Blue Eyed Girl interviews . . . Phantom of the Opera’s Harriet Jones

 

The next interviewee in my Inspirational Women of the Theatre Industry series is Harriet Jones.

Harriet recently made her West End debut as the alternate Christine Daae in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s legendary “Phantom of the Opera” at the beautiful Her Majesty’s Theatre, London.

After the beginnings of a blossoming Opera career, Harriet has now made the step into Musical Theatre, which she discussed with me, as well as her inspirations, settling into Phantom, and “Fat Bottomed Girls” . . .

Tell us a little known fact about yourself – something we wouldn’t know by looking at you
I love open water swimming. I grew up by the sea in Sussex and used to swim lots as a child. If I come across some water on my travels, I can’t help jumping in!

Who or what inspired you to get into the Theatre industry?
Music has always been a huge part of my life. A lot of my childhood memories are of dance competitions and music festivals. There were so many happy moments and also plenty of tears when I didn’t win! I have always loved performing and have been very fortunate to be part of institutions like the Royal College of Music where you can work with the most amazing people from the industry. So I guess there have been loads of inspirational people and events along the way.
What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far? And what has been the biggest obstacle you have faced?
Phantom is my first contract and there’s no doubt that it’s the highlight of my career so far. I have never felt so happy as when the team called me up after the 5 weeks of auditions and asked if I would take on the role of alternate Christine.
 
The biggest obstacle was making the decision to pursue a career in music. I was studying Theology in Dublin after I left school and when I found out I had got in to the RCM, I really wasn’t sure whether to accept. It felt like a big risk and there’s always the possibility of failure. I knew I loved to sing and I hate turning down opportunitiesdecision made!
If you had to choose any 3 songs from any genre as the soundtrack to your life so far, what would they be and why?
The first would be Queen’s ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’. It reminds me of the journey to school when my Dad and I would sing at the top of our voices. We used to listen to their songs over and over again and never get bored.
The second is the trio ‘Suave sia il vento’ from Mozart’s ‘Cosi fan Tutti’. It means a great deal to me because I was asked to sing it at a great friend’s funeral. It is so simple and beautiful. It makes me cry every time.
The third is Otis Redding’s ‘Sitting on the Dock of the Bay’. It brings back so many memories and his voice sends shivers down my spine. It’s a great song to listen to when life gets a bit much.
What is your must-see West End show (other than your own!) at the moment?
When I first moved to London I was taken to see ‘War Horse’ at the National. I was totally blown away by the skill and beauty of the puppets and actors. It’s definitely worth a visit but take tissues!
You have recently taken on the role of Christine Daae in the legendary “The Phantom of the Opera”. How does it feel to be a part of such an iconic show?
It’s an incredible feeling. My family finds it really funny because when I was 15, I was going through a grumpy teenager phase. My parents were despairing and so took me to London to a Musical to try and inspire me – they took me to Phantom! I was totally in awe and sat there in complete silence. I never dreamt then that ten years later I would be playing Christine Daae.

When I got home, I ordered the book and became hooked on the story of the Phantom of the Opera. I still think it is the most amazing story and I’m really grateful to be part of a wonderful production.
Has settling in to the show been made easier by having the lovely Sofia Escobar and Olivia Brereton to show you around?
Definitely! Sofia very kindly let me shadow her backstage before my first night so that I could be sure of the off stage journeys and quick costume changes. Liv is an absolute joy to be around and I only wish the three of us could spend more time together. Unfortunately we are hardly ever in the theatre at the same time.
If you could duet with any West End or Broadway performer – past or present – who would it be and why?
Noel Coward. No better way to learn than by working with a genius.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Never turn down an opportunity.

Also I love Joanna Lumley’s advice to school girls: ‘Never be bored. Find something to do…and don’t yawn.’
In 10 words or less, why should people come and see you, along with all the new cast members at Phantom of the Opera?
This beautiful and tragic love story won’t fail to move you!

Thank you so much to Harriet for answering my questions. Having seen her perform live recently for the first time, alongside the sublime Geronimo Rauch (who has to be one of, if not THE BEST Phantom I have ever seen!), I can truly say that Harriet has the most beautiful voice and her portrayal of Christine is truly wonderful! Get down to see her at Her Majesty’s as soon as you can!!!

Signing off for now

Blue Eyed Girl Xxx

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