Izzi Rudd has been a member of The Wight Strollers for as long as she can remember - she joined the company in September 2005 and her first show was the February 2006 production of Cinderella. How perfect, then, that she will be playing Cinderella in our February 2018 show!
Congratulations, Izzi! Cinderella is a fantastic role and one of the most beloved princesses - how did you feel when you were asked to play her?
“I couldn’t quite believe it. I remember sitting down at the beach and Sarah said she wanted to 'cast Izzi Rudd as Cinderella'. I almost had to ask her to repeat the name, because I didn’t think it was me - it was crazy!”
It's a major role, that's for sure!
Cinderella is undoubtedly one of the most popular pantomimes, and she's a favourite princess for a lot of people, including you - what do you think makes her, and her story, so popular?
“It’s that classic fairytale, it's the ultimate rags to riches story. It’s that dream...of being whisked away by a prince and having this wonderful fairytale life. And it’s so much more than that, too - it's a really good story for children to hear, for everyone really, because it shows that, however bad times are, there is a light at the end of the tunnel."
That's very true - after all, things aren't exactly rosy for Cinderella, at least not to begin with, are they?
"Exactly. Cinderella hasn’t really got a great life, and she’s not happy all the time...but she’s not always sad either. But, no matter what, she never stops believing she'll get a happy ending – that’s such a nice story to teach young people.”
Beautifully put. Turning to our version of the fairytale, it's a script that's been written in-house and obviously that means nobody else will have performed or seen it before - can you give us a taster? What's your favourite bit in the show to perform?
“My favourite moments – can I say all of it? I think my favourite part to do is actually when Buttons calls me ‘brainy’ and then laughs about it, and I just give him this really dirty look! The song ‘When You Believe’ is another favourite moment, it’s really beautiful."
And what about a favourite moment that you're not in? The bits you most like watching?
"I don’t know – that’s hard, because it’s just such a good show! I think the songs are all going to be amazing – the singing is just beautiful, and we've set a bit of ‘Dancing Through Life’ with the cast now and it's so gorgeous. I was sat there thinking ‘Wow, this is going to look so pretty,’ because everyone is so good at getting into all their different characters and everyone works so hard - I love watching things like that take shape and come together.”
I'm sure the audience will be blown away! Okay, let's widen the field and make this more difficult...what's been your most memorable moment with The Wight Strollers since you joined the company all those years ago?
“Oh gosh…that's hard! Can I have more than one?"
"Well, obviously Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in general was just this absolute phenomenon. I loved being the dancer in the French song in Joseph ['Those Canaan Days'] - that was so beautiful and it’s probably my favourite dance that I’ve done.
That was a beautiful routine, and I agree - an incredible show! So what about going even further back?
"Well, then I sort of go back to things like when I was a skeleton in the last Cinderella we did! But you know what, it’s not even necessarily the shows themselves that I love the most or the things I do in them, it’s all those little memories that come with them, like when I was stuck at the side of the stage with Sarah [Scotcher] and we couldn’t move because we’d both gone off the wrong way – it’s things like that, the little moments, those are what make the best memories.”
Good answer! You clearly enjoy being part of the company - what's the best thing about being a Stroller?
“These guys are my family. They’re my life. This is my thirteenth show, so they've watched me grow up...they’re all my extended family and it’s surreal to have that feeling about so many people. We’re so close, and it’s so special. But I think the best thing is that everyone has bad days, completely, but when we come together we just have an amazing time - we pick each other up and all those worries get left behind because you’re a Stroller. I don’t think many other companies can say that…definitely no other company I’ve been with. But it’s just how we are – it's just ‘us’.”
“I think it’s a way of expressing who you are through something other than social media, especially in this day and age where there's just so much pressure to be a certain way – you don’t feel like you have to fit into a certain stereotype or group when you're doing theatre. And I think it’s also an escape, because you can play someone else, you can express yourself through a character and you can have fun with it. It’s such a lovely hobby, and especially with a group like the Strollers where you become part of something, a big thing...it's a lovely feeling, and it’s so important to feel like you can just be who you are within that setting and have fun. It gives you such a good support network, too.”
That leads me nicely on to my next question - taking on a principle role for the first time can be as daunting as it is exciting. How have the rest of company been? Have they been supportive?
“Do you know what? It’s really lovely, because it was during our carnival season when everyone was told the cast list, and I can’t think of one person who didn’t come up to me and say ‘Congratulations’ and ‘You so deserve this’ and things like that - I felt so loved, it was such a nice feeling to know everyone was genuinely so happy for me."
That's so sweet! I bet that gave you a big dose of confidence right from the start!
It did - I sung solo for the first time a couple of weeks ago, too, and I had so many people saying well done and telling me I had a lovely voice. Every part of the journey so far has been amazing, and the cast is amazing - and my prince, Ches, is great. He's always telling me how good I am, and that's a real boost, too!"
So here's the big final question: Why should people come and see Cinderella?
"Because you will enjoy every single moment. You’ll sit there and you’ll think ‘I want to be in that’, even if you've always hated the idea of getting up on stage. I’ve had so many people say to me ‘this is great, it's so much fun, those guys are having an absolute blast up there’about our shows – so just come along and watch it, have some fun, and enjoy it! …And you’ll get to hear my singing debut!”
To see Izzi in action, make sure you’re in the audience for Cinderella! Tickets go on sale on Tuesday 2nd January 2018 at £9 for Adults and £8 for Under 14s. They can be booked online at www.medinatheatre.co.uk or by phoning 01983 823884. The performances are at 2:30pm and 7:30pm on Saturday 10th February, 2:30pm on Sunday 11th February, and 2:30 and 7:30pm on Saturday 17th February. See you there!