The Christmas theatre season is nearly upon us (oh yes it is!). As the European premiere of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella the Musical prepares to open at Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre, Grace Mouat, who plays Ella, talks to Northern Soul.
Northern Soul: Cinderella seems to be one of those musicals that people have been waiting to see live on stage in the UK for a long time. Has it always been a show that you wanted to perform in?
Grace Mouat: The Rodgers & Hammerstein musical has always been a dream of mine, for sure. I have always loved legit musical theatre and remember singing in my own little corner in a singing lesson during my training at drama school. I am so grateful for this opportunity to be a part of Cinderella. I believe it is truly one of their most magical scores.
NS: You’ve appeared in a number of hit modern musicals including SIX, & Juliet, and Legally Blonde. Did performing in a classic musical by Rodgers & Hammerstein appeal because it is so different from other shows that people may have seen you in?
GM: It appealed more than I can possibly put into words. My journey into the musical theatre industry did not go where I thought it would with pop musicals, but I really wouldn’t have changed it for the world as I had the best time on them all. However, I will say that my heart was so ready to do a classic musical as it is what I have always seen myself doing before and during training. It’s such an awesome contrast to anything that I have ever done so I’m so excited to get going.
NS: Many people love the Brandy/Whitney Houston version of the Cinderella musical. Was that something you watched growing up?
GM: For sure. This film changed mine and a lot of young people’s lives. I remember being so inspired and believing that I too could portray a character in a classic fairy tale. I will never forget when Brandy said the iconic line when asked if she wanted to be treated like a princess and she said not like a princess but “treated like a person, with kindness and respect”. So important for all ages to hear the messages from that film.
Impossible is obviously the movie musical song of the century. Whitney and Brandy are just the perfect pair. I watched so many videos of them and their connection on and off set was just beautiful.
NS: How are rehearsals going so far?
GM: Rehearsals are dreamy. We already feel like such a team who all just want the best for this show which is so incredible to be a part of. It is so refreshing having the creative licence with Joe [Houston] and Will [Whelton] to make offers and be met with such enthusiasm. They’re so open and understanding and such a dream team in a rehearsal room together. I have no idea how we have managed to get through so much material in such a short space of time but we have through our focus, joy and love for the show and what we do. As my fairy godmother would say ‘anything is possible’.
NS: What can audiences expect from the show?
GM: Magic, cracking humour, beautiful music, killer choreography, romance, heartbreak and goosebumps. You are bound to leave the theatre with a smile on your face and a hopeful heart, and not being able to get Impossible out of your head. Trust me, it’s catchy.
NS: Were you familiar with Hope Mill Theatre before you auditioned for Cinderella?
GM: Yes. I saw Luke Sheppard’s incredible productions of Spring Awakening and Rent. I knew the minute I stepped into the theatre that it was a bucket list venue for me. The vibe, the space, the team, it’s just so cool. It’s a dream to be able to perform here in this magical show.
NS: Are you looking forward to spending some of the festive season in Manchester?
GM: Manchester knows how to do Christmas right. So obviously the roast dinners are a must, Christmas markets, panto, mulled wine. I’m so ready for a magical Manchester Christmas.
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella the Musical is showing at Hope Mill Theatre, Pollard Street, Manchester from November 1 to December 11, 2022. Click here for information.
Main image by Michael Wharley