As a stage actor, Kitty Peterkin most recently made her West End debut starring in the title role of Matilda in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical at the Cambridge Theatre. Last year, Kitty played Daisy in the feature film Surviving Christmas with the Relatives, with which she attended the UK red carpet premiere, and her previous screen roles have included Lucy Neemes in Will, Klara von Enke in Wallander and her first acting experience as Young Polly in Hetty Feather. Sitting down with us, Kitty talks about performing as Matilda in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical, filming for Surviving Christmas with the Relatives as Daisy and working on set of Will.
What was your experience like being cast as the lead role in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical in the West End at a young age?
It was very exciting. I’d wanted to do it since I was about six years old. I absolutely loved doing it and I met loads of new people who are now friends for life. It was a really amazing experience.
Had you seen the show before being cast and how did you feel when booking the role?
I had been to see the show on my sixth and my ninth birthday. Since then, it had been my dream role and my goal to get the role of Matilda. It took me about eighteen months to get the role, and when I did, I was standing outside my school, I had just been picked up and my mum got the phone call from my agent saying, “Kitty’s Matilda” and I just burst into tears.
Do you have a favourite scene or song from the musical to perform and what did you find most challenging?
I do, my favourite song is Quiet. When I was really small, I used to walk around the house singing it and get Mum to video me. It’s quite an emotional song but it’s my favourite. Honey House is probably my favourite scene, that is also quite emotional but it’s nice to be working with Miss Honey in that scene. Something I found most challenging was probably staying away from Mum at such a young age because I was only nine when I was staying in the Matilda House. It was also really nice though because all of my friends were there and we got to hang out and the house mums were really lovely, so that was nice!
What was the best thing about being part of the production and what did you learn from your time in the show?
The best thing was probably making new friends and performing with them on stage. That was really nice because I could just be with them all the time and meeting new people is always lovely. I learnt how to work with other people and be part of a team.
Would you say you’ve got any similarities to Matilda?
I’d say I do. I love reading and obviously Matilda is a bit of a bookworm. I’ve got an older brother who is definitely a lot like Michael, haha!
How was it performing at the Cambridge Theatre?
Firstly, the theatre itself is so beautiful, it’s really lovely to work in. The audience who came were always really lovely and supportive. When you perform on that stage, they make it a different place but when you’re standing off stage, it’s really pretty and castle-like almost.
How did you find filming for TV series Will?
I absolutely loved it, it was really enjoyable. The set was absolutely amazing, they’d built it from scratch and the costumes were amazing. It was set in the Elizabethan era, so they’d made it old-fashioned but really crazy with bright pink wigs and shaved heads! It was really cool.
You played Young Polly in Hetty Feather, what was it like on set of a CBBC show?
It was really cool and it was nice because there were a lot of other kids, often when you’re filming something, there are more adults than kids. I met new friends and that was really lovely. It was my first ever role so I was new to the whole acting thing, so it was a bit strange but also very exciting.
Can you say about your character Daisy in Surviving Christmas with the Relatives?
I’d say she’s very excitable and very bubbly. I see her as someone people would like to be around, she’s the cute, fun one that everyone loves. She loves animals but quite often she gets up to a bit of mischief with her animals!
Where was the premiere held and what was it like attending?
It was held at the Vue Cinema in Leicester Square, London. It was my first premiere and it was a really amazing experience. There were quite a few famous people! I got to go on the red carpet which was amazing and the press were there. It was all very loud and exciting.
What was this production like to film?
It was really lovely but it was also quite strange because we filmed in the middle of summer! It is a Christmas film so there were Christmas trees and it was really hot because we had to wear thick jumpers and tights! It was lovely though and they were really nice people to work with.
Who was your character Klara in Wallander?
She was Kurt’s granddaughter and she was very sweet. I think she brought a bit of fun and light into the show because Wallander is quite a dark and mysterious drama.
What was your first acting experience and when did you know you wanted to do this professionally?
My first acting experience was playing Young Polly in Hetty Feather and it was very exciting. I think I knew I wanted to do it professionally after I saw the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical for the first time and I’d said to Mum, “I want to be Matilda”! I then started singing lessons when I was six, just for a bit of fun, and then my singing teacher said that we should look for an agent. We looked around for a bit and then we found an agency. We went up on the Monday to meet them and they said they’d like to represent me, and the next day we got a call for a casting for the role of Young Polly in Hetty Feather. I went along the following day and my granny took me as Mum was at work, and the following day I was cast!
How do you prepare for auditions and learning scripts?
Firstly, when I’m sent the script, I get a description of what the character’s like. I usually do a bit of research on her and see how she behaves and what she looks like. If it’s based on a book, I will watch videos of the author and see what they wanted that girl to have the image of. I’ll then read the script through a couple of times and learn it scene by scene, so I’ll learn one scene and once that’s done, I’ll move onto the next one and I’ll just keep going until I’ve learnt it.
Have you had chance to film outside of the UK and for what productions?
Yes, I have. Straight after I did Hetty Feather, I got the role of Klara in Wallander and that was filming for about eight weeks on and off in Sweden, that was really amazing. A few months after that, I got the role of Young Ayla in Clan of the Cave Bear and that was filming for about six weeks in Cape Town in South Africa.
Are you currently working on any acting roles or have any coming up that you’re able to say about?
At the moment, I haven’t got anything coming up that I know of, but I’ve been doing a few auditions and hopefully something will come of them!
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