Welcome back for the second part of our interview with new ToddlerTunez ambassador Louise Dearman, West End leading lady and world-class vocalist!
ToddlerTunez: Thanks so much for joining us again. Maybe you could tell us a little about the four albums you’ve recorded, including the children’s lullabies album in the making that is sure to excite all ToddlerTunez families!
Louise: Thanks again for having me, and of course! I just love recording – it’s always an incredible process. I made my first album, You and I, just after I’d finished working on the musical Jekyll & Hyde many years ago. It was a simple setup as not as many people in musical theatre were making albums back then. We decided to record in a beautiful studio in the middle of Essex – just me and a piano, so it was almost like doing a live gig and really good fun! My second album, Here Comes the Sun, was made with an amazing producer called Ben Robbins – he’s worked with so many talented artists. This took things to a whole different level because I decided that I didn’t want a single musical theatre song on the record, which I realise is a little odd. I just wanted it to be about the music that I love listening to and love to sing, and there are so many different types, so I wanted to avoid limiting myself whilst maintaining a theatrical feel – Ben did a brilliant job at creating that and making it work, and I think it stands as my favourite album out of the ones I’ve done 🙂 My third album, It’s Time, was very different. It was original orchestrations, so there was no playing around with the songs – they had to be as they were originally written and intended to be sung. With my other albums, I’ve been able to give them a Dearman sprinkling and make them my own, whereas this one was more traditional. My fourth record, For You, For Me, was again very different! It was musical theatre, but not obvious tunes – again with the superb Ben Robbins. That leads me onto my lullabies album, with Ben again! When I first had Willow, I would be holding her as a tiny baby and thinking to myself that I wanted to record a lullabies album and I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long! When I was feeding in the middle of the night and wanted something soothing to listen to, I would put on ocean waves, rainforest sounds or classical music from YouTube, because if I found any lullabies, they would often be quite twee and sometimes irritate me – no offence to anybody, of course! But I felt there must be a way to take these lullabies and create something that could be soothing for everyone – something with an atmosphere that both adults and children would enjoy listening to. Intertwined with these songs there are ambient sounds that put you into a bit of a meditative state and hopefully keep you nice and calm 🙂 I’m very proud of it and there are some gorgeous songs on there. We’re just applying the final touches now and there’s one more track to record, but it will hopefully be out very soon!
TT: We honestly can’t wait and will certainly be giving it a good listen! Is there a particular element of performing (e.g. singing, acting, dancing) that you like more than others? If so, why?
L: I think everyone expects me to say singing, and, of course, I love singing. When I was younger, it was all about the dancing! But for me now, it’s acting. I always say to my students that it’s the most important thing, because you can have the most wonderful voice in the world, but without being able to tell a story, it means nothing. To take a song apart, to read the lyrics, to make sense of it, to understand the characters and the story that needs to be told is the place to start. Very often, within a musical, it’s creating the scenes, telling the story, developing the character and taking the audience with you that is most exciting! Then being able to sing epic songs on top of that is just a privilege. So I would say acting is my true passion, but I couldn’t be without singing or music. I don’t do as much dancing these days apart from when I’m out and about with friends, but I’m sure I could still hold my own!
TT: Most definitely! Speaking of musicals, what was it like being the leading lady and playing both starring roles in a production as iconic as Wicked? Were there any particular challenges compared to other shows you’ve worked on?
L: It was, as you can expect, simply incredible being in Wicked. When I joined as Glinda in 2010, it was an absolute dream come true. I felt like I had slowly worked my way up the ladder – I had grafted and reached a point where I had been cast in one of the biggest musicals of all time, in one of the most iconic female roles. It was beyond exciting, and terrifying, but above all amazing! I had 2 great years as Glinda and left the show as I felt it was time to be brave and move on, as much as I had loved it. I wanted to try new things rather than resting on my laurels, but about 10 months later, the creative team called me and asked how I felt about coming in to sing for Elphaba. It’s only because they knew me so well as a person, actress and singer that they gave me that opportunity, as I never would have auditioned by myself! I would like to have thought I could play the role, but I don’t think I would have had the self-confidence to audition. So I went in and sang the material, they filmed me and sent the tape off to the US, and then I received an even more unbelievable phone call. My agent asked me something like, “Do you suit green?”, and it was a truly surreal moment! To know you’re the first actress in the world who has been cast as both witches makes you so proud – just a dream. There were definitely challenges with both roles. For me, Elphaba was more challenging because she didn’t come as naturally vocally as Glinda, and I also felt much more pressure playing her because of the huge expectations that come with the role. It’s hard sometimes to just be in the moment and enjoy it because you feel the pressure, but I loved every minute. I’ll forever be indebted to that creative team for even considering me, so bravo to them! 🙂
TT: Thanks for that insight! It must have been such a valuable experience. What is a typical day like for you when working on a production or recording an album?
L: It’s often a super early start because I need to get Willow up and ready! So if I’m taking her with me I need to make sure she’s prepped and got everything she needs. Otherwise I’m taking her to nursery or getting a childminder, so it’s always a bit crazy in the mornings! And then off I go on the train or by car to rehearsals, which often amount to long days or late nights. But it’s so worth it because the concert work or occasional show fits in beautifully with my schedule and I really appreciate those moments. Whereas it may have been a bit stressful previously, now I crack on with things a little bit more and tell myself that it’s only going to be one or two busy days before getting a week or so of just being mummy again, so it isn’t all that bad! 🙂
Stay tuned for our third and final part next week!