 'To-Do List' is so long that I know I can't possibly finish it, I find myself doing none of it. That's easier than making a start and chipping away at the mountain. Recently, I've found myself doing something similar with blogging. I've got this huge burst of creativity right now that seems to want to be dedicated specifically to this blog. I look lustfully at other people's blogs like Lucy moon, Hannah Witton, The Anna Edit and Honest Actors, I make lists of ideas and then it all seems so overwhelming that I don't start at all. 

(Now I'm wondering if I'm doing the blogging equivalent of that thing vloggers do at the beginning of videos that I hate so much...'I'm so sorry I haven't blogged in ages, here's all the reasons why you haven't had any videos before I actually get to the point of this video you're watching...#relatable, AMIRIGHT?!')

West End Live 2015
As most of you will probably know by now, I have just been cast as Fantine in the "staged concert" version of Les Miserables! Les Mis is currently at the Queen's Theatre but will be getting a new makeover and whilst refurbishments are under way, it's popping next door to the Gielgud! On January 4th, right as my year began, I was called into Cameron Mackintosh's offices to sing in front of him and his team. Sir Mackintosh has been employing me since I was seven years old, in Les Mis and Mary Poppins as a child and now three times over as an adult in Les Mis (Queen's, Dubai, Gielgud). When we did the 'read through' for Poppins when I was ten (which is where a bunch of actors are cast in the roles, rehearse for a week or so and then informally read/sing through the script for potential investors), rehearsals were held in his offices so I've visited quite a few times and the place holds some nostalgia for me. Now when I say "offices", it's not your usual set of grey, boxy rooms with  panelled ceilings and fluorescent lighting. It's a beautiful old victorian London house where everything is plush and the walls are lined with awards and photographs of his many, many successes. I'm so lucky to have such quirky little memories from my childhood of flying cars and flying nannies, of Michael Ball rubbing his gold ring on my eye in the wings when a stye came up and charging Brian Blessed fifty pence for every time he swore (he still owes me a lot of money...!) but one of my fondest memories was on a lunch break during the Mary Poppins read through.  A buffet had been laid out for the cast and I came across a fig for the first time in my life as a ten year old. Sir Mackintosh saw my confusion and showed me how to eat them and then stood with ten year old me in a crowded room full of important people and asked me about my favourite subjects at school and what I wanted to do with my life when I grew up. Such a funny little memory but it's one of my favourites. I've been there a couple of times since for costume fittings but I was struck this time by the oddness of being sat in the same foyer almost seventeen years on.

When I arrived, auditions for various characters in the new Mary Poppins (due to open this year!) were under way and I sat there for about fifteen minutes (early as usual) absolutely terrified that I was A. in the wrong place or B. had read the email from my agent so entirely wrong that I was actually supposed to be auditioning for a role in Mary Poppins...! I sat and had a chat with another actress (whom I won't name because it isn't fair of me to reveal what roles she is or isn't in for!) but it was truly lovely to mutually take away each other's nerves by nattering about shows we have/haven't seen in town and how we spent our Christmas/New Years. Finally, I was called in and Cameron Mackintosh greeted me himself with a hug. Now, I am a big fan of Sir Mackintosh. Not only has he been employing me since I was seven but he's also just the nicest man. 

West End Live - 2014
'Just sing it like you'd sing it at home!' He said as he pulled out a chair from the big, beautiful boardroom table and plonked it near the piano, facing me. I'd been given all the sheet music for all the songs and lines Fantine sings in the show and we were starting with the classic: I Dreamed A Dream. I figured the audition would revolve around the song but it was quite daunting to dive straight in at the deep end. Before I knew it, I was waist deep in lyrics and there was no way out but through. I just kept going and due to my nerves, I was a little shaky and it definitely wasn't the way I'll be singing it on stage at Gielgud but I definitely felt like I gave the best performance I could have within an audition environment. I finished and felt quite emotional. Partly's I Dreamed A Dream, you'd have to have a heart of stone not to feel something after singing that song but also because it dawned on me as I sang those last few notes that this was a role I really, really wanted and the decision was now his to make. I'd done all I could. I mean...I actually had. Once I had sung I Dreamed A Dream he didn't ask to hear anymore (which is always a blessing and a curse. A blessing because the terrifying audition is OVER but also a curse because the time spent painstakingly memorising every intricate note, interval and lyric on train journeys, grocery shopping and annoying the neighbours feels a little unnecessary now...). He lifted his glasses and wiped a little tear from his eye (triumph!) and he said, 'I've heard all I need to hear. Now I just need to make it happen.' He also paid me a very lovely compliment (that I will keep for myself) which made my year and my year, at the time, was only four days old. 

 Dubai Royal Opera House - December '16
I had to keep my cool as I put my coat and bag on in the foyer and wished my new actress friend good luck as she was still waiting to be seen. I thanked the two receptionists and as soon as the door to the offices closed behind me I let out a great sob. A woman gave me a pitying look as she passed, probably thinking I'd just been fired or broken up with but I couldn't have cared less. All I could think was Text Oliver. Call Mum. I'm twenty-six years old and my mum is still the first person I call as soon as I leave an audition. I splurge all of my emotions towards how it went down the phone and mum always knows just what to say. After the hundreds of post-audition phone calls I've made to her over the course of my entire life, she's had sufficient practice. I then went and bought myself the biggest doughnut I could find as a little 'I did good despite what happens next' treat and I went home and tried my hardest to put it out of my mind. 

Dubai Royal Opera House - Dec '16
Three days later, I was sat having tapas with Becky Lock and Sophie Isaacs, on a trip to Sheffield to watch Becky be OUTRAGEOUSLY brilliant in 'Kiss Me, Kate' at the Crucible. I thought I'd quickly check my emails before pouring another glass of red and there it was. An email entitled 'Les Mis' from my agent. I opened it and the first thing I saw as my eyes scanned the screen was a list of dates for rehearsals and opening nights laid out chronologically for me. If they're giving me dates then that must mean...I calmed myself down and read the email from beginning to end and then it all came out in one go. 
'Guys...' I said quite loudly. 'I got Fantine...' The girls cheered as I let myself cry. Becky hugged me whilst I had a little sob and Sophie refilled my glass. We celebrated back at Becky's digs with a bottle of Prosecco and a £1 fudge cake from the corner shop that Becky heated up in the microwave. Bliss. 

30th Anniversary - Queen's Theatre - October 8th 2015

So there we have it. For sixteen weeks, starting from August, I'll be at the Gielgud performing the staged concert version of Les Mis as Fantine. (For those of you wondering how the "staged concert" version is different from the normal version, look up the 25th Anniversary. I think it'll be in the same vein as that, if I'm not mistaken!)

What a journey!

Palace Theatre - 1999


  1. Getting slightly emotional sitting in a coffee shop reading this. Soo happy for you and soo excited to see it :)

  2. I am still so utterly THRILLED for you. You absolutely deserve this. Your version of 'I dreamed a dream' is just supreme. I have tickets to see you closing night with Kelly,Luce and Alisha but hoping to get there before then. I never got to see you in Les Mis when you were Eponine so i'm very excited to see you smash it as Fantine.

  3. So excited for you! I wish I could come back to London and see it, but alas it is expensive to fly there from North Carolina. But I will support from afar and tell you through the Internet what an inspiration you have been to me for the past 3 years. Thank you for showing me that acting is done by normal people who don’t lead an entirely glamorous life and don’t have perfect bodies and don’t get the lead every time. You have helped me realize that I don’t need to change for other people and that I can follow my dreams and be comfortable with me. Thank you and much love, Savannah

  4. Actual emotional tears at this blog, such exciting progress and achievements and also beautifully written. Fully deserved, cannot wait to see the show!

  5. I have been following your career from afar for many years and I'm so happy for you! I remember when you first said you'd love to play Fantine. So deserved! It's a pity I wont be able to see you perform... maybe one day.
    Love from Brasil! Xx

  6. Love that you are back blogging!
    Congrats with Les Mis, well deserved!

  7. Feeling very emotional reading this. And congratulations. I'm saving up to buy tickets for myself and my kids, who both love Les Mis. My youngest, loves building barricades lol. x

  8. You always get me emotional when you talk about Les Mis! You were actually the one to introduce me to Les Mis as well! After starting to watch you on Youtube I eventually watched the movie and read the book and listen to the soundtrack on occasion.

  9. I’m currently sat in the toilets at work readying this crying my eyes out! Haha so happy for you xx

  10. Well done Carrie! You'll be fab. I'd love to see it, if only I lived a little closer to London


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