For her first professional lead role, Kingsley Morton is set to play Wednesday Addams in the tour of The Addams Family, which opens tomorrow (5th November) at Nottingham Theatre Royal, and continues playing around the UK through 2022 with the musical marking Kingsley’s tour debut. Kingsley has previously played Fairy Snowflake in Frostbite and she worked with George Stiles and Anthony Drewe for the MT Fest UK workshop of Soapdish. Having trained at ArtsEd, Kingsley was part of the European premiere of Freaky Friday and she was finally able to have her graduation earlier this year. During the pandemic, Kingsley was part of The Grad Fest with Spooktacular and Graduates at Cadogan Hall and she held her first solo cabaret last month. Ahead of opening at Nottingham, Kingsley talks about taking on her first lead role of Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family tour, playing Fairy Snowflake in Frostbite and being part of The Grad Fest.
You’ve been announced to play Wednesday Addams in the upcoming tour of The Addams Family, how did you feel finding out you’d booked the role?
Honestly, it didn’t feel real. I found out just before we went into a rehearsal for a showcase all afternoon, so I couldn’t check that it was actually true until the next morning!
How much did you know about the show before auditioning and was there anything that drew you to the character?
I actually did an amateur production of the show years ago so I knew the character pretty well. From the moment I did the show then she was a dream role for me to get to play professionally, so to be able to actually play her on this tour is absolutely surreal and incredible!
How did you prepare to play Wednesday and how have rehearsals been?
As a person and style-wise I’m actually very similar to Wednesday. However, it will surprise a lot of people to know that I really don’t like horror films! They’re my big scaredy-cat thing! But I decided to ‘Wednesday-up’ and watch a few before we started rehearsals, especially ones that involve characters similar to Wednesday or actors that have played Wednesday in the past. They’re still not my favourite genre – but they really helped me to get to that side of Wednesday that would love watching them! Rehearsals have gone so well – everyone was so ready to start after the last year and a half we’ve had! The cast are all phenomenal – I cannot wait to start touring with them – and the creative team are all so supportive and brilliant, rehearsals have truly been pure joy to be part of.
What is the script and choreography like to learn?
The script is so funny, and as I’ve played the role before – even if it was years ago – it was more like remembering something from ages ago than starting to learn something completely new. There are a lot of things that I definitely missed last time though, some jokes and lines that went over my naïve little head! Coming back to it, now that I can recognise all of the jokes, makes me realise even more how clever it really is! Alistair David’s choreography is pure genius, it’s so clever and creative and I can’t imagine any other choreography fitting the show as brilliantly as his does!
What was it like meeting the cast for the first time and seeing the costumes?
I was so excited to meet the cast after knowing for so long that I had got the part, so that first day I practically ran into the room to see everyone! We really are like one big family, they’re such a fabulous bunch and a room with any of them in could never be boring! We actually had our first costume fittings this week! I haven’t seen many other people’s outside of Diego Pitarch’s beautiful design drawings, but I can say that my first fitting made me squeal multiple times!
Can you tell us about the show and what are you looking forward to most for your opening date at Nottingham Theatre Royal on 5th November?
The show is everything you’d expect a musical about The Addams Family to be like – with one major difference. Wednesday has grown up, and fallen in love with a ‘normal’ boy. The show is the family meeting Lucas (the boy) and his own family and all the chaos that follows.
One of my lines in an early scene is ‘It’s just a simple dinner, what could possibly go wrong?’, said completely unironically, so you know that it’s going to be an interesting night! I can’t wait to start touring with this wonderful company, but I’m definitely most looking forward to hearing the audience and a live band again! After so long of recorded performances and everything being online my heart will sing when it hears both in the same place again!
Why would you recommend booking tickets to one of the tour dates?
The show has everything someone could want from a musical after this year and a half! Humour, heart, brilliant songs and a fabulous story. What more could you ask for?
How do you think you’ll find the experience touring for the first time and playing a lead character?
I was definitely nervous about touring for the first time – and there are quite a few of us in the cast that haven’t toured before – but there are also lots that have, and they’ve been so caring and taken us all under their collective wings to help us out with any questions or worries we have!
Can you say about playing Fairy Snowflake in Frostbite?
Frostbite was brilliant fun. The character was your typical panto fairy, so very different to Wednesday and to myself! She was actually more similar to my sister so I channelled her for a lot of the run. It had to be an outdoor production at the time, and I wore a mesh-topped, silver, sparkly dress and had to stay in the backstage area for the whole show – due to the layout of the stage – so I spent a lot of time wrapped up in a blanket, under the heaters that were backstage! But it was so brilliant to be performing again after such a long break that no one cared that it had to be outside! We got two weeks of performances in before we sadly got put into Tier 3 and had to close – but I’m so grateful to have been able to do that and meet the whole company that worked on the show.
You were part of MT Fest UK’s workshop of Soapdish, what was it like to be part of?
Soapdish was an incredible experience, to work with George Stiles and Anthony Drewe – two absolute legends of musical theatre – was totally surreal. The whole cast were also legends themselves so to work with them all was just mind-blowing! Plus, to work on a completely new musical, and create a character from scratch, was brilliant.
Whilst training at ArtsEd, you were part of a number of productions including Freaky Friday and Jerry Springer: The Opera, can you tell us about some of the characters you’ve played?
Both of those shows mentioned were two of my favourite shows I’ve ever done. The production of Freaky Friday was actually the European premiere of the show, and I played Officer Sitz and also covered the role of Katherine. Jerry Springer: The Opera was one of our singing projects in second year – it was also a kind of full circle moment, as – when I did the Foundation course at ArtsEd – I remembered seeing the second years then doing the same project, seeing the girl playing Shawntel sing I Just Wanna Dance and thinking that I wanted to be able to sing that song one day. Cut to three years later, to my own second year, and we were given that project and I got to play Shawntel and sing that song!
You were finally able to graduate earlier this year, how was the experience?
It was really emotional! We hadn’t seen each other in person for fifteen months after thinking we’d see each other in a few weeks, so it was definitely very overwhelming. We have a sort of song of our year (SADUSEA from Privates on Parade, as it was one of the first songs we sang in first year ensemble classes) and we would sing it everywhere we went, no matter where we were – and at the end of the ceremony on graduation day we all stood up, no discussion, and sang it for the first time in fifteen months and cried!
Last month, you performed your first solo cabaret, what was it like to do?
It was so crazy to do! It was actually a really fun, relaxed night. It was designed to be a tribute to all of the amateur companies I’ve worked with over the years, before I go off on tour. I sang songs from the shows I’ve been in with them and told funny stories that happened in those shows and it was a great night! I definitely did not go easy on myself with the set list though, so I was very grateful to not be under the weather that day!
How was it being involved with The Grad Fest and can you say more about it?
The Grad Fest is such a brilliant company, they helped a lot of graduates to get through lockdown and deal with graduating into an industry that essentially didn’t exist. They created performance opportunities for grads and gave them a platform for the industry to see them – and, if they hadn’t done that, I feel a lot of grads (especially 2020 ones) might’ve fallen through the cracks. The first performance I did with them was this time last year actually, for their Halloween cabaret Spooktacular – I sang two songs and I remember being so nervous as I hadn’t sung anything full out for about seven months, so I had no idea if I could still sing! It sounds silly, but that’s the sort of tricks lockdown played on my mind! But the atmosphere was so supportive, and all those worries melted away as soon as I stepped in the (socially distanced) rehearsal room. The other performance I did with them was their Graduates at Cadogan Hall concert series, that opportunity was incredible and I had to pinch myself in between recordings to make sure that I was actually standing and singing on the Cadogan Hall stage and not dreaming!
Where does your love of performing come from and how did you start?
I was brought up around music and musicals, as my mum was/is obsessed with musicals and was very active in her own amateur dramatics companies for many years. Also, my dad was a karaoke DJ, and sometimes he’d take me and my sister with him to jobs and we’d get up and sing, most people would expect me to be shy and scared – but in reality I was actually a little diva who wanted to know where my spotlight was! So you could say performing is in my blood, or at least was instilled in me from a very young age!
Do you have any favourite theatre shows to watch and how do you like to spend your time away from your career?
I love so many that I don’t think I could ever pick just one, especially as it changes so often! Right now I’d say my favourite is either Hadestown or Rock of Ages (so similar!) but it might be different in a few weeks! I love doing anything creative – from cooking to tie-dyeing clothes, which I learned to do during lockdown. I wear a lot of my tie-dyed clothes quite regularly – on my Instagram there’s a couple of videos from when I performed with The Grad Fest at the Phoenix Arts Club that I tie-dyed the dress I’m wearing in those videos a week or so before that performance!
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