Danielle's travels take her along Yellow Brick Road to Joseph
PUBLISHED: 14:37 14 October 2014 | UPDATED: 14:37 14 October 2014
She followed the Yellow Brick Road in the Wizard Of Oz, scaled the barricades of Les Miserables and is now going back to her theatrical roots. As Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat returns to Norwich Theatre Royal, EMMA LEE meets actress Danielle Hope.
Aged only 22, Danielle Hope is already a musical theatre veteran. She made her professional debut at the London Palladium at 18 after winning the role of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz on the TV talent search Over the Rainbow and went on to spend a year playing Eponine in Les Miserables in the West End.
Now Danielle’s career has come full circle.
Going back to her theatrical roots, she’s starring as the Narrator, one of the first roles she ever played, in a nationwide tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat which returns to Norwich Theatre Royal from October 28 to November 1.
She’s joined by 2009 X Factor finalist Lloyd Daniels, who gets to wear Joseph’s coveted coat of many colours, with EastEnders actor and Dancing on Ice runner up Matt Lapinskas playing the Pharaoh. They’ll be joined on stage in Norwich by the Broadland Youth Choir.
“Joseph is special to me because it’s one of the first shows I did at school,” says Danielle.
“This show is so great – you can enjoy it if you’re six or if you’re 90.”
Because of its all-ages appeal, often, like pantomime, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is many youngsters’ introduction to the theatre, which gives Danielle even more of an impetus to put on a good show.
“It’s pure magic and it might inspire children to pursue music or acting,” she says.
The enduringly popular show, a collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, includes the memorable songs Jacob and Sons, Close Every Door and, of course, Any Dream Will Do.
A retelling of the story from the Bible’s Book of Genesis, Joseph, who can interpret the meaning of dreams, is sold into slavery by his brothers who are jealous that he’s their father’s favourite.
He’s taken to Egypt where, after rebuffing the advances of his master’s wife, he ends up in prison.
But his fortunes change when the Pharoah, learning of his special ability, asks him to decipher his dream involving seven fat cows, seven skinny cows, seven healthy ears of corn and seven dead ears of corn.
Predicting seven plentiful years of crops followed by seven years of famine, Joseph is put in charge of making preparations for the lean years and becomes the second most powerful man in Egypt.
Since the musical’s debut, an estimated 15 million tickets have been sold and last year it was announced that a film version is in development.
Danielle has been on tour with the show since July – and is full of enthusiasm.
“It’s going really well, we’ve got Lloyd and Matt and there’s a really great crew,” she says.
“Some people have been doing it for a couple of years and there’s some brilliant new members. It’s a team effort and we’re having a lovely time.
“Being on tour I don’t get to see my friends that much so the cast really do become your family.” she says.
“I’m seeing cities I’ve never had the chance to visit. I’ve never been to Norwich and I’m excited to see it – I can’t wait,” she says.
Danielle grew up in Greater Manchester and says that “music found me”.
“I guess I wasn’t very good at maths, I didn’t have anything else,” she laughs. “I thought I would have a go and loved it.”
At school, as well as playing the Narrator in Joseph, Danielle was cast as Carmen in Fame and Maria in West Side Story.
When it was announced that Lord Lloyd Webber was launching a search to find a Dorothy for his new stage production of The Wizard of Oz, Danielle was one of more than 9,000 girls who applied.
Most auditions are held in front of a handful of people – but for Danielle they played out in front of millions on prime time TV – and a judging panel made up of Charlotte Church, John Partridge, Sheila Hancock and Lord Lloyd Webber himself.
It almost sounds as if she still can’t believe she was voted ‘the people’s Dorothy’ – even when she walked off in the famous ruby slippers.
“The whole time I thought ‘they’re going to find me out’. And every round I got through I thought ‘oh my gosh, I’m still here’,” she laughs.
“I had a book and I’d written a list of everything I wanted to achieve in it – and in 18 months I had done everything, things I thought I would never do, like being in the West End.
“It was a really great experience and I met some amazing people,” she adds.
And those amazing people include her Wizard of Oz co-star Michael Crawford, who played the titular Wizard.
“He’s part of my family now. I’m so grateful to have him around,” she says.
Her performance as Dorothy won Danielle the 2011 BroadwayWorld UK Award for best leading actress in a musical and a nomination for the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers Choice Award for best London newcomer.
She left The Wizard of Oz in February 2012 and in June the same year joined the cast of Les Miserables at Queen’s Theatre, as sparky Eponine. She had performed Eponine’s solo song, On My Own, during Over The Rainbow.
“That was just amazing,” says Danielle. “It was the year the film came out and it was great to go and do a show which was so different to the Wizard of Oz - I was dressed in rags and climbing the barricade,” she says.
In her spare time, which, with her hectic touring schedule is precious, Danielle relaxes by practising yoga and writing - she has recently started a blog called Through Life’s Looking Glass. She admits that working in the theatre can be tough.
“In Joseph we do 10 shows a week,” she says. “You need to try and get lots of rest, drink lots of water and just be mindful and take five minutes every now and again to just sit and breathe.
“With theatre and performing, if you don’t love it 100pc there’s no point in doing it,” she continues.
“The best advice that I’ve discovered is to believe in yourself, work hard and be prepared to fall on your face a couple of times because you learn the most when you’re getting back up,” she says.
Recently she’s branched out and performed her debut solo show at the Delfont Room at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London.
“It was amazing but terrifying,” she says.
“I’m doing a homecoming concert in Manchester in October and a lot of my family who couldn’t come down south will come and there are plans to take the show elsewhere – it’s never something I thought I would be able to do,” she says.
When it comes to future roles, there’s a few she has in mind.
“I’m so grateful for what I’ve done so far. But I’d love to play Mary Poppins,” she says. “Or a Disney princess. Who doesn’t want to be a princess?”
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is at Norwich Theatre Royal from Tuesday October 28 to Saturday November 1. Performances are nightly at 7.30pm, with matinees Wednesday to Friday at 2.30pm and on Saturday at 1.30pm and 4.30pm. Tickets cost £6.50-£27.50. Box office: 01603 630000/ www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk