Created in 2014, Carpe Diem Emmie is a Midlands based Lifestyle, Theatre and Travel blog. Ran by Emmie, a 28 year old woman based in rural Leicestershire.

In the day Emmie works in a primary school where she is passionate about inclusion and mental health. In the evening she escapes to the cultural world.

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Interview │ Lucie Jones, RENT The Musical

Lucie Jones is a young women whose career is seeing her become more of a regular on stage as well as recently winning the amazing opportunity to represent the UK in Eurovision this year. Lucie beams out enthusiasm and knowledge under her current role as Maureen in the UK Tour of Rent. A character which sees her show her bonkers, untamed character take on a vocal protest and sticking up her fingers to everything that is wrong about New York city of the time.

Recently I was able to catch Lucie during her busy schedule as she made a return to Curve Theatre in Leicester after playing Elle Woods in Legally Blonde at the theatre last year. We spoke Rent, the demands of touring productions and more.. 

How did you find out about the role as Maureen in Rent?

I auditioned about a year ago I was rehearsing here at the Curve for Legally Blonde and I popped down to London on the train,we  had been rehearsing the cheer-leading number in the morning. In my lunch break I went and showered, put loads of eyeliner on and changed in black clothes rather than the pink and got myself to London. I had no idea what I was doing and I went to my audition, they asked me to get ready one of the numbers from the show itself and I decided on Out Tonight just because I wasn't particularly auditioning for a specific role. I just wanted to sing something generic, I almost sung One Song Glory I just wanted to sing something random. 

I went in and I did a bit of that and they asked if I could do a bit of Over The Moon, I didn't know it. I mean I've heard it once or twice but I don't know if anyone knows all of the words. So anyway they gave me this piece of paper with the lyrics on and they were just like just do anything you want, just be bonkers, do any sounds, any movements, whatever you want. I was like erm ok, so it was a interesting one. It must have gone well because a few days later I found out I got the role and here I am.

Maureen's character is so powerful, with the first kind of known actress to do this role was Indina Menzel. Did you base your role on what she presented or did you want to bring a new approach to her?
No, I've not seen the film. I watched little clips online after I got the role just to kind of understand her role. She's bonkers and I didn't want to go into rehearsals with no idea what's going on. I read the score numerous times before rehearsals, but no I didn't base it on what she did. I watched Take Me Or Leave Me but I've not seen the entire film.

"Rent is completely relevant, it could have been written yesterday"

I guess with your research though it's important to take on some form of research to undertake a new role.
Yes you do but I do really try not to watch what other people have done, I try to make it my own. I pride myself on doing what feels natural instead of what I've seen other people do. I'd like to think people who are fans of the show respect that more than if you went out and tried to impersonate someone because yeah we're actors but that's not our job.  We need some creative input at least. 

I did loads of other research about the time period, the AIDS virus and New York at the time when the show was written. I did a lot into Jonathan Larson myself, documentaries about him, his family and about the show all down to the book, Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent by Anthony Rapp. I met with Anthony Rapp himself to talk to him about it. People kind of see it as this show, the musics great the story is heavy with Aid's and things, they kind of take it, see it as face value but we've done so much work behind the scenes. It would be so disrespectful if we went on stage to deal with something as heafty and delicate as the AID's virus wrong, it would be so so bad so yeah we did a lot of research. 

The tour itself must be demanding, how do you keep on form and healthy?
Sleep as much as you can, vitamins, looking after your voice and your body but also looking after your mind is so important. Doing things that take you take you well away from what you do for a living is so important in anybody's life, especially for what we as actors do for a living. You become invested in who you are playing and the character your playing on stage. For example when I was in Ghost The Musical I spent the whole 2 and a half hours of that show crying and being depressed with the atmost emotions. I loved that role but I had to learn when I got home, went to my dressing room, put on some upbeat music, got my make up on, had a shower and went for a drink maybe. You know you've got to do other things, stick Family Guy on the TV put your mind somewhere else. Do some writing, whatever your escape is I think that's just as important as making sure your voice is on top form. I have two little dogs that I take everywhere with me and I like to take those for a walk, play with them just because it's joyful and it's a million miles away from what I do on stage. 

Is it quite hard then to learn how to disconnect yourself from roles you've played on stage. 
It's different on every role you play, you have to change your copying mechanisms and you have to change your stamina levels. Like for example this role for me I don't do near as enough on stage as I did in Legally Blonde. I mean when Maureen is on stage she fills the stage, after we first see her she's pretty much in and out of every scene you know but the first half section of the show I don't really do much where as in Legally Blonde I came on and stayed on for the entirety of the show. So physically that's a different stamina and also a lot of that show was quite cheery but clearly there's a lot more to Elle Woods character than being cheery, she was a lot more cheery compared to what Rent is. 

I'm getting quite good at changing my stamina and adapting to different roles after 8 years. I'm starting to settle into my rhythm and learning what I can and can't do on a job. I love what I do for a living, I'm so lucky. 

Do you get a lot of breaks and stuff from between tour to have some downtime? How does it work?
So if your in the West End of a year you would have say you got 5 weeks holiday a year, it's the same as that on a tour but we're not touring for a whole year. If you do 6 months then they cut that holiday in half but we all take it at the same time. In the West End you might be able to say you'd love to be off for your birthday week to do this or that but on a tour you can't, they pick your holidays for you.

We went from September to February, full out and before that I was in 2 other jobs on the trot so by the time we got to the holiday it had been around a year since I got my last time off, I was so ready for it. I love the show but I was so ready for a break. We've recently come back from 2 weeks off so we're feeling pretty fresh but it's weird because we come back feeling re-energised which we have but our stamina has also dropped a little. We have to work a extra bit harder but it will settle back in. 

"Most of my best friends are people I've met through theatre" 

How do you find working with new people in different shows?
It's interesting, particularly with touring. You get thrown into this dynamic with new people and it's not just the cast it's the crew, the lighting guys, it's the set designer, it's the director, the choreographer, there's an extended family so you have to get along with these people even if you think they're great and others who you wouldn't go with for a beer. You just have to get on with it. It's a very intense environment, I love people whether your from whatever background, whatever kind of personality type you are I find people very interesting.

It's very very rare that I actually dislike someone. But they're are definitely people that aren't that way inclined and I think it can be quite difficult for them because we spend a lot of time together. On the other hand this job, actually the last few jobs I've done everyone has been amazing, honestly. Most of my best friends are people I've met through theatre. 

How would you describe Maureen's character in 3 words?
Bonkers, Adorable and Impossible. 

Final question, why do you think people should come and see Rent?
It was important for it's time. When this show first hit the stage there hadn't been anything else like it, ever. I think it's really important for people to see, see where the change came from. There's so many contemporary musicals now; Hamilton, Spring Awakening to name a few. They came from Jonathan Larson's, Rent. If you see any interviews where Lin-Manuel Miranda talks about where his inspiration came from it's Jonathan Larson, they grew up with this. Not only that but there's something in it for everyone, so many different types of musical. It's got rock music, ballads, tango, gospel. Ridiculous amount of genres in the show and also it's been running since September. We've had a full standing ovation at every show, which is amazing plus we've had a room full of people in tears everyday. Everyone is moved by it. 

Rent is completely relevant, it could have been written yesterday. 

Rent is performing at Curve Theatre, Leicester until 1 April

UK Tour of Rent The Musical is touring until May 2017

Lucie Jones performs at Eurovision 2017. 

Photo Credit: Matt Crockett


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