Since appearing in Dancing In The Streets UK Tour and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Emma Louise Jones last year joined the cast of Dreamgirls as Ensemble and first cover Michelle at the Savoy Theatre in the West End. With Dreamgirls now closed, Emma has been cast in The Book of Mormon which is currently showing at London’s Prince of Wales Theatre where she will be covering the role of Nabulungi. Taking time out from rehearsals, Emma chats about performing in Dreamgirls, covering Michelle and her new role in The Book of Mormon.
You’ve been announced to join the West End cast of The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre, when did you find out you’d booked the role?
It was really crazy actually! I had been in for the tour for a while and was waiting to hear back if I’d got it. Then the Friday before Christmas, my agent called me and said they wanted me for town instead and I start rehearsals in two weeks, do I want the job! I think my exact reaction was just silent shock. I’d kind of prepared for an offer for the tour and so when town became an option it made me want to do it even more. I didn’t even think twice about accepting it.
How excited are you to start in the show and how are rehearsals going?
I’m really excited to get stuck in. I’m a swing as well so rehearsals are crazy for me, trying to retain all the information and learn five girls. But rehearsals are so much fun right now and getting to know the rest of the new cast is amazing. Got some amazing talent joining this year!
What are you looking forward to for being in the cast and covering Nabulungi?
I’m looking forward to so many things, I guess stepping in and playing Nabulungi is the biggest thing. Covering Michelle in Dreamgirls was amazing but this role is so much bigger so it’s definitely a step up for me. I think also doing a show that’s not like any other in town right now and getting to swing and play multiple roles really keeps it exciting.
You have recently finished your run in Dreamgirls in the West End, what was your experience like in the show and how was it performing at the Savoy Theatre?
Amazing. It’s a show I’ve always wanted to be a part of since watching the film and finally getting to do it every night was incredible. It’s got some of my favourite songs in it like Move and Listen, sometimes I’d forget I’m in the show and start singing along! Also, working alongside talent and voices like that gave me chills and so much motivation for the future. I made friends for life in that contract for sure.
It was so amazing performing at the Savoy Theatre, it’s such an iconic theatre and I’m so glad I got to do a show there.
As first cover Michelle, how did it feel playing this role for the first and last time?
It’s my first ever leading lady role to cover so when I first went on I was definitely nervous! I never thought at twenty-one I would ever get to play a leading lady, it all kind of felt like a dream.
Playing her for the last time was hard. I had a set schedule last show so I knew it would be my last one for a long time so I prepared to say goodbye. But then I was lucky enough to go on again one last time in the last two weeks before we closed. It will be something I never forget, so grateful for the opportunity.
Do you have a favourite track from the show?
Michelle is probably my favourite, she gets to do a bit of everything, featured ensemble at the beginning, a few dance numbers, then steps into a leading role.
But… if I could play anyone, I’d say Jimmy Early’s track. He just always looks like he’s having so much fun on stage. Full out choreography and spinning around.
Did you know any of your fellow cast members previously?
Yes, I knew quite a few of them actually. I worked with Ashford Campbell on my previous show Beautiful.
And I went to Urdang Academy (College) with Sanchia, Mikey and Callum. I also knew of the rest of the cast members that had attended Urdang – we’re a big community! It was so lovely to get to work with a lot of people I knew but also so many new people as well!
How did the atmosphere backstage differ on closing night to other performances?
It was a weird atmosphere, a lot of tears and emotions, for sure. Everyone would come side stage and watch numbers because we knew it would be the last time we got to see it, especially Badside.
The audience for those last shows were incredible as well, all the cheering and clapping, it really made us all see how much this show was, and is, appreciated. I think that made the tears come more, to be honest.
What will you miss most about Dreamgirls?
The people, for sure! The girls and guys that I worked with are incredible people and so, so talented! It was such a great cast to be a part of. I’ll also miss the sparkles, can never have too much sparkle!
A few years ago, you were in the cast of the UK Tour Dancing in the Streets, how different did you find touring with a musical opposed to performing in the West End with Dreamgirls?
I think there’s a lot of things that were different. The cast for DITS was a lot smaller and we got to know each other pretty well so onstage we bounced off each other a lot. It also had more of a concert vibe so it was a lot more free. I also loved having the band onstage so we could vibe off them too.
Going to different venues each day created a new feel for the show each time we moved city which kept it exciting. I also loved seeing places I’d never been or think to go.
Whereas with Dreamgirls, we were a much bigger cast, crew and band and we’re all telling this amazing story together, and you got the amazing London audience every night. It really felt like a big Dreamgirls family, getting to work with such talent really inspired me and hopefully inspired others. It does help that I can go home every night when I’m in the West End, haha.
What do you remember from your time in Beautiful – The Carole King Musical at the Aldwych Theatre?
I still remember everything. It was my first West End show so I was like a child in a candy store just wide-eyed trying to retain as much information as possible. It was also my first time swinging so that, at first, took me a while to get used to. The show itself I loved, the music, the storyline… it was so nice to be a part of recreating Carole’s life.
Have you had chance to perform at any events while in the cast of musicals?
Unfortunately not, but there’s still time to! I have got to do a lot of West End Live performances, which I love doing.
When did you first get involved in musical theatre?
I started taking ballet and tap from the age of three and as I got older I attended Stagecoach and did different summer school intensives. But I mainly got into it when I went to Sylvia Young Theatre School’s summer school at about nine years old. After that, I practically begged my mum to let me audition for the full-time school and at eleven years old I joined the school as a student.
Were there any musicals you enjoyed whilst growing up?
So many! But my favourite is The Lion King. It’s one of the first shows I ever watched and it made me want to be a part of this industry so bad. It’s definitely on my list of shows I want to do.
You also have screen experience with Harry Potter, what was it like on set of the film and would you like to do more screen roles in the future?
Yes! I would love to do more screen roles. I’m hoping to move into TV and film as I get older, but working on Harry Potter was amazing. To see how the set is made and the props and actually being there in the mix of it all was crazy. You never actually realise how many people are involved and how much has to happen to create a film and to see it was incredible.
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