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Georgina Castle took over the lead role of Sophie in ABBA musical Mamma Mia in June, after covering the role for several months. We caught up with Georgina to talk about the first time she saw Mamma Mia, her Swedish heritage, and taking on the role full-time.
Your first Mamma Mia experience was at your birthday party, wasn’t it?
It was, I think it was my 11th birthday party. I’ve been obsessed with musical theatre since I was very, very tiny so it was quite a common thing to take a few friends to see a show. We went to see Mamma Mia and I had this revelation when I thought “Oh my god, I want to be that girl that wears the bright green glittery top”. That’s all I can really remember from the show: when Sophie came out to the end of the jetty I thought, ‘I think I could do that’.
It was a show that really stood out. With my family being Swedish, ABBA music was a big part of our everyday existence, we’d always be whistling an Abba tune – especially my grandparents.
Knowing that you’ve been sat in the audience thinking ‘I want to be that girl’, it must be pretty cool knowing people are having the same moment looking at you now?
Exactly. It’s actually been Kids Week so there’ve been lots of children in. I feel a bit of responsibility because I see these little smiling faces – normally it seems to be girls, so I guess I can relate because I’m a girl too – and I just don’t want to let them down. It could be the moment they decide they want to get involved in theatre.
What would you tell someone in that position?
Keep learning and keep finding fun. Focus on what you enjoy doing because of much of this is about joy.
What is your Swedish connection then?
My grandparents are Swedish. I lived with them for the first two years of my life. Swedish people have a pure unashamed love for ABBA. They seem to worship them. From my own personal experience, they’re like this big cult over there. Even more so than over here, it’s something they’re really proud of.
Have your grandparents been to see the show?
They have. It was really special. They’re slightly older now so they’re struggling with movement, but when I was covering they came down. My grandad was literally dancing in the aisles and people were pointing saying “Georgie, is that your grandad?!”, and I was like “…yes”. He has a bad leg, but I’ve never seen him move like that, swingin his arms around.
This is the second show you’ve ever done – the first being a tour of Dirty Dancing. What’s it like now that you’re living and working in London?
Dirty Dancing was actually the first time I left home. I went to drama school in London, I grew up here, so touring was a whole new experience. I had a blast. We were in each place for about 3 or 4 weeks, so you really got to explore the different cities. I went out probably a little bit too much.
Now that I’m working in London, it’s a different vibe. It’s nice that I’m close and my friends can see the show more easily – they don’t have to trek up to Aberdeen anymore – but it’s such a huge buzz to walk down the Strand to work and see all these glitzy sparkly theatres.
You’ve been in the role for a few months now – how’s it going?
I haven’t had any complaints so far. It’s different to being a cover because I would go on and be so full of adrenaline, I’d be thinking “am I in the right place, and I saying the right thing?” It’s nice to go in now with a more relaxed approach.
I love performing “Thank You for the Music”. It’ the first time Sophie sees her three potential dads in the flesh, and it’s just such a wonderful song to sing at such a pivotal moment. I’m waiting at a door before that songs and every night without fail, I can see (through a little whole in the door) people smiling as they begin to realise the song is starting. And everyone sings along.
It is the kind of show that everyone gets involved in isn’t it?
Oh my god, yes. Some people think it is a pure karaoke performance and they sing along the whole way through. There are some die-hard fans who are saying every single word throughout the show. It adds to the atmosphere. It adds, rather than detracts. Unless you have a crazy hen party…
Can that be a distraction?
It’s been relatively smooth sailing so far.
Mamma Mia Tickets are available now.