In Profile with Helen Woolf
The West End production of Wicked recently had a cast shake-up, and on 21st September, the brand new 2015/16 line-up played their first performance at the Apollo Victoria. Emma Hatton and Savannah Stevenson continued in the starring roles of Elphaba and Glinda, with Oliver Savile joining them as shared love interest Fiyero. Completing the revamped principal cast are Liza Sadovy (Madame Morrible), Tom McGowan (The Wizard), Katie Rowley Jones (Nessarose), Daniel Hope (Boq) and Sean Kearns (Doctor Dillamond). There were new additions to the ensemble cast as well, which included the lovely Helen Woolf. An up-and-coming performer in the musical theatre industry, she is also the featured performer for this edition of In Profile.
Helen Woolf is a talented young star-in-the-making who has been steadily making a name for herself in the industry. She originally hails from the Cambridge area and began her musical theatre journey at Southern Theatre Arts Centre (STAC), the Brighton-based stage school which is a leading venue for theatre education in Southern England. While there, she was involved in the UK premiere of Jon Hartmere Jr and Damon Intrabartolo’s rock musical Bare: A Pop Opera, playing the role of Ivy in the production at the Northbrook Theatre in Worthing. She also performed at the theatre as Johanna in a production of Sweeney Todd.
Following her time at STAC, she came to London to continue her training at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music (RAM). She spent one year there, graduating from the Musical Theatre course in July 2011 with a Triple Distinction. While honing her craft at the school, she was fortunate to be under the instruction of the likes of Mary Hammond, Anne Marie-Speed, Karen Rabinowitz and Anne James, and worked with such musical theatre composers as Jason Robert Brown, Bobby Cronin, Michael Bruce, and Stephen Sondheim. Roles during training included Diana in California Suite and Older Belle in Little Me. She also played former showgirl Phyllis Stone in a production of the classic Sondheim musical Follies at the RAM venue, Sir Jack Lyons Theatre.
She has gained further experience and built up a nice list of theatre credits in the four years since leaving RAM. One of her earliest roles was in the one-time-only performance of Friends: The Opera at the Arts Theatre in September 2011. It was a special event to promote the first broadcast of the long-running American sitcom on British TV channel Comedy Central and she was cast in the principal role of Rachel, which was the character Jennifer Anniston played in the original show. She also travelled to India as part of the 2012 arena tour of West Side Story, performing as a lead vocalist in this production of the popular 1950’s musical. She rounded off the year with a stint as Beauty in a regional performance of Beauty and the Beast. The cast of four played multiple roles in the Huddersfield production at the Lawrence Batley Theatre, which ran between 13th and 30th December 2012. Then in March 2013, she starred in the new work Kandy Kottage, a chamber musical with a dark twist written by the composing duo of
Taylor-Rowan & Hughes. Woolf played the role of Greta, a ‘sweet-toothed ingénue who dreams of Hollywood stardom’ who is romantically pursued by shy teen sweet-shop worker Kevin.
In addition to her roles in musical theatre stage productions, Woolf has also worked extensively as a concert artist. She has performed in a variety of notable venues such as the Actor’s Church in Covent Garden, Wiltons Music Hall and the Royal Festival Hall. One of her most high-profile performances was in the concert event, Freddie For A Day, staged at the Savoy Theatre and featuring top talents Tom Jones, Kerry Ellis, Alfie Boe and Queen guitarist Brian May. She can also be heard on the recordings of such composers as Matheson Bayley, Frank Lazarus and Karl Leicowitz. Another theatre credits includes her involvement in the 2011 workshop performance of Goodbye Barcelona for the Arcola Theatre, in which she played the role of Rebecca.
The first ever UK and Ireland Tour of the musical Wicked was launched on 12th September 2013 at the Manchester Palace Theatre, with Woolf appearing as a member of the original touring company. She performed in the show’s ensemble alongside a principal line-up which included Nikki Davis-Jones (Elphaba), Emily Tierney (Glinda) and Liam Doyle (Fiyero), and also understudied the role of Glinda, which is one of the musical’s two female leads.
Since life on the road came to an end, she has been seen playing Mrs Lambchop in Flat Stanley at the Hull Truck Theatre, and was also a featured soloist in Frances Ruffelle’s critically-acclaimed solo show, Paris Original, at the St James Theatre. Now, she is set for an extended stay in London as she recently joined one of the biggest musicals in town.
Following her time in the touring production of Wicked, she is now appearing in the West End production at the Apollo Victoria. She joined the smash hit musical in the September cast change, which also saw Oliver Savile take over the principal role of Fiyero, and is currently performing as a part of the ensemble line-up. Additionally, she is also understudy to the leading role of Glinda.
Helen Woolf is a promising young talent who looks to have a bright future ahead of her, but for now, she makes a very welcome addition to Wicked in the West End.
You can follow Helen on twitter: @helenwoolf
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Last updated Saturday 3rd October 2015