Interview with actress Cameron Leigh, currently playing Edith Piaf at The Charing Cross Theatre, London
‘5thingstodotoday’ is very grateful to actress Cameron Leigh for taking time out of rehearsals for this short Q and A.
Cameron is currently playing the role of Edith Piaf at The Charing Cross Theatre in the London Production of ‘Piaf’
What things would you tell a school pupil who wants to be on the stage and in musical theatre?
Life in the theatre is amazing! In so many ways… We get such variety in our work and of course we get to do what we love. But it can also be hard. Work can often be sporadic and the rejection we face on a regular basis can at time be challenging to cope with. But I always say that people should do whatever their heart yearns for! We are not on this earth very long and I believe in doing what we love!
How long does it take you to prepare for a role such as Edith Piaf? How do you get into character?
I do a huge amount of research for the characters that I play. Edith is a very complex character. I like to watch clips of her before my show to remind myself and to connect with her. I do a big vocal warm up and spend some time alone to focus.
If you want a great day then what 5 things to do like to do?
A good day for me would be, to spend time with family. Take my daughter out to the park with a ball! Eat a lovely dinner out at prezzo! Go and see a musical!! And then watch a good film!
Out of every thing you have done so far, what do you consider to be the highlight?
I have been so lucky in my career to be a part of some wonderful shows, and I have worked with some wonderful and kind people! Playing Edith Piaf is without question one of the most special times of my life! I feel so lucky and honored to be representing such a wonderful woman.
What things do you like to do to just before you go on stage? How do you combat nerves?
I like to leave myself plenty of time before a show to prepare. There is nothing worse than being rushed and to feel like you aren’t ready mentally. To help with nerves I use lavender oil! I rub some on my hands and take deep breaths inhaling it. It really helps me!
Is being on stage as glamorous as people think?
Being in stage for me is the most wonderful feeling! I literally feel like it’s my home. And I can’t be without it. But there are times when it can be hard, when perhaps you aren’t very well and you still have to go on and deliver the same performance for the first time. Or when you are exhausted! I wouldn’t describe the theatre as glamorous I would describe it as exhilarating.
Do you ever read reviews of yourself in the press? Do you read reviews of other shows in the West End?
I do read reviews! It’s a battle for a performer as it can obviously be a tender and stressful thing to do. My philosophy is that I will probably hear it from other people so I may as well be for warned! Plus the curiosity will usually get the better of us! I don’t tend to read reviews of other shows as I like to see them with a fresh mind.
What do you think the future is of London theatre? How much longevity do you think the big blockbuster shows have?
I think that with the economy the way it is the West End has sadly taken a battering over the last few years. This sadly means that new writing is not being used so much and that shows with new concepts are not running for very long. Having said that the Theatre is still the glorious Theatre! And people will still go to see Les miserables and Billy Eliot! I look forward to a time when the West End will prosper for new work again.
How do you stay healthy when travelling and working long and unsociable hours.
I am a singer so I try hard to look after my voice. I take a large dose of vitamin c everyday along with iron. I also drink warm water with Manuka Honey! It’s a special kind of honey from the Manuka tree in New Zealand and it has wonderful healing Properties. It’s truly amazing! I don’t drink or smoke and I try to limit my dairy foods while I’m working in a show. It all helps to keep the voice clear!
If you go to the theatre yourself then what things do you like to see?
I like to see all kinds of things st the theatre. Plays, musicals, concerts! I went to see Billy Elliot recently and it was wonderful! The children are incredible! I also went to see Gypsy a few weeks ago with Imelda Staunton… She was sensational! Truly! And I was inspired beyond belief. Thank you Imelda!!