Interview: 'I Love Everything About Her!' : Actor Laura Dawkes on Her West End Debut, Disney Princesses and playing Anna in FROZEN

'It's been so amazing to be a part of it, especially ending the whole show with people that have been there since the beginning.'

By: Mar. 14, 2024
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Interview: 'I Love Everything About Her!' : Actor Laura Dawkes on Her West End Debut, Disney Princesses and playing Anna in FROZEN
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After three years on the West End at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, Frozen the Musical will be closing on 8 September 2024. Recently, we had the chance to talk with Laura Dawkes, who made her West End debut as Princess Anna. We discussed how she got into the world of theatre, what it is like to be a part of the show as it closes and what it has been like to portray a Disney Princess!

How did you first get involved in the world of theatre?

I was actually a bit of a latecomer! I know that lots of people in theatre start doing ballet and stuff when they're little, and I definitely did dance classes and stuff, but it wasn't my favourite thing as a child. I just loved to sing - singing is my favourite thing! And then I joined the drama club in school, then I joined an amdram and it just all went from there. I absolutely loved it! It was something I did nearly every day of the week after school.

And then I got into Emil Dale when I was 16 - they were doing an open call in Cardiff, which is where I'm from, and I had no idea that it was for a drama school! It was labelled as a West End workshop so I was just gonna turn up and do the class. And then I got a recall and they're like, “Which course do you want to do?” So then I went up and did the final audition up in Hitchin. And then I trained there for five years in total - I did a two-year BTEC and a three-year degree, and then came straight into Frozen!

What has it been like making your West End debut right after graduating?

It’s crazy! Ever since I started doing theatre and drama. I never, I cannot stop. There were times where I was doing three musicals at a time! I've always loved going straight on to the next thing. So for me, I thrive off that - I love to keep going. But it's just been the best experience I ever could have got coming straight out of drama school. The job, for a start, but the building and the people and the experience. It's so cool!

And had you been a fan of Frozen before joining the show? 

Yeah! When it came out, I was 12 or 11, so I wasn't super young to love it like the really cute young kids do. But it was huge! And for Anna, I feel like it was one of the first characters that I was like, “Oh my God, I look like her!” I love everything about her. I identified with her as a Disney princess, because when you're younger, you always have one that you're like, “Yeah, that's me.” And I've got a little niece who loves Frozen, so I was obsessed with it through her as well.

Frozen the Musical
Anna and Jenna Lee-James in rehearsal
Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

And what was the rehearsal process like for joining the show?

My rehearsal process was great because Jenna [Lee-James], who was the maternity cover for Sam [Samantha Barks], started rehearsals back in June, so I actually joined her. Obviously, I wasn't starting ‘till September, so I had quite a bit of an advantage - a chunk of time to really chill out and not stress. And it was great! It was nice to get the foundations down there, so then when we jumped into full company rehearsal, I felt so ready. I didn't feel out of my depth, I didn't feel like a total newcomer. I loved it! I loved the rehearsal process. It was so fun. And it was so easy to put the show on the stage. We literally teched it in a day. Most of the cast stayed, there's only a few new people, but we're so rehearsed that we just knew exactly where we're going. 

So how does it feel to play an iconic character like a Disney princess?

I feel like there are nights where you forget how special it actually is for the people. And when you see people posting about it or commenting how much it's changed their life or they love it, it's just so nice to be that person up there delivering those messages and that story. And the part itself is just crazy! I love it, though, because there's so much room to find new things all the time. I get a lot of stage time, so there's so much time to find new things, and it's never a dull one - I'll always find new things to work on. So it's been amazing.

Frozen the Musical
Laura Dawkes
Photo Credit: Johan Persson

Have you had any special fan interactions that have stood out for you?

Yeah! I just love when I’ll punch Hans at the end and most of the time the kids are like, “Yeah!” There's a couple of shows where you get the adults in and there's one person or one guy that's like, “Whoo! Go girl!” [Laughs] It’s so funny! It's just so perfect. The audience is great, to be fair! They react so well, so it’s just so nice.

And how does it feel to be a part of Frozen as it ends its West End run?

I just feel so lucky that I was able to get in there just before it's finished! When I was looking for an agent and saying, “I really want to do Frozen, I really want to get in the room,” a lot of them were like, “Don't worry, that show will stay for ages and you'll have so much time . . .” And I'm just so glad that I got in there when I did! It's been so amazing to be a part of it, especially ending the whole show with people that have been there since the beginning. I just feel so privileged to be a part of that.

Yeah, what is it like working with people who have been in the show since the start of its run?

I think it's made it so much easier for me! When I first was going to start, that was something I was like, “Hmmm . . .” about because they've been there for so long, they're going to be so experienced, and I'm going to feel so new! But actually, I feel so calm because these people just know what they're doing. It's just a day at work. It's so easy! It's chill, it's laid back and people just do their job. I love that energy because I never feel stressed about the job. So yeah, it's great!

Frozen the Musical
Laura Dawkes and Oliver Ormson
Photo Credit: Johan Persson

What do you hope audiences take away from Frozen

I think it's as much for the kids as it is for adults, the messages in there, especially about the sisters and holding grudges and stuff like that. It can always be resolved. The worst possible thing you could think of, it's not always the be-all and end-all. So just to come out and feel good and feel moved. My favourite thing when I go and see a show is if I come out and I'm like, “I felt something.” It doesn't have to be specific but if they've made me escape everything and just feel moved by some thing or message or song.

And finally, how would you describe Frozen in one word?

I could go with the cliche, magical! It actually is. For me, it's the bridge, because when they [people] come and see it and I speak to them afterwards, they're always asking about the bridge, because it just goes on forever! So everything about it is super magical. It's also funny, - the comedy in there is so funny and it's actually just very relatable as a show.

Frozen runs until 8 September 2024 at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

Production Photo Credits: Johan Persson © Disney