In February this year, Miracle Chance opened in the London premiere of Be More Chill as Christine Canigula at The Other Palace, with the rest of the run cancelled due to theatres closing around the world, and the cast have recently announced they will be performing at The Red Solo Cup Concert at the end of this month. Before joining Be More Chill, Miracle’s stage work has seen her tour with The Rocky Horror Show as Columbia, play Cynthia in Priscilla Queen of the Desert and be part of the cast of Tom Fletcher’s The Christmasaurus Live at Eventim Apollo. Alongside acting, Miracle is also singer-songwriter and is part of music group Arroh with fellow performers Kat Kleve and Blythe Jandoo who are set to release their latest single at the end of October. Speaking with Miracle, she talks about playing Christine Canigula in Be More Chill at The Other Palace, touring with The Rocky Horror Show and her time in The Christmasaurus Live.
How was it playing Christine Canigula in Be More Chill at The Other Palace?
It’s almost difficult, simply because I think we’re all so heartbroken over not being able to do what we love every single day. I really love the music, and Christine’s got such a character arc and she was a really different type of character. She was the anchor in the story who was always questioning Jeremy’s motives. It was such a joy to explore her.
Playing Christine Canigula in Be More Chill at The Other Palace was pretty awesome. I remember our opening night was so electric – the audience were whooping and cheering over the Overture and when we came on, and there was a standing ovation at the end! It was amazing to be part of a show where the fans are such a huge part of it and they love and appreciate what you do. To be in a show that is so well-received and has quite a big fanbase was lovely, and meeting those fans at stage door every night was pretty awesome!
What drew you to the script and how was it preparing for the London premiere of the musical?
I found that there was a character in the script for everyone to identify with, and there were characters who were able to mirror certain problems or issues that someone might be going through in their own life. Often, we go to the theatre because we want to reflect, forget and have a good time… and that’s what Be More Chill is. It’s about the voices in our head, and the show seems to resonate with me even more now that we’re in lockdown because the voices in my head just keep popping up. You start to understand that it’s a very everyday thing and it’s very normal, and that’s what I love about the show.
The script is very fast-paced and it’s very funny and light. It’s very specific but, at the same time, it feels like you can easily put your own stamp on it. Preparing for the London premiere of the show was so amazing because we had all the Broadway team there – the amazing producers and the wonderful director, Stephen Brackett. I really, really loved working with Stephen; he brings out the best in actors, lets you explore and he’s so funny. They all let us find our own interpretation of each character, and to be able to have that freedom was so liberating, and it’s not something you get to do a lot, so that was really exciting.
There was a lot of hype because it’s got a big fanbase so there were lots of interviews and questions, and that was great because people were so excited to see what was going to happen. It was a lot of fun.
With the show opening not long before theatres closed for the foreseeable future, what was it like working on the show and what were you looking forward to for continuing your role?
I think we’d been running for just over a month. We’d had our press night and we were all buzzing. We met a lot of fans after the shows – and we had people come over from places like Mexico and Australia – and they always had such kind things to say. It was really difficult at the end because one of the reasons why the show is so successful is because the fanbase is so loyal and you really connect with that world. I’d performed in Rocky Horror previously to Be More Chill, and that also has a loyal fanbase, so I really understood how the fan culture was at the heart of keeping the show alive.
It was really sad when it was starting to look like theatres might be closing. We’d get messages on social media from people saying they couldn’t make it due to COVID and that it wasn’t safe to travel. I think a lot of people were hoping to come that didn’t get to see it, and it was hard because sometimes we’d receive a message from someone saying they were meant to be at the show that day, and we could see where their seats were and it started to become quite real. Also, we weren’t able to go and meet the fans anymore which was difficult because they came to support us and we really wanted to give them our time and we couldn’t.
It was a really surreal moment when theatres closed, and I don’t think I ever would have thought in my whole career that it would happen. It was our day off on the Monday that the theatres went dark and I was with two of my friends and we put the news on because we were anticipating the live updates. My heart broke for the entire industry. It was definitely a sad day… it was like a gloom had come over London.
I think I would have enjoyed developing the character even more. I don’t think you’re ever done finding new layers to characters, and the longer the run, the more refined your performance gets. Also, the cast were so lovely and everyone got along so well. I’m heartbroken for them all because it’s such a lovely company. I miss them all and I miss working with them and getting to know everyone. I miss the show and the buzz around it, and the amazing audiences that we had.
It was awesome working with Joe Iconis as well. Being able to work with someone who was so close to the creation of the project and characters was amazing. To be able to ask questions to someone so close to the work is an experience that you rarely get, and it was just so incredible. It was amazing being able to flex your acting muscles and it’s what drives me so much. I’m such a big advocate of physical comedy and physicalising a character and embarking on its brand as much as you can. I love being able to discover areas of acting that I didn’t think I’d be able to achieve or be brave enough to break out into. It’s something that really excites me and something I definitely got to do in Be More Chill.
I just miss Be More Chill so much. I love Christine and I really hope that we can reopen and I get to play that role again because I’m not done. I got to do a lot of improv acting with that role to keep it fresh and that’s what I enjoy as an actor. There’s so much to play with in that role, like singing I Love Play Rehearsal every night, and getting to live that dream as a musical theatre performer and having that moment for that character. The music was beautiful to sing, the journey was excellent, the cast were brilliant and I was just really, really looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into the run. That hasn’t been 2020, but hopefully one day we might be able to continue the show and enjoy those things… you never know.
Can you tell us about your time playing Columbia in The Rocky Horror Show?
I started watching The Rocky Horror Show when I was a young teenager, and I remember seeing it and absolutely loving it. When I got cast as Columbia, I was so excited as The Rocky Horror Show has always been one of my dream shows.
Rocky Horror is definitely tongue-in-cheek, there is definitely heightened comedy and sometimes it’s a bit slapsticky. Richard O’Brien had emailed us as a cast and said whatever we did, we had to play The Rocky Horror Show as serious as possible. He said we had to play the script like it was Shakespeare, otherwise the comedy wouldn’t land, and we had to portray the characters, and whatever they were going through, however absurd, as close to their truth as possible because then it was funny. That really stuck with me.
The role of Columbia is so challenging. It was a wonderful opportunity to get my teeth stuck into a crazy, mad character. I think Priscilla was the first time I went outside of my comfort zone in a physical comedy way, so it was really awesome to be able to have a slightly larger role in Rocky Horror to try and keep consistent and have no boundaries.
What was really amazing with that team, and the same with the Be More Chill team, was that they were so open with what we could do. For Be More Chill, they asked us to show them what we wanted to bring, and said that even though it might not be right, they would rather see anything and see us portray it and then take it from there. That was exactly the same with the incredible Rocky Horror team – Chris Luscombe and Nathan Wright – they allowed me to go as far as I physically needed to for Columbia because she’s so wild.
I remember at my audition I’d been given a direction after my first round and then went back and did the monologue that Columbia does in the second act, when she is sprayed by a spray gun that tranquillises her and sends her a bit loopy. I really went to town and I don’t think I’ve ever put so much extra stuff in an audition. I was running around the room aimlessly, I whacked my head on the wall (obviously all theatrically), and I think I was doing snow angels on the floor of the audition room. I really was going quite mad!
Columbia has a squeaky voice, it’s so comical, and it was amazing to be able to play the role, be able to enjoy it and know that too far is not too far. The audience are on your side and that’s the most amazing thing about The Rocky Horror Show. It’s different every night and the shoutouts get so absurd. Sometimes there will be a new shoutout you’ve never had and they really get you. I love that there are no limitations with the show, and who doesn’t love The Rocky Horror Show? I adore it. I’ve got a lot of love for Columbia.
What was the show like to be a part of and how was it touring with production?
It was so fortunate to be in. It’s very loved by fans and there is also cosplay so you never get bored looking into the audience! Obviously we’re not supposed to be looking into the audience but you just see out the corner of your eye a show girl who’s in drag. There’s one gentleman who comes and he’s got these amazing outfits that are like Le Cage aux Folles, and I’ve seen so many different colours that he wears. Some of the fans have their favourite characters that they always come dressed as and you start to recognise a lot of them in the front row and get to know them in the community. They’re so supportive and are such lovely people.
The message of that show is to be who you want to be and that we embrace the different. It’s always really interesting to meet the fans of that show and see how much they love it and how much they value it. Sometimes the show has helped them get through whatever they’re dealing with. There are also young kids and young teenagers who are seeing The Rocky Horror Show for the first time and it’s so touching meeting them afterwards and hearing their stories. Being a part of it was amazing.
There is never a dull moment with Rocky Horror. Our closing night was at the Edinburgh Playhouse for 3000 people, and I hope I’ll have a closing night like it again! Hearing the shoutouts from 3000 people is not something you’re going to forget lightly… it’s quite incredible. Everyone gets up to do the Time Warp and it’s spectacular to watch. I think the first time I ever saw them do it was in Brighton over Christmas. It was like Brighton’s pantomime, which I thought was really appropriate. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. They do warn you in rehearsals and they practice the shoutouts so you don’t laugh when it actually happens, but it really is funny and it does catch you off guard! I now want to go and see The Rocky Horror Show and sit in the audience and do all the chants because I know every single one of them now… I can’t wait! I want to go dressed as Riff Raff!
There are so many places that I remember the incredible crowds and there’s not really another show like it. To have the audience invigorate you on days when you are tired and they make you laugh and you start enjoying it again is amazing.
What was the music and choreography like to perform?
I love all the songs and it varies into a musical theatre sound, 50s/60s pop sound and then a bit of rock and roll as well. Hot Patootie was so high energy, there used to be sweat coming down my face. I don’t think I’ve ever been more in shape than I was when I did that show because I was leaping and screaming all over the stage. Nathan, the choreographer, would always say he never wanted 90% or 110%, he always wanted 100%. The choreography was so sexy, I loved it. I used to sit in the dressing room every night listening to Laura Harrison, who played Magenta, sing Science Fiction / Double Feature, and I just absolutely love that song. It’s so classic and tugs at the nostalgic heartstrings. Seeing all of the material was a joy because it’s known, it’s loved and it’s excellent.
You played Cynthia in Priscilla Queen of the Desert, how was this?
It was very good. I did that at Hornchurch which is a really lovely regional theatre. If you ever get a chance to see something there, you definitely should. It’s a great theatre to support because they put a lot back into the community in Hornchurch. That’s what I love about regional theatres – they care about the community around them and are about making art really accessible to everyone. I think that’s so important. It’s lovely to work for a theatre that gives so much back to the community and I would work there again in a heartbeat. They also put on nice food buffets!
Priscilla was a really great show. It was an actor-muso so I played the guitar and played the role of Cynthia, who is a Filipino woman married to Bob. It was the first time I’d ever played an East Asian character so I just wanted to do her justice. It was also the first time I’d come out of my norm and what I was used to playing – normal, everyday people. Cynthia is wild!
I remember for my audition, I had my guitar, and I was a bit flustered because it’s quite a long way to Hornchurch from Central London, and my audition ended up quite large. It just so happened that that’s what they were after, and I hadn’t really been able to stretch my acting ability for a long time since I’d trained, so it was really great to be able to play such a bizarre, larger than life character. It was an incredible gateway into exploring roles that I maybe hadn’t had a chance to play in my professional career, and for that I’m really grateful.
The excellent actor-muso company were just so talented and they could play seven instruments and do it while wearing a cowboy hat and dancing at the same time, so it really was so much fun. I think it might have been the first time that I had actually played someone over the age of eighteen as well, apart from when I covered Julia in The Wedding Singer. It was very enjoyable and I really recommend supporting that theatre because they’re really lovely people.
What was it like performing in The Christmasaurus Live?
My goodness, that was an excellent show! I’m still reeling from The Christmasaurus Live – I had so much fun on that show. Tom Fletcher (best-known for being from McFly) wrote this children’s book called The Christmasaurus about a flying dinosaur. The protagonist is a boy who is in a wheelchair and, unfortunately, can’t walk. His Christmas adventure is meeting the Christmasaurus and it’s such a beautiful story… it’s so magical.
Everyone who was involved was so lovely and it was a stunning Christmas show at the Eventim Apollo. Luisa (Guerreiro) and Mikey (Brett) did the puppets for the Christmasaurus, and every time I saw the Christmasaurus walk, I was enthralled. The Eventim Apollo is so huge and vast and when it’s your Christmas job, it’s amazing. There were four boys and four girls in the ensemble, we played eight elves and I was called Snozzletrump, and it was a really fun show to be part of.
I don’t know if I’ve ever told Tom and Harry (Judd) this, but I’m such a massive McFly fan! One of the first gigs I ever saw was McFly in Devon, and I remember absolutely loving it. I was about thirteen years old, I was quite a big McFly fan and I knew a lot of the songs. I’ve listened to their music since I was a teenager and it inspires me and it definitely reflects in my own writing as a musician. To get the opportunity to work with Harry and Tom, and also Matt Willis, who is absolutely lovely, from Busted, and to work with musicians who I really respected and love their talent, was so much fun. It was like being at a really fun McBusted concert every night! There was a part in the show where they would perform a number and it was like they were in a band and it was so fun! To work with Tom, and to know that he’d written that whole show, was amazing.
I hope the world gets to see that show again because one Christmas is most certainly not enough for that wonderful show. I had the best time!
In 2017, you understudied the role of Julia in The Wedding Singer, can you say about this?
Yes, I think a really important part of any actor’s career is to learn to understudy roles. Obviously, there are so many people who are lucky enough to get a really great role early on, in the West End or on tour and get to experience playing these big lead roles, and that is amazing too, and that is one way into the industry, but my way was quite different. I had to work quite hard and climb the ladder, and I’m actually really thankful for that. The first job I did was Angelina Ballerina the mouse – three shows a day sometimes – and I think when you start somewhere like that, you’re learning your craft, you learn how to tour, you learn what it’s like to work in a professional production, you learn what it’s like working with other cast members and you have to do your makeup and hair.
To cover Julia, who is the female lead in The Wedding Singer, was really exciting for me, and a really great opportunity to know that I’m able to go on stage and fully develop a character, and feel really confident that I can carry the role and the show won’t crumble. A protagonist is important in a show as they drive it and they give the audience a reason to follow the story and engage with the show, so to get that opportunity was really exciting. It really taught me a lot and it’s a lesson that I think can only ever add to your skill set, and can only ever be a credit to developing your career. We all need experiences like that in order to grow and know how to approach the next job.
It’s not necessarily nerve-racking because you get used to it being last minute after you’ve covered a few times, but I think anybody who covers in our industry is very, very talented and it’s really quite a skill to learn how to go on at the drop of a hat. I have a lot of respect for everyone who has done that. I think it’s a great lesson.
You’ve done a few workshops, what do you enjoy most about doing these?
I love it! I did the initial workshop for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and it’s so amazing to see how far that show has come, from reading the script and learning the songs in the room. That’s what I love about workshops – you never know when they’re going to crop up again or when they’re going to be produced. I always want to do workshops because they’re at the bed of that creative hub, and as a creative person myself, I love creativity and I would enjoy being an assistant director. Being at the very beginning stages and to be part of developing something and discussing ideas is a lot of fun. Also, the material hasn’t been heard before so you can do whatever you want with the character, which is quite rare. The more you explore, the better it is for the team because they can see all the different options of how it can be. You often meet a lot of fun actors as well. I do really enjoy workshops, it feels like you are back at drama school. They’re a lot of fun.
Was there anything that drew you to a theatre career?
There was a raised platform at my house and I would always pretend that it was a stage and I would say that I was going to do a performance and that I was going to do Spice Girls or Oasis, and that was since the age of three of four. When you ask a child for the first time what they want to be, I literally turned to my mum and said I wanted to be a pop star, so I don’t think she ever managed to get me to turn myself away from that idea of being in the performing arts industry.
I really loved the 10th Anniversary Concert of Les Misérables with Lea Salonga because I’m half Chinese and it was amazing to see an East Asian artist up there and someone I could relate to. I absolutely loved her because I felt connected to her and I saw someone up there who looked like me. I think it’s really important for young people today who aspire to be in performing arts to have someone who they look up to and know they’re represented and that could be them. Young people need to feel heard, they need to feel represented and they need to feel inspired as much as they can. They can follow their dreams and pursue whatever career they want to and not feel like it’s impossible for them because of how they might feel or what their background is. I grew up in Devon where there isn’t that much ethnic diversity and I think Lea Salonga playing Eponine got to me in a way that I don’t think I realised at the time. I loved Eponine because I’m obsessed with Lea Salonga. My poor parents probably sat through a million shows of Les Mis as I used to do the whole show to them.
I started dancing at a young age. My grandma was a tap dancer so she loved seeing me in The Rocky Horror Show and I think it was a really big moment for her seeing me do a tap solo. My great grandma used to dance on cruise ships so I think performing runs in my family. My dad was a singer-songwriter, he plays the guitar and he’s got a beautiful voice, so I’ve always been surrounded by the arts and performing. I think I maybe blurred out the more logical subjects and honed in on performing because I loved it so much.
My grandma wanted me to start dancing young so I did tap first, then modern, then ballet, except I always wanted to miss tap class because it was on the same time as The Simpsons on TV! I used to do dance festivals and competitions and there was a song and dance section which I loved. I managed to find a local drama group and I’d go to any club I could find. I’m one of four kids so maybe it was a nice way of expressing myself as, when you’re young, there is so much going on, so it was a nice place where I could go. As I grew up, I started getting into the acting side of things a lot more, and I started reading more plays. It wasn’t that I didn’t love dance as much, but think I became a lot more intrigued by the acting and singing side. I was writing music at the same time and I think it became a natural path for me to go into theatre. I’ve always been drawn to the industry. I think I was initially going to go down the dance route, but I took a different direction and became really obsessed with acting.
I remember seeing Cats when I was about seven and it came to Plymouth and thinking it was amazing. Wicked was a really big thing when I was a teenager and I loved that. I love Spring Awakening, I’m obsessed with the soundtrack and I used to play it over and over. All I wanted to do was go to London and see Spring Awakening but, unfortunately, it closed before I got to see it. Folk music is really at the heart of the music I listen to and my style of singing, so when I saw a musical that was a bit more folky, had an interesting concept and felt young and edgy, I was so obsessed. I think Spring Awakening was a big catapult into me enjoying theatre and wanting to explore it more.
I was really, really lucky to get a scholarship and go training at Idyllwild Arts Academy in America for a year, and I think I was hooked from that minute on. I knew then that I wanted to be an artist in whatever capacity. I started looking at experimental theatre work, physical theatre and mask and really just got into the whole aspect of it. On my way home, before I went to GSA, I managed to go via New York and I could afford to go and see one show. I really wanted to see Next to Normal and I remember I cried during the whole show because it was so good.
Can you tell us about some of the concerts you’ve been doing while in lockdown?
I have done a couple of concerts in lockdown which have been really fun and definitely a different experience. It’s hilarious because you finish a song and no one reacts and there are no claps so you say ‘thank you’ not knowing if the audience enjoyed it or not. It doesn’t quite have the same feeling, but obviously that’s what we have to do at the minute and that’s fine.
I did a Leave a Light On concert, I did a 45-minute set which was fun. I also incorporated some of my original stuff as I’m also a singer-songwriter and it’s a massive passion of mine. I was really missing Be More Chill so it was really nice to perform some numbers from that and it was actually really fun. It’s great as it allows people to access some sort of theatre and I think it’s really important that we can keep going through this really hard time. We all have to support each other as much as we can. A win for anyone in the industry is a win for us all. Lambert Jackson are producing such incredible work, I’ve seen some of the stuff they’ve been doing recently and I’m so supportive of it. I’m also in awe because I think it’s amazing that we are adapting and making it work.
I did a couple of shorter concerts for charity which are really nice. One was for a hospice with my friend Joanne, which was lovely, and we got to do wartime classics. It’s been great having something to occupy my time with when we’re not able to do the thing that we love. It’s an amazing distraction!
It’s lovely to be able to connect with people, and my family members so grateful when they are watching because they get to see me perform. I think it’s nice to get people together. It was really hard for some people at the start when we locked down with mental health and not seeing people, so it was amazing that we could connect that way. I think that was really important, especially for people like my grandparents.
It’s definitely an exciting time to be creative with what you can do with music and how we can still make the art that we want to without being near each other. I think, after this lockdown and after this pandemic, when it calms down, hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot of incredible work because people have had to find other ways to create stuff. I have enjoyed the online concerts but I’m definitely eager to get back to the live audiences when it’s safe to do so.
The Be More Chill cast will be doing an online concert on 26th September at 9pm (BST) with tickets on sale now! It will be called The Red Solo Cup Concert.
What are some of your favourite musicals to watch?
The massively influential one, which I’ve already mentioned, is Spring Awakening. I absolutely loved Girl from the North Country – I thought it was incredible and the acting performances were so beautiful. I love Bob Dylan. I still love going to see Wicked. I sit there and listen to the Overture and I absolutely love it. I love Spelling Bee and I think it’s hilarious. I did Spelling Bee in high school and I’d love to do that show again! It’s different every night and you have to learn lots of fun words and the definitions. The music is beautiful and that show has got a big place in my heart. GSA did Merrily We Roll Along when I was in third year, I wasn’t in it but I watched it and I cried, I loved it so much. I love that music and I really love the story. The simple musicals are the most effective. I also adore Love Story. Another one is Close To You, it was a Burt Bacharach reimagined show and it was so amazing. Finally, Legally Blonde is one of my favourites. I love it so much and I think it’s really funny. I really love the music, actors and everything about it.
We understand you are part of the music group Arroh, can you say about this and what upcoming music plans do you have?
We have been together for a couple of years now and we are going to be releasing a single late October. I’m really excited about it, so watch out for that! We’re going to have a video as well so, if you fancy giving us a follow, we are @arrohband on Instagram and Twitter. We are a vocal harmony trio. It’s kind of like dream popish, folky vocals mixed with industrial production.
We’re going to be releasing an EP this year which is really exciting, but we are doing it single by single. We’ll be releasing a couple more singles in the coming months, so it’s been quite fun to be able to have the time in lockdown because we are normally so busy with other things so it’s been amazing to remotely record a couple of songs. We can’t do live gigs at the minute, which is sad, but definitely watch out for our videos and singles that are coming out. We have a great choreographer called Ainsley Ricketts, check him out on Instagram, he’s an absolute star and he’s one of my very close friends. His choreography is beautiful.
I’m a singer-songwriter which is really helpful because, if I’m not in a show and want to be creative, I think writing music has really saved me in that aspect. I’m planning to release a couple of solo songs that I have been working on for a while, so definitely watch out for all of that. It’s quite folky-based and it’s really exciting.
It’s nice to have a project that you have ownership on and can say what you want to say and sing about the things that you are feeling and the current topics that move you. That’s why I think it’s really important to have music in your life. I’m certainly very excited for our latest single to come out.
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