Back in 2013, Georgia Pemberton started her run as Matilda in the West End show of the same name and now, four years later, she is back on stage as Pandora in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole. At just thirteen years old, Georgia has performed in both theatre and film where she was recently seen in Tim Burton’s production of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. We speak to her about her current role in Adrian Mole, what it was like performing on Children in Need and her career so far.
You’re currently appearing in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, what can you tell us about this?
I am currently performing as the role of Pandora Braithwaite, at the Menier Chocolate Factory Theatre. It’s the most intimate theatre I’ve performed in. I really enjoy this because the audience can really get up close to the characters and experience more than you would if you were sitting far away.
How did you get the role of Pandora in the show?
Well, in total there were five recalls over a period of three days, on the first day we had to sing a song of our choice along with a monologue, for the second day the girls that were recalled were taught a song from the show and finally on the last day the remaining girls were tested on their acting skills and some more singing. A couple of days later I got a lovely phone call from my agent to tell me I had got the role!
Have you read the book to give you ideas on how to play the part?
Yes, I did read the book, it gave me a very good idea of how to portray the role, but what really helped me was the story and the words that Pandora had to say!
How much time do you have to spend rehearsing for this role?
We had about four and a half weeks to rehearse the show.
You played Matilda in the West End, what do you find more nerve-racking performing to a large or a more intimate audience?
I’ve never really had nerves before a performance, but I do remember when I was in Matilda, my school asked me to perform a short speech from Matilda to the whole school. I was very nervous because I knew most of the audience, but I don’t think the size of the audience is important.
How much fun was it starring as Matilda?
It was so much fun being Matilda! At such a young age to be doing what I love to do, and performing just meant the world to me and still does! I was fortunate to be performing on my tenth birthday so I’ll remember that day for the rest of my life.
How did you find performing for Children in Need?
It was an amazing experience to perform for Children in Need it was fantastic! I just loved performing for such a wonderful cause, and I got to meet Terry Wogan!
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was your first main screen role, how did you find being on the set of this opposed to being part of a stage show?
The first thing you notice on a large film set is the amount of people working on the film, there were literally hundreds! I was used to working with no more than 20-30. The second thing is how much waiting and preparation there is in setting up the shot. Thirdly the catering on set was fabulous I had to be careful not to eat too much. I had to be on set at 6:30 in the morning, going into hair and makeup and getting into my costume. Even when I’m performing in a matinee I don’t have to be at the theatre until 12:30. I’m afraid I don’t find getting up in the morning easy!
Miss Peregrine’s was already a big franchise before it got made into a movie, does this make it easier or harder when preparing for the role?
I did a little research before my audition for Fiona, I had heard of the books but I hadn’t read any of them. I had no pre-conceived ideas about Fiona, I wanted Tim Burton to tell me what he wanted and I tried my best to be his Fiona.
Do you have any funny stories from your time on the set?
Asa Butterfield had his 18th birthday on set and one of the gifts he received was a drone. He was told off because he was playing with it and he flew the drone into a shot and ruined it. We all thought that it was hilarious!
How long did it take to film and how involved was Ransom Riggs in the casting and the filming?
I was involved in the filming for around six months. I went back a couple of times to do some voice overs and reshoots a few months after my work on the film had been finished. Ransom came onto the set when we were filming in London and Belgium. I think he was very happy with my portrayal of Fiona.
Would you like to perform in a Broadway show?
If the opportunity came my way, I certainly wouldn’t say no!! I’ve never been to America however I do know some people that have performed on Broadway. I just love performing wherever I am. I expect Broadway will be just as exciting as the West End.
Do you want to have a career in both stage and film or do you want to stick to just one?
I just love the stage! I love the immediate reaction of the audience and the atmosphere of a theatre. When you’re in a show it just flows out of you. On a film set you have to keep your concentration going all day and really think about the role. It’s very different. I’d love to be just like Imelda Staunton my “Idol”. She has the best of both worlds. I played Baby June in Gypsy with her at Chichester and she is an inspiration.
Would you like to star in any TV series?
My favourite TV show at the moment is Paul O’Grady’s: For the Love of Dogs. I can’t see where a musical actress will fit into the show, I just want to play with the dogs!
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Tickets to see Georgia in The Secret Life of Adrian Mole (selected performances):