West End star, Helena Blackman takes our Sugar Rush Quiz

Helena Blackman became a household name after her appearance on the BBC programme, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? The show led to a successful musical theatre career, which has included roles in The Sound of Music, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, My Fair Lady and most recently Thom Southerland’s celebrated production of Titanic at the Charing Cross Theatre.

Next month Helena will be performing alongside fellow West End star Amanda Coutts in a special new cabaret show. Featuring songs from musicals, together with pop and diva classics, Musicals and Beyond will be staged at Above the Arts, part of the Arts Theatre in London’s West End, on Sunday 6 August 2017 and Sunday 27 August 2017.

Helena took some time off from her preparation for the show to take our Sugar Rush Quiz.

What are you currently working on?

Amanda Coutts and I are doing a two-woman cabaret, called Musicals and Beyond, at Above the Arts, part of Arts Theatre West End, which features an array of songs from pop to rock to musical theatre and Disney!

What is the one thing that has helped you to become successful?

I guess a commitment to fulfilling the needs of the people I work with and wanting to be as truthful and committed in my performance as I can. I don’t want to let myself down and am not half-hearted. I’m also a problem solver and if something isn’t easily achieved, I will look at different ways. I try not to be too hard on myself and give myself a good talking too and don’t get wrapped up in the business and to just revolve myself around it. I also try and focus on myself and my health mentally and physically – good things and positive outcomes come out of me being on top of my game!  Lastly, I roll with the punches and except how my ‘castability’ has evolved and try not to control that.

What is your favourite book?

I’m currently reading Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. It’s on my iphone so I read a little at a time because it’s extremely thought-provoking and I don’t want to miss a beat, so make sure I’m in a focussed place when I read it. Self-help in my game is so important, and I try and remind myself to stay in the present and not the past or the future.

Another book I loved was Fingersmith by Sarah Waters.

What are you currently watching on TV?

I’m obsessed with TV drama, more than film or theatre. Particularly crime.  Standing out for me at present is Broken. Sean Bean is now one of my favourite male actors. This is due to his performance as a pain stricken priest.  However, I also love Suits – secretly I want to be a lawyer!

Would you choose the cinema, theatre or a restaurant for a night out?

A restaurant. I love the intimacy and I can be anonymous and it’s not such busman’s holiday!  I switch off more.

What’s your favourite sweet?

American Twizzlers!

What did you want to be when you were a child?

A pop singer and an actress…always!

What was the naughtiest thing you did when you were a child?

Wet myself on purpose! I was a pretty good kid.

What is your proudest achievement to date?

Lots of moments! Performing in front of millions of people, getting the job – any job! But mostly what makes me proud is that I still have a positive attitude in regards as to what I do and in life. I don’t blame anyone for my mistakes, I don’t pay attention to societal pressures and I take responsibility for my actions and my learning. Also, fundamentally, I am independent and reasonably objective and apply that to everything.

What’s next?

After Musicals and Beyond, who knows, that’s what’s exciting – anything can happen! I like to keep my options open and create and immerse myself in new experiences.

To book tickets to see Musicals and Beyond, please call the box office on 0207 836 8463. Or to book online, please visit: www.artstheatrewestend.co.uk.

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Wicked star Willemijn Verkaik takes our Sugar Rush Quiz

Fans of the musical phenomenon Wicked will be very familiar with the name Willemijn Verkaik. The singer – who is originally from The Netherlands – is currently playing Elphaba as part of the 10 year anniversary cast of Wicked in the West End and has played the role in four countries. After making her Broadway debut in 2013, Verkaik is the only actress to have performed the role in three languages.

The acclaimed performer will invite co-stars Savannah Stevenson and Suzie Mathers to perform with her for a solo show at the Cambridge Theatre later this month.

Willemijn took some time out of her hectic schedule to take our Sugar Rush Quiz.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve got less then two weeks left playing the role of Elphaba in Wicked in London. It’s sad and exciting at the same time, but I’m also ready to move on.

And I’m busy preparing for my solo concert on 31st July at the Cambridge Theatre!

 

What is the one thing that has helped you to become successful?

Having the guts to make mistakes.

 

What is your favourite Book?

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

 

What are you currently watching on TV?

To relax after a show I like watching The Big Bang Theory

 

Would you choose the cinema, theatre or a restaurant for a night out?

A restaurant, because I hardly ever see my friends, so this gives me the chance to catch up with them.

 

What’s your favourite sweet?

Dutch liquorice, it’s the best. I can’t stop eating it.

 

What did you want to be when you were a child?

A famous pop singer 🙂

 

What is your proudest achievement to date?

Playing Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway and in the West End

 

What’s next?

 My solo concert at the Cambridge Theatre. It’s going to be so exciting, I’ve got amazing special guests and an utterly fantastic band. There’ll be all kinds of different songs. Come along!

Willemijn Verkaik Live in Concert is at Cambridge Theatre on Monday, 31 July 

West End star, Amanda Coutts takes our Sugar Rush Quiz

Amanda Coutts became a favourite with West End audiences for her portrayal of Meat in We Will Rock you at the Dominion Theatre. The acclaimed stage star also played the role of Scaramouche when the show went on a tour of the UK and got her skates on to portray Pearl and Dinah in the German production of Starlight Express. Next month Amanda will join Helena Blackman for a review called Musicals and Beyond at Above the Arts but took some time off from rehearsals to take our Sugar Rush Quiz.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently rehearsing for Musicals and Beyond with Helena Blackman which we will be performing on the 6th and 27th August 2017 at Above the Arts, which is part of the Arts Theatre in London. Helena and I most recently appeared in the Musical Shout! together.

 

What is the one thing that has helped you to become successful?

Working extremely hard and having a passion for the industry. I always knew I wanted to be in Musical Theatre and I knew I had to work hard to get there.

 

What is your favourite Book?

The Harry Potter books.

 

What are you currently watching on TV?

I love Versailles and Poldark.

 

Would you choose the cinema, theatre or a restaurant for a night out?

I would choose a restaurant then onto watch a show/play at the theatre. So, both.

 

What’s your favourite sweet?

Chocolate Ice Cream.

 

What did you want to be when you were a child?

A dancer in a West End musical.

 

What was the naughtiest thing you did when you were a child?

When I was about 3 or 4 years old I wanted to decorate my Mum and Dad’s bedroom as a surprise. I coloured in their wallpaper with felt tip colouring pens. Haha! My Mum spent the whole day scrubbing it off.

 

What is your proudest achievement to date?

Playing for the last time ever the role of Meat in We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre, London in 2014 and being the last person to ever sing that amazing song, ‘No One But You’. I was so proud of myself, the show and all my fellow cast members and co- workers. It was the saddest but the proudest day of my career.

 

What’s next?

Musicals and Beyond with Helena Blackman on the 6th and 27th August 2017 at Above the Arts, which is part of the Arts Theatre in London. Then I will be playing the role of Judy Bernly in the London Fringe premiere of 9 to 5 at the Gatehouse, London from 30th August – 1st October 2017.

 

To book tickets to see Musicals and Beyond, please call the box office on 0207 836 8463. Or to book online, please visit: www.artstheatrewestend.co.uk.

T: 0207 836 8463

The Lovely Aimi Macdonald takes our Sugar Rush Quiz

Aimi Macdonald started her career as a dancer in Paris and Las Vegas, but went on to become a regular on the West End Stage. Her career has since been filled with tours, television performances and film’s starring alongside the likes of Roger Moore and Oliver Reed.

The internationally acclaimed performer is bringing her cabaret show about her journey in the ‘Biz’ to the Pheasantry on the Kings Road next month and it promises to be an evening filled with song and laughter from ‘the lovely Aimi Macdonald’.

Aimi took some time off from rehearsals to take our Sugar Rush Quiz.

What are you currently working on?

New Material for my next Show at The Pheasantry, 02/08/17.

Writing my book!

What is the one thing that has helped you to become successful?

My energy, enthusiasm and love of Show Business.                  

What is your favourite Book?

The Folk Of The Far Away Tree, by Enid Blyton.

What are you currently watching on TV? 

The Loch, ITV Sunday at 9pm.

Would you choose the cinema, theatre or a restaurant for a night out?

Musical Theatre and Dinner afterwards (Is both ok?) 

What’s your favourite sweet?

Rum and Raisin Ice Cream. 

What did you want to be when you were a child? 

A STAR…

What was the naughtiest thing you did when you were a child?

Me & my friend did hat sprinkling with confetti, on gentlemen’s hats as they came up the stairs in train stations; so that when they tipped their hats at ladies, it went all over them. 

What is your proudest achievement to date?

My lovely daughter. 

What’s next? 

My Cabaret Show at The Pheasantry, Chelsea on August 2nd 2017.

Plus my appearance in SUNDAY AT EIGHT, at The Leicester Square Theatre, on October 15th, 2107, in aid of The Royal Variety Charity.

 

www.pizzaexpresslive.com

www.sundayateight.com

www.aimimacdonald.com

Bat Out of Hell star Christina Bennington takes our Sugar Rush Quiz

After a hugely successful run at the Manchester Opera House, Bat Out of Hell the Musical has taken London by storm. The musical – with music by Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf – has proved popular with both critics and audiences alike, while its two young leading actors – Andrew Polec and Christina Bennington – have gathered multiple plaudits for their portrayals of the love struck pairing of Strat and Raven.

Christina Bennington previously impressed London theatregoers as Kim/cover Magnolia in Show Boat at the New London Theatre and took some time off from her busy performance schedule to take our Sugar Rush Quiz.

Andrew Polec as Strat and Christina Bennington as Raven in BAT OUT OF HELL credit Specular

What are you currently working on?

Bat out of Hell The Musical

 

What is the one thing that has helped you to become successful? 

Good friends and family

 

What is your favourite Book?

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

 

What are you currently watching on TV? 

I’ve most recently been watching the Netflix series Girl Boss

 

Would you choose the cinema, theatre or a restaurant for a night out? 

Theatre I guess…and a restaurant

 

What’s your favourite sweet? 

Dark Chocolate

 

What did you want to be when you were a child? 

An Opera Singer

 

What was the naughtiest thing you did when you were a child? 

Stealing stuff from my siblings

 

What is your proudest achievement to date? 

This musical

 

What’s next? 

I’m going to Toronto with Bat out of Hell The Musical in October

Bat Out of Hell The Musical is at the London Coliseum until 5 August 

Photos by Specular

Bat Out Of Hell Star Andrew Polec takes our Sugar Rush Quiz

Andrew Polec is about to lead the cast in the hotly anticipated West End production of Bat Out of Hell The Musical at the London Coliseum. The show, which features the music of Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf was a big success with fans when it completed a run at the Manchester Opera House earlier this year.

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Andrew plays a rebellious rocker called Strat the forever young leader of The Lost, who has fallen for Raven, daughter of Falco, the tyrannical, ruler of Obsidian, a post-cataclysmic city adrift from the mainland.

Andrew took some time off from final rehearsals to take our Sugar Rush Quiz.

What are you currently working on?

Bat out of Hell The Musical

What is the one thing that has helped you to become successful? 

My hair

What is your favourite Book?

A Clockwork Orange

What are you currently watching on TV? 

Reruns of Sienfeld

Would you choose the cinema, theatre or a restaurant for a night out? 

Theatre

What’s your favourite sweet? 

I don’t know if you guys have it here. It’s called Fun Dip? It’s powdered sugar and a sugary stick that you lick. [We established it’s what the British would call a Sherbet Dip]

What did you want to be when you were a child? 

An inventor

What was the naughtiest thing you did when you were a child? 

I pretended I was a wild dog in the woods to scare a neighbour.

What is your proudest achievement to date? 

This musical

What’s next? 

Going to Toronto with Bat out of Hell The Musical and sharing love and joy with the world

Bat Out of Hell The Musical is at the London Coliseum until 5 August

Photo by Specular

Liza Pulman takes our Sugar Rush Quiz

As one-third of the irreverent singing trio Fascinating Aïda, Liza Pulman is well-known to London audiences for performing cabaret. Following the success last year of her solo Songs of Hollywood show, the talented singer is taking on a new challenge for 2017. Her new show entitled Liza Sings Streisand, sees her singing the hits of the revered film star Barbra Streisand and has been met with rave reviews.

Liza took some time out to take our Sugar Rush Quiz.

What are you currently working on?

I’m having a rest from working on anything for the future because I’ve just opened my Streisand show and my head is spinning.

What is the one thing that has helped you to become successful? 

A lot of amazing friends, perseverance and a lot of support

What is your favourite Book?

The Three Musketeers

What are you currently watching on TV? 

I’ve started watching House of Cards

Would you choose the cinema, theatre or a restaurant for a night out? 

Cinema

What’s your favourite sweet? 

I’m not a massive sweet person actually. I would rather have cheese.

What did you want to be when you were a child? 

I briefly wanted to be a fish doctor because I had a goldfish, which my father won for me at the fair. We called her Felicity and I remember seeing her floating corpse on top of the water. I was so traumatized by it that I thought perhaps I could do something to save the goldfish. It didn’t last long and then I wanted to be a singer.

What was the naughtiest thing you did when you were a child? 

I tried to get to my Christmas presents, which I knew my mum had stashed on the very top of some very expensive handmade wardrobes. I hung on the bar like a gymnast to pull myself up to see what was on the top and I brought the entire stretch of wardrobes down. My mum and dad were so unimpressed!

What is your proudest achievement to date? 

At the moment I feel like it’s this show, because I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve done. Probably bigger than that, I learned to drive 18 months ago and I’m 48 and I passed first time, so I think that’s the proudest I’ve ever felt about anything I’ve done in my life.

What’s next? 

More Streisand stuff! We’ve had some amazing reactions so we are definitely going to book up some more. Then I want to do more singing with my band next year.

Liza sings Streisand is at the Crazy Coqs Cabaret on 12 June

West End leading man Robert Meadmore takes our Sugar Rush Quiz

Robert Meadmore has starred in some of the biggest shows in town. His varied career has seen him perform in concerts around the world including the Royal Variety Performance and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in The Mall, London leading a crowd of over fifty thousand, including the Royal Family.

A regular at the revered Pheasantry on the King’s Road in Chelsea, Robert will be returning to the venue next month with a new show alongside Elaine Delmar and Jamie Safir and will perform in the very special Sunday at the Musicals Concert at the Actors’ Church in Covent Garden next weekend.

Robert took some time off to take our Sugar Rush Quiz.

What are you currently working on?

Concerts in London and a brand new cabaret show with two musical greats. Elaine Delmar and Jamie Safir. We are each bringing our own particular style of music … Elaine (Jazz), Jamie (Will Young’s MD) and my musical theatre side …. Hopefully we will all meet in the middle somewhere !!! It’ll definitely be fun. 26/27th June The Pheasantry, Chelsea.

What is the one thing that has helped you to become successful?

My sense of humour.

What is your favourite Book?

The Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu …. On my bedside table! If you have any ‘life’ questions you can open the book and find an answer and not always the one you want!

What are you currently watching on TV? 

Modern Family, Madam Secretary, Grace and Frankie.

Would you choose the cinema, theatre or a restaurant for a night out? 

Restaurant with my best friends and great food.

What’s your favourite sweet? 

I’m not really a sweet fan … possibly dark bitter chocolate.

What did you want to be when you were a child? 

An Actor.

What was the naughtiest thing you did when you were a child? 

I ran away from School.

What is your proudest achievement to date? 

Leading a crowd of 50,000 people singing ‘You’ll never walk alone” accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra to The Queen and entire Royal Family at her Silver Jubilee.

What’s next? 

More concerts and I hope to go to LA to perform the one man show I did in New York last year ….. visa’s permitting!

An Evening with Elaine Delmar, Robert Meadmore and Jamie Safir, is at The Pheasantry, Chelsea on Monday & Tuesday, June 26th & 27th 2017, at 8:30pm.

Chief Weasel Neil McDermott takes our Sugar Rush Quiz

Neil McDermott is best known for playing Ryan Malloy in Eastenders, but is no stranger to the West End and previously appeared at the Palladium in the revival of The Sound Of Music. He also became a favourite with musical theatre fans when he played Lord Farquaad in the musical version of Shrek at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

Neil McDermott and the company of the UK tour of The Wind in the Willows. Photo by Marc Brenner.

Next month, the versatile actor is taking on the role of the mischievous Chief Weasel in The Wind in the Willows at the London Palladium and we challenged him to take our Sugar Rush Quiz.

What are you currently working on?

The Wind in the Willows. We are just about to start recording the album and then we go into rehearsals in a couple of week’s time.

What is the one thing that has helped you to become successful? 

I was very lucky at school to have a teacher who helped to get me into drama. I was interested in sports and although I was quite popular, I was shy. He helped me by getting me into drama, which improved my confidence. He got me into theatre groups and then drama school, so I owe a lot to him.

What is your favourite Book?

The Wind in the Willows of course! By Kenneth Graham

What are you currently watching on TV? 

We’ve just finished Broadchurch and are now watching Line of Duty. I love all the British Dramas.

 Would you choose the cinema, theatre or a restaurant for a night out? 

Can I go to the restaurant and then go to the theatre?

What’s your favourite sweet? 

Haribo tangtastic

What did you want to be when you were a child? 

A footballer

What was the naughtiest thing you did when you were a child? 

I used to mess around in business studies at school and one time I came across a really long joke, that was boring because of its length but then it became funny because it was so long. I asked to tell a joke to the class and I think it lasted 45 minutes. The teacher found it quite funny too.

What is your proudest achievement to date? 

My children

What’s next? 

I don’t know what the future holds at the moment. We are doing Willows until September the 9th and so towards the end of the run I’ll start to audition again and see what’s about.

The Wind in the Willows begins previews at the London Palladium on 16th June. 

Rosemarie Ford takes our Sugar Rush Quiz

Rosemarie Ford is probably best known for being Sir Bruce Forsyth’s assistant on The Generation Game in the 1990s as well as for presenting the popular television series Come Dancing. Her theatre credits include playing both Grizabella and Bombalurina in Cats (New London Theatre) and Maisie in Divorce Me, Darling! (Chichester Festival Theatre).

On Sunday 4th June, Rosemarie will be hosting the Sunday at the Musicals at St. Paul’s Church (The Actors’ Church) in Covent Garden, a show which features a large cast of singers from the world of musical theatre, plus 54 members of Rock Choir, performing songs from past and present musicals, accompanied by pianist, Matt Pallant.

Rosemarie took some time away from her busy schedule to complete our Sugar Rush Quiz

What are you currently working on?

Sunday At The Musicals, a charity show with donations going to The Royal Variety Charity.

What is the one thing that has helped you to become successful?

A passion for dance and theatre encouraged by Jean Pearce, my dance teacher; who instilled individuality in her pupils.

What is your favourite Book?  

Girl On A Train, by Paula Hawkins.

What are you currently watching on TV? 

Breakfast TV, with a cup of tea; My catch up time before my sons get up!

Would you choose the cinema, theatre or a restaurant for a night out? 

Theatre. My husband is an actor, so we go to see plays together. I still get a thrill from going to the theatre and I recently went to see An American In Paris.

What’s your favourite sweet? 

Cheesecake (Lemon is my favourite flavor).

What did you want to be when you were a child? 

Exactly what I am now! I was a high Jump champion and I could have been an Athlete but I chose the theatrical profession.

What was the naughtiest thing you did when you were a child? 

I cut all of my doll’s hair off and scribbled all over it’s face in ink!

What is your proudest achievement to date? 

My two sons (14 & 17).

What’s next? 

Sunday At Eight, where I will perform as well as host on October 15th,2017.

Sunday at the Musicals will take place at the St. Paul’s Church (The Actors’ Church) in Covent Garden, London, on Sunday 4th June 2017 at 7.30pm. All profits after staging costs will be made to the Royal Variety Charity.