Today’s interview is with the thoroughly lovely West Ender Steph Parry who agreed to tell us more about herself and her work. An experienced performer, Steph can currently be found at the Novello theatre dancing and singing in the world of ABBA. As well as Mamma Mia, she has a wealth of shows under her belt. I hope this interview will be an interesting insight into her world.
1. When (at what age) did you know that you wanted to perform for a living?
I’ve always performed, it was just something I did. My mum has tapes of me singing from the age of 2! I don’t think I took it seriously as a career choice until I was 19 though. I always had instilled in me the importance of an education and I stayed at school to do my A Levels. It wasn’t until I’d left school and got myself a job as a full time doctors receptionist that I realised what I really wanted to do was perform. I had an epiphany one day when I was filing some notes and went home that afternoon and applied for drama school. The rest, I guess, is history.
2. As a Welsh person, how do you feel about the ‘ability to sing’ stereotype that is attached to all Welsh folk?! (It does seem to be true!)
Well, I’m the daughter of 2 singers, my Mum and Dad are a vocal harmony duo, so it’s no surprise that I can sing. Believe me, not every welsh person can sing….I’m sure my very best friend from school would be the first to say this as she’s tone deaf, bless her! I think, in Wales we’re encouraged to sing….it just seems to be something we do!
3. What would you be doing if you weren’t performing?
Hmm?! Tricky one, if my career suddenly ended tomorrow I’d probably go into Personal Training as you may have noticed that I have a passion for fitness. But I’m not sure I could ever not perform….even if I went into fitness, you’d probably find me fronting an exercise DVD or “performing” somewhere!
4. What advice would you offer to anyone wanting to get where you are?
DON’T GIVE UP!! Good things come to those who wait….and those that work bloomin’ hard. It’s taken me years to get where I am today and there’s been times where I’ve thought, “is this heartache really worth it?” I’ve doubted myself and my ability but thankfully something told me to keep pushing on and eventually I got there. I always got told, if there’s something else that you can do and want to do….do that! Because this business is hard! You have to develop a tough skin and be willing to fight for what you want.
5. Do you remember your first West End performance? What was that like?
Ha ha! Nope! It’s like a blur! I just remember being slightly scared. That’s always the way with me, especially when I first go on for my covers, I get through it and it all happens but I don’t remember a thing!
6. You have recently joined Mamma Mia after a stint in Billy Elliot. Two very different shows, do you have a preference and why?
Ha ha! I can’t answer that!! As you say, they’re both so different and I love them both for very different reasons. Billy is a show with such amazing heart and the talent of the kids just blows your mind. Mamma Mia is such amazing fun, you can’t help but get carried away with the singing and dancing at the end. I feel like I’m at a pop concert EVERY NIGHT!!
7. You understudy some FANTASTIC roles. Which is your favourite to play?
I don’t think I could’ve answered this until the other night when I went on for Donna. As much as Tanya and Rosie are brilliant parts….Donna is “me”. Yes, she’s a good few years older than me but I relate to her so much. And belting the end of Winner (The Winner Takes It All) is a pretty special moment!
8. Which scene has been your favourite to perform (including from all of your previous shows – Sound of Music, Oklahoma, MM etc)
I did a Ray Cooney farce a few years ago called “Not Now Darling” with a fantastic comedian called Damian Williams….His character was having an affair and I played his wife who came home unexpectedly. I think the scenes with him were the most fun I’ve ever had on stage….mainly because I’d spend the whole time trying not to laugh.
9. If you could perform in any other show which would you choose? Why?
Oh god! That’s a hard one, though I think it would have to be either Les Mis or Wicked. Those are two roles I would LOVE to play…..Elphaba and Fantine.
10. Do you ever get nervous and if so, how do you combat the nerves?
I get more nervous for auditions than I do for shows. I’m surprised people have actually given me a job as I’m so rubbish at auditions. I’m someone who thrives on pressure when it comes to performing and I’m ridiculously calm backstage….to the point where people worry that I’m ok because I don’t flap! I get a few little butterflies in my stomach but that’s it….my main aim when I walk out onstage is to enjoy myself because if you don’t absolutely love what you’re doing, what’s the point in doing it? I just wish I could be so cool in auditions!
11. Describe yourself in three words
Ambitious, friendly and tall.
12. What ONE thing couldn’t you live without?
Tea!!! Love a good brew. Milk no sugar if anyone’s buying?!
13. What has been the highlight of your career to date?
I think a really special moment was the night I played Mrs Wilkinson on Ryan Collinson’s last Billy show. The atmosphere was electric and just before the show he said to me “Lets just go out there and enjoy it” and that’s exactly what we did.
14. You have worked on cruise ships – what was that like? What were you expected to do? Please tell us more 🙂
I loved ship life, mainly because it was one big party! I got to travel the world, sing and get paid for it! I would advise anyone to do a ship, it was such a great learning curve for me. We’d have to learn a total of 9 45 minute shows which would be rotated throughout a 14 day cruise. I also had my own cabaret which was amazing.
15. Your career has been quite varied, with several musicals, pantomimes and cabarets (including The Sound of Music in Cyprus). Is musical theatre where your heart lies? Do you fancy branching into TV etc?
I’d love to do TV and film. I’ve done a fair few commercials in my time but not quite broken through into the TV world. I love Musical Theatre though and there’s a wide range of parts that I would love to play so I’m not done with it yet. I guess I’d like to keep my career varied, I’m an actor at heart, whether that’s in a play or a musical or TV….as long as I’m acting, I’m happy.
16. How and where would you choose to spend your ideal day?
By the beach, I miss the beach so much having grown up by the sea. It would probably involve a big bunch of friends and family, a BBQ, lots of food and laughter.
17. When you are not on stage, how do you like to spend your spare time?
In the gym! I’m a bit of a gym bunny. It’s something I’ve gotten into in the last few months and I’m always trying to cook up healthy nutritious recipes. I spend a lot of time socialising, I love my friends and love to catch up with them whenever I can.
18. Are there any interesting but little known facts that you can tell us about yourself?
Not that I can think of?! I was once stood up on a date because the guy was in a coma! Ha ha! That do?
I really hope that I can get along for a performance where Steph is playing Donna, I know she’d be brilliant (Dianne is super too of course!) but why not follow her on Twitter @thatStephParry where she will inform us all of any of her ‘stand in’ dates. Otherwise she can be seen living it up with the rest of the cast so do pop along and see her in action.
Apologies for any strange formatting issues – in translation from writing this up and publishing it, my formatting seems to be getting lost. Once again, a huge thank you to Steph for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer these.