Jill Winternitz has Tea with Wilma

Jill Winternitz

Jill Winternitz doesn’t seem to like playing characters with names. She recently finished playing the role of ‘Baby’ in Dirty Dancing at the Piccadilly Theatre and is now playing ‘Girl’ in Once The Musical at the Phoneix Theatre. I sat down with Jill for a cup of tea and a natter…


For those who may not be familiar with your work, can you tell me about yourself and some of your career highlights? 

I’m Jill… a rather adventurous/mad actor who followed a love of Shakespeare thousands of miles east across land and sea from California, USA, to train in London nearly eight years ago.  By some wonderful twist of fate, I’m still here.  After graduating from RADA, I worked in independent film and fringe theatre before carrying some oversized watermelons around the UK and playing Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman in Dirty Dancing- The Classic Story On Stage.  I ended up at Piccadilly Theatre in London and making my West End debut reprising the role of Baby.  I’ve now moved about 5 minutes east to the Phoenix Theatre to join the cast of one of my favourite shows, Once.


You are currently starring in Once The Musical, can you tell me what the show is about for those who may not have seen it?

Once is one the most magical productions I’ve ever seen (I’d been three times before I got the job).  It is based around a simple but honest story of two people from completely different backgrounds brought together through music and falling for each other.  The book and music are profoundly moving in a subtle, and truthful way.  It has a bit of everything: great comedy, romance, fantastic characters, and all performed by a wonderful company of actor-musicians.


If you were going to write a musical about your life, what would it be called?

Coffee Shops of Soho: The Musical


If you could be the opposite sex for the day, what musical theatre role would you like to have a go at playing?

Huey in Memphis- such a brilliant character!


Do you have a favourite Musical Theatre show or song that means a lot to you?

It’s going back awhile now, but Rent was the first musical I fell in love with.  When I was about 14, I listened to the soundtrack on loop for at least a year.  Song wise, I adore ‘Gimme, Gimme’ from ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ and most everything Jason Robert Brown has ever written.


What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?

This isn’t exactly ON stage, but on tour with Dirty Dancing one of our offstage swings ordered a pizza during the show.  Instead of coming to Stage Door with the delivery, the pizza man somehow made his way through a side entrance back stage at the theatre and ended up in the female quick change area (just a few feet from the stage) in full biking gear and helmet with pizza in hand!  I’m not sure who was more shocked, the cast or the pizza man!  Needless to say it became a running joke for the rest of the tour!


Thank you for having Tea With Wilma

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Once the Musical is currently booking until July 2015. Click here to buy tickets and save up to 40%.