#WWRYAU Interview 1| Ashlee Smith

Ashlee Smith

‘We Will Rock You’ Ensemble Cast Interview

The worldwide smash hit musical WE WILL ROCK YOU is a futuristic musical adventure that will rock your world! Since 2002, over 16 million theatregoers in more than 28 countries have been rocked by this production. The talented cast brings to life the music of Queen in conjunction with Ben Elton’s screenplay that fashions this hilarious comedy around more than 24 of Queen’s biggest hits including We are the Champions, Killer Queen, Somebody to Love, Under Pressure  and Radio Ga Ga. DanceLife is thrilled to speak with members of this epic cast.
Our first interviewee is with Ashlee Smith.

What can you tell me about your background?
I started dancing when I was 6 years old. I was enrolled by my mum because I was a naughty child and she thought the discipline of dance would help me. That’s where I started, but then I just fell in love with it. I started off as a dancer, then went into singing. By the time I was out of high school, I did fulltime in Musical Theatre at Patrick Studios in Victoria, under Andrew Hallsworth.
So what led you to Sydney?
After I finished fulltime I worked on cruise ships, which was a really great starting point for my career. I started off as a principal singer in the Mediterranean and through my contracts I’ve visited almost 30 countries.
Did you find you had to learn quick on the job starting out?
Yeah definitely! It definitely trained me up for everything that was to come. I did the normal ship shows for a while and then I got a show in New York. One of my friends was a director in New York, so I lived there working for a few months doing a show on 42nd street. From there I was able to get a musical on a Norwegian Cruise lines – Rock of Ages ... That’s where musicals really started for me.
Once I was finished with cruise ships I came back to Australia to try my luck here. I auditioned for Anything Goes, got the job, and have just gone from there.  I had some time before rehearsals for Anything Goes, so I actually flew over to Florida and choreographed Rock of Ages because the associate was doing Kinky Boots. It was a really great experience for me.
What can you tell us about the style of this show?
It is very stylistic! Very physically taxing as well! My neck is constantly sore (laughs), but it’s really fun!
With the choreography, it’s very specific … for instance in the GaGa stuff, we are supposed to be clones and robots. I really love the show! I just love everything in it!
Who was the choreographer of this show?
Lisa O’dae, she’s the associate producer.
How different is this tour of ‘We Will Rock You’ to the original?
The choreography is actually very similar to the original. It has been very ‘to the book’ of what it was. Lisa was very specific when she taught us, it was really helpful in the learning process.
As a Dancer/Ensemble member, you sing as well … How much do you have to use ALL of your skills in the role that you have?
Almost the whole time! There is only one number where we are not singing and dancing at the same time. The entire show we are on stage, dancing and singing.
What are your aspirations from here?
I LOVE musical theatre, I would love to continue … I would love to of course do roles in the future. Basically just keep going with what I’ve been doing.
How long was the rehearsal period to get the whole show together and to get everyone working as a team?
We actually had a workshop week in Melbourne back in February, then we had five weeks off. Then later we started rehearsals in Sydney. It was a really a quick rehearsal period, we only had 3 weeks. Pretty much straight away in Melbourne, we were working as a team. It was really great!
WE WILL ROCK YOU is currently playing in Brisbane at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC. It will then travel to Melbourne from August 30, Perth from November 15, and Adelaide from December 31. Tickets details and bookings are on the website.

Ashlee grew up studying all facets of dance and full-time musical theatre under the direction of Andrew Hallsworth. Immediately after graduating, Ashlee began performing as lead vocalist onboard numerous ships in the Norwegian Cruises fleet. Ashlee then went on to play the roles of Faustina in the off-Broadway production of Columbia: The Life and Death of Rospo D Oro for Pipe Dream Theatre, and Waitress 1/ Dance Captain in Rock Of Ages for NCL. Upon her return home, Ashlee made her Australian professional debut in the ensemble of Opera Australia’s production of Anything Goes. Most recently, Ashlee’s talents were acknowledged being a top 30 finalist for the Rob Guest Endowment 2015.