Recently, Rebecca Ridout has finished her run as Ensemble in Chichester Festival Theatre’s summer production of The Sound of Music, a show Rebecca has previously performed in on the International Tour as Sister Sophia and at Curve Leicester as Sister Margaretta. From 2021 to 2023, Rebecca was touring the UK and Ireland as Swing and Dance Captain in Les Misérables, and she made her West End debut as Swing in The Phantom of the Opera, and it has been announced she is returning to the show, touring internationally and covering the role of Carlotta. Whilst in The Phantom of the Opera, Rebecca, alongside other company members, performed at West End Eurovision, with their rendition of Grande Amore in 2019 seeing them win for the third year running. Other projects for Rebecca have been Zorro in Concert at Cadogan Hall in February 2020, A Christmas Carol, The Next Best Thing, The Railway Children, and she filmed for Mary Poppins Returns. Catching up with Rebecca, she spoke about being in the cast of The Sound of Music at Chichester Festival Theatre, touring in Les Misérables and making her West End debut in The Phantom of the Opera.
You have recently finished your run in The Sound of Music at Chichester Festival Theatre, how was it performing in Chichester over the summer and working with the rest of the cast?
Chichester honestly felt like a theatrical holiday. It was such a lovely group of people to work with – in all departments – and the theatre really looked after you. When the sun was shining, we would swim in the sea before the show and had many a picnic. Plus, the show was absolutely glorious. Such a wonderful way to spend the summer.
What was it like getting into character and how was it being in the Ensemble?
Putting on the costume is the biggest part of getting into a character for me and there’s nothing quite like a nun’s habit for such an immediate transformation. The Ensemble of The Sound of Music is quite quiet – when you come off from the opening of the show, you have almost an hour break before the party scene! However, what we do get to do is so beautiful. I never, ever tire of hearing the score or singing the final Climb Ev’ry Mountain.
Having previously performed in the show as Sister Sophia on the International Tour and Sister Margaretta at Curve Leicester, what is the show like to be part of and what do you enjoy most about the production?
It’s always nostalgic and always poignant. The story, whilst set in a very specific time period, still has such relevant themes. There’s always something new that you can lean into or discover. And, again, I simply will never tire of the score!
From 2021 to 2023, you were in the cast of the UK and Ireland Tour of Les Misérables as Swing, how was your time touring with the show?
Busy… this will overlap with the next question! I had the most incredible time though seeing so many parts of the country I had never seen before and bringing the show to different audiences. I’d also always dreamed of being in Les Misérables so to have the opportunity to do so was honestly fantastic.
What was it like taking on the role of Dance Captain and how was it seeing the audience response to Les Misérables around the country?
Being a Dance Captain, especially coming out of the pandemic, was a very busy role. We regularly had to do different set-ups of the show and brought in additional cast members throughout the year. It was always challenging but I love being challenged!
What are some of your favourite memories from being a Swing in The Phantom of the Opera in the West End?
Innumerable. Her Majesty’s was famously one of the most friendly buildings in the West End and that was precisely my experience. A highlight has to be winning the West End Eurovision for the third year running with our rendition of Grande Amore in 2019. Standing at the back of the dress circle watching the opening night of our cast in 2018, watching that Chandelier rise, will be hard to beat.
Do you remember how you felt finding out you’d booked the role and how was it having The Phantom of the Opera as your West End debut?
I was working at a call centre and I literally jumped off the phone to take the call from my agents. It felt exhilarating and I was so distracted I asked if I could be sent home early just so I could go and calm down. Having Phantom, a show that meant so much to me growing up, as my West End debut was perfect – literally multiple dreams come true at once.
How was it performing in Zorro in Concert at Cadogan Hall in February 2020?
So exciting. The cast reunited a few of the original company members who I’d long admired and the music was so fun and so different from anything I had done before.
Can you tell us about some of the other theatre shows you’ve worked on over your career so far, which have included A Christmas Carol, The Next Big Thing and The Railway Children?
The Next Big Thing was a two-hander I did at Edinburgh Fringe. I think doing a show like that at the Fringe should be on the bucket list of any actor. I learnt so much that summer and also had the time of my life. A Christmas Carol I’ve done various versions of (I’m clearly a serial show repeater) and they’ve always been glorious. A timeless classic that always warms the soul at Christmastime. Then finally, but by no means least, Alex Parker & Katie Lam’s The Railway Children was stunning. I love getting involved with new musicals and this one was remarkable. If they do further productions of it, definitely go and watch!
How did you find the experience on set of Mary Poppins Returns?
Surreal. Mary Poppins is one of my favourite films – nay, things! So, to be a part of the sequel was like an out-of-body experience on set every day. It was only a fortnight filming the final park scene but I got to work with Rob Marshall and had wonderful chats with Angela Lansbury – not sure experiences come much better than that. Blink and you’ll miss me though because what I filmed didn’t make the edit!
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you get into it?
I grew up listening to soundtracks of shows because my parents both loved musical theatre. I danced from a young age and then started singing when I was seven years old in choirs. I was lucky to be taken to see musicals on stage from that age too and just fell head over heels in love. My want to pursue it then just came from a passion for the art form.
What are some of your favourite theatre shows to watch and which would you like to see that you haven’t done so as yet?
Anything and everything. I go to the theatre as often as I can afford to – it’s definitely where I spend the majority of my disposable income. So it’s hard to name a favourite to watch because I love such a variety. However, I think West Side Story is the greatest musical ever written so I will travel far and wide to see different versions if I can. Next on my list to see is The Lord of the Rings at The Watermill and Next to Normal at the Donmar.
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
Connecting with people. Quality time with quality people. I love being outside as well so if we can combine that – we’re onto a real winner.
Do you have a favourite aspect of working in theatre?
I think the transience of live theatre. The fact it is different every single time.
What are you hoping the rest of the year brings you and do you have any projects coming up that you can tell us about?
I’m hoping it brings me new experiences. My husband is opening in the tour of Wicked in December and I’m so excited to see him fulfilling a dream and then also to get to spend Christmas together. I’ll have to wait and see what’s next for me.
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