There’s got to be a first time for everyone, even West End stars. Here’s the low-down on musicals star Frances Ruffelle and her first key show-biz experiences – including her first kiss, big break and being called scuzzy in a review!
My First audition
I auditioned for a Smarties commercial when I was 6 years old. I got it!
My First job (acting or non-acting)
My first West End theatre job (as a grown up) was in a Terence Rattigan play called The Sleeping Prince starring Omar Sharif. I was 17 but looked 13 and I was not too happy when I arrived on the first day of rehearsals to find that they had organised a chaperone for me! I soon got that sorted and had fun performing the play at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and I learnt some great backgammon tips from Omar in the greenroom!
My First kiss
I kissed a boy called Peter when I was 13. I thought he looked like John Travolta from Grease… well he did have the black leather jacket, the quiff and the dimpled chin. It was after our drama class at my mum’s part time drama school called Young’uns in Wanstead.
My First time on stage
I think I was 4. My mum performed and I went on and sang with her. I was disappointed when she said I could stand in the wings and I expected giant fairy wings!
My First bad review
I can’t remember!! I don’t read reviews much… but when someone says something bad about me it usually makes me laugh. I had one that said I was scuzzy! Now that’s one of my favourite words!
My First big break
My first big break was Starlight Express. I got the job when I was 17. When Andrew Lloyd Webber told me that I’d got it, I ran out of the audition and was nearly run over – I was so surprised and scared too. “He thinks I can sing!” I was in a play at the time and not yet sure about my singing voice.
My First celebrity encounter
Mike Reid RIP and his family lived in our street when I was a kid. He was a famous comedian in those days and had a Rolls Royce with JOKEY as the number plate. He was the only person in the street with a posh car! He was lovely but his sons would steal our bikes and eat ladybirds!
My First visit to see a show
The first show I saw was Oliver! I wanted to be a boy so I could be in it!
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Frances Ruffelle is appearing with Nigel Richards in Songs from a Hotel Bedroom, a new work of musical theatre and dance featuring the songs of Kurt Weill at the Watford Palace Theatre (14-16 October), Ipswich New Wolsey Theatre (20-23 October) and the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House, London (4-6 November).