Appearing in the UK tour of The Sound of Music at just nine years old, Tillie Murray has continuously been appearing on stage and last year saw her in the role of Genevieve at Hampstead Theatre in the production of Alligators. Tillie enjoys uploading covers to her YouTube channel and this Friday, she is performing in a special concert for Alzheimer’s Research. Meeting up with Tillie, we talk about acting in touring musicals, being a member of MXM and what she’s doing this year.
Can you remember your first acting role?
Yes, I was seven years old and I was lucky enough to be cast in the Wall’s ice cream advert and I loved the experience of being picked up by a ‘posh’ car and taken to the venue to meet everyone, they were all so lovely! Before this, I had been a part of local shows and groups but nothing professional like this. It was so cool as the storyline of the advert was about parents neglecting their children due to social media, I loved spreading awareness – but sadly I didn’t get to eat any ice cream! Still, I had an awesome time.
How did you find playing Marta in the UK tour of The Sound of Music?
It was probably one of the most amazing adventures, I did decide to do it for fourteen months so I found it pretty great! I did have to go through the audition process again though to be recast. Every show was another memorable moment and I connected so much with the cast and I met so many inspirational people that made the time so much fun. Some people say that this was all sparkles but we did have to keep up with school work sometimes even during a two-show day, you can’t just drop education so it’s not as easy as people think! I was only nine years old when I started and my mum did mention when I finished how much more mature I was. It helped with independence and there are so many stories I could tell about being on tour. My first team ‘Kettles’ were obsessed with Starbucks, so a few of us went once before an evening show and we wanted to be snazzy so we told the guy behind the counter that my name was Mary Poppins. I think he might have caught on as he drew a picture of an umbrella, so wherever he is, I’m impressed.
When did you appear in the UK tour of Joseph and what was it like?
I was ten when I was part of this lovely show. It was such a great experience meeting Joe McElderry and Lucy Kay, who has such an amazing voice. I felt so relaxed in this show and I found it so cool to take in a few techniques from the cast.
Which TV commercials have you filmed?
I have mentioned my Wall’s ice cream commercial which I loved and I felt like that prepared me for others in the future. But then two years later, I was privileged to work on set of Barclays Bank. What I loved about this one was that the crew were all so social to the children and I got to learn so much about coding and computers, this was also very tiring as I did have to wait for five hours but the crew were super understanding and played games with me and I still had so much fun. The equipment used for filming here was unreal and I’m so glad I was involved to retain so much knowledge.
Can you tell us about the concert you’re doing this week for Alzheimer’s Research?
I have very kindly been asked to perform a few songs backed by the talented all-male voice choir. This is taking place to raise money for such an amazing charity and I can’t wait to show my support at this event. I love the idea of music to help anyone who is tackling Alzheimer’s and this is showing people that they are not alone.
What has been your most recent stage role?
Last summer I worked with some incredible adult actors in a straight-acting play in Hampstead Theatre in London in Alligators. It was so great for me to take the next step and be in a play rather than musical theatre. I love the idea of just telling a story on stage and my favourite scene was the speech I had about there being ‘real alligators’ and convincing my mum and dad at the end. I also loved the scene with the social worker, and the dress I had to wear was my favourite. The adults on and off stage in this awesome play were some of the nicest, most helpful I’ve ever worked with. I also made best friends with my chaperone Joy and we recorded little harmonies backstage! I didn’t want this adventure to end.
Which film-musical would you most like to have had a part in?
I was only six years old and I auditioned for Cosette in Les Mis and I didn’t get the role. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t best pleased but I am setting my targets high and when I am an adult, my dream role has always been Fantine as I have dreams about engaging the audience with that song ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ and just putting myself in her shoes. That is a huge dream, but ya gotta dream in life!
How was it performing with Collabro at the London Palladium?
Collabro are hugely gifted with such unique voices, and to perform alongside them was a pretty cool evening! They are honestly such lovely people and it was great to get to know them all. Of course, this would not have been possible without MXM, who are constantly giving us fresh opportunities like this. We sung a couple of numbers with the boys and the sound they make was just lovely, I felt so honoured to sing with them and listen to their style of music in person.
Can you tell us about MXM and the most rewarding part of being a member?
What I love about Michael Xavier’s Masterclass is that there is a new adventure every week. It is directed by the immensely talented Broadway actor Michael Xavier who gives me quality advice coming from raw experience from his own life. He mentors me and gives us news on what we are doing next. I will always learn from him and I look up to him and I feel so lucky that I have met him. We also had in theatre legends to meet and sing for like Ramin Karimloo, Rebecca Trehearn, Trevor Dion Nicholas who is currently the genie in Aladdin, Kerry Ellis and so many more. My best friends are Emmys and we just bounce off of each other like a big family to lean on. There are so many inspiring teachers that help us with our pipes, our physicality and also our emotion. I am so thankful for MXM.
What was it like working with Matthew Bourne?
Matthew Bourne is such a lovely man and he provided us with such truthful and helpful information that will stick with me until I am an adult. He is very approachable and open for questions based on his fabulous choreography in things like Swan Lake and he polished our dance at MXM and by the end I felt so accomplished, his advice truly was ‘one of a kind’.
How was West End Live last year?
As the smallest member of the whole thing last year, to open the whole number on my own to 10,000 musical theatre fans, it was a pretty special moment for me and the feeling I had that day when I stepped out into the atmosphere was almost like I was dreaming. I will be eternally grateful for such a surreal moment. We performed La La Land and everything about it was just brilliant. I loved the choreography by Lucinda Lawrence and obviously the harmonies and crazy vocals by Ross Sharkey. A day I shall never forget.
Who was your character in the stage show Alligators at the Hampstead Theatre?
I portrayed the character of young (seven-year-old) Genevieve. She was very much ‘Daddy’s girl’ and always very curious as she wanted to know what was going on and that her family was safe. I loved the whole idea of making the character my own. Genevieve is kind and caring and never fails to raise a smile, however she got very scared and worried about there being real alligators out to get her dad. She was creative and ready for obstacles and I found it so cool to explore her personality and make her a real person.
What do you enjoy the most about performing on stage?
My favourite thing about performing on stage is the realness. Sometimes I feel like when I am watching a clip of an actor, it could have been cut and edited one hundred times, whereas to be live on stage, the pure reality is more inspiring to watch. Also as an actor, you need to learn to have so many sets of eyes watching as maybe you make a mistake. The excitement of this makes you want to work harder and improve your techniques by taking notes. I love hooking an audience and hearing all of the reactions. Through a screen you cannot always experience that luxury.
Are you currently working on new content for your YouTube channel?
I am planning on taking a trip to the studio, UK Sound Bunker, to record a few songs really soon. These are ones that aren’t my usual style. I love going to the studio to stick the headphones on and get lost in the music. I find it a way to relax and just try new things. It is my happy place. But yes, keep an eye out for new upcoming videos for a few songs. I love reading lovely comments as well as people are always super nice and I love that they take the time to listen.
How do you select the songs you upload?
So, I love to experiment new and sometimes old songs that I just feel happy singing. I basically pick things that are unique and things that I can get lost into. I read and listen to the words of the songs and if I can relate at all or feel any connection to them, I love to get into it. Also, with me, when I sing a song, I have to be passionate about it otherwise I just don’t feel the music. I enjoy music and I want to get others into what I feel too.
Do you have a favourite song to perform?
Anyone that knows me, will know how much I love Barbra Streisand’s Don’t Rain on my Parade. As I said, I just connect with it. I feel the music and the tempo of slow to fast. In this song, I can just make it my own and add physicality and emotion. There is a huge kick-line in the middle of the song and I just want to break out into a huge musical theatre dance routine but somehow, I don’t think that would work with me jumping and singing at the same time.
Have you got any roles coming up this summer?
I am very busy this summer with dance exams as I train with Tring Park School every week. Also, with Tring I am very excited to be taking part in my first show with them doing an incredible dance with such talented dancers. It’s also going to be really lovely to have a relaxing family holiday, but after that I am going to be performing a few numbers with the amazing Emmys, Russell Watson and Michael Xavier. This is taking place at the Royal Albert Hall and I am so excited to get started on that. I am auditioning for stuff all the time and currently waiting for news but sadly I can’t share. I am also so lucky to be involved in my first ever radio drama this summer for BBC Radio 4 so that will be cool to experience a new adventure!
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