Hi Carley, welcome to BWW:UK! Congratulations on the role - you must be settling in now?
Yes, I hope so, it's nice! I'm enjoying it. I know where I'm going rather than people pushing me in the right direction, like I was in the first night. I'd only been to see it once before to see friends - Dean, actually, who plays Shrek [Dean Chisnall] - when Kimberley [Kimberley Walsh] was on, and I didn't know that I'd be auditioning for the role, I just came to enjoy it. Then I came to Kimberley's last show - that was really special.
You've known Dean for ages, haven't you?
Yes, I've known him since I was 16, a very long time, we met at college. Any show that he's been in, I've always tried to catch him in. It's wonderful to be working with him, but he's a right pain in the bum!
I was going to say, does it make it easier working opposite someone you've known for ages?
It does. He's brilliant. I've always wanted to sing with him, his voice is like velvet. He's a cheeky chappie as well, he makes us all happy.
How does the Shrek fan reaction compare to Legally Blonde?
Legally Blonde was a very energised, very in-your-face, all positive. The idea was to leave everyone on a high, as is with this show. But I enjoy watching the Shrek audience more - you've got something for the adults when they least expect it, they think it's going to be aimed at children, so it's nice to see them warm into it, and I adore seeing the kids' faces when there are little surprises - and we get loads of oohs and aahs! It's a proper buzz.
How were your tap-dancing skills before you took on this role?
I used to do tap up until the age of 11 or 12, so when they went to teach me the routine I thought I'd be fine, but my feet had completely forgotten that I used to do tap. I could feel the rhythm, and feel what I was supposed to do, but my feet wouldn't do it. I've got it now, though! Every now and then I get caught in my dress.
Is that the scariest bit of the show for you?
Do you know, I don't have any scary bits now. I get worried in my first song, 'I Know It's Today', because there's a certain note when she's freaking out and she's screaming, and I get annoyed with myself if I come off it too soon and lose my place. I like getting the timing spot on.
What's your favourite bit?
'I Know It's Today' - it's still a challenge to me now. I look forward to the feeling of nailing that every night. I love singing 'I Got You Beat' with Dean - that's when we know we've won the audience over, and you start seeing Fiona differently.
What's it like coming to Shrek from Legally Blonde?
Legally Blonde was my learning curve. It was such a big journey. I went into it as a cover, and I probably thought, "Yay, I've always wanted to do this, I've earned it, it's where I've always wanted to be!" But it was a real kick up the bum to actually deserve to play Elle, I had to really work hard and pull my finger out, knuckle down, and get a few home truths - I wasn't ready at the beginning and I had to pull my socks up. I wouldn't be here if I didn't have that. I wouldn't be good enough. I grew as a performer and as me.
As cover Elle, you were also on stage as Margot - did you find yourself observing whoever was playing Elle?
It was hard not to, and it was hard to lose their rhythms. You think maybe it's like that for a reason, maybe it's supposed to be that way!
You've said you always wanted to be in the West End - are there particular roles you wanted to play?
I'm too old for them now! I wanted to be Eponine, and Mary Magdalene - all the big dramatic parts, singing your head off, roles like that. Now I've changed - back then, Shrek wasn't around, and this is a dream role for me. So I'll see what's out there, what's next - I'd love to create a role. I would never have thought of that. I've been very lucky and I'm also honest - I've ticked this box now, so if no-one wants me after this I can say I've done it, and bore the grandkids with it!
Carley Stenson stars as Princess Fiona in Shrek at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.