TNT goes backstage for a chat with Antipodeans working in the West End. WORDS: Erin Miller
Tamsin Carroll from Sydney, Australia
They say never work with children or animals, but Tamsin Carroll has got both as her co-stars in the newly opened musical Oliver!
“They’re always gagging to be on and I love working with them,” Carroll says of the children in the cast.
It’s not the first time Carroll, 30, has played the part of Nancy.
She initially tackled the role in an Australian production of the popular show in Sydney and Melbourne.
When the producers of Oliver! called last year to ask if she was interested in reprising the role as Jodie Prenger’s understudy in the London show, Carroll jumped at the chance.
“It was very out of the blue,” the actress recalls. “I was in a constant state of déjà vu the first time I was taken around the set.”
A performer from a young age, and with a family involved in theatre (dad Peter is an actor, mum Trish a theatre historian), she hopes to do more shows in London once her Oliver! contract runs out later this year.
“I love being around a culture of theatre and it’s very inspiring to be in a place where people come in droves to see things,” Carroll says.
Lisa Norman from Melbourne, Australia, and Viv Carter from Gold Coast, Australia
Australian dancers Lisa Norman and Viv Carter both managed to get their break in the West End by attending open casting calls.
“You could just turn up and audition,” says Norman, 30, who joined Chicago in 2005.
Both women are part of the show’s ensemble cast and play murderesses in jail.
“We dance, act and sing,” Norman says. “There’s a fair amount of dancing in this show so you’ve got to come from good training.”
With parents who were professional dancers, Norman has been dancing from a young age.
Before moving to London she spent five years in the famous Lido cabaret show in Paris.
Carter has been with Chicago for six months, and says it’s a matter of pacing yourself when you sign a 12-month contract with a show.
“You find different ways to interpret the plot that you do every night, and it is different every night because it’s a different audience,” she says.
Carter advises Antipodeans looking to get into the West End should register their details with casting agencies and get an agent.
“So much of it is luck and preparation,” she says. “I had really good training, and hit the ground running.”
Jye Frasca, from Newcastle, Australia, and Nick Egen from Christchurch, New Zealand
Since landing his first London theatre job in 2002 by dropping his CV off at a stage door, stage manager Nick Egen has worked on some of the West End’s most successful productions, including Wicked and The Producers.
As stage manager, Egen, 32, is responsible for liaising between the actors and technicians. “You basically co-ordinate everything backstage to create the performance,” he says.
He works alongside Aussie Jye Frasca, 28, who plays the role of Joe Pesci in Jersey Boys, and is the understudy for the part of Frankie Valli.
Frasca, who moved to London at 16 to attend a performing arts school, says he still gets nervous before the show “because you’re portraying people that are still alive, there’s a sense of nervousness about wanting to get it right to honour them.”
While Egen and Frasca would both love to return home, they admit to being concerned about the limited amount of work available.
“There are so many opportunities here,” Egen says. “In New Zealand, working at my level, I would find it, at times, difficult to continuously stay employed.”
But Frasca says if the opportunity arose he would “love to go back home”.
“I’d feel very honoured and proud to go back and do a show there,” he adds.