Last month, Nicole-Lily Baisden began her lead role of Peggy Sawyer in the new production of 42nd Street, which opened at Leicester Curve. Nicole-Lily is currently working alongside a cast including Adam Garcia (as Julian Marsh) and Ruthie Henshall (as Dorothy Brock), and they are directed by Jonathan Church, and the musical has recently started its run at London’s Sadler’s Wells, booking until 2nd July. 42nd Street will be heading on tour, with Nicole-Lily continuing her role of Peggy Sawyer, with dates including Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury – 13th to 22nd July, Theatre Royal Glasgow – 21st to 26th August, before ending at Grand Opera House in Belfast – 24th to 28th October. Prior to playing Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street, Nicole-Lily played Hope Harcourt in Anything Goes, with the tour having two runs at the Barbican Centre, and she was in the cast when the show was filmed for a cinema release. We recently caught up with Nicole-Lily about being in the cast of the new production of 42nd Street, her starring role of Peggy Sawyer at Leicester Curve and Sadler’s Wells and continuing as Peggy for the 42nd Street tour.
In the new production of 42nd Street, you are starring as Peggy Sawyer, how much did you know about the musical before auditioning and how was it preparing to open at Leicester Curve?
I saw 42nd Street for the first time when I was around 11 years old and fell in love with it. Tap has always been one of my favourite dance disciplines so Peggy Sawyer has always been a bucket list role for me.
We did five weeks of rehearsals in London and it was such an amazing experience building the show from scratch with a fresh 2023 take on it. It’s a beast of a show so stamina was definitely something I had to work on!
What is the music and choreography like to perform and how is it being directed by Jonathan Church?
The show is full of so many iconic songs so it’s been a real treat to perform to them. The sitzprobe with the orchestra is always my favourite part of a rehearsal process and this one did not disappoint!
It’s been great working with Jonathan Church and finding a new version of the show for a 2023 audience that dives into the grittier side of the reality of putting on a big Broadway show.
How would you describe Peggy and what is she like to play?
I would say Peggy is optimistic, determined and loyal. She is so much fun to play and diving into her as a character has been a joy.
What are you enjoying most about working with the rest of the cast?
The stories! I feel so grateful to be working with such theatre legends such as Ruthie Henshall and Adam Garcia and the experiences and stories they have are really incredible.
How did you feel on opening night and how is it seeing the audience response to the production?
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous! But also so excited to see how audiences would respond to our version of the show. It’s always a joy to see how different audiences react as it can change from day to day or city to city.
After runs at Leicester Curve and Sadler’s Wells, the musical will be heading out on tour until October, what are you looking forward to for taking the show around the country and continuing in your role?
I’m looking forward to being able to visit some cities and theatres I’ve never seen before.
Why would you recommend booking tickets to see 42nd Street and who do you think will enjoy watching it?
I think 42nd Street has something for everyone, whether it’s the music, the choreography or the story, I think it’s a feel-good show and you can’t help but smile!
In 2021, you started your role of Hope Harcourt in Anything Goes, what was the musical like to be part of and how was it taking on the role of Hope?
Anything Goes came at the perfect time as we opened just after the pandemic. So being part of such a joyful show after having so much time off was great! The role of Hope was so different from anything I’d ever done before and it was lovely to find all the characteristics of her.
How did you find the experience filming the show for a cinema broadcast?
So much fun! I’d never really done any filming like that before and I didn’t realise how many cameras there would be! It was exciting being able to watch on screens backstage and get a glimpse of what the end result would look like. We also had a private screening as a cast and that was really special!
Is there anything you miss most about playing Hope and what was it like returning to the Barbican Centre for a second run with the musical in 2022?
I miss singing the songs! Goodbye Little Dream, Goodbye and De-Lovely will always be two of my favourite songs in a musical. The Barbican is such a great venue and it was so nice to return with a new cast!
What are some of your favourite highlights from working on Anything Goes and being in the cast?
Filming the cinema broadcast was definitely my number one highlight and also watching my fellow cast members perform the title number at the Olivier Awards was really amazing!
Have you seen any theatre shows in recent months that you enjoyed?
I saw Newsies very recently and I was in awe of the talent in that cast! I spent the majority of the show with my jaw on the floor!
What do you enjoy most about having an acting career and performing in theatre?
I love meeting and working with new people and also feeding off the energy of different audiences!
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