This week on Throwback Thursday Sarah Day spoke to Emily Langham about Hello Dolly!, Les Miserables and her new venture into Pilates instruction.

Emily Lamgham
Emily Langham. Photo: Michael Wharton

What was your first ever show that you did as a kid, and what was it that got you into the theatre world?
Throughout school, I was always part of the drama club, and we would often do concerts and shows in the school hall. The main trigger though was watching a sitzprobe of Les Misérables. I asked how old you had to be to play Young Cosette and was told, about your age. I was then invited to audition and was lucky enough to be given the role. I was completely hooked and knew that was what I wanted to do.

Congratulations on being part of the West End production of ‘Hello, Dolly!’. Tell us about your audition process and what you are most looking forward to.

Thank you so much. I’m so excited for it to happen…whenever that may be. It goes without saying that I’m looking forward to the theatre returning again, but above all, I’m looking forward to working with the creative team – Dominic Cooke, Bill Deamer & Nick Skilbeck. I was fortunate to work with the same team on the National Theatre production of Follies. I was in awe of them on that production. I think my work on Follies stood me in good stead for the casting process on Hello Dolly!

Emily Langham
As Young Cosette in Les Mis West End 2004

Why is theatre important to you?

Theatre is a form of escapism, both for the actor and the audience. By telling stories on stage, we transport our audience to another world. We encourage people to feel; to smile, to laugh, to cry.

What is your process when you get into character for a show?

I ask myself (the character) a lot of questions to figure out who I am and where I’ve come from. This backstory tells me what’s happened so far in the story of my life. That’s all I need to know because the rest will emerge, if I stay in the moment, listen and respond accordingly.

How have you been keeping creative during lockdown?

Lockdown has been hard but I’ve been taking dance and singing classes on zoom, with lots of wonderful teachers. I practice singing a lot, and try to record myself so that I can listen back and make improvements. I absolutely love reading, so I’ve been doing lots of that. I was lucky to be a part of a webinar series called The Theatre Channel. We were based at The Theatre Cafe and it was really great for keeping me actively performing.

Emily Langham
As Gertie Cummings in Oklahoma at Chichester Festival Theatre in 2019. Photo: Johan Persson

You also run your own Pilates classes. Tell us about how you got involved in Pilates and where our readers can join in!

I started practising Pilates when I was much younger and have done it alongside my dance training ever since. I decided to take my teaching qualification in Mat Pilates a few years ago. It’s always been a form of meditation for me as it requires great focus. When lockdown hit last year, I jumped straight onto my Pilates mat as a way of keeping sane and a friend asked if I would teach online. My first zoom class had 90 people! I then decided to further my training on equipment. My classes are still going strong – I absolutely love them. You can book classes on my website or find me on Instagram @EmilyLanghamPilates – Ooh…a shameless plug there!

Tell us about one of your best/funniest memories on stage?

One of my best memories on stage has to be performing at the Royal Albert Hall, with Tracie Bennett, at the Olivier Awards ceremony. I remember being dressed in my Swarovski encrusted headdress and the most beautiful, made to measure dress, watching Tracie Bennet give a masterclass performance of ‘I’m Still Here’ and I thought, this is what dreams are made of!

One of my funniest memories comes from my first job, ‘Mack and Mabel’ at Chichester Festival Theatre. During the Keystone Cops number, we were dressed as policemen, when one of the boys jumped over my head and knocked my hat off, leaving me chasing it around the stage, with nothing but a stocking cap on my head.

What three things can we always find in your dressing room? I.e Lucky charms…things that help you on stage…blue m&ms..

I don’t really have lucky charms but there will always be snacks, a pilates mat and a notebook.

If your life were a show what would it be called, and why?

‘Kenny & Me’ – I have a Cavachon puppy who I’m obsessed with. His name is Kenny, after my Grandad Ken and he honestly provides some of the best entertainment I’ve ever seen. We have a bit of a double act because I’ve got his voice down to a fine art so we have conversations together. It’s a bit like a ventriloquist act.

What advice would you give to all the new graduates?

Take your time. There’s no rush. Doors will open and if you walk through them, there will be adventure on the other side. Be passionate about your work, no matter how big or how small and don’t stop learning. Oh and support your colleagues. That’s really important.

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