With her role as Ellie in the world premiere of Chris Egan, Ed Curtis and Guy Jones’ new musical Water Babies (based on Charles Kingsley’s 1863 Victorian morality tale), Lauren Samuels is returning to Curve, Leicester where she made her professional debut playing Wendy in Peter Pan the Musical. Following her success on the BBC1 talent show Over the Rainbow, she made her West End debut as Sandy in Grease (Piccadilly Theatre). She then starred as Scaramouche in We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre) and on its 10th Anniversary World Arena tour.
Musical Theatre Review caught up with the actress and singer during rehearsals…
There seems to be a real buzz about Water Babies?
Even before we began rehearsals, there was the biggest buzz of any show I’ve ever been on – Tweets, Facebook messages, and then there’s the fact that Water Babies is a world premiere too. I don’t think anyone will be disappointed, the writing is amazing and the score is so beautiful. The songs not only have a contemporary pop edge, which modern audiences will enjoy, but they tell brilliant stories and with such integrity. The transitions from dialogue to music are so smooth.
How did you get involved with the musical?
I had worked with writers Chris Egan and Ed Curtis (who also directs) when I played the title role of Vampirette at Manchester Opera House. Chris sang through the material with me. I was so excited about the prospect of being involved in the premiere of a brand new musical. I think most performers relish the opportunity to originate a role, to put our stamp on it first. In the past I have always taken over from someone else.
Tell us about Ellie, your character in Water Babies.
Ellie is the core love interest for Tom, the central character, played by Thomas Milner. They are both orphans – Ellie was adopted by a wealthy family, Tom got in with the wrong crowd and made some wrong decisions. Having been chased to the end of a waterfall, he has no option but to seek escape in the ocean. It’s then that he becomes part of the mystical world of the Water Babies who help him find his future.
Do you know how the creative team is going to create the underwater world?
We are finding out more all the time, but they have been secretive with us as well as with everybody else! We know they are using holograms, projections, puppetry and definitely cutting edge water effects. It’s so sophisticated.
What’s it like working with Louise Dearman who is playing Mrs D?
Louise and I have never worked solidly on a show together before but we have discovered we get on like a house on fire. She is such a wonderful actress and performer. I know I can learn a lot from her.
Curve, Leicester must be a special place for you.
Yes, really special, it’s where I did my first professional job, Wendy in Peter Pan, after graduating from Guildford School of Acting in 2009. I was born in the Midlands, but had moved to London, and then I ended up going back to perform there! It was so nice because I also had the support of my family and friends.
Curve has achieved so much in the last five years, it’s moving up and up and up all the time, always promoting exciting new writing as well as staging incredible revivals. I am so excited to be back there.
Your role in We Will Rock You was particularly important to you.
It was one of the best experiences of my life. It had been a dream of mine, even when I was training at drama school. The whole team was incredible, I got to work with director Ben Elton, Brian May and Roger Taylor who joined us on different occasions. It was so great that all the creative talents stayed involved. They continued to love the show as much as we did.
Years on, how do you feel about appearing in the BBC talent show Over the Rainbow?
Sometimes I can’t believe it actually happened. I think the hardest thing was the exposure of always being filmed and the pressure that went with that. But performing each week to millions of people, including Andrew Lloyd Webber, did of course open doors. I owe it a lot, I probably wouldn’t have made my West End debut so soon if I hadn’t taken part.
You were born with a hearing problem, and yet always have had an ear for music?
Yes, I was born with the problem and from the age of two it got progressively worse. When I was 16 I had hearing aids in both my ears. But my mum played the piano, and she would help me by putting my hand on the piano, and she would also place my hand on her chest when she was singing. By the time I was 19 though, my hearing had improved so much that I was discharged from the hospital.
It sounds like your mum was a huge influence.
She was, she took me to my first musicals, and to drama and singing classes. When we were living in Hinckley in Leicestershire, we did amateur shows together like South Pacific and even The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas! We love watching shows together too.
Water Babies runs at Curve, Leicester from 24 April–17 May 2014 (press night is 6 May)
Readers may also be interested in:
Richard E Grant to star as hologram in Water Babies musical – News