BWW Interview: Danielle Hope On LIFE FOR RENT at Live At Zedel

BWW Interview: Danielle Hope On LIFE FOR RENT at Live At Zedel
Danielle Hope

Danielle Hope has enjoyed a number of principal roles in her career so far: she starred as Dorothy in the 2011 West End revival of The Wizard of Oz, then swapped the iconic ruby slippers for a grubby cap and trench coat as Éponine in Les Misérables.

Since then, she has also played to audiences all around the UK and beyond in touring productions as the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Maria in The Sound of Music and Sandy in Grease.

She's now stepping out of character as she presents her solo show Danielle Hope: Life for Rent at Live at Zedel on Sunday, 15 July. We spoke to Danielle in the run-up to her performance.

You've come a long way since your journey to Oz after winning BBC's Over the Rainbow. How did that reality TV experience shape you for your subsequent stage career?

It's been a fantastic nine years. I think the sink or swim nature of being thrust into the professional world so young gave me a real idea of what would be required of me to sustain a career in this industry. I'm forever grateful for the experience. I got to learn first-hand from some of the greatest performers around.

Out of Dorothy, Sandy, Maria and Éponine, who would you most like to go on a spa day with?

Oh, Maria. She's always getting into trouble and wonderfully curious.

Which of the characters you've played has surprised you the most in terms of your journey with getting to know them and how to play them?

Each role has been so different, so it's hard to say. I got to play Éponine twice with three years in between, so that was sooo interesting. To get to approach it with three years' more life experience was very cool - to see what choices changed and what stayed exactly the same instinctually.

Are you excited to bring your solo show to Live at Zedel?

I honestly cannot wait. It's been over two years since I did a cabaret and I know Live at Zedel have so many incredible people sharing their shows each week, so I feel lucky to be able to share Life for Rent.

What can we expect from the programme? Are you revisiting songs from previous jobs or taking the opportunity to sing songs you haven't got to perform yet?

Definitely lots of new material. I won't be focusing on roles I have previously played. Instead, [I'll be] looking forward and discussing the things that inspire me.

Any surprises or special guests lined up?

Yes!! I have guests joining me, but I'm keeping them a secret for more fun! Come along to find out.

You spend much of your time performing to large audiences in theatres. How does performing to smaller crowds in more intimate venues like 54 Below and Live at Zedel compare?

Oh, I've always said I'd much rather perform for 10,000 than 10. I think cabaret is one of the most beautiful art forms and one that is so tricky to get right. I have so much respect for cabaret artists: to hold a room that intimately is terrifying and also so fulfilling. I started performing to connect with people and this feels like the greatest way to do that.

You've performed on both sides of the pond. How do the American vs. British audiences compare?

I love both! I have to admit, regardless of the audience my show is prepared with the country and city in mind. I never do the exact same set twice but I'm still me wherever I go.

Have you been able to keep any interesting mementos from shows you've been in?

I, of course, have my ruby slippers! I keep a pair of shoes from each role I do, but I do have my last cigarette from my final Sandy show in Israel - I managed to bring it back in one piece and put it in a frame.

The performance industries on both sides of the Atlantic are experiencing highest-ever profits - what is it that you think makes people flock to the theatre today?

I think escapism. We are in a critical time where people need to use their imaginations and connect to each other.

Did you enjoy performing at West End Live recently?

I have always loved West End Live and have been lucky enough to have been a part of the celebration for the past eight years. [This year] was the first time I got to perform outside of a show/cast and just as myself though, so I was very nervous!

At this stage in your career, is there anything you'd have wanted younger Danielle to know as she stepped into the audition room for Over the Rainbow?

To be honest, I feel that although experience and growth is necessary, what we end up doing is spending our time trying to [rediscover] that inner child with wide eyes and an open heart. So I guess I'd say always keep your flame burning brightly and remember who you are.

Danielle Hope: Life for Rent plays Live at Zedel on 15 July

Photo credit: Fane Productions

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From This Author Fiona Scott

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