As she leads the cast of In The Heights at London’s King’s Cross Theatre, we talk returning to the West End, Eurovision and the chances of seeing a Sugababes reunion with former member, Jade Ewen.
In The Heights — did you get chance to see it in town? I sadly didn’t! I was on tour when the show came into town and one of the cast members said I would be perfect for Vanessa and told me to go in for the role. So I heard all these amazing things. I watched clips on YouTube and read all the reviews and it just looked amazing. I thought I’d missed it with it not coming back around and then I got a call…
It was all really last minute but I’m SO HAPPY I WENT IN!
And then, I came in and met the cast. I came to realise this was such a credit cast and a credible show!Is being part of the show as good as you first thought? It’s actually better! Truthfully. I knew the music was amazing as I loved all the songs, but I didn’t really know what the songs were about. It was only during the audition process when someone told me about winning a lottery ticket and beyond that I began to understand.
It’s also quite a big sing… It’s nice. Having done pop stuff before, I didn’t get to sing to my full voice. People always comment on my voice when they hear me live which is lovely. People say, ‘Oh, you can actually sing?’. I always want to reply asking what they thought I sounded like. [Laughs]
How did your career in music start? I started off dancing first and trained in ballet, tap and so on. I was 16 and got offered a scholarship to go to Laine Theatre Arts, but I was also filming a TV series in Australia at the same time. So it was a choice between one or the other.
I chose Australia and for a long time, I was worried I’d given up on my dream. I made the decision from that to follow my dream of TV and music, but I still loved singing. There’s always a part of me having missed that wanted to go back to try my hand at training. And now, I’m really enjoy it!
In The Heights also marks your return to the West End, too? YES! It does. [Laughs] I did stuff as a child, with the Lion King years and years ago. I also did the Open Air Theatre before with Porgy and Bess. So this is my return.
You also represented the UK at Eurovision after being selected on TV by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Do you think to achieve a singing dream in 2015 you have to go on reality TV? Sometimes, I still even now feel like I’m learning. I have done acting but never really enjoyed it until recently. As you get older, chances come along and you have to take them. I’ve had hints of training and respect that it’s a craft and people do spend a lot of money and hours to develop it. If you continue to learn as you age, don’t be arrogant then why not go and attack it, regardless of your training?!
Do you think your love of theatre helped you be so successful in winning the UK Eurovision vote? Yeah, I think so. To start, pop stuff would be slightly alien to me as anything I’d do would be created in a theatrical way. I’ve had a taste of pop and I LOVE IT! Buuuuut, I adore being in front of an audience.
With your experience, would you encourage anyone wanting to apply for Eurovision to do it? I think it’s really tough. If I’m totally honest, I do feel like I was lucky. The stigma is very negative. People are usually really talented. People are just looking for their break. My thing all happened by chance and jumped to the next thing and beyond that. But I don’t know if I’d advise a friend to apply for Eurovision as it really could go wrong!
Would you advise a friend to do reality TV then? This is hard. I feel that the artist side of me is saying no, but the reality is that you’re a product and people need to see you. Things are moving all the time so I think the best thing could actually be to get the platform to get your face recognisable and then when you’re successful, then demand the star quality you want.
Does Jade Ewen have many gay fans? I LOVE MY GAY FANS! [Howls with laughter] I went to Soho to meet a friend and I heard these guys SCREAMING and running at me down the street. Before I knew it, there was 10 screaming gays demanding photos and talking to me. Gay fans are so loyal to me and I love them so much. They know every fact, every gig and know everything I’ve worn.
Let us in on a secret, Jade — what’s the chances of us seeing a Sugababes reunion? Truth now… It’s not a closed book, there just hasn’t been any discussion or conversation about it.
Actually, we never technically split. Recording fizzled out, we changed labels and things came to a natural end. And because of that and us being good friends still, it’s always open.
If they said tomorrow we’re going to do a tour, none of us would be like, ‘no, we aren’t going to do it’. It would just have to be the right opportunity!
And finally, how would you describe anyone that’s thinking about coming to see In The Heights? Our producer Paul calls the show a mix between Nandos and Beyonce, if they did something together. And the result is In The Heights! [Laughs]