BWW Interview: Bronté Barbé Talks STRIKING 12
Bronté Barbé has been seen tinkling the ivories as Carole King in the recent Beautiful tour and letting her "Freak Flag" fly around the UK as Princess Fiona in Shrek the Musical.
She speaks to BroadwayWorld about her career and her current role as 'The Little Match Girl' in musical Striking 12 at the Union Theatre.
What made you want to become a performer?
My family have always loved performing - my mum is a singer and has always enjoyed amateur dramatics. She's currently in two bands.
I've always loved singing and started dancing lessons at a young age. I was never pushed into it, I just LOVED the escapism of performing.
Apparently I'd sit on the swings in the park and sing Disney songs to anyone who'd listen. I've always wanted a career as an actress for as long as I can remember.
What was the most important thing the Over the Rainbow reality TV process taught you?
The show taught me that you have to work incredibly hard all of the time. You can never do enough work. I also learnt a lot about the industry and about the importance of being kind and yourself at all times.
What is Striking 12 about?
It's based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Match Girl. It's sort of a story within a story.
We follow a new character throughout called Brendan, a man in a dead-end job, working late on New Year's Eve with little happiness in his life.
He has a chance encounter with a positive door-to-door salesperson who leads him to stumble upon the match girl story. The fairy tale has a profound effect on Brendan and we follow his journey.
It's a very heartwarming tale with awesome music. I think the music is the most important part. It's so collaborative, we have incredible musicians, and the storytelling through the songs is detailed brilliantly.
Tell us about who you play
I play two characters, mainly 'The Little Match Girl', whose story is presented exactly as written. I also play a salesperson trying to sell SAD lamps (lights to help cure the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder).
The story of The Little Match Girl is so familiar but also very melancholy, and its themes really resonate in today's society. In contrast, the journey of the lightbulb seller is wacky and joyfully unexpected.
What's your favourite thing about playing them?
I really enjoy both characters; I find the narrative very humbling. Especially at this time of year, I think it's important to remind everyone what the festivities should really be about - human connection.
We leave our audiences with a really important message that I hope can have a positive effect on their December.
How have rehearsals been going?
I've really enjoyed getting to know the cast. They're all incredible performers, and the musical talent in the room is astounding. I really wish I could play an instrument!
I've never been in a show with actor-musicians before - it's been a very interesting process and I've learnt a lot. It's been a complete team effort, lots of hard work and creating the work, which I've loved.
How do you celebrate New Year?
I always find New Year a bit of an anticlimax actually. In the past I've spent too much on event tickets that haven't been as good as anticipated.
The best New Year I've had was last year: spent indoors with family, friends and my dog. We took a walk at midnight to see the fireworks over London.
What stories do you think should be told on stage today?
I think new works should always aim to make us ask questions. Whether it be how we treat others, ourselves, society, or even what is important to us.
Whatever the theatre is, it should provoke something within us.
Why should people come to see Striking 12?
People should come see Striking 12 because it is an unexpected treat that will make you feel, and you'll hear some awesome new music along the way.
Out of Carole, Princess Fiona and Nadine, who would you go on a road trip with? Where would you go?
Carole 100%. Especially if it's going to be real life Carole King, because she's an absolute legend and the soundtrack for the journey would be epic.
With that in mind, I'd like to drive Route 66. I've only seen very limited parts of America and it's on my wish list. However, I'd probably rather drive to Macclesfield with her to meet my mum first!
Striking 12 at Union Theatre until 23 December
Photo credit: Tom Grace