Actress and singer/songwriter CASSIE COMPTON came to our notice in the first series of The X Factor, since when she has gone from strength to strength on stage, in film and television and music tours.
In the West End her many starring roles include Eponine in Les Misérables, Nessarose in Wicked, Jean in American Psycho opposite Matt Smith, and the lead in Dirty Dancing. On screen, she has appeared in Mr Selfridge and Call the Midwife.
This week she is appearing in cabaret at the Crazy Coqs in London. We caught up with her and put some questions to the rising star…
Have you appeared at the Crazy Coqs before? If not, you have probably been in the audience for what has become the West End’s most prestigious cabaret venue.
I’ve not performed at Crazy Coqs before, but I have seen a few shows there. It is a great venue, and I am really looking forward to singing there.
What do you think of the space at the Crazy Coqs and how does it compare with other venues you know?
It is a stunning venue, and has a fantastic atmosphere. Along with very nice wine! We are so fortunate that we have such great venues like this in London, and across the UK.
Are you used to playing both small and large venues such as concert arenas, and do you have a preference for the size of the venue? The Crazy Coqs is quite intimate, so that may be an attraction.
I have performed to 15,000 people at Wembley Arena, in big theatres and lovely intimate venues such as the King’s Head and most recently the Jermyn Street Theatre. Each venue has its own merits and allows you as a performer to adapt to a different way of performing. When you’re at an intimate venue, it allows you to connect with an audience in a very different way to when you’re performing in a big space. You feel an audience’s reaction almost instantly in a small venue.
You have appeared in some iconic musical shows such as Les Misérables, Dirty Dancing, Wicked, American Psycho, The Secret Garden and Whistle Down the Wind. Will you be singing material from these shows at the Crazy Coqs, and perhaps some of your own compositions too?
I have been so lucky to have been a part of such incredible shows, and to have sung the incredible material that comes with that. However, I won’t be singing material from shows I have been in at Crazy Coqs – this time! I will be paying tribute to some of the greatest female singer/songwriters that have influenced me over the years. Also, it is a chance for me to perform songs that I wouldn’t usually have the opportunity to sing.
Are you from a family with a background in showbusiness at all?
My mother is a singer, so I have grown up surrounded by music, musicians. She went back on tour not long after I was born – so I was on tour as a baby!
When did you decide to take up acting and singing as a career, and when did the songwriting start? Did you have any sort of musical training or just a natural talent?
It sounds cliched, but pretty much from the moment I could speak. My parents recall the time that they bought me my first ‘microphone’ – it was a little toy mic, but they said that from the look on my face, as soon as I heard my voice coming back at me, they knew I wasn’t going to do anything else! The songwriting started when I joined a band at the age of 15. I used to write songs with a friend of mine called Michael Kiwanuka, who has since gone on to have huge success as a recording artist. I started working when I was 11, so I have done an awful lot of ‘learning on the job’!
You have also appeared in some very popular television series such as Call the Midwife, Mr Selfridge and Casualty. Will you be appearing in any of those programmes again?
I had such a great time filming those shows, but sadly I don’t think any of the characters I played will be returning any time soon!
You played Jean in American Psycho but the production was only seen at the Almeida Theatre in Islington, yet is scheduled for Broadway next year. With Matt Smith as the star, did you expect it to transfer to the West End?
The thing with transfers is timing. It has to be the right time for everyone involved, and the theatre to transfer to. Sadly, the timing wasn’t right then. But you never know.
When will we be able to hear more of your own material, either live or on disc?
Soon, I hope. I have some material I would love to re-work so I am going to try and make that my plan for 2016.
What is on the cards for Cassie Compton in the near future? Are there any musicals, old or new, that you long to be in?
At the moment I can’t see further than my two nights at Crazy Coqs! I’ve been so lucky to have done a variety of different work over the last few years, so I would love that to continue. As for shows I long to be in… I would love to play Fantine in Les Misérables one day!
Compiled by Michael Darvell
* Cassie Compton performs at the Crazy Coqs at Brasserie Zédel in Sherwood Street, London W1 on Friday and Saturday 20 and 21 November – www.brasseriezedel.com/crazy-coqs.
* Cassie Compton’s other credits include the UK premiere of See What I Wanna See (Jermyn Street Theatre); Molly Wobbly (Leicester Square Theatre); Carnival of the Animals (Riverside Studios); Spinach and Diamond (King’s Head Theatre); The Little Prince (Lyric, Belfast); Elizabeth (lead singer) in Dirty Dancing (Aldwych Theatre); Little Women (UK tour); RSC’s The Secret Garden (Aldwych Theatre) and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Whistle Down the Wind (Aldwych Theatre).