In the West End transfer of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole the Musical, Rebecca Nardin played the role of Pandora Braithwaite at the Ambassadors Theatre, with the show running until September this year, and whilst in the cast, she appeared on This Morning where she modelled for their Back To School segment. Earlier this year, Rebecca was performing at the Charing Cross Theatre as Young Violet in Violet, and her previous theatre work has included The Woman in White, and her professional debut in Grey Gardens at the Southwark Playhouse alongside Jenna Russell and Sheila Hancock. Rebecca has filmed for the Hattie Briggs – Early Girl music video, and she is continuing her training in acting, musical theatre and dance. Meeting with Rebecca in London, she tells us about playing Pandora in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole the Musical, modelling on This Morning and her professional debut in Grey Gardens.
How did you find the experience performing as Pandora Braithwaite in the West End production of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole the Musical at the Ambassadors Theatre?
Pandora was such a fun experience and she was an amazing character to play! The cast, crew and creatives were all really lovely, and I loved working with each and every one of them. I learnt a lot from the cast over the course of five months.
You’d previously performed at the Ambassadors Theatre with The Secret Garden, what was it like returning to the theatre?
Going back to the Ambassadors Theatre was really cool because in The Secret Garden, we shared the theatre with Stomp, whereas in Adrian Mole, we had the theatre to ourselves so it was a different experience. Everyone in both shows were so nice! Some people from The Secret Garden came to see me in Adrian Mole which was great.
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole the Musical is a stage adaptation of the book by Sue Townsend, how much did you know about the show before auditioning?
I didn’t know anything about Adrian Mole before booking the part, but when I heard I’d got an audition for it, I bought and read the book. I didn’t watch the TV series because I didn’t want to get influenced by the actress playing Pandora in it. I have watched some now though, and I’m going to carry on watching because I love Adrian Mole!
Did you have a favourite aspect of working on the musical and what was the atmosphere like on closing night?
Pandora is such a fun character because she’s a perfectionist and thinks she’s the best at everything. She is also a feminist, she fights for what she believes in and she has all the right intentions, so getting the balance was really hard, but also a really fun and interesting role to play. My favourite scene in the show was probably the Nativity because I had to give birth, and it was so funny and a really fun experience.
My team finished a week before the show ended, and it was actually my birthday which was really cool! It was really sad, but also a celebration of what everyone had achieved in five months. The composer, Pippa Cleary, spent her time writing songs with us in our standbys, which was amazing! We had a party between the matinee and the evening on the final day and each team performed their song for the rest of the cast and crew. We then watched the final show.
Can you tell us about filming the show’s trailer?
We went to the theatre one evening and recorded all the songs they wanted to include in the EPK, and the next day we went back in and filmed all of the scenes they wanted to include. Then we got to see it all put together!
During your run as Pandora, you appeared on This Morning modelling for the school uniform segment, how was this?
This Morning was a really, really good experience because I haven’t modelled or been on live TV before, so it was interesting to see how it all works. Molly May Gibson (another Pandora who I shared the role with) went as well and we had our own dressing room and got our hair done. It was really cool! Ruth (Langsford), Eamonn (Holmes) and Lisa were really nice, so I would definitely want to do it again.
Earlier this year, you played Young Violet in Violet at the Charing Cross Theatre, what was the show like to be part of?
Violet was a joy to be in because it was such a complex part and I had to experience the same emotions as my older Violet, Kaisa Hammarlund. It was already a surprise to get cast in because I was the tallest out of everyone! The show was so clever and heartfelt, it was amazing.
You were previously in the cast of The Woman in White, how did you find your time in the production?
The Woman in White was directed by the same person as Grey Gardens, so it was really good working with Thom Southerland again. Singing in front of Andrew Lloyd Webber was both thrilling and terrifying at the same time!
What do you remember most from making your professional stage debut as Lee Bouvier in Grey Gardens at the Southwark Playhouse?
Grey Gardens was a really iconic show, and getting to say I worked closely with Jenna Russell and Sheila Hancock is incredible! Working on this show made me realise how much I love performing and because I am still close with some of the cast, it will always have a special place in my heart.
We understand you’ve filmed for a music video, can you tell us about this?
The music video I filmed, Early Girl, was completely different to anything I’ve done before because I got to take as many takes as I wanted to! I was able to make it my own version of how I thought the character would be. It was really cool watching the final product to see how all the clips were put together.
When did you get into acting and how did you start?
I started off from a very young age at my local dance school, where I got recommended (at the age of eight) to go and audition for a pantomime. My mum wasn’t sure at the time, but we went anyway, and I got the part of number one, which is the smallest out of the twelve, and then did pantomime for another two years. We then saw an audition for a local Annie show at The British Theatre Academy, and I got cast as Pepper in that. That got me into BTA, who got me some of the auditions for the shows that I’ve been in.
Can you tell us about your training?
I train at DMA – Dominique Moore Arts, I get my musical theatre training from The British Theatre Academy and I dance at Laine Theatre Arts.
What do you feel you’ve learnt about the industry from performing in different shows?
I’ve learnt to keep pushing forward and that you have to be very focused because this industry is hard. Just because you are not right for a part, it isn’t your fault so don’t let it knock your confidence. You also have to learn to juggle everything because you have to do school and homework as well as performing.
What are your upcoming plans now you’ve finished your run in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole the Musical?
My plans are probably to keep performing! I’m at the ‘funny age and height’ meaning I might not get musical theatre parts at the moment because I look too old to play a younger character. I will keep going and see if I can go into film and TV with A&J Management.
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