Currently starring in The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre, former YMTer Fiona Finsbury talks to us about getting into the industry!
Since performing in YMT's Amy's Wedding (2004) and Goblin Market (2005), Fiona trained at Mountview and appeared in The Young Ones (Queen's, Hornchurch), The Comedy of Errors (English Theatre, Hamburg), and The Secret Garden (King's Head). She can currently be seen treading the boards at Her Majesty's Theatre as Confidente and cover Carlotta in The Phantom of the Opera.
Tell us about your YMT experience.
YMT was a wonderful and positive experience for me. The audition process was thorough, but not intimidating. It was great to be surrounded by like-minded people who loved theatre as much as I did. The standard of performance was so much higher than anything I’d experienced at school; it pushed me to work hard and hone my performance skills more than ever before.
Did YMT help you at all, and if so in what ways?
I didn’t realise it was actually possible to have a career in musical theatre before I joined YMT. At school my teachers discouraged me to pursue acting. Careers advisors seemed to have such a narrow view about what was an acceptable profession. However, in the years after my YMT courses, I saw so many of my contemporaries go on to train at top drama schools and work in the West End, and in great regional theatres. It was then that I thought, maybe I can too!
Do you still keep in contact with any YMTers?
Yes! Many of the people I worked with in Goblin Market have become my dearest friends.
Tell us about how you got your role in Phantom.
Initially my agent, Pemberton Associates, put me forward for the role. I had been in the finals for the anniversary tour two years earlier so the team agreed to meet me again. It was a very intensive audition process, lasting two months, during which I was in and out of the audition room, learning new material sometimes overnight. As Phantom is such a long-running show with a global reputation, there are a lot of different people who have to ‘Okay’ you before you are offered the role.
What’s it like working in the West End?
It is a dream come true! I’ve wanted to be in Phantom since I was seven so you can imagine how excited I am.
What are your favourite/least favourite shows?
The best musical I’ve seen recently is Merrily We Roll Along at the Menier Chocolate Factory, which transferred to the Harold Pinter Theatre. I also loved London Road at the National Theatre.
Who would you love to work with?
Emma Rice, Sarah Travis, Maria Friedman, Conor Mitchell!
What is your dream role?
Dot in Sunday in the Park with George and Glinda in Wicked.
What advice would you give to our young people interested in a career in theatre?
I cannot over emphasise the importance of going to see theatre whenever and wherever you can. Not just big West End musicals but also straight plays, touring theatre, youth theatre, fringe, site specific, immersive, experimental, and performance art. Be discerning, yes, but make your choices diverse. Find what it is you are passionate about. There is so much more to theatre than just what is in the West End. And read plays. Devour new music and writing. And something I learned from my Goblin Market director, Kath Burlinson: ‘Go out on a limb, that’s where the fruit is’.
Thank you to Fiona for chatting with us! You can follow her on twitter: @Fifiacts. We wish her all the best with Phantom and whatever she does in the future!