customized polo shoes Hats off to Ginger and Fred
‘I’VE been going around backstage referring to myself as Princess Charlotte of Top Hat,” laughs Charlotte Gooch about returning to her starring role now that the West End hit is on tour to Sunderland.
“I think anyone in the country, and probably the world, is now making themselves princess of something. Why not? Strike while the iron is hot. I was always quite hopeful that my name would be the royal choice,” she says.
In the West End Gooch took over the “Ginger Rogers” role of Dale Tremont from Summer Strallen and played alongside Tom Chambers, who got the role as a result of Strictly victory and a run in Sunderland’s White Christmas seasonal run.
“I left the production in the West End at the same time as Tom and a new cast came in. Alan Birkitt (who is the leading man on the UK tour) was the West End understudy but ended up playing the role for most of the West End run because Gavin Lee was quite poorly. Then The Sound of Musicals documentary was shown on Channel 4 and that featured Alan because there was such a palaver about Alan being thrown on for the big press night and being fantastic.
“So, the role of Jerry Travers became Alan’s and it was such a shame for Gavin, who had come back from Broadway to join the cast. His wife had also just had another baby so lack of sleep and illness probably didn’t do them any favours. It was great for me to be offered the chance of taking the role in such a beautiful show,” she says.
Critics felt that the plot taken from the famous 1935 movie was pretty thin, because it relies solely on Dale mistaking Jerry for another woman’s husband. Even so, the adaptation ended up with a host of Olivier awards.
“What they’ve done with the show to take it on tour is to absolutely stick with every small detail of the West End show, including every member of the band and most of the cast, because I think it’s important if you’re billing a show as Olivier award winning then people want to see that production,” she says.
Gooch would obviously prefer a London role to life on the road in touring “and to constantly have to think about what’s in your suitcase, but I go to a lot of places that I wouldn’t normally visit in the UK. It’s also nice to experience all the different audiences and it really varies up and down the country and people respond in different ways. Some areas find one joke funny while others don’t,” Gooch says.
On the subject of taking on the dance of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, Gooch admits that she’d been watching the film during the audition process in 2012. “It was just to get the style and genre and to look at that Fred and Ginger chemistry and flaire they both had. Even down to finding that heightened American accent that they had. Once I got the job it was getting to know the character through the script and the choreography and making this role your own.
“At the end of the day you’re never going to be able to be Fred and Ginger who are the most iconic and well known and loved artists of all time. To get to recreate what they originated and bring routines to life and make it accessible to an audience now, live on stage. Alan and I have said we should never be intimidated about filling their shoes because you’re recreating their work. That’s a little bit scary, but just the most amazing thing to dance and sing,” she says.
“This really is a dream role and I don’t think I’ll ever get another one quite as good as this. It’s such a joy to do every day,” Gooch adds.