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BWW Interview: Rachel Tucker Chats SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD at the London Palladium

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The actress shared her excitement about returning to live performances with the Jason Robert Brown musical

BWW Interview: Rachel Tucker Chats SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD at the London Palladium

The live-streamed, digital production of Jason Robert Brown's Songs For A New World that we enjoyed during lockdown is now coming to the stage, with two socially distanced shows at the London Palladium on 11 October.

Rachel Tucker, who is known for Come From Away and Wicked amongst an impressive list of West End and Broadway credits, plays Woman 2 in this contemporary musical song cycle.

How do you feel about getting back into the rehearsal room after all this time?

I've been dreaming about getting into a rehearsal room again like a giddy schoolgirl. The idea of getting on a train and into London to rehearse with Séimí Campbell - who I think is going to be a new, brilliant, up-and-coming director; he's got fantastic vision and ideas - and to put his ideas into practice after speaking about them all through lockdown for the livestream event, is very exciting. I'll totally not take the rehearsal room for granted again because of lockdown.

Speaking of which, what's been occupying your time during lockdown?

I had just started on Come From Away on Broadway and had done 10 shows before we had to close. So I came back to London, where I live with my family. It's been brilliant family time. Usually when you're not working as an actor you're constantly fretting about when the next audition's coming in and when the next job's happening, but that was completely gone. This time, we were all in the same situation and nobody was able to do anything.

I actually thought I didn't want to do anything for a bit, but then I started to get involved in live-streaming concerts like Leave A Light On and the online version of Songs for A New World and I realised 'Of course I do'. And it was great being able to sing from home and still be with the family, and not have to rush out at five o'clock at night and leave the boys at home. It has actually been the best of both worlds, but ultimately I would rather it be the way it was. I'd rather come into London or Broadway to actually perform the show.

Has much has changed in terms of the rehearsal process since the pandemic?

We haven't started rehearsing yet - we start the week before [the performances]. So I don't know really yet. We kind of already know the show with the cast members - aside from David Hunter being a new member. But we do need to revise it and rehearse certain bits when we're in a room all together. I think that's going to be really lovely. We were at home doing this originally with the track in our ear, but it's going to be great having four actual voices to sing with. I just can't wait to share a bit of art and singing with other people. You have no gage when you're singing in isolation, so it's going to be nice to bounce off other people's energy.

We will definitely still have to keep our distance, and luckily this show very much lends itself to that - we are very much all in our own worlds. There's no kissing or anything like that! But I'm sure there will be slightly different parts to being in the rehearsal room.

Do you feel like this show resonates with the currant climate?

Oh absolutely! There are so many ties and through-lines. With Cedric [Neal]'s character, some of the content he sings about, which was written in the 80s or 90s, seems to have not changed - which is frightening. The Black Lives Matter movement that's happened this year has really shone a light on, and made us stare in the face, the fact systemic racism still exists. I admire the love Cedric has found, as a black man, to be able to sing these songs which we've realised are so close to the events of this year.

Do you think you'll approach rehearsing and performing differently now, since theatres have been closed and performance opportunities are so limited?

I think people are realising too late that theatre isn't just a leisurely activity - that it absolutely is paramount to our society and that it is our livelihoods. I will never take rehearsals and shows for granted again. Like everyone, you can go into rehearsals sometimes going "Ah I'm tired, I don't really want to be here...", but I think now there isn't anybody in our industry who is ever going to think like that again. We really need to open to full capacity as soon as possible or there will be jaw-dropping, fulltime closures of some of the most inspired buildings. It's frightening and I try not to think about it as much as I can, but I know that we've got to get involved and be heard as much as we can right now.

What do you hope the audience takes away from the show on the live performance day?

I want people to come in and be taken away from the grind of life at the moment. That's what theatre does - it takes people out of their lives for an hour or two and takes them on a ride. Also, we want the audience to reflect on what's happened this year, including the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Coronavirus pandemic that we are all adjusting to. Live music, as well, is so important to mental health and inspiring creativity in people.

Songs For A New World plays at the London Palladium on 11 October

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From This Author Bella Bevan