Interview: Actress Gina Beck Teases WEST END BARES

By: Sep. 16, 2016

This is the seventh outing for hotly anticipated annual burlesque show West End Bares, inspired by the Jerry Mitchell-founded Broadway Bares. Leading West End performers come together to entertain - and get their kit off - in order to raise money for The Make A Difference Trust, which works towards a world free from HIV and AIDS.

This year's epic medieval-themed West End Bares: Excalibare, which takes place on 25 September at the Novello Theatre, features over 100 performers from shows like Kinky Boots, Motown and Wicked, and is hosted by Graham Norton, Gina Beck, Ramin Karimloo and Ben Freeman. Gina, whose numerous credits include The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Wicked and most recently Show Boat, gives us a preview.

What was your first theatre experience?

I went to see Toad of Toad Hall at the Royal Festival Hall for my birthday when I was five.

When did you know you wanted to pursue acting professionally?

I think when I joined the National Youth Music Theatre.

Where did you train?

The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

What was your professional break?

Cosette in Les Miserables.

You've taken on several iconic roles. What's been your favourite to perform, and what have you learned from those experiences?

My favourite was Glinda in Wicked. Playing parts in long-running shows is different to being in fringe theatre or things that you create yourself. It's definitely a discipline to be able to recreate something night after night for years on end. I did Wicked for two years and eight months, so I learned how to manage that, as opposed to something that's only a short run, which is a different kind of discipline.

How did you get involved with West End Bares?

[Producer] Darren Murphy asked me!

What are you most looking forward to?

I'm looking forward to seeing what West End Bares is all about, hearing Summer Strallen and David Bedella singing, and being on stage with my boyfriend, Ben Freeman, as we haven't done that since Wicked. It's a great opportunity to have fun, raise money and see people in a different light!

Are you quite relaxed about people stripping off, or will there be some careful averting of gaze on the night?

I don't know, I'm not sure I've ever been in that situation. I'm sure it will be delightful to see!

What does it mean to you to raise money for The Make A Difference Trust?

I fully support The Make A Difference Trust. I've worked for them in the past, recorded for their Christmas album and participated in cabarets and curtain call speeches. It's just such fantastic charity and it's great they've gone from strength to strength.

Many of us were hugely sad to see Show Boat finish early. Was that a surprise to the company, and would you like to see the show return in some form?

It was a surprise, but not really based on the audiences we'd had since we opened. It just hadn't picked up - even though we had five-star reviews, that unfortunately hadn't equated to bums on seats. I'd love to do the show again at some point.

What are your plans at the moment? Any interesting projects in the pipeline?

I've got my own show, Singular Sensations at the Charing Cross Theatre in October, where I sing songs from my career. After that, we'll see!

Finally, any tips for budding actresses?

I would say get as much experience as you can when you're young. If you're interested in musicals I would definitely recommend the National Youth Music Theatre, as it's such a great organisation to be a part of and a great platform to learn the business.

West End Bares is at the Novello Theatre on 25 September