As the original Jane Seymour in SIX the Musical, Natalie Paris has toured the UK and has been with the show in the West End since opening last year, and with the rest of the cast, she has performed on live TV including This Morning and Britain’s Got Talent. The SIX Queens were nominated at last year’s Olivier Awards, where they also performed, and with the 2020 WhatsOnStage Awards, the musical won the BBC Radio 2 Audience Award for Best Musical, where Natalie made a speech on behalf of the writers, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss. Natalie is also a music artist and is part of girl group Sorella, which has seen her tour Europe and perform in Miami, and hosted her first solo concert at The Other Palace with Lambert Jackson’s New Year, New Favourites in January. Talking with us, Natalie chats about playing Jane Seymour in SIX the Musical, performing at the Royal Albert Hall and being part of music group Sorella.
What is it like playing Jane Seymour in SIX the Musical and performing the song, Heart of Stone?
Getting to play Jane Seymour every night is such a gift. From the first moment I heard Heart of Stone and read the script, I just knew this part and song was perfect for me. I am so honoured to get to tell her story every night and be a part of a musical that re-tells this period of history from the wives’ point of view – they were amazing women! To share the stage with so many incredibly talented Queens, and of course, our amazing ‘ladies in waiting’ (our band) is very humbling, and I feel very privileged every night. Every time I sing Heart of Stone it makes me very emotional and even after getting to sing it every night for the last couple of years, I never tire of it and don’t think I ever will. Thank you, Toby (Marlow) and Lucy (Moss) for writing such a beautiful and heartfelt ballad, and for having faith in me to bring Jane alive on stage.
What did you know about the script before auditioning?
I actually didn’t know anything about the show when I first auditioned. It was for the first workshop, so all I got told in the brief was that it was about the wives of Henry VIII, but in the style of a Beyoncé pop concert and to bring a pop song with me to the audition. In the recall, we got given the opening scene to workshop, and it wasn’t until I got in the room for the third time that I got taught the chorus of Heart of Stone and saw a little bit of the script. I remember loving it and really hoping I would get the job when I left.
How different do you find the atmosphere performing to audiences now to when the show first opened?
We are so lucky that we have an amazing fan base (the QUEENDOM) so, for most shows, we have an incredible atmosphere. At the beginning of the tour (2018), people were only just finding out about SIX, but as soon as we got to Edinburgh it all took off, massively! I remember one audience at the end of the show were so loud and literally leapt out of their seats – it took my breath away and I just wanted to cry. It was then that it dawned on me that this was something special and how lucky I was to be a part of it. From then on, the audiences have got better and better.
With the musical, you’ve appeared on shows such as This Morning and Britain’s Got Talent, how is the experience on live TV?
I remember we were so nervous for This Morning. It was our first big TV performance and we were just so excited and pinching ourselves not quite believing we were there. Britain’s Got Talent was the same, such a surreal experience that I’m extremely grateful for. Having grown up watching these programmes, it was incredible to actually meet some of the stars in person and be invited to perform on the shows.
What are the Olivier Awards like to attend and how was it being nominated at the 2019 event?
I am still not over the fact that the girls and I were nominated for an Olivier Award, and I don’t think I ever will be! We had a show that day so everything was a bit of a rush to get to the red carpet. It all happened so quickly that it sort of didn’t sink in till the next day. I remember taking my seat at the Royal Albert Hall next to Millie (Anne Boleyn) and as soon as the cast of The Lion King started performing The Circle of Life, we both squeezed each other’s hand and had tears in our eyes. The most memorable part of the day for me though was our performance. To look out to a packed Royal Albert Hall, and be up there performing with my fellow Queens was probably one of the best moments of my life. Even though we didn’t win, the reaction from the audience was so overwhelming and meant everything. I cried as soon as we got off the stage!
SIX won an award at this year’s WhatsOnStage Awards, what was this like to receive?
Being nominated for a WhatsOnStage award was so amazing and exciting. I remember our company manager coming into our dressing rooms whilst we were getting ready and said to me, ‘could you prepare a speech, just in case you win this evening, as Toby and Lucy can’t be here’ and I thought oh no, I wasn’t prepared for this and absolutely panicked at the reality of me having to accept the award on behalf of the show and make a speech! To win and receive it from the iconic Elaine Page was another surreal moment, and thank god the speech went smoothly in front of her and a whole theatre full of people that I admire, or that could have been extremely embarrassing!
How was it performing in the West End as a child and what are some of your favourite memories?
I am so grateful for all the experiences and memories I have from getting to perform from such a young age. Even though I was a child, it taught me so much about the industry, professionalism, and having a good work ethic. But, most importantly, I had the best time, it was so much fun and I got to meet so many incredible performers. One of my funniest memories was being in Les Misérables for the first time as Young Eponine. My friend Sarah came to watch the show with my parents, and as soon as I came onto the stage, she jumped out of the seat and started shouting my name and waving her arms in the air. I think I was only about seven, so I was so shocked I didn’t know how to react. I remember staring back at her in horror for a split second, and just about managing to finish the scene. We still laugh about this now.
Was there anything that inspired your musical theatre career?
I was actually obsessed with the film Annie when I was little, and I used to sing the songs from the show all the time, I even put on performances with my friends in the school playground. I think it was then that I realised I wanted to be a performer. When I was about six or seven, I got into a local production of Annie, and you can imagine my excitement of getting to be in this show on a real stage with a real audience.
You’ve trained at Italia Conti, West End Masterclass and RADA, how was your experience training?
I think each school taught me something different. My school years at Italia Conti I will cherish forever, I felt so lucky that I got to sing and dance and do what I loved for half the day every day. At West End Masterclass I learnt so much and was given so many amazing opportunities to learn from top industry professionals, and it was actually Michael Xavier who encouraged me to audition for RADA. Going to train purely in classical acting was a little daunting as I had always trained in musical theatre, but it really was one of the best years of my life and I learnt so much about the craft and myself from so many inspirational teachers.
You had your own concert at The Other Palace with New Year, New Favourites, how was this?
My first solo concert was amazing. I was so nervous in the weeks leading up to it, funnily enough, more about the talking element than the singing. I think having to be completely yourself on stage is one of the scariest things, but having so much support from my amazing family, friends and incredible fans I managed to find my groove and really get into it. I enjoyed myself so much, and I hope I get to do another one in the near future.
What was Magic at the Musicals like to be part of?
Magic at the Musicals was one of those moments when you think, did that really happen?! Walking out to a sold-out Royal Albert Hall on my own was breathtaking and a little overwhelming. I remember doing the soundcheck with the amazing orchestra, and when the ArtsEd choir came in for the chorus, I got tingles. There have been so many musical theatre legends that have performed at Magic at the Musicals, so to be a part of it didn’t really feel real.
Can you tell us about being part of Sorella?
The word Sorella actually means ‘sister’ in Italian, and that pretty much sums us up. Getting to do what I love with three of my closest friends who share the same passion as me is an absolute joy. We have been through so much together and have an amazing chemistry on and off the stage. Anyone that knows me well knows I am a sucker for a harmony, and I love spending time arranging songs for us to sing, so hearing them come to life with such fabulous vocalists is so fulfilling.
How did the group get together and how was it touring Europe and visiting Miami?
We were actually put together by a management company that we used to work for, and as soon as we first got in a room together we just clicked on all levels and we knew it was going to be something special. Getting the opportunity to travel and perform with the girls has given me so many fantastic experiences, and we have created so many amazing memories together. Just over two years ago, we left the management company and re-launched ourselves as Sorella, and even though I have had such a busy schedule with SIX, we are still rehearsing, performing and planning future projects together, the bond will never be broken.
Can you tell us about some of the music/theatre projects you’ve been involved with during lockdown?
I am very fortunate to have been asked to be involved in many virtual projects, workshops and concerts during this lockdown period and have also taken part in some recordings for the NHS and other charities which I was so delighted to be a part of – thank goodness for technology! Even though this current climate is very difficult and uncertain, especially for us performers, I have been so proud to be a part of our community. Seeing so many people being creative and getting involved in so many projects to keep our industry alive has been so amazing to see and hear. I am currently working on an album with my friend Ross Simpson at Woodbury Recording Studios which I’m very excited about and I can’t wait for you all to hear it when it’s eventually finished.
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