The West End star talks Disney, on-stage mishaps and the British government. What else are you going to do if you’re stuck in a lift?
Minutes before we sit down to chat, Carrie Hope Fletcher has the whole room laughing. She’s telling a story she’s just been reminded of, about how a miscommunication whilst she was working on Les Misérables resulted in a bed being delivered to her dressing room. “Like I’m some kind of diva who needs to take naps in the middle of rehearsal!” she laughs.
This is what she’s hoping to bring to An Open Book tour: an intimate, personal feeling, a celebration of musical theatre, and some big laughs. Between songs from her repertoire and brand new performances, Fletcher will be demonstrating one of her other talents – telling an engaging story. “It’s really fun, when you get in a room like this, because you suddenly start realising how many stories you actually have,” she says. “And how maybe the stories that you didn’t think were that funny actually have everyone rolling on the floor laughing.”
Ahead of Fletcher’s tour, we got stuck in a lift with the West End performer to ask her some important questions…
Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?
Tom Hanks… I said that way too fast, almost like it was prepared, but I promise it wasn’t! I just I love Tom Hanks. I think he’s amazing. And I also think he’s a really good storyteller. Not just as an actor – as a person as well. I feel like he’s one of these people who always loves sharing his experiences and his fun anecdotes. And so I feel like to pass the time in a lift, he’d be the best person to chat to.
Who would you least want to be stuck in a lift with?
Probably anyone who’s been part of the UK Government in like the last couple of years. Boris Johnson is probably top of my list. Maybe Nigel Farage, don’t like him either. For good reason, I feel.
What Disney movie would you most want to live in?
I’m in a very Parisian mood at the moment just because I’ve just been to Paris and I was stood in front of Notre Dame just loving my life. So probably The Hunchback Of Notre Dame. I do love Hunchback – the music in that… I mean, obviously if I’m living in it, would I be aware that it’s a musical? I don’t know, maybe I’m getting a bit too meta now. Or Inside Out. Living in someone’s mind and seeing what makes someone tick and what core memories people have – I think I’d find that interesting.
To stay on Disney for a minute, which Disney villain do you feel sorry for?
It’s always the human villains that scare me the most, and also that I maybe feel most sorry for, like Gaston and Frollo. You sort of have to go, ‘what sort of upbringing did you have to make you such an evil human? Because it’s not even like you’ve got mystical magical powers that you’re just using for evil. You’re just a very flawed and horrible human. So you must have had the worst upbringing or the worst of people around you teaching you how to behave.’ I probably feel most sorry for them.
What’s your vocal warmup song?
I mean, if we’re going for classic warm up songs, there’s one that everyone always sings called ‘Bella Signora’, but I learnt it as “strawberry pavlova”. So then when I’m in a room of people for the first time and they’re like, “Okay, we’re gonna do this one”, I’m singing at the top of my lungs: “strawberry pavlova!” and everyone’s like, “What are you singing?!”
We did have one during Cinderella, that was “Na na na na, na na na na, there’s never a dull day in Belleville,” which kind of got us through the not so dull days in Belleville…
What about your pre-show routine?
I’m just a ball of chaos. Before a show, I’m usually in someone’s dressing room chatting and then I hear the five minute call and I’m like, “Oh, I’m not even dressed!” Or I’m like the most prepared person and I’m in my costume, wig and mic before anyone else and then I get bored and wander around everyone else’s dressing rooms. There’s never a happy medium. I’m either super early or super late.
You were quite young when you first started in the West End. Were you very on it in the early days?
Oh yeah, because I am quite a nervous, anxious person. So I like being ready early. But then, if you hadn’t noticed, if you get me talking, I will not stop. So I’ll suddenly hear that it’s the five minute call and be like, I didn’t hear the half hour or the quarter. And now I’ve got to race to get ready.
What West End role have you not yet played that you’d really like to?
Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd. I just love that role. And that music. I’ve loved Sweeney Todd ever since I was a kid, and I learned it in a group singing lesson when I was about seven years old. It gave me nightmares for weeks because it’s a terrifying story about a demon barber who slices people’s throats, and then the woman downstairs, who makes pies, bakes the bodies and feeds them to the general public. Like… it’s horrific. But I just think it’s genius. The story’s amazing, really dark and twisted. But the music is just so lush and brilliant. And I think Mrs. Lovett would be a lot of fun to play. It’s one of those roles where you kind of don’t have to be perfect or sound pretty – it’s just fun and gritty. I think it would be a real laugh.
You’ve played quite a few of those darker roles.
Yeah, I do really love it. I love a bit of twisted black humour in there. Things like Heathers and The Addams Family always interested me more than anything else. It’s fun being a little morbid.
Who would play you in a movie musical about your life?
Oh, I don’t know. That’s a really good question. Bit I feel like it’s also a dangerous question. Because if you say some amazing movie star, you’re like comparing yourself to that movie star. I’d love Bernadette Peters to play an older version of me. I’m a redhead now, so that would work. And also who doesn’t want to be Bernadette Peters?
You know who I think could play an older you actually…
Yeah. Everyone said that for a while. Because I was a massive Doctor Who fan, and I used to be blonde as well. So I used to get it a lot, that we looked like mother and daughter.
Have you ever had an embarrassing moment on stage?
Oh, countless, countless embarrassing moments.
What would be the worst one?
The worst, that ended up in quite a severe injury, was when I fell over a small child, backwards, during Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Every new venue on that tour had 16 new children that were from that town. So instead of having a touring cast of kids that came with us, it was logistically just easier to rehearse them in every two weeks. And there was one little girl who I think ended up being one of my little Eponines when I went back to Les Mis – one of the countless times I went back to Les Mis. And yeah, she was just stood in the wrong place at the end of a number, and my next move was to walk backwards, and she was just directly behind me. I just went backwards over her but tried to miss her, so I ended up landing awkwardly on my bum. I tried to open my legs to try and get this child through them, and not squash her… but I ended up having to pick her up and carry off stage.
She was totally fine. I was like, “Good, right?”, hobbling away. I ended up going back in for the rest of the run. That was a funny one though. Falling over a small child is always going to be quite entertaining for people to watch.
What was your recovery move after that?
Luckily, my next move was to go off stage!
If you could have been in the audience for any show opening throughout history, what would you pick?
I love Into The Woods, but I’ve never seen it on stage. So I think Into The Woods would have been a really special one to see on stage for the first time when it first opened. Or, Little Shop Of Horrors, because that’s also another one I’ve never seen on stage, that I just love.
What are you reading at the moment?
I picked up a book at the Iceland airport, which was called Well Played [by Jen Deluca]. I picked it up because there was a black and white cat on the cover, and I’m a cat person and it looked like my cat, Edgar. It’s about two people who fall in love at a renaissance fair. There we go. That’s a glimpse into the sort of stuff I read.
You recently got engaged – congratulations!
Thank you very much.
Have you settled on a first dance song?
We have, yes. We’re keeping pretty much everything a secret. But it’s a song that means a lot to the both of us, individually. When we realised we had this song in common it was just one of those moments where we were like, “Well, that’s what our first dance is gonna be!” Because how could it not be?