It's another "60 Seconds With" folks! We caught up with Alice Fearn, currently appearing in the smash hit musical Shrek understudying Princess Fiona. We find out all the backstage gossip as well as Alice's plans for the future.
Let's start with the standard questions....Where do you come from?
Born in Bath. Raised in Caldbeck Cumbria from four until I moved to London at 18 to attend Mountview Theatre School.
Your currently in Shrek. Having a good time?
Loving it. Just signed to stay in the show until January 2013 so I must be enjoying myself. The cast are a hoot and I smile/laugh every night. Not a bad job at all!!
What is it like to be part of an original cast?
It's special. You feel like you've really started something that people will talk about for a long time. Everyone is at the top of their game in an original cast. Producers get the cream of the crop as everyone wants to be in an Original cast of any production! I feel very honoured to be part of musical theatre history in a way. Everyone is in the same boat... No one knows what will work and what won't. To experience the first night audience reaction of the first ever London production of Shrek the Musical is a moment I will never forget.
What was your first professional job?
Actually that was Woman In White at the Palace Theatre in London. I had just finished my last 3rd year show at drama school and I got the job about 2 weeks later. I was over the moon. To get a West End job before even graduating was quite a buzz!
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I'd say I have a couple. My first night performing as Princess Fiona (3 weeks into previews) was quite a night. The general stress and anxiety that comes with understudying a major celebrity like Amanda Holden and knowing I'd have to doubly prove myself to the audience (no doubt some of whom had specifically come to see Amanda) was an achievement I won't forget in a hurry. But recently a major highlight is being cast in the Les Miserables movie. Having been in the London production of my all time favourite show for two years was a huge success story for me, but to get into the Feature Film is an absolute dream come true and I couldn't have asked for a more brilliant experience!
What are your views on how much reality TV has affected the business?
I think they have been both good and bad. It gets a new more TV based audience into the theatre which has helped in a climate where spending on such things could have taken a steep drop. However, those audiences sometimes don't get live theatre. People go off, celebrities (like the rest of the world) get sick and are unable to perform. Understudies are there to step up and are(more often that not) MORE than capable of performing the role with just as much success! Audiences can tend to forget that and cannot see past the fact that the 'celebrity' isn't performing and they are therefore unhappy. These audiences aren't coming to see the show or the production, they are coming to see 'celebrity' or 'star' and I think that is a shame. Musicals, plays, operas anything should be about the production as a whole and not about one individual performer!
You have both played and understudied roles, which is harder?
Well, I think you have to be a certain type of performer to understudy. I know people who hate it. The pressure and the stress is just too much. However, I do enjoy it. The chance to do something new in a contract is always fun and exciting and I get to do that (especially in long runs). But, of course, if I could choose to be the principle part over the understudy, I would in a heartbeat (who wouldn't want to perform as a lead every night?!)
What advice would you give to fellow actors on audition technique?
Confidence is vital. But be careful not to confuse that with arrogance. Be grateful for the audition but still go in believing you are right for the job and are what they are looking for!
Do you have a particular actress that inspires you?
Probably too many to have to pick one but it's mainly actors/actresses who are at the top of their game and can be versatile. To go from comedy to straight, period to contemporary dramas, musicals to plays. The greats like Meryl Streep, Imelda Staunton, Judi Dench... What they put their minds too they achieve and that is what makes them inspiring and truly great to watch!
What would you like to achieve in the future in your career?
I think, in this climate, I have to be thankful to work at all (what with brilliant shows closing all the time it seems) but I would very much like to extend my career into TV/film. I'm not looking to Hollywood (though if they came calling I wouldn't turn it down) but definitely like to become as confident and successful as I have so far been in theatre in the TV world. Fingers crossed!!
Do you have any backstage gossip for us from 'shrek'?
Gossip. Hmmmmm..... Not as much as you think really. Though we are entering West End Eurovision this year and our Ident is something to behold. Shows you what sort of stupid stuff we can get up to backstage in those fantastic costumes. Pigs dancing to Beyonce for example...
Are you enjoying Stage Status? Do you think it's a useful site for people within the arts?
Oh I think it's great. The casting and business sections in particular. For people who are looking for more information about the business a free site like this is perfect and very much needed.
Being in a show and working unsociable hours, what do you get up to during the day?
I'm pretty boring really. You tend to relish you free time with a schedule like ours at Shrek so more often than not I just chill out at home with my boyfriend Ste but I always find time to walk my dog Phoebe and get in as many lunches/brunches with friends as I can!
Thanks for your time Alice. Catch Alice online at the following links.
Stage Status: Alice Fearn