There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the upcoming musical of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. The production, based on Roald Dahl’s children’s novel, is due to open in the West End this June, and has already announced most of its cast, which includes Douglas Hodge in the role of Willy Wonka. While audiences are as yet unable to give it the thumbs up or down, another show adapted from one of Roald Dahl’s stories has certainly received the seal of approval: Matilda The Musical. It opened at the Cambridge Theatre in 2011 after a sell-out run in Stratford-upon-Avon and enjoyed a similar success, proving popular with adults, children and critics alike. Bertie Carvel was acclaimed for his portrayal of tyrannical headmistress Miss Trunchbull, but it is the children who are the stars of this show. That’s not to take anything away from the rest of the cast though, who are also very talented and give a performance that is immensely entertaining. One such cast member is Matilda swing Helen Siveter.
Siveter trained at the Doreen Bird College of Performing Arts, graduating with a BA Hons in Acting/Dancing/Musical Theatre in 1999. With her three year stint in the college at an end, she looked to the next goal – performing on stage. Acting is a profession that offers no guarantees in life, but Siveter got her foot in the door playing the role of ‘Gloria’ in the UK touring production of Oh! What A Night! From thereon, she took step after step and firmly established herself in the house of musical theatre. She performed as ‘Patty Simcox’ in Grease and then ‘Ela Delahey’ in Charley’s Aunt, both on P&O Aurora where she was also Dance Captain. The following year, she returned to touring the UK when she travelled with the company of Saturday Night Fever as ‘Rosalie’ and covered the role of ‘Shirley’. She then danced her way over to the Aldwych Theatre to make her first real West End appearance in the revival production of Fame, playing ‘Lambchops’ and understudying the role of ‘Carmen’.
The year 2005 found Siveter in Rent at the English Theatre Frankfurt, performing in the ensemble and covering ‘Joanne/Mimi’ as well as the position of Dance Captain for the musical. Then it was back on the road again, this time in the ensemble of the UK tour production of Fame and as cover to the role of ‘Miss Bell’. This was closely followed by a more extensive travelling period, which saw her play the role of ‘Ali’ in the international tour of Mamma Mia!
Her feet then settled themselves back in the West End again, with Siveter rocking the audience in Queen musical We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre as a swing. She spent the time between 2010-2012 as a swing again, but in the ABBA musical Mamma Mia! at the Prince of Wales Theatre. Then she earned the opportunity to be a swing in smash-hit West End musical Matilda, and unsurprisingly, she jumped at it with open arms – she is still currently appearing there.
Siveter has also been involved in a number of concerts, such as Spirit of Fire (Royal Albert Hall), West End to Broadway (Palace Theatre) and Tommy in Concert (Palace Theatre). She was a singer for CABBAret! and a dancer for The Rhythmics too. Her other theatre credits include: The Wiz (Hackney Empire), Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Bristol Hippodrome), Peter Pan (Reading Hexagon) and Mother Goose (Oxford Playhouse). She also performed in further shows on the P&O Aurora, such as Elvis The Musical, Half A Sixpence and Jolsen, and has worked as a choreographer on both In Touch (Bridewell Theatre) and Rent (Garrick Theatre).
Helen Siveter is a highly talented performer who is a joy to behold She has done the rounds as a swing/ensemble member and covered a variety of principal roles, but is yet to find herself in a full-time principal role. Time can be a friend or an enemy to us all, but I think time is on Siveter’s side and that we will see her leading the company of a West End show sooner than later.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Saturday 26th January 2013