PHOTO COPYRIGHT: JOHAN PERSSON
Everybody’s Talking About… Lucie
Actress Lucie Shorthouse stars in the musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, currently at the West End’s Apollo Theatre, and has garnered rave reviews. Andrew Peters talked to Lucie whose breakout turn as Pritti has now won her an award.
PHOTO COPYRIGHT: JACK ALEXANDER
Q Lucie, did you see a lot of theatre growing up?
A No, so I’m not sure where the bug came from. I danced (quite badly) and had the urge to perform, but theatre wasn’t encouraged at school or as accessible as it may be in London. I’m a fierce advocate for encouraging accessibility in theatre, particularly for young people. I’ve been consulting with the team on the education outreach programme as my Cambridge degree was in education with English and drama, so it’s something I’m really passionate about. It’s very important for me to expose young people to all the wonder theatre has to offer.
Q What encouragement did you receive and from whom?
A My parents for sure, but they also struck a balance. I had to honour my education first and foremost and convince them it wasn’t a phase! Even when I went to university before drama school, I picked a drama-orientated degree, it’s something that’s always fired my belly. My family are incredibly supportive, dad, stepmum, nan and aunty would watch me sing the same songs over and over again when I used to gig to support myself through drama school. They would be there every week without fail. I hope I can make them proud.
Q How did you get involved in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie?
A I got involved in ETAJ during its second workshop. It was probably my third audition out of drama school and ended up being my first professional job, so it’s been a special journey. You never forget the people who first take a chance on you. When I knew it was going to be set in Sheffield, I was convinced they’d get someone ‘proper’ to do it, someone trained in musical theatre, and the auditions were tough, so it was rewarding to get the part. Pritti was already a part of me from the workshop.
Q Was your character Pritti Pasha based on anyone real?
A Although the show is based on truth, my character is fictional, but I think she’s a fitting tribute to anyone the real Jamie Campbell would have held dear who supported him no matter what.
Q Does it feel like a political show in the current climate?
A Theatre is inherently political because the personal is the political. We all come to the theatre with our own beliefs and values and maybe they’re challenged or changed by the end of the night. I will say it feels incredible to be able to utter progressive statements and beliefs about owning who you are and encouraging a union across differences. It’s a very divisive time, so bringing a whole audience together to cheer on a boy who wants to explore drag and gender is quite life affirming! I remember our opening in Sheffield coincided with Trump’s inauguration and it did invigorate me further to tell this story. It’s so needed in this time. It’s not an education or preachy piece by any means, but the issues it addresses can prove a lesson for us all.
PHOTO COPYRIGHT: JACK ALEXANDER
Profile: Lucie Shorthouse
Currently making her mark on London’s West End, actress Lucie Shorthouse is receiving rave reviews from critics and the public for her role as Pritti in the hit musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. The part has earned Lucie a well deserved What’sOnStage award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical.
Lucie’s television work includes popular BBC hit crime thriller Line of Duty, BBC’s Doctors and The Sound of Music for ITV.
Q How much does it mean to you to have such a diverse cast?
A It means so much because we’re trying to be truthful and a multicultural classroom and community that is truth! Visibility and diversity is so pivotal for children; they need to learn to celebrate who they are and they can’t do that if they can’t relate or see their beauty celebrated in the mainstream. Growing up I didn’t see many people who looked like me on television. Thankfully it’s changed massively, but knowing I’m perhaps helping someone else feel represented is a real privilege.
Q What was making your West End debut like?
A It was incredible! An absolute dream come true. I can’t believe I’m here. I try not to think about it too much because it can be
intimidating, but I'm so lucky as I know how many talented performers are out there.
Q Were you star-struck meeting anyone on opening night?
A I didn’t meet many people on press night: it was all a blur! I did meet Sir Ian McKellen when I was collecting for a charity in the stalls after a show and I completely lost my cool and blurted out that I loved him. But hey! He needs to know I love him!
Q Have you been surprised by the success of the musical?
A Yes and no. Because I’ve been with the show for around two and a half years now, it’s surreal to see it grow so quickly and be embraced so lovingly. However, I had enormous faith in the show, the story, the songs and spirit. I knew straight away it was something different and very special, so I’m just thrilled other people recognise that too.
Q Does Broadway beckon?
A I’m not sure. I would love to see the show have further life, it deserves to. Whether I’m in it or not, I want to see the show grow. Broadway is, of course, a dream, so I wouldn’t say no if the offer ever came my way!
Q Do you have any concerns about opportunities for actors of colour?
A I feel there’s a real paradigm shift in terms of diversity in the industry and it makes me hopeful. People are being held accountable for ill considered casting choices. I think what Ed Skrein did last year was admirable and important for the industry. (He turned down a role meant for an Asian actor and called for more inclusion). Our business is storytelling and replicating truth. Our truth is diverse and full of differences so we have to ensure we represent that.
Q Having been nominated, did you really expect to win the What’sOnStage Best Supporting Actress in a Musical award?
A Completely unexpected. I still had chewing gum in my mouth when I won and had to put it in my agent’s hand! I was just sitting enjoying myself and almost didn’t hear my name because I didn’t think I had a chance. I’m very new, not many people know me, and the show is very new too and the other nominees were insane! I’m so pleased the public not just recognised my performance, but the character of Pritti. It’s a huge victory for visibility, diversity and representation. People want to see characters like her!
Q What sort of projects would you like to do in future?
A I just want to keep learning and telling thought-provoking stories. I would love to do more film and television for sure, it’s very demanding in a completely different way. You have to sustain your energy take after take and suspend your imagination, perhaps even more because you’re working out of sequence. As long as I’m acting I’m happy though!
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is playing at the Apollo Theatre in the West End. To book tickets visit everybodystalkingaboutjamie.co.ukTwitter: @LucieShorthouseInstagram: @luciershorthouse
John McCrea (Jamie New) and Lucie Shorthouse (Pritti Pasha) in Everybody's Talking About Jamie at the Apollo Theatre. PHOTO COPYRIGHT: JOHAN PERSSON
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
Jamie New is sixteen and lives on a council estate in Sheffield, doesn’t quite fit in, is terrified about the future, but Jamie is going to be a sensation. Supported by his brilliant, loving mum and surrounded by his friends, Jamie overcomes prejudice, beats the bullies and steps out of the darkness into the spotlight.
Hailed as: “Billy Elliot for today’s generation” – What’sOnStage, this fabulous, funny, feel-good, musical sensation has been a huge success.