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In Profile with Sherrie Pennington

Last week the In Profile spotlight fell on talented young swing Jay Webb, who is currently appearing in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. The musical is still in its preview period so is safe from the critics’ pens for now, but that hasn’t stopped the theatre-going public from voicing their opinions. In good news for the show, the majority of the audience verdict so far seems to be overwhelmingly positive, although the inevitable comparisons with the West End’s other Roald Dahl musical adaption seems to have seen it fall a little short of the high bar that Tim Minchin and Dennis Kelly set with their award-winning Matilda The Musical. One thing that cannot be faulted though is the fantastic company of performers that bring the imaginative world of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory to life on stage every night. Most of the audience’s praise is directed at the principal cast of course, but that is exactly why In Profile was started – to highlight the outstanding work of the West End’s ensemble performers. This week, the spotlight is searching out the female members of the team and it has settled on Charlie and The Chocolate Factory’s deliciously talented Sherrie Pennington.

Sherrie Pennington is a highly experienced performer who began her stage career at a very early age. She started dancing at the tender age of three and made her West End debut at just fourteen years old, in a production of popular musical Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat at the London Palladium. As a youngster she also performed in various pantomimes such as Cinderella, Aladdin and Jack and the Beanstalk, as well as appearing in seasonal shows such as Seaside Special in Eastbourne. She then went on to train at the prestigious Laine Theatre Arts, graduating from the school’s 3-year Musical Theatre course with an Honours diploma. She also holds teaching qualifications in tap, modern, ballet and national dance.

Pennington made her first professional stage appearance post-training in The Wonderful Rock’n’Roll West End, joining the touring show as a lead singer. She returned to the West End with an ensemble role in Beauty and the Beast at the Dominion Theatre, in which she also understudied and played the lead role of Belle. She later returned to a UK touring production of the musical to play a Silly Girl, Babette and Belle.

She has travelled extensively in a variety of UK tours, which also include White Christmas and the classic musical West Side Story in which she performed on-stage as Rosalia and Maria. Her West End theatre credits are also numerous, having appeared in a wide selection of musical theatre shows such as the long-standing ABBA musical Mamma Mia, playing the role of Lisa at its previous home in the Prince Edward Theatre. She was an original cast member of Mel Brook’s 2004 award-winning musical The Producers, which occupied the same venue, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, as the one her current show resides in. Pennington’s ensemble role saw her play an Usherette and Lick me Bite me in the show. She has been part of many original London casts, her next being an ensemble role in the 2007 production of The Drowsy Chaperone at the Novello Theatre in which she understudied the roles of Janet Van Der Graff and Kitty, appearing alongside musical theatre veteran Elaine Paige. She then went on to appear in the popular musical adaption of Legally Blonde at the Savoy Theatre in 2010 and her most recent (prior to Charlie and The Chocolate Factory) was the Chichester Festival Theatre production of Singin’ in the Rain, which transferred to the Palace Theatre in 2012. Performing in the ensemble, she played Lady-in-Waiting and was also understudy for Kathy Seldon, playing the leading role on-stage on numerous occasions.

Pennington’s other theatre credits include Betty Palmer in Babes In Arms (Cardiff International Music Festival), Rosie in Sweet Charity and ensemble in Me and My Girl (Sheffield Crucible) and cover Candida in Cinderella (Old Vic). In addition, she understudied the role of Irene Molloy in Hello Dolly at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and performed as Maud Dunlop and Marian Paroo in a production of The Music Man. She also took part in the workshop for The Count of Monte Cristo and a concert performance of My Fair Lady at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the 2012 BBC Proms, as well as being the Associate Choreographer for Bright Lights Big City at Hoxton Hall. She is now listed as a patron of The Ratton Academy of Performing Arts (RAPA) too, the Eastbourne school which has over 25 years of experience in performing arts training.

She is currently appearing in new musical Charlie and The Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, directed by the Oscar Award-winning Sam Mendes. She performs in the show’s ensemble, playing one of Willy Wonka’s Oompa Loompas. A great talent who has a bright future, Sherrie Pennington is a tasty treat to rival any of Willy Wonka’s creations.

By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)

You can follow Sherrie on twitter: (@Sherriepenn).

Saturday 1st June 2013

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