BWW Interviews: WICKED's Emma Hatton Talks EDGES!
It's been a frantic fortnight for Emma Hatton, the Elphaba standby for Wicked in London. With Willemijn Verkaik leaving the show earlier than expected and Kerry Ellis going back into green in August, that means a short notice two-week run for Hatton - and she's also preparing for a concert version of song cycle Edges in the Delfont Room on August 1st.
Hi Emma! Let's start with the detail - when were you approached to do this?
Through Ellie [Verkerk], our MD, who I'd worked with before. I have to say I knew one song in the show, but I hadn't heard of it, so I did a bit of research, asked a few people at work, and the response was really positive about the material and previous versions of the production. So I thought it'd be lovely to do something very different; it gives me the opportunity to get my teeth into different material.
This is a four-hander...
I'm Woman 1! [laughs] Carrie Hope Fletcher is Woman 2 - she has the most beautiful, rich, raspy voice, which is just lovely. Niall Sheehy and Michael Vinsen are our men. We've got a nice blend of voices there, and we're different ages, so it's a nice mixture, and I've never worked with any of them before. It's good to do these things - when you're in a long contract you do see the same people all the time.
How do you find the time? You all have contracts so this is in your spare time.
In the past I've committed to things and felt that I've overstretched myself, or turned things down that were great and I've regretted it. You need to be realistic. We were approached maybe two months ago and had the scores in our hands a month ago, and the rehearsals have been sympathetic to our schedules. Speaking from experience, the ones I don't enjoy is when you don't get time; for me, the legit musical theatre side of things is new because I've tended to do rock shows or jukebox shows, songs that I already knew. These songs use my voice in a very different way, and they're quite wordy as well - I do find that with a lot of contemporary American musical theatre writers! - which, in the past, I've tended to stay away from, but with this, touch wood, I've had time to familiarise myself with it. The writers are open, to a certain degree, to people's own interpretations, and want to see what performers do with their material.
The nature of my job is that I'm on sometimes and I'm not sometimes, so I've been disciplined and used that time to study the score and bed it into my voice. I'm glad I've used my time wisely! It's been hard work, though; there's a lot of material. I haven't really learnt a lot of harmonies before, because a lot of the stuff I sing is either solo or duet stuff, but here there's four harmonies, and it's got my brain going again. It's nice. You want to feel challenged and try new things. Some of the songs are so beautiful, it's really opened my eyes up to a lot of unheard material.
And there's also the intimacy of this.
This is going to be more of a gig set-up, which I'm probably more comfortable with than being on a big stage, so it's not too foreign to me. It's really stripped back and exposing - four people on a stage - but when you've got three other people, who are all very strong, you do think, "OK, I need to raise my game here." It stops you being complacent. It's such a bizarre industry, you meet a stranger and suddenly you're playing sisters who hate each other. You don't have the set or the props or the lighting - you have your voices and your acting. It's a special piece.