She's the lady in the ruby slippers, whose dream took her from TV talent show Over the Rainbow to starring in The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium. Almost a year on, Danielle Hope talks about talent shows, staying healthy and working with dogs...
Would you recommend the TV talent show experience?
To be honest, I’m not sure. It’s a very individual and specific route, and there are so many ways into the industry – none of them are easier than the others. I had the chance to go to drama school for a term at Arts Ed in Chiswick, which is where I had wanted to train, and I think studying for three years absolutely has a lot of value too.
The industry is amazing, though. I’ve always just taken things in my stride – I’ve never thought, “Ooh, can I? Can’t I?”, I’ve always just gone and done my absolute best, and I’ve always been the kind of person who learns really well on the job. For example, now I work with dogs every day, and I’ve never had to do that before, but I turned up at rehearsal and it was like, “Here you are, here’s your dog!” and you have to get on with it, it’s just one of those things.
How do you stay fit and healthy during a long, exhausting run?
The show is very physically demanding. During the show the dog is my responsibility, so there’s a lot of lifting and carrying, and working the muscles in my back and legs, so I have to be careful. Plus of course our revolve is on a tilt, so you have to be careful when moving around. And then there’s the wear on the voice as well. Dorothy facilitates the whole show – she’s kind of a narrator – so my stamina has improved, it’s had to improve! At first I thought that two shows a day would be impossible, and it is gruelling, but the break between the TV show, then the rehearsal period, then opening the show helped me prepare for it.
You’re still very young, though – you’re not 20 till next year. Is it hard to turn down invitations to nights out because you’ve got a matinee the next day?
Yes, once the show finishes I’m in a taxi and on my way home. But I’m old and boring – I like that! If I get a week off I like to spend time with my friends, and if there’s a big birthday or a wedding or something I can go out for a bit.
How do you prepare for going on stage?
I don’t have any superstitions, because I think you can get caught up in them and it can be so unpredictable. But we have company warm-ups – a physical warm-up with the dance captain, space to do your own thing, and then a vocal warm-up with the musical director. It’s also a great time to catch up with the rest of the company.
Has performing in West End lived up to your expectations?
It’s been mad. This entire year has flown by, but it’s absolutely great to be here, and it’s such a lovely show to do, particularly at this time of year.
What advice would you give to a wannabe musical actor?
Just be prepared. Be prepared to work very hard, and be prepared for the fact that you can’t control everything. You never know what’s going to happen, and sometimes the more you try for something, the more it slips out of your grasp. But if this is something you are 100% committed to, then go for it. Believe in yourself and your hard work.
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