In August last year, Grace Schneider finished her run as Sophie in the original West End cast of School of Rock, which opened at the New London Theatre in 2016. During her time in the musical, Grace understudied the roles of Summer and Marcy, and she performed on The X Factor and at the Pride of Britain Awards. Grace made her West End debut in Show Boat as Young Kim, and she started her career on screen, having played Young Jess (Drew Barrymore) in the feature film Miss You Already. For Grace’s next role, she will be seen playing Laura Martin in the upcoming series Vanity Fair for ITV/Amazon. We caught up with Grace, who told us about her time in School of Rock in the West End, performing on The X Factor and at the Pride of Britain Awards, and her upcoming role of Laura Martin in Vanity Fair.
You played Sophie in the original West End cast of School of Rock, how did you feel finding out you’d booked the role?
It was a few days after the final round of auditions, I got a call from my agent. My mom answered the phone and then came into my room to tell me. We both just screamed and hugged. It was so exciting!
How familiar were you with School of Rock before auditioning and did you know any of the West End cast members before rehearsals started?
I didn’t know the plot beforehand, but during the audition process, I must have watched the movie a thousand times! My older sisters had seen the movie but it was a little before my time. So, I spent a lot of time watching the film and listening to the soundtrack from the Broadway cast. I think my family was so tired of me singing Time to Play over and over.
I had met a few of the kids in the cast during the audition process, but a lot of the kids knew each other already from either the theatre school they attend or had been in musicals together previously. Everyone was so nice and made me feel welcomed.
How did you find the experience performing on stage in the West End?
Performing live on stage is so different from the film or TV work I have done. It is so much fun to get live feedback from the audience. At first, I would get really nervous, but as time went on I got more comfortable performing live. School of Rock was such a fun musical to be a part of. We basically got to perform a live rock concert every night.
During your time in the musical, you performed on The X Factor and at the Pride of Britain Awards, what was this like?
It was so surreal to actually be performing live on stage on The X Factor in front of Simon Cowell and the judges. It has to be one of my highlights during my time with School of Rock. The Pride of Britain Awards holds a special place in my heart as it is such a worthy cause and the stories of the heroes that are recognised during the show were so moving. Singing alongside Pixie Lott wasn’t so bad either!
Did you have any celebrity guests in the audience for any of your performances at the New London Theatre?
We had many celebrities come and see the show. Especially when I performed on Press Night. There would always be a buzz backstage about who was in the audience watching that night. The best part would be when they came backstage and we would get to take a photo with them. One of my favourites would have to be when Jade from Little Mix came to watch.
What would you say has been the best thing to come out of your time in School of Rock?
It has to be all of the friends I made during my time in the show and being around so many talented, professional people. From the amazing kids, to the supportive adults, the cast, crew and creatives were some of the best in the business. I learned I had to bring my best every night. This cast certainly did that.
On screen, you have filmed for the upcoming TV series Vanity Fair, is there anything you can tell us about this?
I am really excited for Vanity Fair to premiere. I love period dramas and this looks to be a good one. My character is Laura Martin. She is an orphan at a school for girls. I can’t say a lot more but be on the lookout this spring on ITV/Amazon.
How did you get into performing and was it something you always wanted to do?
I have always just loved to perform in any capacity, but never really pursued performing professionally. It wasn’t until a casting director came to my school looking for someone to play a young Drew Barrymore for a feature film that on a whim I went for and got the role. From there, an agent reached out to me and I began to land various TV and film roles. At first, my family wasn’t keen on the commitment required for a West End show so I turned down opportunities to audition for several but finally convinced my mom to let me audition for Show Boat. I landed the role of Young Kim and finally got my West End debut. I was hooked and School of Rock followed right on the heels of Show Boat ending. Although I love film and TV work, there is something special about performing live on stage.
Do you have a dream role that you would like to play?
My dream role on the stage would be to play Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, Jenna in Waitress or Eliza in Hamilton.
What musicals do you enjoy watching and have you seen any shows in the West End or on Broadway?
Any and all. My mom says I am obsessed. In my free time, I watch anything relating to musicals on YouTube or listen to musical theatre soundtracks.
I was so lucky to have recently seen Hamilton here in the West End. It was better than I could have imagined. Other West End musicals I have seen include Annie, Wicked, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical and The Phantom of the Opera. I also had so much fun seeing School of Rock on Broadway and even got to go backstage and warm up with the cast.
Do you have any favourite music artists to listen to and would you like to release your own music?
I spend most of my time listening to musical theatre soundtracks, but when I do listen to other types of music, my favourite artists are Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber.
Releasing music is not something I think about or plan on pursuing but you never know what the future holds.
We understand you have also done commercial work, can you tell us about some of the ones you’ve filmed?
I have filmed a commercial for LEGO and also done multiple season commercial and print ad work for Fat Face.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Whenever I have downtime, I love spending it with my friends. When I am not with them, I like to make slime, bake sweets or just play with my cat Pippa. I made the volleyball team at my school this year so I also spend time practicing and playing volleyball.
Do you have any acting roles coming up that you can tell us about?
I have a few castings I am waiting to hear back from here in the UK and am excited that I recently signed on with an agent in LA who has put me forward for a few things already also. We’ll see what 2018 brings!
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