"There's a certain stage presence which makes Charlie compelling to watch."
- Mr Wheel, Head of Drama, Thomas Hardye School
First year at infant school I played an angel and sobbed my way through the entire nativity. Miraculously, the following year, I got the role of Mary (opposite Bobby Bond's Joseph, swoon) and I never looked back.
Fast forward to the last year of junior school and Mum took me to London on a coach to see Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat starring Jason Donovan (my true love). I was spellbound. I bought the original cast recording on vinyl and played it on repeat. (Yes, I knew ALL the colours of the coat, in the correct order, and backwards).
My first taste of being in an actual musical was at my next school, a Convent none-the-less, as a flapper-girl in the chorus of The Boyfriend. I was in my element and showed such enthusiasm that the following year I had a featured role playing a Duke (obvs) in the Ascot scene of My Fair Lady. I nailed the clipped syllables of the Ascot Gavotte steadfastly poker-faced owed to avoiding the wrath of stoney Mrs Wray, even when Cheryl Reeve slipped off her parasol and fell backwards off the stage, frock akimbo. Now that's method.
Musicals then took a back seat as the Convent shut down and I went to the local state school where I found drama. That was until I was 14 and one day at my dad's house after school, in our usual routine of tennis club, home, dinner and homework in front of the TV (don't tell Mum). The schedule started in Australia with Home and Away, a seamless flick over to Neighbours, then across the pond to the US with Saved By The Bell and Running the Halls. I had it down pact. But no, loving Pater wanted to turn to BBC 2 and try a show called Hot Shoe Shuffle. Excuse me? Eugh, fine, I sat there, arms folded, mouth turned down and a frown well and truly on.
A cursory glance at the screen and then another as Adam Garcia shuffled his buffalo across it with his stage-brothers singing the familiar songs of Fats Waller and Irving Berlin. Tunes and beats I'd grown up with my jazz-drumming father.
Again I was transfixed. Dad had seen enough and said I could turn back to my programmes but I was smitten. With tap, with song and yet another Aussie, Adam,. Nah uh, I'm staying tuned thanks Pop. The very next week I joined a bunch of 7 year olds in a maroon unitard and started my dancing days with my first tap class. It was mortifying and joyous all at once and I subjected myself to more of the same with jazz and ballet class. Always being the oldest and/or least experienced by a mile. God loves a trier and believe me I was trying.
I also found I could sing (couldn't everyone?) at 18 but stage school wasn't to be and I disappeared on the obligatory Gap Yah, that ended up being a gaping 3 yahs. Returning to Europe, I drifted through the seasons in the mountains and the Med before realising that real life was waiting and it was going be found in 'that' world that I couldn't ever quieten. So I tiptoed in, doing theatre and TV production and then to casting. Hmmm, I think I can do what you've just done actually, And so I did and I still am, actually.