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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Q&A with Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky, Grease UK Tour.

Grease is undeniably one of the most popular and recognised musicals in theatre history. Not only that but the 1978 film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John is the most successful movie musicals of all time. The musical allows us to experience the friendships, romances and adventures of a group of high school kids in the 1950s and it's currently touring across the UK with a new production. 

I managed to catch up with one of the stars of the new production, Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky who takes on the role of Rizzo. 

This thrilling new production of Grease uses the original script but how do you think that differs from people who have probably seen Grease before? 
So like you said we are using the original script and I reckon it's grittier in terms how we approach topics in it like body image, racism and sexism. Obviously, sex is a high level in this production. The relationships between the characters too! In the film it's predominately about Danny and Sandy and a little bit about Rizzo and Kenickie and how their relationship was quite firey. That's kind of what people already know and what they've grown up with but in this production, we've explored every single character involved in this musical and they all have their own through storyline.

There's one scene in fact when there are three or four different character exchanges going on!

This production of Grease also has a couple of new songs, songs which weren't in the productions on West End or Broadway so yeah it is different for sure.

What’s the most exciting element of this new production for you?
The fact the director Nikolai Foster has been so brave with what he wants to do with it and he's ready to strip it to what it's originally about. Grease is about growing up in the 1950s and all of the obstacles that you face as a teenager. He's really made sure as a cast we've also been really brave with that as well in order to create Grease how he wants it!

Our rehearsals were very much a collaborative process, he would ask questions in order for the production to develop into what it did. I think that's why we all love Grease so much because it feels like it's ours. 

Grease is one of the most well known musicals, why do you think people have enjoyed it for so long? 
It's a classic love story and it's a story that people can relate to, no matter what age or generation you are. Everyone has been through that process of growing up and dealing with things like peer pressure, body image and all these kind of things that we have all dealt with. That's why I think it will go on and on because it's something that is timeless.

It's fun too! It can take you back to something you remember from when you were younger or that you look forward to. I've noticed a lot of teenage girls in the audience and that's been nice, especially when I'm playing a character like Rizzo to them.

Tell us about your character Rizzo and maybe something about her that some people may not know?
She is such a complex character!  She's a tough girl and has a hard exterior, she's extremely secure in her status within the girls. She's very aware of being the leader of the Pink Ladies and how the girls look to her to know what to do next. Rizzo is also quite aware that she has Kenickie under her thumb! Especially how me and Kenickie (Louis Gaunt) play their relationship it is very much a play of status between the pair.

She's very brave within the choices she makes, even through to what she wears. She is very liberated but she also has this softer side to her. There's a real need for love and that is why there's this constant battle between her and Sandy because their characters are so similar.

She's an amazing individual, I love every second of being her. She was always my favourite, I always loved her! So now I get to play her is amazing.

READ MY REVIEW: Grease, Curve Theatre 2016.

Where have you drawn your own inspiration for the role? 
Obviously I watched the film a thousand times and Stockard Channing was always an inspiration for playing her. I saw bits of the West End production that was on over 10 years ago which starred Victoria Hamilton-Barrit and she was amazing. 

I love films and I love listening to podcasts. I enjoy listening to different females talking about feminism and sexual relationships. A lot of how I play Rizzo has been drawn from that aswell and from watching Marvel films in terms of physicality and just a lot of different elements from everyday people.

This is your first role since you graduated in 2016 where you are in the role rather than understudying. How does that feel? What have you taken from your experiences as an understudy?
Totally! Being an understudy is probably one of the best jobs I will ever do I think because you get to appreciate it. I was lucky when I did Bat Out Of Hell that I got to on quite a bit. I was lucky that I built relationships with the people I was understudying for so that when I was performing I could really explore and learn from them. I definitely learnt loads from those 2 years. 

Now that I get the opportunity with my own role I definitely feel far more humble and grateful for what I do. It also benefits my relationships with my understudies in this production too.

What has been the challenging aspect of Grease?
Try and not put too much pressure on myself to deliver a performance that everyone is going to expect from me.  It is such an iconic role and I need to do what I think is right for me and I am finding my feet with her more and more which I love.

The score is so well known, what is your favourite?
It honestly changes every time. Today I'm feeling a bit of Hopelessly Devoted To You. I'm a sucker for a ballad and Martha who plays Sandy sings it so well and it's always been one of my favourite songs in the musical for sure! 

In one sentence, tell us why people should come to see this production of Grease!
It's fun-loving, electrifying, it's raw and you'll leave with a big smile on your face. It's also brave!

If you'd like to see Rhianne-Louise and the entire cast of Grease perform during the UK Tour you can find out more info and purchase your tickets here.


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