Norwich singer’s new role is just Wicked

The curtain falls on Norwich Theatre Royal's pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk tomorrow. Leading lady Charlotte Scott tells EMMA LEE why the theatre is so special to her - and about a new West End role that's just Wicked.

There are many reasons why Norwich Theatre Royal has a special place in rising star Charlotte Scott's heart. Norfolk born and bred, it was here, at the age of 10, that she first trod the boards in a pantomime.

When she finished theatre school her first role was in a tour of Cats, which brought her back to to the city.

And this Christmas she has returned again to play leading lady, Jill, in Jack and the Beanstalk.

But it's also a place where she spent many happy hours with two people who nurtured her love of the theatre.

Charlotte, 24, credits her grandparents, Peggy and Leslie Buttifant, with introducing her to musicals. As well as watching Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals on video together they would enjoy trips to the Theatre Royal to see shows. Which is why, in a touching tribute, Charlotte has dedicated a seat to them in the auditorium.

'I thought it was a nice way to remember them, especially as it was from them that I got my love of musicals. We had such lovely times here and I've got such happy memories,' Charlotte says. 'I love Rodgers and Hammerstein – the old films, like Carousel and Showboat. I think, as with most people, if you've grown up with something you have a fondness for it you never lose.'

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Between the ages of eight and 18, Charlotte was a pupil at Norwich's Central School of Dance and Performing Arts and she appeared in six Theatre Royal pantomimes.

Although she enjoyed dance, she took some encouraging to consider making a career of it. 'I never really thought about doing it when I was younger. It was only when my dance teacher said that I showed promise that I was like 'I really want to do it'. I was one of those children that needed a nudge in the right direction,' she says.

After attending the Hewett School, Charlotte went on to train at the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in north London. She was only a few months into her final year when she won a role in Cats – and she's gone on to appear in touring productions of Footloose, Fame and the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Since the middle of December she's been starring alongside Hollyoaks' Stephen Uppal and former EastEnder Joel Beckett in Jack and the Beanstalk.

When the curtain falls on the pantomime tomorrow, an exciting new chapter begins in Charlotte's career – she's heading to the home of theatre, the West End, to perform in a record-breaking show that is, literally, Wicked.

The musical, based on the book by Gregory Maguire, tells the story of the witches of Oz and has played to packed houses and picked up a host of awards since it opened in London in 2006.

It's clear to see that Charlotte is excited about her new role.

'I saw Wicked when it was still in previews when it first opened in 2006. To now be part of that is just amazing,' she says. 'I'm going to be in the ensemble and understudying Nessarose. It's quite difficult explaining who she is because there are some twists in Wicked and she's part of a twist. You might not know the name, but you definitely know her, but I can't tell you because it will spoil the story,' she says.

Was it daunting auditioning for a part in such a famous and well-loved show?

'It's funny, everybody always asks that. It's exactly the same process as auditioning for a tour, the only difference is with Wicked in your final audition you are videoed and some of the American creative team come over. When you're auditioning, the panel gets bigger every time you go back for another recall,' she says.

With barely time to catch her breath, (in fact Charlotte has already done a couple of days' rehearsals in London on rest days from the pantomime), she will be back off to the capital as soon as Jack and the Beanstalk finishes, then on stage at the Apollo Victoria Theatre from the beginning of February.

'Since growing up I've just wanted to be in shows, a dancer in a show. So for me to be understudying roles is amazing. I've surpassed everything I ever dreamed,' she says.

And she's sure to have some supporters in the audience.

'It's a long-running joke how many times my mum has been to see the panto. I think she's been four times so far and is coming twice more before we finish. And she's already organising a schedule for how many times she can come and see Wicked!

'All joking aside, it's lovely to have such supportive parents. I'm so lucky and so grateful for all they've done for me and continue to do for me,' she says.

Theatre Royal box office: 01603 630000.