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20 Questions: Sophie-Louise Dann - 'I've had the life experience to know what I'm singing about'

Olivier Award-nominated actress Sophie-Louise Dann is currently appearing in Maltby and Shire's musical revue Closer Than Ever at Jermyn Street, and joins Forbidden Broadway at the Menier Chocolate Factory in June

Sophie-Louise Dann in Closer Than Ever
© Francis Loney

1. Where were you born?
I'm a Sussex girl born and bred.

2. What made you want to go on stage?
Luckily my energy was channelled at an early age and a love of both MGM musicals and family holidays up the River Avon including trips to the RSC fuelled my passion to pursue a career in the theatre.

3. If you hadn't become an actress, what might you have done professionally?
If I weren't an actress, realistically there's little that would satisfy me, but perhaps an Interior Designer... or run a Bear sanctuary in North America.

4. First big break?
Creating the role of Young Viv in Spend! Spend! Spend! which whet my appetite for new work.

5. Career highlight(s) to date?
Creating the role of operatic diva Diana Divane in Lend me a Tenor; and subsequently being nominated for an Olivier award. Taking a bow as Dot in Sunday in the Park with George alongside Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine at Theatre du Chatelet in Paris; being conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras in Patience at Royal Albert Hall.

6. Any regrets?
Je ne regrette rien!... Except maybe that 2am kebab in Leicester?!

7. What was the first thing you saw on stage that had a big impact on you?
Seeing Rudolf Nureyev dance Romeo and Juliet at the Coliseum.

8. And the last?
Seeing Angela Georghiou in La Rondine at ROH - which had such an impact on me that I fainted during her rendition of the aria Doretta's dream!

9. Who are your acting idols?
The grand dames of theatre Judi Dench and Maggie Smith.

10. What's the best advice you've ever been given?
From English directors, 'Always play the truth', and American, make it 'funnier, faster, louder!'

11. Why did you want to get involved in Closer Than Ever?
Whilst studying at ArtsEd (in 1900 and frozen over), Maltby and Shire's work was required learning. It feels like I've come full circle - and have had the life experience to know what I'm singing about.

Graham Bickley, Sophie-Louise Dann, Arvid Larsen and Issy van Randwyck in Closer Than Ever
© Francis Loney

12. What's it like working with Richard Maltby?
To be able to hear the story behind the song by the guy who wrote the song and have him like the way you sing his song make for moments to cherish in this crazy business of show.

13. Favourite song in the show?
I relish the incredible lyrics in "The Bear, the tiger, the hamster and the mole", but will never tire of singing "It's never that easy and I've been here before..." - a duet with Issy Van Randwyck.

14. Any rehearsal room mishaps?
Well... That would be telling... Maybe a few lyric mishaps involving the words art and fart...

15. What do you hope people take away from the show?
Everyone will take something different away with them. The show is a love letter to life and everything it can throw at you, good and not so good.

16. What's your favourite post-show hang out?
I'm a country mouse so my day ends when I hear the silence on my porch; but I'm not averse to a cheeky cocktail at The American Bar at Brasserie Zedel.

17. How do you unwind?
Without question a walk along the beach come rain or shine, stopping for ice-cream or hot chocolate (weather dependent).

18. If you could swap places with anyone for a day, who would it be?
Queen of baking Mary Berry.

19. Favourite theatre saying?
To quote Alan Melville and the irrepressible Gay Daventry, "it's bound to be right on the night!"

20. Are you excited about returning to Forbidden Broadway?
You betcha sweet bippy! It's time to break the rules.

Closer Than Ever runs at Jermyn Street Theatre until 7 June 2014. Forbidden Broadway returns to the Menier Chocolate Factory on 19 June