Gretel Scarlett Online
The Fame Reporter featuring Ellen Goddard
Gretel Scarlett is a extraordinarily diverse Australian musical theatre performer.
Gretel is best known for her roles as Sandy in the Gordon Frost Associations Grease the Musical and her current role as Kathy Selden in Singin’ in the Rain.
Notable works include Sal in Breast Wishes, understudying and performing the main juvenile roles of Sophie Sheridan, Ali, and Lisa in Mamma Mia the musical and playing the Witch’s Mother in the 2010-2012 Australian and Asian productions of Wicked the Musical, as well as understudying and performing the roles of Elphaba and Nessarose.
In 2011, she was a Top 6 Finalist in the 3rd Inaugural ANZ Trustees Rob Guest Endowment Award, performing live at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne, Australia.
During 2014, Gretel recorded her debut solo album titled ‘Hopelessly Devoted’ which is available via her website http://bit.ly/2eqAb9a.
Gretel’s current show Singin’ in the Rain in which she plays Kathy Selden, the main male character Don Lockwood’s love interest, is a smash hit with 12,000 litres of live rain every show! Buy tickets to Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth shows here.
We talked to Gretel about her performing career in the theatre and entertainment world including how her interest in acting began and what the biggest challenges she faces playing Kathy in Singin’ in the Rain, check out the interview below.
Welcome to The Fame Reporter Gretel, What was it that sparked your interest in acting initially?
There was something in me as a child. Around the age of 4, I was enthralled with all things film, TV, music and dance. If I wasn’t making up lyrics to songs and choreographing dances, I was watching VideoHits mimicking the video clips and watching movies.
I loved the concept of entertaining people and it was something I was most comfortable at. As I got older, my heart was captured by films.
I remember seeing Titanic (the movie) for the first time and rewatching it about 100 times over, learning the script, playing pretend, wanting to be Kate Winslet. I knew then, when I was around 10 years old, that this was the career I was set out to do.
How was your experience attending the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, How did that experience affect your current career progression?
Everyone’s experience at any acting institution is different. Every course is what you make of it. I was determined to have the best 3 years of my study life. I was ready to work hard, focus and graduate ready for the industry. I enjoyed every second of my time in Perth at WAAPA. I made the most of all the opportunities I was thrown, recognised my strengths and worked hard on improving my weaknesses.
I loved it. It certainly set me on the right path for my career. Because WAAPA is situated in Perth, you can’t get swept away in the audition circuits that happen over in the Eastern states (like Sydney and Melbourne). You literally get the opportunity to lock yourself away for 3 years and cook your craft without people judging you for your mistakes and failures.
I also believe that by using the institution to it’s fullest, I was able to gain a better understanding of myself as a performer, the type of roles I would be possibly cast as, and the idea of handling 8 shows a week.
What 5 performers dead or alive would you love to have a dinner party with and why?
Toni Collette – one of my main inspirations. She is one of the most talented, yet down-to-earth, Australian actresses and I feel like she would have some wonderful stories to share. Tom Hanks – My top 5 movies all star him. So, it’s only necessary that he knows how much I appreciate his work and thus, I should host him a dinner party.
Shania Twain – my singer/songwriter go to! I’d happily have her over for dinner and join in on a jam session with this incredible woman. Her story inspires me – from humble beginnings. Ann Miller – my top Musical Theatre dancer idol. Those legs… She danced like one of the boys – something I am proud to also dance like. I will always join in on Boys Allegro exercises and never be left out!
Ann Reinking – My triple threat inspiration. A fellow Scorpio who possesses a similar leg length and love for a high cut leotard! I would love to pick her brain on all things Fosse.
Who are your style, music and dance icons?
Oh, there are too many. Trying to round it down, style and music would be a combination between Angelina Jolie, Gwen Stefani, Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift. Dance icons are a lot harder. Aside from the two aforementioned (Ann Reinking and Ann Miller), I could add Ginger Rogers.
Congratulations on your debut album ‘Hopelessly Devoted’ do you plan to continue making music in the future?
Why, thank you! It’s absolutely something I would love to venture more into. I write songs on my guitar all the time. I’ve written songs ever since I was about 10 years old (some absolutely terrible!) and all through my WAAPA years.
I took many years off from it, and only picked up my guitar, pen and paper again over a year and a bit ago. It’s definitely something I can churn out quite fast. I tend to write songs in my dressing room between shows. Funny where you find inspiration! haha
What was it like working on Mamma Mia as one of your first major shows?
I owe a lot to my time on Mamma Mia. It was a superb ensemble to be a part of! It was my first experience understudying and I loved every minute of it. I was in rehearsing almost every week, and thrived off that. I thoroughly enjoyed bettering myself behind the curtain and it really is a fun show. Storyline aside, there will never be a finale like that one!!
The audience are on their feet EVERY NIGHT! ABBA music is to die for, and that was the best part of that show. Dancing and Singing my heart out to those songs. They are iconic!
How did you react when you were cast in the tony award winning musical, Wicked?
My casting process of Wicked was a strange one. I had already been offered a place in the ensemble of that show on other occasions, but due to being cast in Breast Wishes and Mamma Mia, I had to let it slip. It was the show that kept coming back!
So when I finally had the opportunity and right timing, it was perfect. So I was thrilled to literally close Mamma Mia on a Sunday night in Brisbane, and fly to Sydney on the Monday to start Wicked rehearsals at the Capitol Theatre. It’s a magical show!
Do you have a role in any musical theatre or straight theatre piece that you are dying to embody and play?
Sure I do! There’s plenty. Some are even for when I’m a lot older. Aside from the obvious choices: – Shelby or M’Lynne in Steel Magnolias – Sally Bowles in Cabaret – Mama Rose in Gypsy – Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire – Normas Desmond in Sunset Boulevard – Elsa in Frozen SO MANY!
Grease the musical is such a classic piece of popular culture how was your time on that production and what did playing Sandy teach you?
Grease was a huge milestone in my performing career. Playing Sandy was intense on a whole new level. I learned what it was like to have the pressure of performing such an iconic character to audiences, but more so the pressure of playing an “Australian” icon.
It was a massive 2 year engagement, nearly 450 shows, signing 6 contracts and touring Australia (and Singapore!). I learned a lot in regards to playing a leading lady, leading the show, always being on your A game, not letting anyone down and always performing to 150%. When a spotlight is on you, you cannot drop the ball. The audience see everything.
Singin’ in the Rain is your latest show in which you play Kathy Selden. What was the experience like preparing for this role and what do you love about bringing her to life every show?
It was actually a really enjoyable experience getting this show up on its feet. The 3 lead roles did a full week of what was called ‘Boot camp” where we were taught all of our routines in the show before the ensemble joined us for rehearsals. It was great to have the rehearsal studio to ourselves and able to really create our own personal connection with each other.
It was actually integral to us as actors to bond through the process and find a comfortable working relationship as a trio. I did a lot of personal fitness preparation prior to rehearsals too, as I was quite aware that Kathy Selden required a lot more stamina, physically, vocally and mentally in comparison to most leading roles.
I love that Kathy is the breath of fresh air. She’s the character that is unlike any of the other characters in the story. She’s an outsider who doesn’t quite belong in Hollywood. She doesn’t play the games and she rows her own boat through her career. I love representing a role like that! She’s got to have so much energy and I adore that even on the hardest days, she’s still got to power on. She’s a definite physical being.
How is the show different to others you have performed and had you seen the film before you began the show?
This show is most different in that it’s the iconic representation of Musical Theatre. It’s true to the form. The singing, dancing and acting form. The time in which the lead roles had to all sing, dance and act, and do it all equally well. It’s hard to come across shows like that now.
Usually the skill set is divided amongst it’s roles. Some being stronger in singing, or dancing or acting. So that’s one of the biggest differences to the other shows I have done. I also grew up watching the film.
Professional theatre doesn’t tour to Central Queensland and my family couldn’t afford to go to the big cities to see shows (can you believe I saw my first pro show at 12?!), so my upbringing was based on the MGM films, like Singin’ in the Rain. I was already quite familiar with the film, so I only re-watched the film once before the audition.
So happy you are able to dance more in this show, what is your favourite dance number and move you are performing in Singin’ in the Rain?
Definitely the ‘Good Mornin’’ number. It’s iconic. It’s fun. It’s exhausting. It’s exhilarating. It’s everything I love about live theatre.
What do you believe is the most challenging aspect of playing Kathy?
At the beginning of the tour in Melbourne, my answer would’ve been very different. However, now, the biggest challenge is swapping Don Lockwood’s every show. We have 2 Don Lockwood’s that alternate every show.
That’s been the most challenging concept to deal with, as they are both entirely different and I can never expect them to be the same. They both hold me different, say lines to me differently, sometimes stand in different places and even kiss me differently! haha! So I’ve just always got to be ready for change – and I love it.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now where would it be and why?
Canada. Hike, climb mountains and horse ride my way across the country. Alberta, BC, Ontario. Incredible places.
What is the best thing you own and what is a future dream of yours?
That’s a hard question! I’m not a possessive person. I don’t shop a lot. Currently the best things I own are my guitar, any of my Lorna Jane apparel and my bike helmet. I’m set with those 3 things! I have many dreams.
Aside from the obvious ‘make it on Broadway’ or ‘make it in Hollywood’ ones, a future dream is to become a recording artist. I would love to perform live music to entertainment stadium crowds and on live TV! haha
Lastly who or what inspires you?
A lot of things inspire me. I’m continually inspired by people who work hard and make the most of what life throws at them. People who never make excuses.
There’s a bunch of co-stars who fall in to that category. Rob Mills, Jemma Rix, Lucy Durack, Todd McKenney. I love people who don’t expect things to be given to them on a silver spoon. And all of those individuals mentioned work hard at their jobs, 8 shows a week, and juggle all sorts of things!
I am also inspired by strong women who take care of themselves and others. Erika Heynatz falls into this category and I’m thrilled to work alongside her every day. My “herbal remedy sister from another mister”. I am inspired by health, fitness, nourishment and looking after yourself.
Thank-you Gretel for joining us at The Fame Reporter we wish you all the best and chookas for the Australian tour of Singin’ in the Rain! Buy tickets for Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth here.