by Amanda Woodbine
Gretel Scarlett is quickly becoming a household name starring as Sandy in the current touring production of Grease The Musical. Over the weekend I had the opportunity to interview Gretel and here she discusses what it is like to play Sandy as well as how demanding it is to be a ‘triple threat’ and much more!
How long have you been performing for?
I have been performing since I was a very young, my first live performance was when I was 6 and I was the youngest cast member in Smiley the musical in Central Queensland! However, since graduating from WAAPA in 2008, I’m now in my 6th year of being a professional performer.
You are a true ‘triple threat’, I am sure our readers would love to know about your training?
Absolutely, I pride myself on being a triple threat. It’s really difficult to be one, because you can be seen as a ‘jack of all trades!’ but I did train extremely hard to be able to sing, dance and act. I started dancing and singing when I was 5 years old, i literally lived at my dance studio; 7 days a week! I completed all of my RAD ballet, FATD tap and jazz exams, plus my AMEB & Trinity singing exams. I believe technique is essential to one’s training and longevity in this highly competitive industry. I studied full-time Ballet when I was in Grade 11 and after graduating from high school, I was accepted into WAAPA (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts) where I moved to Perth and studied a Bachelor of Musical Theatre for 3 years.
Can you tell our readers a bit about the audition process for Grease?
The process was roughly over 2 weeks, I decided to audition for one of the pink ladies, because I thought Sandy may have already been cast. So I went in on the first day in Melbourne for my singing audition, I sang my songs (always come prepared with more than they ask!) and they asked me to come back to read and sing some material from the show and do a dance call. I came back the next day to do a dance call with a bunch of other girls (they had about 10 dance calls that day, with 30 people in each!) and I was scheduled to come back on Thursday to read and sing all of the Sandy and some of the pink ladies material. On Thursday, after a long day of performing through all the Sandy material, they asked if they could fly me to Sydney the following week to perform for the Australian and UK producers. In Sydney, after a very long day of call back after call back at the Lyric Theatre, it ended with myself and Rob Mills reading Sandy and Danny opposite each other, and there we were… Then it was all about the waiting game, which luckily only took a few days!
What is it like to play an iconic character such as Sandy? Was it a lot of pressure with what Olivia Newton-John has done for the role?
I’m so grateful to be able to play this role, but yes, it’s extremely difficult to play such an iconic character like Sandy. Everyone has their preconceived ideas of how Sandy should be, because most people have seen the film before. However, Sandy was intended to be a little different in the musical than to the way she was in the film. There is definitely a lot of pressure on me, but unfortunately, I am not Olivia Newton-John and I’m not trying to be her. I am playing the role of Sandy in ‘Grease the musical’, which was written many years before the movie. So now, I find the joy in playing this role.
I saw Grease in Sydney and the production was so much fun! What is it like performing it on stage with your cast mates every night?
It’s such a thrilling experience, each audience is different. You can go from a more reserved crowd, to an audience like a football match! It’s exciting and you never know what you are going to get. I have a lot of fun on and off stage with the cast and especially my gorgeous Danny, Rob Mills. We get along very well. I have a bit of a busy, but lonely, plot because I’m always onstage or if not, I’m in a quick change to go back onstage. So I’m very close with all the lovely dressers, wiggy’s, sound and stage management crew. They look after me all show.
What is your favourite thing about Music Theatre?
One of my favourite things about Music Theatre is the adrenaline and excitement that takes over my body when I have the opportunity to combine all elements of performing. There’s something amazing about being able to be on stage, play different characters and experience different journeys, and when you get to those phenomenal moments, it’s almost spine tingling! It’s magical to watch and to be a part of. I love it.
Do you have any advice for our readers on getting into the industry?
Train hard. Work hard. Study hard. Listen to your teachers. Be honest and critical with yourself, not just others. Work out your strengths and weaknesses, and one major piece of advice I can give, is to know your type. Know what kind of characters your voice suits, your style suits or even your look suits. It will help out with knowing what you are good at.
Grease The Musical has already visited Brisbane and Sydney. It is currently playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne until the 30th of March. From there Grease The Musical is moving to Perth and then onto Adelaide. For tickets, visit ticketek.com
For final Melbourne ticket sales, click HERE