This week we had the pleasure of speaking with young actress Emi Francis. Emi played July in Annie JR at Questors Theatre, March 2016. She then played the leading role of Sharpay Evans in High School Musical 2 at Epsom Playhouse. She is currently playing Deb in Elf the Musical JR in the Twickenham cast. Emi is also appearing in Pantomime at Windsor this Christmas and will also be working on the touring production of Joseph next year as part of the Chorus.
Q1) Being offered a part in a Christmas Pantomime must be a dream job for any young actor or actress. Can you tell us about the audition process and what it was like when you were offered the part?
I was chosen to take part through a dance company I am part of. I suppose the audition was a long term activity – the principle and teachers were constantly looking at the girls that danced and sang well , yet importantly, those that worked hard, responded well to direction, were respectful and consistant and behaved well . When I got offered a part I was very excited and felt very lucky.
Q2) What role are you playing and what do you think of your character?
I am playing a panto babe – I am one of six girls who join in on stage with the chorus dancers. We also get to do our own scenes with the lead. We sing and dance, however, do not have any lines to learn in this show. Being a babe means you get to dress up in lots of costumes and working with adults is a great experience.
Q3) How do you find working with so many grown-ups in the pantomime?
The biggest thing about being in Panto for me is working in a show with adults for the first time. The adults in the cast inspire me and I watch and learn from them- they help me to improve. Lots of them are famous and very experienced yet they are still really friendly and always make us feel that we are important…. they also make us laugh! They are all very talented and it makes me realise how good you have to be to succeed in show business.
Q4) We often remind our young actors at Dramacube how important it is to learn their lines and lyrics thoroughly. What techniques did you use to learn your lines and lyrics for the pantomime?
It is much easier than Dramacube as we do not have any lines to speak. I learned the lyrics from listening to the songs on you-tube and practicing them when I am walking to school.
Q5) Most of our shows at Dramacube are rehearsed once a week. How long was the rehearsal period for the pantomime and what was the process? (Ie; read through, blocking, choreography, singing etc)
As we are only in support roles, we rehearse away from the adults with a choregrapher and then the adults come in to rehearse their specific scenes with us in a rehearsal room. We had a couple of Sunday rehearsals in November and then rehearse every night in the week leading up to the show, Rehearsal time is very limited so we are expected to learn things accurately and very quickly. The dances get blocked out in the rehearsal room beforehand and we are expected to learn the songs ourselves and know them before rehearsals start so we know the music before we learn the dance.
Q6) Were you nervous when you first started the pantomime and how did you overcome any first night nerves?
No, it wasn’t nerve-wracking at all. This is probably because of my on-stage experiences with Dramacube.
Q7) Your first part with Dramacube was playing July in Annie JR at Questors Theatre in Ealing. What did you think of that role?
Amazing! I loved the role I was given as I had a great character to play and some fab solos. I also made great friends in the cast and really enjoyed the rehearsals and the shows.
Q8) How did your role in Annie JR compare with the role of Sharpay Evans in Dramacube Productions’ High School Musical 2 at Epsom Playhouse?
Playing Sharpay was a dream come true – she was lots of fun to play and it was a really big role to get stuck into . I was in almost every scene , with lots of solos so there was a lot more to learn than playing July , however I felt privileged to get the role and worked hard to be the best I could!
Q9) You are currently playing Deb in Elf the Musical JR as part of the Twickenham cast. What do you enjoyed most about that role?
I enjoy acting as a serious adult on stage – it is different to the roles I have played before and is good experience, although nowhere near as much fun as playing Sharpay. Acting with my brother, who plays Buddy, is also good fun although I prefer roles with more character and more opportunity to sing solos.
Q10) What tips would you give to other young actors/actresses about going for auditions?
Be confident and don’t expect that you will get every role you want – There are a lot of talented children out there!
Q11) Looking ahead, what is next in the pipe-line for you?
I am in the national touring production of Joseph in January/February and am waiting to hear whether I have a part in Evita at Wimbledon Theatre in March. They are both great oppportunities however it means that I can’t take part in the next Dramacube production – I am so dissapointed but hope to be free enough to take part in the Dramacube Summer production.