With Waitress the Musical starting their UK and Ireland tour last month, Amelia Atherton began her ensemble role alongside being cover Becky and Nurse Norma, performing the songs written by Sara Bareilles, with the show currently open in Eastbourne before heading to Sunderland on the 25th October. Last year, Amelia was nominated at The Offie Awards for her portrayal of Lisa in Next Thing You Know at The Garden Theatre and has also performed in pantomimes previously. During the pandemic, Amelia graduated from Performance Preparation Academy, and she has been involved with Roles We’ll Never Play – Emerging Talent at The Union Theatre and Graduates at Cadogan Hall. Amelia answers our questions about touring with Waitress the Musical, being nominated at The Offie Awards for Next Thing You Know and performing in concerts.
You are currently touring with Waitress the Musical, how is it being part of the show?
It genuinely feels so surreal and I keep having ‘pinch me’ moments! Waitress has been a bucket list show of mine for a long while and I feel so blessed to be part of the inaugural UK & Ireland tour cast.
What are you enjoying most about being in the ensemble and what is the choreography like to perform?
I love that my ensemble track gets to play several different roles throughout the show. I particularly feel very connected to playing Jenna’s mother. Jenna mentions her mum throughout the show right from the very start so I feel huge responsibility for those moments I get to play her. I also enjoy how much I get to interact with everyone else on stage. The musical at its core is so human and means we get to create these real people with real lives and relationships. Performing Lorin Latarro’s original choreography is an honour. The whole piece is so specific and uniquely ‘Waitress’.
Can you tell us about learning the roles of Becky and Nurse Norma, both of which you are covering?
Watching the brilliant Sandra Marvin who plays Becky and Scarlet Gabriel who plays Nurse Norma in rehearsals was so helpful to me! The way they embody the characters they play is so brilliant and with this show there is no one correct way of playing the parts. It’s insightful to see how different actors interpret different parts. Learning the roles has been so fun and we’ve been in cover rehearsals over the entire process. Becky, in particular, has been a dream role of mine for years so it feels crazy that I’m now covering her!
Had you seen the London production before booking your role and what drew you to Waitress?
I hadn’t! I’d listened to the soundtrack and knew the plot but had never actually seen the show! As soon as I got the audition through, I made sure I watched as many YouTube clips as possible to get a feel for the style and mood of the show. Waitress really drew me in with it’s stunning score by Sara Bareilles.
The tour has recently opened, how is it going so far and how are you finding the experience of touring with a musical?
This is my first ever tour and I’m really enjoying seeing different cities and theatres every week. I keep getting mixed up with different places I’ve been so need to start a tour diary asap!
Can you tell us about playing Lisa in Next Thing You Know at The Garden Theatre last October?
I hold that show very close to my heart. It was my professional musical debut and I was very lucky to be in such a great cast. Playing Lisa actually really helped me prepare for my Waitress auditions as she gives very similar energy to Becky, in my opinion. Next Thing You Know is a gorgeous show and I adored the experience.
How did it feel being nominated for Best Supporting Performance at the Offie Awards for your portrayal of the role?
AMAZING! I felt so honoured. The Offies were something I’d seen all over social media in the past and I just never even considered I’d be one of the nominees. Genuinely one of the loveliest surprises ever.
This year, you were part of the concerts Roles We’ll Never Play – Emerging Talent and Graduates at Cadogan Hall, can you tell us about performing in them?
Roles We’ll Never Play was so much fun! I sang Sondheim’s Everybody Says Don’t from Anyone Can Whistle, which is an absolute favourite of mine. I’d been to watch some of the previous RWNP concerts in the past and had always loved them so I jumped at the chance to perform in one. Particularly as it was held at The Union Theatre which is one of my favourite venues.
Graduates at Cadogan Hall was produced by the wonderful The Grad Fest and Ameena Hamid Productions who have both been absolute trailblazers over the pandemic, providing opportunities for graduates and other performers. Singing Diva’s Lament from Spamalot on the stage at Cadogan Hall? WOW. Not something I thought I’d get to do in my first year out of drama school but here we are!
What was it like graduating from Performance Preparation Academy during the pandemic and can you say about some of the career-related projects you were involved with during the time theatres were closed?
Projects like The Grad Fest really kept the fire lit for me. I felt motivated by online projects and met so many contacts over social media and Zoom alike! I also am very blessed to have signed with my amazing agents at Michelle Blair Management who kept me inspired throughout the times where our industry was on pause.
Having performed in pantomimes previously, what are they like to do?
Demanding but so much fun! I value my panto experiences very highly as they were my first dip into the professional world. The schedules are heavy but you make so many great friends and get to wear sequins all day so no complaints from me!
Where does your love of theatre come from and how did you start in the industry?
My mum was a dancer when she was younger and that’s where I started too. I always danced as a child and when I was a teenager I started singing and acting too. Firstly doing amateur productions and then moved on to studying Musical Theatre at sixth form and then drama school. I don’t come from a family of artists but they are all super supportive of my chosen career.
Do you have any favourite theatre shows to watch and which would you like to see that you haven’t done so as yet?
My two favourite shows are Sunday in the Park with George and Hello Dolly!, both of which I had tickets for last year but were sadly cancelled due to the pandemic. SIX is probably my favourite show that’s in the West End currently. I’d love to see the current touring production of Heathers and can’t wait to see The Wiz which is coming to the Hope Mill in Manchester this Christmas.
What do you enjoy doing away from your career?
I love cooking! Trying new recipes and different cuisines. I also love running and walking in the countryside. Where I’m from in Bolton is right next to beautiful rolling hills and I loved going out into nature and exploring in the fresh air.
What are you looking forward to for the rest of the Waitress tour?
Continuing to work with this beautiful company. I feel I’ve really lucked out to be surrounded by such warm people. We have such a lovely time on and off stage and it feels great to have these people around, particularly when our location is changing week by week. I’m also looking forward to visiting lots of new places that I’ve never seen before like Dublin and Cardiff!
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