Nicola Brazil is currently performing as Mary Delgado in Jersey Boys at the Prince Edward Theatre, of which she says:
“I am exceptionally excited to be playing Mary Delgado as I haven’t played a role as gritty and tragic as this before.”
Nicola started singing at the age of four and during her school years performed as Tallulah in Bugsy Malone and Nancy in Oliver. During her training at Mountview she appeared in many productions and subsequently made her West End debut in Wicked. Since that time Nicola has starred as Sandy in Grease and Amber von Tussle in Hairspray, before joining the cast of All The Fun of The Fair with David Essex. She then joined Legally Blonde as Serena and first cover Elle, and more recently has starred in Aladdin, alongside Gareth Gates and Russell Grant.
As well as being a very talented stage actress, Nicola has also performed on television and has an album to her name.
Nicola took time out from her busy schedule to answer some questions about herself and her career. I am sure that you will enjoy reading what she has to say.
You were born in Leeds, what was it like growing up in Yorkshire?
I had a great time and I still love to go home as often as I can to visit family and friends as most of my family still live in the North.
When did you or someone else discover that you had a talent for singing or acting?
When I was very young and wanted to get up and sing to an audience at my friend’s 4th birthday party. After that no one could shut me up! My sister used to say “make her stop mum!” I’ve never stopped singing since!
Can you recall any school plays or musicals that were you involved in and what parts you played?
At high school I played Tallulah in Bugsy Malone and then went on to play Nancy in Oliver at High School. Believe it or not, I also played King Herod at a High School Production of Jesus Christ Superstar!
What was it like playing the lead role in the coal mining musical, ‘Pit Stop,’ that enjoyed a record breaking run at the Leeds Civic Theatre?
From the age of 10 I performed with an Amateur Youth Theatre group in a number of shows. I played the narrator in Pit Stop at the age of 13 and that was my first experience of playing a leading role, not counting playing the title role of Oliver at the age of 10.
What are your favourite memories of your time training at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts?
A lot of the memories are because of the good friends you make, but a highlight of the training for me was our final showcase of Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens. I played a number of different characters within the piece and I sang some beautiful songs. It was a very moving time because we all realised that this would be the final time that we would all sing and perform together. I made some very close friends during the course.
When did you make your professional stage debut?
In musical theatre my professional stage debut was in Wicked which I thoroughly enjoyed. Prior to this, I toured as support artist for Don Williams on his UK tour, where I received the Touring Artist of the Year Award. I also then went on to support a number of American Country Artists and it was a great experience to sing on stage with a live band every evening.
You made your West End debut in Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. What can you remember about your first night?
I felt huge excitement at my West End debut. I never realised the amount of dancing involved in Wicked. It was a really challenging rehearsal period and I wanted to make sure that all went well and I didn’t let my dance partners down. I loved it!!
You performed the role of Sandy in the popular musical Grease at the Piccadilly Theatre. How would you describe your time performing this role?
This was a very exciting period of my career as it was only my second West End job and I jumped straight from ensemble to leading lady. I felt hugely privileged and wanted to ensure that I delivered the goods. Sandy is a fun character to play because you play sweet Sandy and sexy Sandy, so it never got boring. I have to say I did like playing sexy Sandy more!! Ha ha!
In 2009 you played the part of Amber von Tussle in Hairspray The Musical at the Shaftesbury Theatre. What was it like performing as the baddie?
It was exhausting! I never realised how tiring it was to be so horrible all the time! Luckily, myself, Chloe Hart and Verity Rushworth were really good friends so there were some lighter moments back stage! We definitely kept the fighting to onstage and have remained very good friends.
Early in 2010 you joined the cast of All of The Fun of The Fair starring alongside David Essex. What was it like performing in this fun show?
I loved working alongside David Essex, Christopher Timothy and the rest of the talented cast. I loved the music from the show and really enjoyed being part of the company. Driving a dodgem every night was great fun!!
In 2010 you joined Legally Blonde The Musical at the Savoy Theatre, as Serena and first cover Elle. What did you enjoy most about being part of this musical?
Legally Blonde is one of my all time favourite musicals. I was honoured to be part of the company and getting to play two very different characters within the piece was a challenge but thoroughly enjoyable! Elle Woods goes on an amazing journey, yet Serena gets to bust out the Bend and Snap!
During the Christmas Panto season in 2011/2012 you performed as Princess Jasmine in the pantomime Aladdin, alongside Russell Grant and Gareth Gates. Okay, spill the beans! Tell us about this fun show.
Panto is always great. The audience is up for a good time and there is never a bad audience as everyone is out to enjoy themselves. It was hilarious working alongside all the cast and I made lots of friends. We partied a lot off-stage and definitely got in the festive spirit.
As well as Aladdin you have also appeared in the title role of Cinderella. What is it that you like most about pantomimes?
Almost answered in the previous question, but the shows are funny and there is never a dull moment on and off stage.
You are performing as Mary Delgado in Jersey Boys. What emotions are you going through being at the start of a new role?
It is always scary going in to a new show as you want to do your best to impress the people who have employed you, as you would in any new job. I am exceptionally excited to be playing Mary Delgado as I haven’t played a role as gritty and tragic as this before.
What is your favourite song in the show?
I like Beggin You, it’s a brilliant song.
Are you able to put any of your own personality into the role of Mary Delgado?
In every job you do, you have your own ideas and your own interpretation of how the role is played. You have to be able to take direction and understand the purpose of what you are trying to get out of the scene, but you are always encouraged to add your personality and own dimension to the role, which every actress enjoys. No two people will play the same role in the same way and that’s why I love live theatre and working in different shows with different actors.
As well as being a successful stage actress you have also appeared on television in ITV’s Wire in the Blood and Fran in Children’s Ward. How does acting for television compare to the stage and which do you prefer?
I love acting in any capacity. TV is very different to theatre, as with TV recording there is room for mistakes as you can do the take again. In theatre you only get one shot to get it right on the night, so I like the adrenalin of live theatre. I would love to do more TV as I find the whole filming process very interesting.
You are also a recording artist with your debut album Cross the Battleline (2000) in Nashville winning you the HMV Rising Star Award as well as being named Touring Artist of the Year. What style of music is on the album (and where can it be bought/downloaded)?
It’s a country album as my passion is country music and I love the song lyrics. If anyone is interested in the album, please contact me via my website.
What was it like being in Nashville?
Nashville was a whirlwind experience as I was only 17 and visited in my school half-term. Gail Davies produced the album and it was interesting to see how the Nashville session circuit worked.
Including the shows mentioned previously, you have also appeared in Billy Liar, Whistle Down the Wind, Jesus Christ Superstar, Oliver, and Joseph And His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Is there one moment in your career so far that stands out as being the most enjoyable – or a defining moment when you thought, yes I have made it?
I appeared in the shows you have just mentioned when I was young and a member of St Mary’s Youth Theatre. Performing is something I’ve always known that I wanted to do since being a very young girl. I treat every job I do as a new learning experience because with acting and performing there are no strict rules, it’s a lot about instinct and gaining experience. In this profession, I would never dream of thinking I have made it. I am just extremely grateful that I am able to use my talents in a professional capacity and appreciate that I am very lucky to be working as there are an awful lot of very talented people out there who are out of work.
Shania Twain is one of your favourite singers, which is your favourite Shania Twain song?
I don’t have one particular favourite, I’m influenced by a lot of different styles of music.
Away from the stage, what do you like to do to chill out?
I love visiting family and friends. I have two young nieces, Ava and Harriet, so I like to go home to Yorkshire as often as possible to see them and look after them with my sister.
What message would you like to give to your supporters?
Thank you so much for taking an interest in my career and I hope you continue to enjoy watching my performances and supporting theatre in general as it’s always been my passion.
Many thanks Nicola for a fabulous interview and best wishes for Jersey Boys!
You can follow Nicola on Twitter at @Nicola_Brazil and visit her website at www.nicolabrazil.com
Interviewed by Neil who you can follow on Twitter @LondonTheatre1