Hi Gemma, welcome back! You've been in several different musicals, from Oklahoma! to Imagine This; which has been your favourite and why?
Another difficult one! I have learnt something and enjoyed all the shows I've been in for different reasons; some I've made really special friends in, others I've loved seeing different places around the country. It is a lovely feeling to be in a show like Legally Blonde that you know works, has been well received, everyone gets on and is brilliantly written and directed, but it has been on the shows like Imagine This or Gone With The Wind where we maybe didn't have such universal praise and longevity that the closest bonds have been formed and I've got some of the best memories.
You've also been involved with many cabarets, including your own; do you have a different approach to your performance for cabarets than you do for West End shows?
Cabarets are great to do because you get to sing your favourite songs and (try to be!) yourself. There are so many brilliant songs out there and I've been very lucky to work with some amazing musicians and do our own arrangements and versions of things. I'm still learning with what makes a good cabaret, I think it's important to be relaxed and so I try not to script it, which means I either end up sounding natural or like an idiot who can't string a sentence together! It's a fine line. I love jazz and blues so if I end up singing 'Misty' in a dark bar in Soho in thirty years, I'll be a happy lady.
If you could choose an ultimate role to play in the future, what would it be?
I've always wanted to do a musical at the National and to play Polly in Crazy For You, as it was the first show I did in the Am Dram days and I adore Gershwin's music. I've missed the boat this time, haven't I, with the fantastic production at the Novello, so I'll have to hope for another revival in a few years! Other than that - I'll be happy to keep working and have something to get my teeth into. It never gets easier when it comes round to audition time again and keep financially on top of things with living in London, so I try to enjoy everything while I have it and try not to think too much about what the future holds.
What's the best show you've ever seen?
Often the shows you see when you were younger have the biggest impact, so Miss Saigon and Les Mis are definitely up there - how conventional of me. Sunday in the Park with George with Daniel Evans and Jenna Russell will always be special to me as it was a real lesson in acting through song. I haven't seen it yet, but I couldn't be more excited about Matilda as it has the perfect combination of Roald Dahl and Tim Minchin (little hint of a Christmas present for the boyfriend there!).
Take note, Gemma’s boyfriend! Can you tell us the funniest blooper you've had to endure on stage?!
Gosh, there have been so many! One of the most surreal moments was during previews in Gone With The Wind when the show was still running too long before it was cut to finish at normal time. It had gone past 10.30pm and the nine year-old girl who was playing Bonnie - Scarlett O'Hara's daughter - had yet to make her first entrance, but had had to go home due to theatre rules of children not being allowed on stage past 10.30pm. Bonnie had lines and a scene with Rhett Butler still to do, so we ended up using a massive doll and, for some reason, one of the older ladies in the company saying Bonnie's lines off stage down a mike, resulting in the child sounding like something from The Exorcist. How Darius Danesh kept a straight face I don't know.
And finally...Bruiser or Rufus?!
Has to be Bruiser (although Rufus is very cute too). There are four or five doggies playing the role on different days and they all have their own personalities. We have a Westie at home called Shelby, so I can't help but act out the scenes with her in the living room. She plays along well enough but I'm not sure she'd make the final cut.
Thanks, Gemma! And all the best for your time in Legally Blonde!