By Jay Darcy
Carrie Hope Fletcher, the Queen of the West End, last played at The Lowry in 2017, when she starred in the original UK cast of The Addams Family. Carrie played the iconic role of Wednesday Addams and stole hearts with her rendition of ‘Pulled’.
Now, after six years in London, Carrie has been pulled right back, as part of her first ever UK tour, An Open Book – where she will be supported by Trinity.
Carrie is a 4 x WhatsOnStage Award winner and 5 x nominee. The sister of McFly‘s Tom Fletcher, she came to prominence with her YouTube channel, ItsWayPastMyBedtime (later retitled Carrie Hope Fletcher).
She began her stage career as Young Éponine in Les Mis, later returning to the West End production as adult Éponine, a role she also played in Dubai, before playing Fantine in The Staged Concert and later the West End production.
As a child actress, she starred in the original cast of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (which she returned to as an adult) and the original West End cast of Mary Poppins.
As an adult, she has starred in the original UK casts of A Christmas Carol (a concert), The Addams Family, Heathers, and But I’m a Cheerleader (a workshop at MTFestUK). She also originated the lead role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s (controversial) Cinderella.
For Carrie, 2022 was destined to be one to remember – she was leading the cast of Cinderella, was living with her long-term boyfriend, and was going to turn 30. Little did she expect it to turn out to be quite such a landmark in her life. Or did she? As the musical
theatre actress, vlogger and author says, 22 is her lucky number…
But it didn’t get off to the best start, Cinderella having a Covid-enforced eight-week stop, and the end of a four-year relationship. Carrie might have been forgiven for rethinking her lucky charm.
However, come the end of the year, it was a different story: Carrie had happily turned 30, found a new, true love (and got engaged), impressed critics with her debut in a Bertolt Brecht play, did her first pantomime, and had announced her first solo concert tour, An Open Book.
“Everything that could have happened last year did. But it’s all happened for a reason – the good and the bad. But it’s made me feel like I can do anything now! It’s taught me to be more ballsy about walking into the unknown. I guess I feel like it’s my time to say ‘screw it’ and walk on stage to be me. Whatever happens, happens, and that is a part of me I don’t think I had before. A new kind of self-confidence – and it’s great that it’s coincided with turning 30,” she said.
In the past, Carrie has spoken ‘openly’ about her fear of concert performances, so what changed her mind this time?
“Nothing. I’m still petrified!” she admits. “You know what it is, I don’t feel like I’m very good at being myself. I love being an actress, hiding behind a character, which I find interesting and fun getting into the mindset of other people and telling stories, using their emotions. But on stage as myself, it feels a bit boring by comparison. I haven’t got the same to offer as Veronica, or Wednesday, or Fantine…
“In concert, if people don’t like what you’re saying and singing, it’s very much you. People can say I hated how you played Veronica Sawyer, and I can put her in the way and blame the character. But a concert, it’s very personal and everything you’re feeling is very much yourself; your feelings, your stories and your voice. That is terrifying. I’m a people pleaser. I like people to like me so it’s scary to put myself into that place where they potentially won’t.”
“I’m getting around hating being myself by writing it like a show, creating a script and character for myself to feel more comfortable. It feels very much like I’m creating a little show for myself.
Whilst Carrie has played some super iconic roles and has a series of signature songs, she’s mixing things up for the tour’s setlist:
“Every time I’ve done a concert, I feel like it’s always been ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ from Les Mis, or ‘Pulled’ from The Addams Family – it’s always songs I’ve done in shows. This time, there will be songs I’ve never got to sing. Things from roles I’ve not had chance to play, roles I probably will never play – which is a dream to be able to do. But they will all have messages or be something that I want to say.”
With Carrie also known as an author, the tour title, An Open Book, is an appropriate one – as Carrie admits. she’s “always been an oversharer”.
“If someone chats on a bus, I’ll chat back. But people do see oversharing as a negative thing. But it is literally your job to go on stage and open up your chest and say ‘this is what I’ve got’.”
So, after An Open Book, what will come next for Carrie in this new chapter of her life?
“Getting older opens up this other new suitcase of roles that I have never had access to before. A role I’ve always wanted to play is Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd, and I am still too young for that role, but each year older is another step closer to it. And there are so many new musicals at the moment, they are exciting and the creativity that’s happening is brilliant. The stories are getting wilder, and that all affords new opportunities to us as actors.
“Another role I’ve always loved and wanted to play is the dentist in Little Shop Of Horrors – but gender swapped. There’s nothing there that says the character has to be a man, so why not? He’s a character that’s a villain to the Nth degree, that’s why he became a dentist; he’s just mean for the
sake of being mean. By contrast, female villains always have a backstory and a reason why they are mean. It would be such fun to just be an outright villain.”
“Doing Caucasian Chalk Circle was an eye opener too, in terms of maybe doing more plays – I would love to do Shakespeare. Although Caucasian Chalk Circle had 28 songs in it, I’d say it was more a musical! In the sense of the storyline and the subject matter, the emotion, and the amount of
dialogue, it felt more like a play. But in the preparation and rehearsal process, it felt the same as musicals I’ve done – so that familiarity helped me settle into it.
“The thing for most performers, is that it’s all about telling the stories… Then, if you can sing, you end up doing musicals and telling those stories through song.
“There are surprising boundaries between musicals, plays, TV, film. There is a kind of snobbery though, especially towards musical theatre performers. But the reality is that we are all actors, doing the same thing of telling stories – there might be some changes in exactly how we do it across the mediums, but the basics are the same.”
Those ‘basics’ will stand Carrie in good stead for what is currently set to be her biggest adventure in 2023, taking her own stories on the road in An Open Book. Perhaps she’ll be rethinking that lucky number? 23, anyone?
Carrie Hope Fletcher began her tour, An Open Book, at St George’s Hall, Bradford on May 18. She tours the UK until June 11, stopping off at The Lowry (Lyric Theatre), Salford on May 28.
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