Currently, Georgia Pemberton can be seen playing Pandora Braithwaite in the London transfer of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole the Musical at the Menier Chocolate Factory, with the show booking until September. In 2013, Georgia started her run in the leading role of Matilda in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical at the Cambridge Theatre, and during her time in the show, she performed on Children in Need. On screen, Georgia played Fiona in last year’s release of feature film Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, in which she worked alongside a cast including Asa Butterfield, and was directed by Tim Burton. We spoke to Georgia about her new role of Pandora in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole the Musical, her time as Matilda in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical and playing Fiona in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
You are currently playing Pandora Braithwaite in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole the Musical at the Menier Chocolate Factory, can you tell us about this?
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 find the experience auditioning for the show and how long were you rehearsing for opening night?
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! We then had about four-and-a-half weeks to rehearse the show.
The musical is an adaptation of the book by Sue Townsend, had you read the book before booking your role?
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!
Having previously performed as Matilda in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical at the Cambridge Theatre, do you find it 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 the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical, 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.
What did you enjoy about starring as Matilda in the West End?
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 10th birthday, so I’ll remember that day for the rest of my life.
Whilst in the show, you performed on Children in Need, what was this like to do?
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!
On screen, you played the role of Fiona in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, how different was it being on set of a feature film opposed to performing in theatre?
The first thing you notice on a large film set is the number 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 6:30am, 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 12:30pm. I’m afraid I don’t find getting up in the morning easy!
Miss Peregrine’s was already a big franchise before being adapted into a film, what was it like 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 preconceived ideas about Fiona, I wanted Tim Burton to tell me what he wanted, and I tried my best to be his Fiona.
How long were you working on the film and did you get chance to meet Ransom Riggs, who wrote the original books?
I was involved in the filming for around six months. I went back a couple of times to do some voiceovers 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.
Do you have any funny stories from your time on set that you can tell us about?
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!
Are there any TV series you would most like to star in and would you like to perform in a Broadway show?
My favourite TV show at the moment is Paul O’Grady: 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! If the opportunity of Broadway 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 hope to have a varied career in both stage and screen, or would you prefer to focus on 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.
Book tickets to see Georgia in THE SECRET DIARY OF ADRIAN MOLE (selected performances), booking until 9th September 2017 menierchocolatefactory.com.
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