How to prepare for a musical theatre performance

How to prepare for a musical theatre performance

Curtain call

Text: Adibah Isa

In town last week for Stars of the West End, we speak to Brit actress Shona Lindsay — who’s played Christine in The Phantom of the Opera, Sandy in Grease and Kathy Selden in Singin’ in the Rain — on her pre-performance rituals

What were your ambitions when your first embarked on your career and how have they evolved over time?
I remember on my first professional job, at the age of 12, playing Annie in Annie in the West End, meeting a wonderful actor, Charles West, who was playing Daddy Warbucks. He said to me that the best way to have a happy and successful career was to learn your stuff, turn up and do it to your highest ability, be kind to everyone you work with and respectful of everyone you work for and you won't go far wrong. I have really tried to stick to those simple rules and it seems to have paid off! It's been over 30 years since Annie and I am still performing and loving every moment of it!

Do you have a pre-performance ritual?
Oh wow! I am very superstitious and have several rituals pre-show, both sensible and silly! I am a stickler for a good vocal and physical warm-up and I like to practise a little yoga a couple of hours prior to a show — I find it both relaxes me and focuses my mind.

Those are the sensible rituals — now for the silly ones... I have a lucky charm, pigs! Before every entry on stage I say a little mantra to the pigs —"piggy, piggy, bring good luck" - and I also have an imaginary suit that I "zip" myself into and say three words over again about how I want my performance to be as I "zip" into it! It serves as a protective layer to stop me getting nervous! Mad, I know, but it works for me!

What's your backstage rider, if any?
No — just water and a mirror!

What sort of roles are you looking for now? Is there a dream role for you?
I mainly do concert work now and present on television but if I were offered Eva Peron in Evita or Donna in Mamma Mia, I would leap at the chance!

Does saying "break a leg" ever really help?
You're asking the woman who talks to the pigs! Of course it does!

Shona Lindsay performed at Stars of the West End on 22 and 23 June at One Farrer Hotel & Spa.