Starting her professional acting career on stage at the London Palladium, Adrianna Bertola has had numerous theatre roles including Matilda in Matilda the Musical and Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, both adaptations of Roald Dahl’s novels. Since appearing in The Twilight Zone at Almeida Theatre, the show transferred to the West End earlier this year which saw Adrianna rejoin the cast for the run at Ambassadors. Her acting career also consists of screen work and most recently, Adrianna starred as series regular Carly in London Kills and portrayed Clarissa in Years and Years. We caught up with Adrianna to find out about her time in the Roald Dahl musicals, transferring to the West End with The Twilight Zone and her regular role as Carly in London Kills.
How are you finding your time in London Kills?
London Kills was an incredible experience for me. Not only did I get to work with so many talented people amongst the cast and crew but filming such a brilliant, new, thrilling show in London felt really special.
Can you tell us about your character, Carly?
Playing Carly was definitely a challenge. She’s plagued with the question of whether her dad, DI David Bradford murdered her mother after she mysteriously disappears. She doubts her father’s dedication within his job position or whether the reason he can’t find her is because he’s trying to hide something. Carly is also going through stuff of her own, the struggles of fitting in as a teenager, peer pressure, the need for rebellion; I really think she captures so much of the inner turmoil of the mind of a teenage girl who’s watching her world crumble around her.
How was it filming for Years and Years as Clarissa?
Years and Years was an incredible shoot. Getting to see Manchester was amazing, it’s a really gorgeous city. We actually ended up shooting in the pouring rain which was a lot of fun. It’s a brilliant and important show and I really encourage everyone to watch it, and of course, the performances from the cast are absolutely incredible.
What was Hank Zipzer like to be part of and what was it like being in the cast?
Being part of Hank Zipzer across two seasons was amazing. Getting to know the cast was great; we were all staying in the same place while shooting so you really did create a bond as you spent so much time off and on set together. I got to do some crazy stuff in that show but my favourite has to be dressing up as a dolphin, that was a lot of fun.
What do you remember about playing Mini Jessie J?
I grew up as a massive fan of Jessie J so getting to star in the music video for Who’s Laughing Now really was a dream. She’s the loveliest person, so humble and kind and of course insanely talented. I honestly think she’s one of the greatest female vocalists there’s been. I was so lucky to also participate in V Festival with her. Performing in front of nearly 80,000 will always be one of the most surreal moments of my life. I got so excited at one point I threw my sunglasses into the crowd like a rock star. I don’t know who I thought I was. There’s a video on YouTube and you can honestly see I’m having the time of my life.
What do you like about appearing on stage?
There’s a buzz I get every time I’m on stage. There’s something about having an audience that creates this incredible energy. Growing up it’s been one of the biggest parts of my life and it’s taught me so much about professionalism and the industry but also taught me so much that I’ve carried into my personal life too. I try and go to the theatre as much as I can because I love being part of that collective or reacting and responding together.
How was it transferring The Twilight Zone to the West End?
Transferring The Twilight Zone to the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End was such an honour. It was a show created at the Almeida about a year before and was being imagined and constructed way before that too, directed by the brilliant Richard Jones and adapted by the extremely clever Anne Washburn. Audiences responded so brilliantly, even people who didn’t know of the original TV show all said it really stuck with them and was extremely thought-provoking. Because the show is episodic, it really does have something for everyone and people definitely found something in it to relate to. There’s a particular part of the show which is based on The Shelter episode, it’s all about humanity and morals and ethics or the lack thereof in some characters. It’s about nuclear war and the impending threat of it and what that does to a person and their animalistic instincts. It’s also so interesting how an idea that was so terrifying and real then is still so real today.
Can you say about the characters you played in the production?
The cast were all multi-roling in the production. The main parts that I played were Tina, the girl who gets lost in another dimension, Lily, the daughter of the Stockton family in The Shelter, Markie, a child who appears as a vision to her older self, and Little Girl who is part of a double act with a ventriloquist dummy. Markie was one of my favourite characters to play as I believe the scene is very naturalistic in its style compared to my other scenes. The character, however, appears completely out of the ordinary which was a really beautiful contrast to play. My other favourite character was Little Girl. I’d never done any puppetry or ventriloquism before so it was a huge challenge when I first started. It’s a skill I’ve grown to absolutely love and I’m so lucky I got to do it.
Can you tell us about Blueberry Toast at Soho Theatre, where you played the role of Jill?
Blueberry Toast, written by the extraordinary Mary Laws, was such a brilliant and very, very important play. It encapsulates so many themes such as gun laws in America, violence, sex, psychological abuse and so much more, it’s absolutely jam-packed with ideas and themes. I played a little girl called Jill who witnesses the language her parents use and sees the violence and sex that goes on in the house. It’s all about how much kids subconsciously absorb from their parents’ behaviour. It was an extremely fun and exciting play to do, the Soho Theatre was the perfect space for it too. It was co-produced by Platform Presents, a theatre, TV and film production company specialising in rising star talent and female voices. Gala Gordon, who played Barb in the production, and Isabella Macpherson run the company and are absolutely phenomenal women.
What was it like playing Alice in Dick Whittington and His Cat?
Playing Alice in Dick Whittington and his Cat at the Oxford Playhouse last Christmas was incredible. I’ve met people there that I can honestly say will be in my life forever and I have memories from that show that will last a lifetime. Doing two shows a day isn’t easy at all. It takes so much responsibility and persistence to look after yourself for the duration of the run. There’s something about performing to kids and families over the holiday season that’s absolutely invigorating.
How was the experience playing Matilda in the Original Cast of the RSC production?
Being part of the Original Cast for an RSC production at the Courtyard Theatre honestly just seemed too good to be true. I’m so beyond honoured that I was given the chance to perform with such a brilliant company and team and to play a part as powerful and imaginative as Matilda honestly will always be one of the most special parts of my life.
You played the role of Violet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, what was she like to portray?
Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was definitely a contrast to any roles I’d interpreted or created on stage before. I was part of the Original Cast at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and we were directed by Academy Award winner Sam Mendes. Creating a character with him was so inspiring and watching him work was enthralling; he’s such a humble and lovely man and obviously, he takes talent to a new level. I’m so lucky to have worked with a director of his calibre and such a kind-hearted person.
What do you remember from your first professional role?
My first professional role was The Sound of Music at The London Palladium when I was six and I played Gretl in the Original Cast. One of my favourite memories of that show is I’d get so excited in the curtain call that, when everyone waves to the audience while the band is still playing, I’d lay on the stage and wave to the audience absolutely beaming until the curtain went down. I couldn’t hide how excited I was. I don’t think a smile ever left my face while I was in that show.
What prompted your interest in acting?
I knew I wanted to act when I was four. I went to see a dance show with my mum and a friend at the time was in it. I just tapped her on the arm and said ‘Mummy, I want to do that!’ and my mind has never changed.
What are your upcoming career plans?
It’s hard to say with upcoming plans really because you honestly never know what’s going to be next. I’d love to do a musical again, it’s what I started on and it’s just such a huge part of me. I’d also really love to do some more screen acting, I’ve been absolutely hooked on Killing Eve and Fleabag recently, the writing and performances in both are exceptional; the chance to take on a bold, daring character that I could really experiment with over a season or two would be an absolute dream.
Adrianna Bertola is represented by David Lazenby at Vivienne Clore http://www.vivienneclore.com
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