📷 : Rachel Cooper
Starting her professional stage career at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in Shrek the Musical, Lara Wollington booked the title role of Matilda in the West End the following year, with her time in the production giving her chance to meet the Queen at the Royal Variety Show and appear on Junior Masterchef. At West End Live 2016, Lara performed songs from Bring it On: the Musical and went on to play Pandora at the Menier Chocolate Factory in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4, and can be heard on the recently released Original London Cast Recording. Answering our questions, Lara talks about her time as Matilda, performing at West End Live and being part of Adrian Mole the Musical.
What do you remember from your time in Shrek the Musical?
I remember Shrek being so much fun. I met so many incredible actors and actresses as well as crew and was very lucky to be in one of the largest theatres at such a young age. I loved every minute of being in this musical and I never wanted to leave the company.
Can you tell us about playing the role of Matilda in the West End?
Playing Matilda was one of the best experiences of my life. I thoroughly enjoyed taking to the stage every week and having the opportunity to inspire other children and adults with Matilda’s story. The role was very challenging vocally and physically, however, I loved the challenge.
Whilst in Matilda, I had so many amazing opportunities such as appearing on Junior MasterChef, singing live on Friday Night is Music Night with BBC Radio 2, singing at the Olivier Nominations Ceremony with Elaine Paige live on radio, performing live on stage at Covent Garden Piazza for the Olivier Awards and meeting the Queen at the Royal Variety Show. I really was very lucky. Matilda will always have a special place in my heart.
How was your run as Sophie in The BFG?
The BFG was a different experience for me as it was away from home in Birmingham. I loved being in this show as it was a brand new script and score so I got to bring my own twist to the role of Sophie. The show allowed me to put in my own input such as dance moves and directions for my character and I really enjoyed being able to do this. The director was so lovely and the cast were so fun to perform with. We really had a lot of laughs even with the tutor.
What was it like performing at Birmingham Repertory Theatre?
The Birmingham Repertory Theatre was a beautiful modern theatre. I loved how it introduced theatre to everyone and how it was interactive. The theatre was very large but so was the stage and I enjoyed performing in a different venue and set-up.
📷 : Robert Day (The BFG)
What was it like being part of the cast of Gypsy at the Savoy Theatre?
In Gypsy, I got to work with amazing actresses such as Imelda Staunton and Lara Pulver. Gypsy was like a real-life large family and everyone was so supportive of one another. I loved our chaperones – they were so much fun. The Savoy Theatre was magnificent and full of so much history. I loved performing there. Whilst in Gypsy, I was lucky enough to do press night and the live DVD recording which was broadcast on TV in UK and USA.
Can you say what the experience was like appearing on stage at West End Live?
Appearing at West End Live was phenomenal. I loved the numbers that we performed from Bring It On and was lucky enough to have a solo. There were thousands of people watching and the energy in the crowd was so electrifying. Seeing other people enjoying your performance is something that gives me complete joy. I would love to perform there again one day.
You played Pandora in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 at Menier Chocolate Factory, what was the character like to portray?
Pandora was one of my all-time favourite characters to play. She is fiery, intelligent and a feminist. I felt as if I related to her character as we share many characteristics. I think this helped me to bring Pandora to life.
Have you seen the West End transfer?
I have seen the transfer and it brought back so many wonderful memories! I enjoyed it but obviously wished I was up on the stage instead.
Did you have a favourite song to perform from the show and can you say about recording the cast album?
That’s a hard one, I loved all of the songs however personally my favourites were Look At That Girl or Now That I’m With You. I loved recording the cast recording, it was an amazing experience and I was very lucky to have been chosen to record all of the songs for Pandora. It is such a good CD and the songs are very witty and honest. I would recommend you listen to it. If you are feeling low, it will certainly make you smile.
How was it seeing the release this year and hearing the finished soundtrack?
I first heard Look At That Girl played on ‘Elaine Paige on Sunday’ and I felt proud and nostalgic. I loved this show so much and it definitely deserved a West End run. It is hilarious and touching at the same time.
You’ve voiced the role of Lucy in 64 Zoo Lane, what did you enjoy about it?
I was only seven/eight when I recorded this. I loved being able to pretend to be this young girl who had so many adventures. I loved reading the different stories. Everyone on the team was very friendly and supportive.
How different was voicing Lucy to Princess Florrie in Florrie’s Dragons?
They were very similar procedures. I used to get the scripts for the recording day about a week before. I would then go to the studio and spend a few hours recording the lines with the director. We would record the lines in several ways with different styles so they could choose the right sounds for the story.
We understand you upload covers to your YouTube channel, what are your future plans for this?
I would love to get some new recording equipment and to start uploading better quality videos and covers. I love singing and enjoy doing them. I know I am not everyone’s cup of tea but fans ask me to do these and it’s fun to do so why not? It’s not like I take myself too seriously. I’m just one of a million other young performers sharing my love for music and performance.
Had you always wanted to become an actor and voiceover artist?
When I was little, I used to watch Andrew Lloyd Webber’s TV show that was looking for Dorothy for The Wizard of Oz. I used to love this programme and at the end of each show, I used to pretend to sit on the moon and be carried away. I also loved watching Strictly. I used to put on my princess dresses and get my dad to lift me up into the air so I could dance. From as young as I can remember this has always been a career I have wanted to pursue.
What do you enjoy doing away from your career?
I do a lot of dancing with my dance school so that takes up a lot of my time. When I have free time I like to meet up with my friends to go to restaurants and shopping. I also love to visit my family in Ireland when I can. My main hobby is watching shows. I try to meet up with old cast members and support them in their new roles. I’m lucky to have made great friendships from all the shows I have been in. I have just finished my GCSEs and have had the longest summer. This month, I will be taking on four A-Levels and hopefully, I’ll do a performing arts degree.
Do you have any upcoming roles you can talk about?
At the moment I don’t have anything coming up but hopefully something exciting is just around the corner. I’m ready and waiting for a new challenge!
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