Before theatres closed due to the pandemic, Kerri Norville was performing in the cast of & Juliet, directed by Luke Sheppard, at the Shaftesbury Theatre making her West End debut and has recently appeared on Strictly Come Dancing with the show for Musicals Week. Kerri made her professional debut in another Luke Sheppard production, Working at Southwark Playhouse, and her other shows have included The Lorax in London and Canada, and the UK and International Tour of Madagascar the Musical, where she was Associate Choreographer. We recently found out from Kerri about making her West End debut in & Juliet, performing on Strictly Come Dancing and her time in The Lorax.
You’ve been part of the cast of & Juliet since it opened in Manchester, followed by the West End at the Shaftesbury Theatre, what is the show like to be part of?
Nothing short of amazing! Working on a new musical with a great team is just pure joy. If you’ve seen the show you’ll know it’s full of fun and that’s exactly what we had when creating it. It’s been great to see the show evolve and change from Manchester to London and loads of fun to be involved with.
Was there anything that originally drew you to the musical and do you have a favourite song to perform?
I’d caught wind of a new jukebox musical with a twist directed by Luke Sheppard. Luke directed my first job and it was magical just like all of his work, so there was no way I wanted to miss out on this. Max Martin’s catalogue of songs was the winning ticket for me – I grew up listening to these absolute bangers. Problem/Can’t Feel My Face is without a doubt my favourite to perform – who doesn’t love a mashup?!
What was it like having the musical return to appear on Strictly Come Dancing?
Surreal! The prospect of performing anywhere seemed like an impossible task last year, so it was a real privilege to perform with my &J family waving the theatre flag for all! I also love Strictly Come Dancing so I was pretty pleased.
How did it feel making your West End debut with the show?
It was so special. The excitement that comes with the opening night of any show, doubled as we all couldn’t wait to share this brand new musical we’d been working on for such a long time.
Can you tell us about workshopping P.S. I’m a Terrible Person?
P.S. is a brilliant new musical written and composed by Francesca Forristal and Jordan Clarke and it was great fun to workshop. Working on new projects is always exciting especially when you think someone is sitting on something amazing like these two. Watch this space!!!
What was it like as Associate Choreographer for the UK and International Tour of Madagascar the Musical?
Loads of fun, an experience I won’t forget.
How did you find the experience working on a show like this?
It was great, challenging at times as there are so many elements to this show, puppetry being a huge one. You would think trying to make a puppet dance is hard but trying to dance strapped into a puppet your weight is even harder and sometimes impossible. I totally and utterly respect the cast for making it work seamlessly and bow down to Fabian Aloise – Choreographer for making the impossible possible!
In 2018, you were in the cast of The Wizard of Oz at the Birmingham Rep, what was this like to do?
So much fun. This really was a job I will NEVER forget. Imagine Total Wipeout the actors edition. Actual tornadoes, revolve madness, moving stairs, giant ladders climbed in floor-length gowns and the entire cast wearing puppets. It was an iconic production that included a ballroom (Vogue) version of Merry Old Land Of Oz. Definitely worth all the bruises. A LOT of fun was had.
Can you tell us more about your time in The Lorax at both The Old Vic and The Royal Alexandra Theatre?
A beautiful production!! Performing at The Old Vic was very special indeed. It was on this job that I was introduced to puppetry and I love it, definitely underestimated how hard it is – I fully appreciate the art of puppetry! This production went to Canada and that was just an amazing experience in itself.
What are some of your favourite memories of being part of the production?
Ah, so many to mention! The entire time spent in Canada is up there, but I think it has to be a number called Thneed 2.0 where the entire cast modelled a new thneed product, I modelled a pink thneed bikini. Very fetching and thneedy.
You made your professional debut in Working at Southwark Playhouse, do you remember how you felt booking the role and performing at the theatre?
Totally excited, I was going to make my professional debut and work with some amazing people. I don’t really remember opening night but I remember closing night so well – I cried during the bows, eek. Performing at Southwark Playhouse is so special, it’s exposing and wonderfully intimate. It almost feels like immersive theatre you’re that close to the audience, you can hear everyone’s breath and feel the energy from the people around you which made performing this piece all the more special.
Had you always wanted an acting career and what drew you to train at Bird College?
I didn’t always want a career in acting, but here I am and very much enjoying it. A dance teacher of mine trained at Bird so there was some influence there but when I auditioned it just felt like that is where I needed to be at the time.
What are some of your favourite theatre shows to watch?
I like watching plays! One of my favourites from last year Death of England: Delroy at the National Theatre, totally compelling. I could watch West Side Story 100 times over.
What are you looking forward to most for when live theatre can reopen fully?
Watching all of the amazing projects that people have been working on and haven’t been able to share!