Until theatres closed around the world for the foreseeable future, Rachelle Diedericks was in the cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in West End’s Palace Theatre where she covered many roles during her time in the show. After training at The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, Rachelle made her professional debut in Take That’s The Band Musical, which premiered in Manchester in September 2017, and saw her tour the UK and Ireland until March last year, which included a limited run in the West End at Theatre Royal Haymarket. We spoke to Rachelle about being cast in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, preparing for her roles in the show and playing Debbie in The Band Musical.
How was it booking your role in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre in the West End?
An absolute dream come true. When I graduated drama school I told my agents that I would love to be in Harry Potter and they really helped make my dream a reality. I remember getting the call from my agent and having to stop myself from screaming my dressing room down.
What did you know about the production before being cast and how did you prepare for joining?
I knew the story from reading the play a lot but not how they did any of the tricks. I tried to make sure that I was physically fit before joining because, from the multiple movement calls and workshops we had to do during the audition process, I knew it was going to be intense. Even then I wasn’t prepared for the daily body conditioning but it was a very fun rehearsal process because you could feel yourself getting stronger.
How was it seeing the set and costumes for the first time and performing on your debut in the show?
Well, we had months of costume fittings because of all the characters that I understudy and swing for, so it was weird knowing what bits were going to look like but not seeing the full picture. I remember watching the end of Part One with one of the other understudies Lola Adaja, who was my swing sister on the show because we covered all the same characters, and we both turned to each other when the house lights went up and, in that moment, we couldn’t quite believe that we got to be a part of the show.
Can you tell us about the roles you have covered/played, and what were the characters like to learn?
Covering was the best part of doing this show! I really enjoyed learning all the tracks because I love learning about everything that goes on in a show and who does what. I had three books for each of my different main covers and then I had my master swing bible that had all the tracks for every character that I possibly covered, so all the adult ensemble characters and all the student characters. I found the easiest way to learn the show for me was to learn what everyone did so that I never had to second guess what was happening and just go by a process of elimination if I forgot who picked up a chair on what count. Silly, but worked well for when I was covering one of the boys’ tracks.
Do you have any favourite memories you can share from your time in Harry Potter?
There was one day when all the three girls in my dressing room got to perform together as our roles/covers. As it happens on shows, a lot of people were off sick and injured. This was a fun day where we took many selfies of all three of us together in our different character costumes.
You made your professional debut as Debbie in Take That musical The Band, how did you find the experience?
It was an unforgettable debut and whenever I think of it I feel beyond blessed to have got so lucky for it to be my first job. To also be able to originate a role was something that was exhilarating. To be handed a new script during tech and having to throw yourself into it was an amazing and challenging experience as an actor fresh out of drama school.
How long were you rehearsing for the show before opening and what drew you to the role of Debbie?
We rehearsed for about three months in London and then a couple weeks before tech in Manchester. Rehearsing and discovering the character was a lot of fun because I saw her as the girl you really wanted to be your best friend. Someone that was always up for a laugh and an adventure and that was really fun to play every night.
How did you find touring for the first time and how was it playing at different venues around the country?
Touring was fun! A lot of the venues had such a different energy and I loved having to adapt and change constantly. I also got to see so much of the UK and meet all the amazing backstage in house crew in the amazing regional theatres and it reminded me of how hard everyone in our industry works.
Can you say about what it was like transferring to the West End at Theatre Royal Haymarket and making your West End debut in the show?
It was something that I never thought would happen and I never thought that I’d get to have my West End debut, let alone in the theatre that I saw my first West End show.
What was your favourite part of playing the role and what do you miss most about performing in the show?
My favourite part of playing Debbie was definitely getting to sing Relight My Fire every night and dance around with the girls. The thing I miss the most is getting to watch my favourite parts of the show from the wings. My favourite song was Said It All and it was done so beautifully that every time I could watch it or listen from the wings I would. It’s also a beyond beautiful story that I felt very lucky to be able to help tell.
How did you get into acting and is it something you always wanted to do?
One day in secondary school someone dropped out of our production of Macbeth so I stepped up and made my debut as Guard Number 2 after always refusing to do anything but just the dancing and singing. It’s one of the only things I’ve ever enjoyed learning about so after begging my parents to let me go to drama school, it seemed like the only logical step for me.
Do you enjoy watching theatre shows, if so, do you have a favourite, and do you remember the first one you saw?
Hundred percent, I am happiest when I’m in a theatre watching a show. It’s hard to pick a favourite but my current favourites have to be Girl From The North Country and also Red by John Logan. My first show was One Man, Two Guvnors at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
What do you like doing in your free time?
Reading, running, singing and I’m also playing a lot of PlayStation at the moment. Would highly recommend The Last of Us Part 2.
We understand you trained at The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, can you say about your time there?
My time at LIPA was amazing. Liverpool is one of the most vibrant cities in the UK and I’m so glad I got to study and live in that city for the three years that I was at drama school.
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