Charlotte O’Rourke has just completed a run in Mamma Mia! in the West End, having previously appeared in its UK tour; Charlotte Anne Steen’s recent credits include Bat Out Of Hell and 42nd Street in the West End, and Rock Of Ages and We Will Rock You on tour.
Name of Edinburgh show: I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical
Venue: Underbelly, Bristo Square (The Dairy Room)
Performance time: 8.45pm
Show length: 1 hour
Ticket price: Jul 31-Aug 2 £7.00; Aug 3-6, 9-11, 16-18, 23-25 £11.00 (£10.00); Aug 7-8, 12-15, 19-22, 26 £10.00 (£9.00)
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
Charlotte O’Rourke: I grew up in theatre! Dad is an ex-actor and mum an ex dance teacher, so I did my first amateur show when I was five!
Charlotte Anne Steen: I was most recently seen in Bat out of Hell at the Dominion, and before that 42nd Street at Drury Lane, couldn’t get further apart if you tried! I love all sorts of styles, which is perfect for this current production!
Tell me about your new show, what it is all about?
Charlotte O’Rourke: The show is paying homage to the life that performers lead in a funny, tongue in cheek way!
Charlotte Anne Steen: It’s a comedic musical revue that reveals everything that you could possibly want to know about being a musical theatre performer… if only there were any who would dare to admit it!
How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2019?
Charlotte O’Rourke: We are just at the end of the first week of rehearsals – we have one more week before heading to Edinburgh. The show is witty and dry, in a way that I think appeals to everyone.
Charlotte Anne Steen: We have been in rehearsals for a week now but the show itself has been in development for a year or two and has had a couple of versions of it done before. We are taking this new “Edinburgh” version up to the Fringe and hoping to add a new dimension to it. I think it’s incredibly relevant in 2019, as it would be in 10 years’ time… or 10 years ago… as it is a combination of ALL the musicals and all the horror stories you hear working in the industry or overhear as an audience member, so it really is timeless!
Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
Charlotte O’Rourke: Sleep, a waterproof coat, a re-usable coffee cup and an open mind!
Charlotte Anne Steen: Surviving the Fringe?! You’ve just got to experience as much as possible. I did the Fringe back in 2015 with a show called Eurobeat-Moldova and just remember having the best time! Go see anything and everything, go to the big venues, and go to the tiniest venues to the shows you’ve not heard of and go with an open mind! And for performers… pace yourselves on the Fringe lifestyle… you’ll feel it by week 3!
What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
Charlotte O’Rourke: I was on for my understudy in Mamma Mia! and whilst Sky (Alec Porter) and I were running hand in hand across the stage I tripped and fell. Alec is so strong that he didn’t notice, and dragged me on my bottom across the width of the stage. Safe to say it was hard to keep a straight face for the rest of the number!
Charlotte Anne Steen: In 42nd Street one day the floor was a bit slippery, as it had been cleaned, and I remember feeling totally smug that I’d got through the show unscathed… until the final button of the encore, when, whilst everyone else (40 ensemble members) were all holding a “rather attractive” ‘V’ formation, in a lunge, I slipped and rolled to the floor… in silence… got up, walked back to my place and did jazz hands… Ahh, Broadway glamour at its finest… but what else can you do?! There was no redeeming myself from that!
Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
Charlotte O’Rourke: I’ve always loved watching Bernadette Peters! I think she is a fantastic actress and she always inspires me if I am low on motivation.
Charlotte Anne Steen: My biggest inspirations in this industry are the grafters, the ones who work and work and work, but don’t necessarily get the credit. The swings (I should know… 3 times a swing for me!), the understudies, the standbys. It’s such a hard industry and then to not get that instant reward when you finally “make it” and get that break is hard. I think everyone should swing at least once in their careers. There is a song in our show entitled “Standing By” and it tells us honestly what it’s like to be that person always waiting for the phone call to tell you that you’re on!
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Charlotte O’Rourke: Nothing unusual – some food and a brew!
Charlotte Anne Steen: I’ve never allowed myself to get into the habit of a pre-show ritual because I know how obsessive it can become and I don’t want to think “ohh no… I didn’t do *insert weird action here* so I’m going to have a terrible show!!!” However, I am a “granny”, and like to have a cup of tea at the half, and I like to warm up using a kazoo haha.
What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
Charlotte O’Rourke: I’m looking forward to seeing Showstopper! again, but other than that I want to get there and see where I end up.
Charlotte Anne Steen: I’m really looking forward to catching Sooz Kempner – Mega Drive as she is just hilarious and has worked with our writer Alexander S. Bermange, performing some of the material from this show. For incredibly clever improvised comedy you really can’t beat Showstopper! And I think Friendsical, a parody musical about Friends, will be a must!
Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
Charlotte O’Rourke: The show is a fantastic combination of musical theatre and comedy – theatre fans will have a great time finding musical references. We want audiences to fall in love with the show, as we have done!
Charlotte Anne Steen: It’s the absolute must-see for lovers of theatre anywhere… It takes you on the journey right from that feeling of leaving drama school, to getting your first job… to NOT getting the job, to wanting to change career, to becoming the Diva, to having a crazy fan… to BEING the crazy fan… and to evaluating why we all put ourselves through this in the first place. We had our first sing-through of the show the other day and I’m so excited about it. It’s so cleverly written. It takes you through all the stereotypes, ones you know exist and ones you wish didn’t! Both the performer and the audience member can relate to the show, so if you fancy a laugh… come and see us!
Thanks for having Tea With Wilma
Charlotte O’Rourke and Charlotte Anne Steen: Thanks for inviting us to have tea with you!
FOLLOW WEST END WILMA