Arabella Duffy was in the original West End cast of Waitress the Musical at the Adelphi Theatre as Lulu, which saw her make her West End debut with the show alongside her onstage mother Jenna, played by Katharine McPhee, and she performed at the musical’s press night last year. During lockdown, Arabella was involved with fellow Waitress cast member Marisha Wallace’s music video for her charity single of Tomorrow from Annie. Currently, Arabella is recording as Betty in the CBeebies show Hey Duggee, and has previously worked on a film produced by Roy Button and directed by Peter Richardson. We chatted to Arabella recently about playing Lulu in Waitress, working alongside her stage mother Katharine McPhee and voicing the role of Betty in CBeebies series Hey Duggee.
How did you find your time as Lulu in Waitress the Musical at the Adelphi Theatre?
Waitress was an exciting experience from the very beginning. At the auditions, we met a priest who gave us a good luck prayer and we saw this as a sign, coupled with the fact my nickname is Lou Lou. I met so many wonderful people, the fans were possibly the nicest people. I am still very close to them.
What was it like making your West End debut in the show and attending the press night after party?
I wasn’t nervous at press night, but very excited to finally perform to an audience. I loved wearing a special party dress to the party, I was so shocked photographers wanted to take my picture.
How was it being part of the original West End cast and working with the other cast members which included Katharine McPhee as Jenna, your onstage mother?
I really enjoyed my time with Katharine McPhee-Foster, she had a very special aura, and I loved her dog Wilma. I used to keep her company when her mama was on stage.
Do you remember how you felt on your opening performance and your final show and what do you miss most about being in the musical?
On my first performance I felt so happy, the finale was so exciting as the fans really loved the show and clapped for every performer. My last show was very emotional, I never wanted to stop being Lulu. I miss my chats with the cast members and all the fun we had when we were backstage.
You were part of Marisha’s (Wallace) lockdown video for her charity single of Tomorrow from Annie, how was it being involved?
Marisha Wallace is a very warm, generous actress who always made time for me, I wanted to be part of Tomorrow as it felt like the hope song during the pandemic.
We understand you are voicing the role of Betty in CBeebies animation Hey Duggee, how did it feel finding out you’d booked the role?
I really wanted the role of Betty as voiceover work is so much fun, I enjoy the show and Betty was always my favourite character. I was shocked and over the moon to be Betty, I love the team behind the show and felt very comfortable taking direction in the sound booth.
This will be your first CBeebies voiceover, how different do you think this will be to your other acting work?
I think like all my work, I know it will be fun. I’m always learning new things. I love all the technical side of things. I recently made a short film all with green screen.
You’ve been part of a film produced by Roy Button and directed by Peter Richardson, can you tell us about it?
This was a film very close to my heart, I was prepared to give up the role of Gretl for it. My grandfather passed away from cancer so I really wanted to do something to help. I learnt so much about green screen and all the special work that goes on behind the scenes on VFX/post-production. I loved the experience so much that my heart is really into film now.
You’ll be filming in Tuscany later this year, what can you say about this?
I’m about to shoot a film in Tuscany, I had to wear a prosthetic mask, that was scary but I’m proud I did it.
How do you prepare for auditions and what’s it like waiting for recalls or finding out if you’ve booked the role?
In all my castings I always try and have fun and just be me. I’ve learnt it’s not about being good or bad at a casting, it’s simply what the casting director is looking for. It’s never easy not getting picked for a role, but as you get older it gets easier.
What’s your favourite part of your career?
The best thing about the industry is the friends I make, both with actors and the people working behind the scenes.
What do you like doing other than acting?
I love playing my violin and reading about ancient Egypt. I want to be a forensic pathologist and an Egyptologist when I’m older.
Can you tell us about some of your modelling work?
My favourite modelling job was for Disney, I got to wear the new Elsa dress, I can’t wait for the shoot to be out.
What TV shows, films and theatre shows do you enjoy watching?
My favourite thing is the Palladium pantomime and watching documentaries on Rome and Egypt.
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