15 October 2016

Interview with Vicki Manser - Sunny Afternoon Week

Sadly, we've reached the end of Sunny Afternoon Week, but fear not - I still have one interview for you, this time with Vicki Manser, who understudies Rasa, Mrs Davies, Marsha, Peggy, Gwen AND Joyce!

Em: What/who inspired you to get into theatre?

Vicki: I danced from the age of 4 or 5 and I've never ever wanted to do anything else! I broke my leg when I was 8 and my leg wasn't properly healed in time for our annual dance show, so instead my teacher let me sing and be the lead character instead and that's when I thought... Maybe it's not just all about dancing! My family are very musical as well so I grew up with my dad, papa and uncle all jamming together at family parties - I love music!

Em: If you could play any character, regardless of age, race, gender, etc, who would it be?

Vicki: Tough one there are so many good characters out there! Let's go with Effie or Dina in Dreamgirls! Mmmmm yaaaasss let me sing that soul!

Em: What’s your favourite role you’ve ever played?

Vicki: Carmen in Fame - I played it at my theatre group I used to go to before I went off to train. I love her character because she has so many layers to her - she's so confident but she gets so broken on her journey to fame, and 'In LA' is one of my all time favourite MT songs! Rasa also holds a special place in my heart as Sunny Afternoon was my first professional job and she made me rediscover my love of guitar as I'd barely had time to pick it up at college!

Em: What’s it like being in a show that is based on real people and events?

Vicki: It's great getting to meet the people! I've been lucky enough to see Ray Davies a lot and he's always up for selfies! Dave Davies was lovely when he came in and Rasa and her family were really nice! I wasn't on the day she came but I hung around to meet her! It's not like we are doing a live documentary so it's nice being able to take the story and characters yet make it your own (within reason obviously)

Em: If you were stuck on a desert island with a book, a musical soundtrack and an actor/actress, what would they be?

Vicki: The girls in my dressing room always take the mick out of me - I hardly ever read books but if I do it's some autobiography of a reality TV star or something like that! Really highly intelligent stuff...! So in this case the celebrity I would choose to read about would be Bear Grylls to brush up on his survival tips! The actress would be my dressing room buddy, fellow cover and all round bestie Kay Milbourne - we would have a right laugh and we'd be good at making things... And we wouldn't need a soundtrack because we regularly write our own soundtracks to life!

Em: What is your favourite quote from a musical?

Vicki: 'It were alright' - Sunny Afternoon. It's now my response to almost everything.

Em: What 3 items in your dressing room could you not live without?

Vicki: Easy peezy - Diet Coke, my coffee machine, and either Maoam sweets, Doritos, or my iPad. (I am an advert for healthy living)

Em: What is your favourite thing about performing in the West End?

Vicki: The audiences reaction at the end of the show! Seeing people appreciate what you do is priceless. And I love the fact it's so close to home so it's means my family are always in when they get the chance! There is no better feeling than seeing my Mum, Dad, sister and boyfriend's proud faces in the audience, and I will never ever tire of seeing my dad dance in the finale to Lola - he hates musicals, but has seen Sunny probably 40+ times and LOVES it! Him and my mum are always first ones up on their feet and I just adore having them there! It's all thanks to them that I am there in the first place!

Em: What’s been your biggest challenge in getting to where you are today?

Vicki: Being a performer you face challenges all the time - I don't think anyone would say it's an easy ride! For me so far I would possibly say my training was the hardest thing ... I became very poorly in my second year through tiredness and it took a very long time to fully recover. And sometimes being in the dressing room when you aren't on is the biggest challenge. Being a creative person it's hard to be sat in a dressing room every day whilst a show is going on metres away! But I tell you what, it makes it all the more rewarding when you do get to perform!

Em: What do you think about Cameron Mackintosh's recent controversial announcements about covers and understudies?

Vicki: I think it's really sad to be honest. As a cover I often get asked for my dates, and I love the support from the audience members that are keen to know! Covers are good enough to be the role and are good enough to cover other parts often requiring different skill sets. We learn the show not just once over but twice, three times often more depending how many tracks you have. You aren't seeing a second rate show when seeing a cover so I don't know why it should be kept quiet! Covers are extremely talented just like the performing cast and deserve the recognition.

Em: What book or film would you like to see made into a musical?

Vicki: BURLESQUE! Only if I'm allowed to be Christina Aguilera's part though haha! I also think Hercules would be EPIC! And I'd love there to be a country musical something like the film Country Strong with Gwyneth Paltrow! I'd be all over that!

Em: What is your LEAST favourite thing about performing in the West End?

Vicki: Slow walkers at the tube station after? Does that count?

Em: What are your plans and ambitions for the future?

Vicki: I have always loved choreographing and would love to one day choreograph on a professional show!

Em: What advice would you give to someone like me who wants to be in theatre when they’re older?

Vicki: Never give up. Have thick skin, believe in yourself and if someone tells you you aren't good enough, keep going until you prove them wrong!

Em: Is there anything else you’d like to say to my readers?

Vicki: If you've made it this far through, thanks for reading my rambles!

So there we go! That's the end of Sunny Afternoon Week! You can follow Vicki on Twitter at @vicki_manser, and of course follow me at @ohmymusicals!

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