At the time of the interview, for the past year Tamara had starred as Brooke Wyndham in Legally Blonde The Musical at the Savoy Theatre. She has performed this role superbly and will be remembered for the many fantastic performances that she has given in this brilliant show. Since making her stage debut in Woking, Tamara has appeared in various regional theatres, toured the UK and also starred in the West End. She has several television credits including The Royal Variety Performance and the popular television programme, Eastenders.
Tamara took time out this week to answer a few questions about herself and her career.
What were your first experiences of singing or dancing in front of an audience?
My first experiences in front of an audience were in my back garden! I used to get all the kids from my street, make up a show and then get all the parents to come and watch. Sometimes my mum would come home from work and find half the avenue on garden chairs in our back garden!
You trained at the Jenny Reeds School of Dance in Surrey and then at the London Studio Centre. What fun times did you have there?
To be honest, as a kid I didn’t have a great time, the other girls in my village dance school hated me. I would always be doing my own thing at the back of the class and in shows I had solos and the others didn’t like it, jealousy was rife, and so they bullied me a lot. But when I got to London there were hundreds of girls just like me! I lived in a flat with two other dancers and we had an amazing time living off pasta and merry-down cider!
Your first performance was in Dick Whittington at Woking Theatre; can you tell us about that time?
My stage debut was being a juvenile dancer in Woking panto where I played a baby chick in “Mother Goose“! But generally I did panto during college, as it was the only professional job we were allowed to do as it was over the Christmas holidays and I can’t tell you how much fun it was! Not to mention it was the first time I got paid for doing something I loved!
You performed in the pantomime Goldilocks in Southampton. Are you a great lover of the British Panto?
I loooooooooove panto. For us as performers it’s a chance to meet new friends and really have fun in the festive spirit. When you work in the West End you don’t get to have time off over Christmas so it kind of passes you by, but on panto you’re normally in a town far away from where you live, staying with all the other cast and it’s Christmas every day for two months sometimes! In my last panto I got to play Cinderella and that was a treat! I’m normally known for not being girlie so it was so much fun becoming a real princess and hey what girl doesn’t secretly want to be in those glass slippers!
You performed the lead role of Lucy in The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe at The Proteus Theatre. What are your favourite memories of ‘Narnia’?
This was my first lead role and to be honest my mum took me to the audition for fun so when I got the part that day I was ecstatic! My favourite part was going through the wardrobe!
Your television credits include Cinderella, TFI Friday, Eastenders and The Royal Variety Performance. How did you feel performing in The Royal Variety Performance and what is it like appearing in one of the country’s famous soaps?
Obviously it was very surreal seeing The Queen! It was just as surreal standing in the Queen Vic in Eastenders. It was like a dream for me… I have also NEVER been so nervous in my whole life! Everyone was so lovely and made me feel so welcome it truly was the best time. I only hope I can go back soon!
You performed in the Spirit of The Dance in the USA. Can you tell us about that experience?
This has to be the worst job I’ve ever done! Bar none! It was the worst company I’ve ever worked for and was a very physically painful job! We all had shin splints from the Irish dancing and the fact we were dancing on a CONCRETE stage! We weren’t allowed off for injury and we took Nurofen like Smarties! I left the contract half-way through and got the first plane home!
You understudied and played Lamb Chops & Mabel Washington in Fame on a UK tour and at the Victoria Palace Theatre. What did you like most about Fame?
The dancing! The amazing choreography by Karen Bruce was a thrill to do every night. It was also the first show I went to see at college and said to my friend “I’m never going to be good enough to be in that” so when I got the job I think I cried for a week!
What are the good things and not so good things about being on tour?
The bad thing is living out of a suitcase. The good thing is you’re all away from home together so you really become a family.
Next on your career path was We Will Rock You where you understudied & played Meat and Scaramouche. What was your favourite song from WWRY and how did it feel performing in such an iconic show?
I think my favourite show by far! My favourite song was definitely “who wants to live forever”, as it is such a beautiful song. I stayed in that show for three and a half years so I must have enjoyed it eh? Most of all I loved performing with “Queen” and I got to sing backing vocals with them in the “UK Music Hall of Fame”. That was the night of my life! At one point I was going through harmonies in a dressing room with Brian May, Roger Taylor, Paul Rodgers and Robbie Williams and thought wtf!?
You performed in Never Forget, a tribute to Take That. What is your favourite Take That song and are you a Take That fan?
My favourite Take That song is “Back For Good” but that’s only because it rained on stage during that song and I loved being rained on stage every night! I wasn’t a Take That fan before they reunited but I sure am now! Wow they came back with a vengeance!
You joined the cast of Legally Blonde The Musical in December 2009 and have played several roles including your latest one of Brooke Wyndham; which you have played for over a year. What can you tell us about Brooke and her part in the storyline?
Brooke Wyndham is a fitness instructor who is scared that telling people she’s had Liposuction will lose her whole career so ends up in prison for murdering her husband because she won’t tell her alibi to anyone but Elle. Elle then goes on to win her case and sets her free! Yay! It truly is the best part for me, she is strong , mouthy, blonde, and can kick her legs! I’ve had the time of my life playing her.
What is it about performing in Legally Blonde that you have enjoyed the most?
Being surrounded by such lovely people and the show itself is such a smiley happy energetic show and kind of rubs off on you, the building is a very happy place to be (normally)!
How physically fit do you have to be to perform the fitness routines in the show?
I guess you should be fit to do the skipping routines in the show but I’m the first person in McDonalds in between shows! I’m sooooooo unhealthy and I have a serious chocolate addition!
The musical has obvious comments about ‘blondes’. Do you think being blonde helps or hinders a woman’s career?
Well I’ve been both dark and blonde and so far blondes definitely have more fun! As for career, it doesn’t really matter, you’re either right for the part or you’re not.
Do you have any particular ‘superstitious’ routines that you have to do before a performance?
Nothing before performances but if I have an audition I can’t do it unless my mum rings or texts me “sparkle!” It’s something she used to say to me as a kid and now I absolutely cannot go into an audition until she’s said it, stupid huh?
What does your warm-up routine consist of?
We have ten minutes skipping warm, ten minutes general physical warm up and ten minutes vocal.
Legally Blonde is due to close on April 7th; what are your plans once the show has closed?
Well unfortunately I leave earlier than everyone else, which is sad, but I will go out with a bang, probably get very drunk afterwards and not think about what’s next till that Monday morning! As yet nothing planned, but watch this space!
What do you like to do on a day off away from the stage?
I’m obsessed with Formula 1 so usually when the F1 season starts that’s where you’ll find me most Sundays glued to the TV watching the race, actually anything to do with cars is where I’m at outside of the theatre!
Do you prefer to spend time in the country or in the city?
I live in “the Green Belt” of Surrey so I guess I’m more of a country girl. I love London for work but I like to get out it of it afterwards.
Is there any message you would like to say to your Legally Blonde supporters?
Just thank you for being so amazing. I’ve had a tough time learning that I was leaving the show early and I can’t tell you how much you guys have helped and made me smile…
Thank you Tamara for giving us an insight into your career. Best wishes for the remainder of your time in Legally Blonde The Musical and for the future.
Interview questions by Neil @LondonTheatre1
1st February 2012