Actress Rachael Wooding is starring in the concert tour, Momentous Musicals.
“I defy anyone to say that they didn’t enjoy at least one song in our programme!” says Rachael Wooding who is reflecting on the response to last year’s Momentous Musicals. “Last year was a try-out, but this year it will be just that bit better,” she adds.
Wooding is an established musical theatre performer who has had leading roles in Jersey Boys, Hairspray and Fame to name just a few. The Doncaster-born performer is currently in We Will Rock You, as Scaramouche, and will be returning to the musical theatre concert Momentous Musicals as a headliner alongside singer and actor Gareth Gates.
“It’s lovely that they’ve asked me back,” says Wooding. “I’ve been doing musical theatre for a long time. I’m a bit of an old face, so it’s nice to go, yay, come and see me!”
Wooding is pleased to be working with Gates for a second time. The two had “great chemistry and rapport on stage, and that happened straight away, because obviously he’s a Northerner like me, and we were having a right old giggle. I can’t wait to do that again,“ she says with a laugh.
The actress will sing some of the fan favourites from last year’s concert which also appear on the Momentous Musicals CD. What song is she particularly excited about performing for this year’s concert? “Oh God, now you’ve got me, I’m a nightmare. There are so many different songs, but I am eager to sing ‘One Night Only’ from Dreamgirls with the incredible band.”
However, Wooding is also keen to perform songs from new musicals in this year’s programme. She hopes that she will be able to include numbers from Once, for example. A firm favourite of hers, she describes the piece as an “amazing” piece of musical theatre. She also mentions that the cast will be performing material from the television series Smash.
Wooding believes that the show attracts musical theatre fans who want to hear a variety of material, but it is also “the perfect evening for someone who hasn’t watched a lot of musical theatre before and wants to dip their toes in to see what the whole world is about without really having to commit to following a storyline.”
She explains that the audience “get wrapped up in everyone’s energy. You can’t help but enjoy it.”
Despite this, she admits that “this year it might be a little bit more challenging. When you sing Queen every night, your voice has a certain edge. So the only thing that will be challenging will be using that more legitimate musical theatre voice.”
So what’s next for Wooding? ‘I’ve done a lot of pop and rock musicals – that’s the standard thing for me to do because that’s where my voice fits, but I know I can do more. Miss Saigon is coming out again and I’d love to tackle Ellen.
“They’ll be a bit of a transitional period, because at the minute I can’t play my age, and up, because on stage I still look quite young, although up close and personal I don’t! I’ll be excited to take that next step in the next period of casting because that’s when I’ll feel really challenged.”
Wooding is also involved in new musicals and music cycles in their developmental stages. She is working with her good friends Garry Lake and Tim Driesen on their individual projects which she considers a creative outlet: “It’s always very important for people to keep new stuff coming through in order for us to keep going, and for musical theatre and the West End to continue in all its glory.”
She suggests that new and aspiring musical theatre performers should also try to be involved in new and exciting work in order to establish themselves within the industry. “You’ve got to be more realistic about what makes you happy in your career and do workshops and rehearsed readings. Keep your ears to the ground for any new projects and make yourself available for that, instead of waiting for your audition to come along to see if you get the lead in a musical. You have to have your wits about you these days.
“You’ve got to learn your craft, pay your dues and really respect people who’ve been doing it a long time,” she adds. “I think you learn on your first job. Don’t think you know everything. Just sit and listen. That’s definitely what I did and it put me in good stead.”
Wooding hopes that Momentous Musicals will return next year. “We would like to keep it as a yearly occurrence so it gets a good following. Nothing’s set in stone because we haven’t done it this year yet!’
Momentous Musicals will run from 17-25 July, with dates at:
London – New Wimbledon Theatre – 17 July
Torquay – Princess Theatre Torquay – 19 July
Bradford – Alhambra Theatre – 22 July
Manchester – Palace Theatre – 25 July