Most recently, Matilda Hopkins completed her run as Pandora Braithwaite in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole the Musical at the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End, in which she also performed in the show’s official opening and press night. Prior to starting her role of Pandora, Matilda had been in the cast of Fiddler on the Roof at the Menier Chocolate Factory as Bielke, and last year, she was directed by Arlene Phillips in A Little Princess at the Royal Festival Hall. Matilda’s previous roles have included Brigitta in the UK and Ireland Tour of The Sound of Music, July and understudy Annie in the UK and Ireland Tour of Annie alongside Lesley Joseph, and Young Eponine and understudy Little Cosette in Les Misérables in 2014, which also marked her West End debut. Continuing with her acting training, Matilda is currently a student at Redroofs Theatre School and is also a member of The British Theatre Academy. Catching up with Matilda, she tells us about performing in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole the Musical as Pandora, her time in Fiddler on the Roof at the Menier Chocolate Factory and touring with The Sound of Music as Brigitta.
You played Pandora Braithwaite in the West End transfer of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole the Musical at the Ambassadors Theatre, what was the character like to play?
Playing Pandora was totally amazing! It is such a fantastic part, especially for a teenager, and Pandora is a very strong character who knows what she wants.
How did you find the experience of performing at the musical’s official opening and press night?
The official opening and press night was really exciting as well as nerve-racking. We had a red carpet outside of the theatre for press to take photos of the cast and celebrities who were attending. Inside the theatre, the atmosphere was brilliant, and I felt so lucky to be part of it. We had an after-show party at Browns in Leicester Square, which was great, and we got a lot of presents, including an Adrian Mole phone case from the directors and producers.
Did you have a favourite part of the script which stood-out to you?
The script is so funny and so much fun to act. Pandora had some really funny scenes and one of my favourites was the scene where she is telling Adrian that she will not be working in a cake shop but wants to be Prime Minister! The nativity scene, when Pandora gives birth, is hilarious and the audience were always really laughing, it was so much fun pretending to be pregnant.
Can you tell us about your time playing Bielke in Fiddler on the Roof at the Menier Chocolate Factory and what was it like being part of the cast?
Fiddler on the Roof was such a great show to be part of. The cast were amazing, and although the content of the show was serious, there were lots of funny parts. The adult cast were so talented and I learnt so much from watching them and also from Sir Trevor Nunn, who directed the show. I really loved the rehearsal period of this show as seeing it all come together was really interesting as I would also like the chance to direct one day if possible.
Last year, you performed in A Little Princess at the Royal Festival Hall, what was this like?
In A Little Princess, I was in the choir and it was really good fun to be part of it. Arlene Phillips directed it and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra played the music. It was a great experience to sing at the Royal Festival Hall.
How did you find the experience playing Brigitta in the UK and Ireland Tour of The Sound of Music?
I loved The Sound of Music tour as we got to travel all over the UK – Dublin, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Glasgow, as well as more local theatres. It was great and most of the theatres were really big, with thousands of seats and they were usually always sold out. It was really good fun staying away at hotels with the other children. I shared a room with Olivia, who played Louisa, and we always had a great time together and made a lot of memories. We were tutored for school whilst we were away, which usually involved two to three hours of schoolwork straight after breakfast. Brigitta is such a great part too as she is feisty and opinionated, but she is also sweet. The best part of The Sound of Music was the lovely songs we got to sing.
You played July and understudied the leading role of Annie in the UK and Ireland Tour of Annie, can you tell us about this?
The Annie UK Tour was also such a great experience, we travelled all around the UK by train or plane. I was only ten and it was the first time I had been away from home but I really loved it. The show was great and I worked with Lesley Joseph, who was lovely. The numbers, including It’s the Hard Knock Life and You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile, were really fun to perform and were my favourite parts of the show.
In 2014, you made your West End debut in Les Misérables as Young Eponine and cover Little Cosette, what are some of your favourite memories from working on this show?
Les Misérables was just the best show to be part of. When I went to the audition, I was eight, and really was not expecting to even get a callback. I got down to the last six and then my mum got a phone call to say that I had the part of Eponine! We were both just amazed and really couldn’t believe it. I also learnt the part of Little Cosette as I had to be the cover for that part too and I was lucky enough to get the chance to play her. The whole experience of being part of such a big West End show was brilliant and I felt very lucky to have worked with Carrie Hope Fletcher and the rest of the amazingly talented cast. I really learnt a lot about theatre and acting from that show.
Can you tell us about your training and how are you finding your time as a student at Redroofs Theatre School?
I have all my dance training which includes, ballet, tap, modern, street/commercial whilst I am at Redroofs. I also have singing lessons outside of school and I am a member of The British Theatre Academy. I love it at Redroofs Theatre School and have been there since Year 7. We do a lot of dancing, acting and singing, as well as academic subjects. Every day is a mixture of academic and vocational subjects so it makes school really fun. We perform in the school show once a year, at the end of the Spring term, and it is my favourite part of the school year.
Where does your interest in musical theatre come from and how did you get into performing?
I am not sure where my interest in musical theatre comes from as neither of my parents or any of my family are at all interested in it. My mum took me to see LazyTown at the theatre when I was three and I cried because I wasn’t allowed to get onto the stage. I remember at school, in reception when I was four, I loved performing in the Christmas play. When I was seven, I auditioned for a BTA production of Annie and got the part of Molly, which I was really surprised about as I hadn’t had any classes in dance or acting, and since then that is all I have wanted to do.
What plans do you have over the next few months?
In the next few months, I will just concentrate on my training and think about where I will apply for sixth form. I am hoping to do a B.Tech in Musical Theatre, and then maybe a degree in Acting after that, I would love to go to RADA.
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