West End leading lady Emma Hatton takes our Sugar Rush Quiz

From starring in We Will Rock You to Evita, with Wicked along the way, Emma Hatton has cemented her position as one of the most sought after West End leading ladies in recent years.

But the ultra talented performer is also an acclaimed jazz singer and will be showcasing her sultry vocals at the Pizza Express Live in Birmingham and at the newly opened venue in Holborn later this year.

Emma is currently playing Eva Peron in Evita at the Phoenix Theatre and took some time off to take our Sugar Rush Quiz.

What are you currently working on?

My set list for my Pizza Express jazz gigs in October.

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

Support from my friends and family.

What is your favourite Book?

Little Women.

What are you currently watching on TV? 

The Affair.

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

Restaurant, I love food.

What’s your favourite sweet? 

The Strawbs from Candyking, but they’ve changed the ingredients so they’re not so nice anymore.

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

A window cleaner or a jockey.

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

I bit my sister.

What is your proudest achievement to date? 

I would probably say being moved up from standby to fulltime Elphaba.

What’s next? 

I’ve got my gigs at the Pizza Express on October 21st and 22nd.

Emma Hatton will be performing at Pizza Express Live Birmingham on 21 October 8:30pm and Pizza Express Live Holborn on 22 October 8pm. https://www.pizzaexpresslive.com/whats-on/emma-hatton

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Nicky’s Showbiz Diary: Critiquing a show you don’t like is a tough job

It’s always difficult to critique a show you know you don’t like. After I’ve seen a couple of versions of something and have been unimpressed by it, I then try my best to avoid future presentations.

For example, I’ve managed to completely sidestep the new West End production of Annie – starring Miranda Hart – and with the announcement this week that Craig Revel Horwood is to take over the role of Miss Hannigan; I will continue to actively avoid the Piccadilly Theatre until something more interesting comes along. It’s not that I don’t like Craig – he is a really lovely person – but having seen Annie six times within the last two years and previously witnessed his portrayal in the touring production, I know I can manage without another viewing.

There are lots of other shows too, which I would quite happily never see again like South Pacific (in my opinion, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s worse show), 42nd Street (rubbish story and a dull score) and The Sound of Music (or the Sound of Mucus as I call it). It’s not that it’s a bad musical, but I’ve just seen it far too many times and have started to hope that a curtain call is on Maria’s list of ‘favourite things’.

There are also highly acclaimed shows that I just don’t get, like Ragtime, Godspell and Into the Woods, and loads of plays, which – with my limited intellect – I struggle to understand. Some are just far too worthy for this working class girl and I therefore find them extremely difficult to write about.

There are occasionally things that surprise me however, like last year’s Regent Park Open Air Theatre production of Jesus Christ Superstar. After being part of a detestable amateur production, I despised the classic rock opera, but Tim Sheader’s fab adaptation made me see it through fresh eyes.

I also had my mind changed by Evita last week. I have previously called the musical ‘excreta’ – such was my loathing of it – but after seeing Emma Hatton in the leading role at the Phoenix Theatre I found myself willing to give the story another go.

I am yet to watch any Gilbert and Sullivan operetta however without feeling the need to cry in desperation and don’t get me started on village pantomimes (I endure an average of 15 each season!).

Gosh, it sounds like I don’t like anything doesn’t it? There are lot and lots of shows I love – which is why I’m so lucky to do what I do – and I also get to discover new things, which I wouldn’t ordinarily choose.

Anyway, I had another fab evening at Alice’s Adventures Underground last week (a real recommendation); I finally watched Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour (very good) and enjoyed Evita (a bit!). I also interviewed former Wicked star Idriss Kargbo, who is working on one of my real favourites, Five Guys Named Moe – which will open at the new popup theatre at Marble Arch next month – and I went to the launch of the new season at the New Wimbledon Theatre and had a chat with Kara Lily Hayworth, who will play Cilla Black in the new stage show about the singer’s life.

This week I’m off to interview Carley Stenson – who is currently playing Fantine in Les Misérables (love it!) – at the Queen’s Theatre and then I’m heading down to Underbelly Festival to see Velma Celli’s Iconic: A Brief History of Drag, with special guests Kerry Ellis and Jessie Wallace. I’m then talking to RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Jinkx Monsoon, before chatting to Emma Hatton about her illustrious career and her sensational performance in Evita.

You can follow me on Twitter for regular updates @NickySweetland

Review: ‘As good as it gets’ ★★★★ Evita, Phoenix Theatre

Society has long been fascinated with the wives of powerful men. From Lady Diana to Michelle Obama and now the Duchess of Cambridge, the beguilement continues. But it all started with a very special First Lady back in the late 1940s. Eva Peron was an iconic figure that rose from poverty to become half of a political powerhouse in Argentina before suffering an untimely demise at the age of just 33.

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The icon’s life was turned into a rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice in 1978 (the last musical the pair worked on together) and is seen by many as their greatest work.

Personally, I have always found the show a bit bland, with the discordant nature of the score and the reliance on the big song “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” (with continuous repeats of the hook) making the rest of the production anticlimactic.

That said; I always go to see a new production with an open mind and the revival – which first toured the UK before settling into the newly vacated Phoenix Theatre in the West End – has given me a little extra love for the classic musical.

That is mostly down to the leading lady Emma Hatton’s quite wonderful performance. Hatton is no stranger to big singing shows – having recently finished playing Elphaba in Wicked – and although some of the songs in act one fail to showcase her powerful belt, when act two begins, you know you’re in for a display of vocal virtuosity.

She slightly overshadows her costar, Gian Marco Schiaretti, with her stagecraft – although not in stature as he cuts a majestic figure. Schiaretti struggles to come to terms with the depth of Che’s character and his historical significance. Nevertheless it is an extremely charismatic portrayal and he does a great job of lifting songs like “Rainbow Tour” and “Goodnight and Thank You” out from under the continuous onslaught of the monster tune.

The other real surprising highlight – as you don’t think of Evita as a dance show – is Bill Deamer’s choreography, which is both intricate and interesting and adds fervor to the limited number of ensemble numbers.

Evita is a show that is a must see for musical fans – purely for its significance to modern theatre – and this production is as good as it gets.

Evita is running at the Phoenix Theatre until 14 October 

Photos by Pamela Raith Photography