Interview with The Phantom of the Opera star Hettie Hobbs at Her Majesty’s Theatre London

We feel honoured to have interview Hettie Hobbs who is currently performing as ‘swing’ in the current production of The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’sTheatre, London.

1. When did you first realise that you wanted to perform professionally?

I think when I was eight I played the cat in a school production of Miss Jolly. I can remember being on stage, climbing on chairs, pretending to be a cat and loving it. From then on I threw myself into performing and anything creative. I should say, I was incredibly shy as a child but as I did more and more performing my confidence increased and it became a passion.

2. What would you say to a school pupil that wanted to appear in a musical in the West End?

I would say…Understand that to achieve anything requires faith, determination, dedication, belief in yourself and hard work! This quote has been repeated an awful lot in my brain!

It was always a dream to be on the big stage but I have to say it is not a sprint – enjoy the journey and make the most of every opportunity, whether it be big or small (in whoever’s eyes). Put effort into everything you do and do not take yourself too seriously.

3. Who did you tell first when you found out that you would be starring in Phantom of the Opera?

Well, I have to say it is a bit of a blur, but it was either my dad or my sister that was the first to call.

4. Tell us a little bit about the role of a ‘swing’ in a musical.

Being Swing requires me to cover six female ensemble tracks within the show but each show varies. We call them tracks because within each track are lots of different characters throughout the show. If a cast member is unwell, injured or on holiday, that is when I step in and cover one of these tracks. It is particularly great if I cover more than one track at a time – the most I have done is five! Keeps me on my toes and I love it!

5. What are the unglamorous bits about being on the stage?

One main one is when the weather is hot wearing two pairs of wool tights, boots and a weighty eighteen-century dress can be rather unpleasant. Aside from this, I honestly cannot think of any ‘unglamorous’ bits about being on stage.

6. How do you remember your lines? What happens if you forget? Can there sometimes a little improvisation?

Practice, practice, practice! Because I cover six tracks sometimes I can go a few weeks having not done a certain track so it is important to recap even if I have been in the job for over a year. If you go wrong always keep going and sure enough no one will notice.

7. How do you look after yourself when on a run in the West End?

It is extremely important to look after yourself physically and mentally in any job but doing eight shows a week does require you to be diligent and careful. Sometimes I forget that my day is a 9 to 5 persons version of a relaxing evening, which means it is important to get a balance and every so often use the daytime to chill and catch up on tv! An obvious one is to keep hydrated throughout the days and keep your mind stimulated with other things – don’t get complacent is what I say.

8. What is your favourite bit in Phantom?

I have a few favourite roles within the six tracks I cover. I particularly enjoy covering the Wardrobe Mistress and Confidante and the contrasting characters I get to create.

9. When you have free time what do you like to do in London?

Oh, I love exploring and walking around different parts of London. I love going to Swing Dancing socials and workshops on a Sunday. Playing sport and working out. Eating and finding quirky places to eat.

10. Does the cast of Phantom become a community? Do you socialise together?

There is a wonderful community feel within the cast, full of different ages and backgrounds. We do socialise together and I have formed some great friendships that I hope will continue after Phantom.