After a fantastic few weeks in Cardiff,UK tour is continuing to wow audiences in Bradford – so we took the chance to speak to Connie about what she would say are her ‘Favourite Things’ about being on tour…
Has the production has changed for the tour?
Yes. ‘My Favourite Things’ is no longer sung in the bedroom. I think that after the TV programme the idea then was to stay more loyal to the film, but we are now three years on from that and we are now performing the original stage version as it was written. I think it works really well. At the beginning it took some time to adjust but now I appreciate that it really works. At the run today I really loved it.
How does it feel to be returning to the role of Maria? Have you missed her?
I missed her immensely. I hadn’t realised just how much. It is different for me now. I have mountains of my own to climb vocally. It’s very difficult now having had a few operations (Connie has undergone surgery on her vocal chords) but I am finding it so fresh and new I feel like it is a different show. We had our Producer’s run today and everyone is saying it is the best show they have ever seen. Although in my head I don’t sound as I used to, I am still the same girl and – as they say in the show – when God shuts a door he opens a window. I think he has certainly taught me a lot in acting stakes. My acting has improved a lot from the beginning three years ago. It is almost like “What was I doing three years ago?”
Do you approach the part differently now that you know her better?
Yes. I know her and I have had time to think about her. And I am working with different actors. That is always key. Whatever you give on stage energy wise you always get it back, and I think the chemistry at the moment is brilliant. The whole cast. Everyone on stage has such good positive energy. That sounds a bit arty, but that’s what it is all about. If I go into ‘Do Re Mi’ with no energy then the whole scene is going to be flat.
Talking of energy, how do you cope with touring?
I haven’t toured before. I am going to be very sensible and probably a bit boring! But my voice is everything these days and I am going to have to look after it. I will live like a nun and eat all the right things. My mum will send me packages, tied up with string(!), of all my vitamins. I go for regular massages, both vocal massages and general ones, and will just generally look after myself.
And also, with this tour you do have reasonably long stays in each town…
Yes, that will be great. To be honest I have toured before, but not in my professional career, but I did tour when I was 16 to Japan. Only for a month but we toured around quite a lot to a few theatres in Japan. Visiting Tokyo was probably more daunting than visiting Bradford or Cardiff!
What’s your favourite part of the show?
It changes every day. The cake is brilliant. I love the cake!
Talking of cake – in the scene with the Baroness is the cake always the same flavour?
Well, we have tried different kinds. When the show was at the Palladium I couldn’t have chocolate of any kind because it can clog the voice and would have made it impossible to go straight into ‘The Lonely Goatherd’. But now I don’t sing anything after that scene so I can have whatever cake I want! So in rehearsals we used Jaffa Cakes which is one of my favourites. They are mini Jaffa Cakes so I eat three at a time. I love rehearsals!
Would you say you preferred the comedy moments?
Without a doubt, comedy is definitely my forte. I think I enjoy the comedy more than the singing. But I am enjoying ‘The Lonely Goatherd’ a lot at the moment.
Is ‘The Lonely Goatherd’ your favourite song?
I think, emotionally, right now with what I have been through in the past 11 months the lyrics of ‘The Hills are Alive (With The Sound of Music)’ are very, very personal to me. I know I am performing in a show but sometimes I am singing it for myself… “My heart will be blessed with the Sound of Music and I will sing once more…” Well that has been what has been keeping me going. I was told I would never sing again so to be on stage singing those words… I have grown up a lot over the past year and I now understand those lyrics so much more.
Seeing you with the children in rehearsal makes it obvious you have a very close relationship with them, do you enjoy sharing the stage with the children?
Yes! I can’t imagine what it must be like to be 6 and be on that huge stage in front of almost 2,000 people. I can’t remember what I was even doing at 6 years old. I am 26 and I am petrified! I think that is sad that the youngest members of the cast won’t even remember me when they grow up. You get to know the kids really well and it is almost like they are part of your family. And these kids are just BRILLIANT! I have always said that the kids are the best part of the show and they truly are.
Which is your favourite costume?
The wedding dress is the nicest one but it is not my favourite! My favourite is probably the postulant dress which is hideous! Because it is so drab and awful but it has pockets which I really like!
Do you have many quick changes?
Lots. One of them has now been cut for the tour because ‘The Lonely Goatherd’ has moved so I don’t have that dress anymore. But the change into the concert dress is around 10 seconds! I love panic!
What are you looking forward to most on tour?
Being on stage I think. And being in Cardiff – my homeland – for me was massive! Obviously I was very nervous. I haven’t been on stage in a year so for me it is almost like a new experience. I am nervous about how I will cope but I am overwhelmed to be back on stage and I just have to try and hold the emotion together because I might actually cry from joy.
Do you think playing to an audience on tour will differ from playing in the West End?
Talking to others who have toured before, apparently so, but I still think we will have that element of a TV audience. I hope so, I hope people will remember the show. And one of the reasons I am so looking forward to the tour is that we can take the show to audiences we haven’t reached yet, and who are still waiting for it! I am so excited and looking forward to giving that to them. But I think they will take the show as a whole now, rather than “That’s the girl off the telly”. The whole show shines and I am really looking forward to seeing their reaction. As long as it is not boo’s and tomatoes being thrown I am happy!
Apart from Cardiff are there any venues you are particularly looking forward to?
I am looking forward to Edinburgh. I did a presenting job there and loved it – thought it had a great atmosphere. Nice people. Manchester will be fun at Christmas, I have a good friend there. But I am looking forward to all of them really!
How will you cope with living out of a suitcase – are you an organised packer?
I am used to that now. I have got three suitcases. I am not a very organised packer though, I never remember to leave my pajamas on top and always have to hunt through the whole bag to get to my toothpaste and stuff, which is stupid. You would think with all the travelling I have done recently I would be an expert!
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