This week on Throwback Thursday, Sarah Day speaks to Amy West who opened in the cast of Hairspray last night at the London Coliseum.
What was your first ever show that you did as a kid, and what was it that got you into the theatre world?
I didn’t really do professional shows as a kid. I done shows with my local dance school every other year from the age of 3. And what got me into the theatre world was my love for it. My musical theatre knowledge wasn’t great back then. But I loved watching the old Gene Kelly Fred Astaire films. But I enjoyed dance and I was always told do a job that makes you happy, as then it will never feel like work.
Congratulations on being part of ‘Hairspray’! Tell us about the show, your audition and rehearsal process, and how it’s been working in the middle of a pandemic.
Thank you! So auditions were back in 2019. I was in Cardiff at the time with Annie. So waking up at 5am to catch the first train, audition then run back for the show so it was all a blur, to be honest. But it was a dance round to The Nicest Kids In Town, then cut to sing. Then the second round was another dance call to You Can’t Stop The Beat, cut to sing. Then the final was dance and material. It was really quick and painless. We had 2 days of rehearsal before lockdown hit! Which is crazy. Luckily we set up a Whatsapp group before we left so we still stayed really connected as a company which was so lovely.
What is your process when you get into character for a show?
So because I’m a swing, I could have no time at all to have this process. For me, it’s just trying to enjoy it, as the first time I’ll ever do the show is in front of a paying audience. So If I’m honest, it’s mainly preparing for the track I get thrown on first for. Going through their traffic and harmonies and trying to enjoy it as much as I possibly can.
Why is theatre important to you?
Theatre is escapism. Especially during this last year, people have needed this more than ever… so to have theatre back I think people need this more than they realise. To be taken somewhere else and have 2 hours of no worries or stress, and especially with something like Hairspray, where it’s touching upon so many things that are current (like the Black Lives Matter Movement). It’s a real show of hope and pure elation and acceptance.
The theatre industry is calling out for more diversity in their casts, creatives and crew. Tell us what this means to you. Do you feel a positive atmosphere change or does our industry still have a long way to go?
I didn’t feel the industry had a long way to go. But I’m so lucky that I am part of an incredibly diverse company that is open to having those conversations and teaching people like me, I have already learned so much from my peers it’s an amazing company to be a part of and I feel very lucky. However, it has made me realise and opened my eyes to the fact we still have a long way to go. Yes, we are chipping away at it little by little, and gradually it’s happening. But yeh we still have a way to go.
How have you been keeping creative during lockdown?
I’ve been lucky enough to teach at some amazing colleges. On zoom and in person. Which has really kept me going. Also got back into my painting and drawing which has been lush to get back in touch with for sure.
Tell us about one of your best/funniest memories on stage?
There are so many! Best memory was when I was Associate on Annie. That’s been a dream of mine and having Nick Winston and David Ian trust me is something I will always be grateful for and appreciate. It was a very emotional and proud opening night for sure. And funniest….. gosh literally there are so many. Too many times I have stacked it to count.
What three things can we always find in your dressing room? I.e Lucky charms…things that help you on stage…blue m&ms..
Oooo sheet face masks. I love a face mask. Especially as a swing. You have bags of time. Notebook….. I’m still so old school and prefer to write things down. My Zara Baggy Jumper…. It’s so worn but it’s what I live and die in when I’m in a theatre.
If your life were a show what would it be called, and why?
That is so hard. Erm…….. I feel like it would have to be a classic Essex saying. I take the mick out of my accent all the time but I am very proud of my roots so would have to be something like “Shut Up” or “Drop me Out” or “Oh my Christ” haha.
It has been a really tough year for new actors graduating into the industry. What advice would you give to all the new graduates?
Don’t compare yourself to others. Stay on your own path. Just concentrate on yourself. And treat others the way you wanna be treated, as it goes a long way in this industry. But keep eyes on you…. Your time will come.