Monday, 1 September 2014

Interview | ALEXANDRA DA SILVA - August 2014

Alexandra Da Silva, who trained at ALRA tells us about her own cabaret show and some of her past experiences including Streets, the gritty musical that premiered at Hackney Empire.

Tell us about Streets, presumably that's where you met Kris Rawlinson, the MD for your cabaret show?
Streets was such a fantastic show to be a part of, because it totally changed to boundaries of what musical theatre can and should be. It was more like a play with a live soundtrack (with a bit of spoken word, beat boxing and street dancing thrown in for good measure!) but everything worked so well together and nothing felt out of place, mainly thanks to our MD Kris Rawlinson and our director Adam 'Bo' Boland. All the cast and creatives were from different walks of life and parts of the industry, but the belief we had in the show brought us all together and I think that's what made it so successful.

I played Lily, the pregnant but headstrong teenager which was a lot of fun! But I never had the chance to sing any of the beautiful music in the show (written by Finn Anderson) so when Kris and I were first talking about the gig, we both agreed it was a given that some Streets songs had to feature.

You were in Search For A Twitter Star, how was that experience?
One word: crazy! The whole process happened as I was graduating from drama school, so I was kind of flung head first into the industry which was scary, but really exciting and just what I needed. I had no idea that it would gain the momentum that it did, but social media is such a big part of theatre now and I think it was a clever concept to incorporate the two. I came second, but the whole competition taught me a lot about my voice, about how far I can push myself, and how powerful Twitter really can be!

Tell us about Panto Factor and your lead role last year?
With so many graduates and not enough jobs, I saw this opportunity to win a part in a professional panto and I just knew it was too good to miss. It was an X-Factor style competition, with video episodes aired on YouTube, ending with a grand final show at the Stag Theatre where the winners were revealed. I won the part of Maid Marian alongside Rebecca Lauren, who played Robin Hood. We had the best time, I've honestly never had so much fun on stage! However it can be quite tough; it’s long hours and a lot of shows (sometimes three a day), but it helped to have such a wonderful cast and crew. Christmas isn’t Christmas without panto!

What can we expect from your cabaret? Any particular songs that are a favourite of yours?
It will be a mixture of old and new musical theatre - some songs that everyone will know and love, and some that have been written recently by very talented friends of mine. I love songs that tell stories and have a character to them, and my close friend Joe Louis Robinson wrote something just for me that has such a wonderful arc; the audience can really relate to it. I guess that has to be my favourite song in the show!

Will this be the first time you've ever presented yourself in a solo cabaret?
I’ve done quite a few cabarets in the past as a featured guest, however I’ve never performed a solo cabaret before. It’s pretty daunting to think that it’ll be just me, a piano and a mic! But I’m so excited; a lot of planning and work has gone into the show so it will be fabulous. I’ve got some great guests too who will be coming along to sing some duets - Jos Slovick who was in Spring Awakening and Once, my fellow panto cast member Rebecca Lauren, and my best friend of 18 years Vangelis Polydorou, who is an up and coming singer/songwriter.

Who do you look to for inspiration in the musical theatre world?
For me, a performer that acts through song is someone that I admire and look up to - it’s great if you can hit those high notes but unless you know what you’re singing about then, in my opinion, it’s pointless. Jeremy Jordan, Kelli O’Hara, Rachel Tucker and Cynthia Erivo are a few of those that really tell a story when they sing, they are so wonderful to watch. But my ultimate inspiration and the reason that I’m an actress today has got to be Idina Menzel. Ever since I queued up in the freezing cold at 5am for day tickets to see her in Wicked, I have counted her as my idol. I was lucky enough to meet and work with her two years ago (there’s a funny story there which I’ll be revealing at the gig!) and she is even more fantastic in the flesh.

What are your favourite musicals, or the best that you've seen recently?
That’s a tough one! I recently went to up to Edinburgh for the Fringe which is a great place to catch new musical theatre. I went to see Finn Anderson’s (writer of Streets) new show Alba - A Scottish Musical and it was absolutely beautiful. I cried so much, his music always gets me! It’s been shortlisted for a few awards and rightly so - hopefully it’ll come and do a London run somewhere.

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