You are an American in London – how did that happen? Did you always want to study in the UK rather than in the USA?
I had always dreamed of training at RADA, but never thought there was much chance of getting in as an American. There were four rounds of auditions, with the final being in London. You have to take chances in life and go for the things you most want. This one paid off and I remember getting a call from Nicholas Barter, the principal of RADA at the time, offering me a place about 15 minutes before I was about to watch ‘Hay Fever’ in the West End starring Dame Judi Dench. I started crying with joy and thought, wow, I hope I can be doing what she’s doing at her age. It was quite a moment for me.
Imagine someone had told you five years ago you would be making your West End debut playing Baby in Dirty Dancing – what would you have said?
There is no way I would have believed them! I presumed most of my work in the UK would be in classical theatre because of my training. I also never thought I could learn to dance to the level required of my role in Dirty Dancing. It’s been such a dream job for me and one that’s really allowed me to grow as an actress.
It must be nice to be home in London again after touring the UK with Dirty Dancing. Do you enjoy touring in general? What are the good / bad things about being on tour?
It is SO nice to be home. I really missed my other half (filmmaker Mike Doxford) when I was away. I moved to London when I was 19 and have really grown up in this city, so I missed it a lot too. The great thing for me about touring though was seeing the UK. There are some gorgeous places, and such rich history. It was a real education and an experience I am so grateful for.
Would you like to do more musical theatre in the future? Any dream roles you’d like to play in musical theatre?
I love musical theatre! It was the first kind of theatre I ever saw as a kid, and I became quite obsessive about shows as teenager such as Rent, Wicked, and The Last Five Years. As far as shows I’d love to be involved with, there are many: Once is such a gorgeous show, pretty much any Sondheim musical, I also love the work they do with musical theatre at the Donmar Warehouse.
Do you enjoy going to the theatre in your free time? If so, what shows/plays have you seen lately? Any recommendations?
Going to theatre is one of my main hobbies actually. Call me crazy, but on a night off you will often find me seeing a show. Recently I have seen and loved ‘Let the Right One In’ at the Royal Court, ‘The Light Princess’ at the National Theatre, and ‘The Bodyguard’ where Beverley Knight smashes it with the most incredible vocals!
Is there a theatre you would love to work in at some point in the future? Personally I think The National must be a dream workplace for any actor.
You guessed it! I would love to work at The National. Also on the list is the Royal Court, The Almeida, Menier Chocolate Factory, and Shakespeare’s Globe.
When you’re not doing anything theatre related, how do you like to spend your free time?
I’m really into yoga. That’s my favourite way to unwind and feel centred. This industry can be such a roller coaster of emotions and I find yoga to be very balancing.
I believe you are a bit of a Christmas fan. What is the special thing about Christmas for you?
Yes, I absolutely love Christmas time! For me it’s always been about family and spreading joy. It has great memories for me and each year I love making new ones too. I also love the things that go along with Christmas – magical lights, German Christmas markets, ice skating, mulled wine, the smell of cinnamon, a log fire, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker!
With Dirty Dancing finishing its London run at the end of February, what are your plans for 2014?
When DD closes, I plan to fly straight to LA to do the tail end of pilot season (the time of year where TV networks are casting all their new pilots). It will be great to see my family and get some sunshine as well. I’d love to move into TV and Film alongside my work in theatre.
Finally, why should people go and watch Dirty Dancing at the Piccadilly Theatre?
Dirty Dancing is such an iconic and loved story, and at the Piccadilly we really invite you into the world of Kellerman’s, so you feel like you were also there in that summer of 1963. Come along if you want to enjoy some great tunes, a cracking romance, and leave the theatre in a better mood than when you arrived!
Thank you Jill for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview!
Follow Jill on Twitter @JillWinternitz
Book your tickets for Dirty Dancing here.