The stage musical of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory has settled in nicely at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, but before Willy Wonka and his Oompa Loompa’s came to stay, another musical adaption spent a few happy years there. Shrek The Musical opened here in 2011 and was entertainment for the whole family, enjoying a 21-month run before the curtains closed last February. Even though it moved out of the West End, it didn’t disappear for good however.
The fairy tale continues as the feel-good show embarks on a tour, which kicks off next week on 23>rd July 2014 at the Grand Theatre Opera House in Leeds. Dean Chisnall, who played the title role in the West End production, reprises his role as the grumpy green ogre for the tour, joined by Faye Brooks as the kick-ass Princess Fiona and Idriss Kargbo as his loveable sidekick Donkey.
Just as important are the ensemble, and Jacqui Sanchez plays one of the show’s beloved characters who have jumped straight out of the pages of fairytale books and onto the stage. Just before the talented actress takes to the stage in the touring production’s first performance this Wednesday, she appears here as the featured ensemble member for this week’s edition of In Profile.
Jacqui Sanchez has been working in this industry for over a decade now, and in that time, she has been a part of some of the biggest and best shows around, both in and out of the West End. She spent three years training at the London Studio Centre (LSC), founded in 1978 by famed ballet dancer Bridget Espinosa to provide dancers with a theatrical education in dance, music and drama. Many former students of the school have forged successful careers in all areas of live performance, with Robyn North, Sophia Ragavelas, Scarlett Strallen just some of the names who have gone on to become stars of the West End stage. Sanchez graduated from the LSC’s Musical Theatre course in 2000 and made her professional debut same year, joining a touring production of Grease as a member of the ensemble.
Following her time in Grease, she stayed on the road as she was cast in the Cameron Macintosh tour of Miss Saigon. She travelled with the show between 2001-2003 in an ensemble capacity again, but this time she also understudied two of the principal roles as 1stcover Kim and 2nd cover Ellen. She took some time away from the tour to make her panto debut in the ensemble of Aladdin at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, before revisiting Miss Saigon in 2004. This brand new production, which Mackintosh devised for the purpose of being able to play smaller venues, launched in 2004 and featured Sanchez in the ensemble role of Gigi, as well as the 1st cover Ellen.
She left the heat of Saigon in 2005 and moved on to perform in the ensemble of Cinderella is Not Enough at the Vanburgh Theatre in London.
The year of 2006 marked her entry into the West End as she made her first appearance on the stage of the Noel Coward Theatre in Avenue Q, which was also making its West End première. The original London cast of the musical starred the likes of Jon Robyns, Julie Atherton and Simon Lipkin, with Sanchez featuring in the ensemble. She also understudied various roles in the production, which included 2nd cover Christmas Eve, 2nd cover Mrs Thistletwat/Bear/Others and 3rd cover Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut, and was dance captain and the assistant resident director.
She stayed with the show between 2006-2008 before heading over to Germany to perform in an international production of Hair at the English Theatre, Frankfurt. She played Jeannie/Tribe and was the resident director in the show’s 5-month run there.
In 2009, she spent 9 months onboard M/S Norwegian Sun as a Guest Entertainer/Principal Singer for Jean Ann Ryan Productions for Norwegian Cruise lines. After performing in such shows as Hey! Mr Producer and Encore!, she then returned to dry land, and the West End, to once again perform in Avenue Q, which was now playing at the Wyndhams Theatre. As a swing in the show (and also dance captain/assistant resident director), she covered the roles of Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut, Mrs Thistletwat/Bear and Christmas Eve.
Sanchez then had the chance to appear in the original London cast of another musical as Shrek The Musical came to the West End. She appeared alongside the show’s original stars, Nigel Lindsay, Amanda Holden, Nigel Harman and Richard Blackwood, as a swing and the puppet captain, spending a year in the company before leaving in the February 2012 cast change.
She put on her sea legs again and hopped aboard M/S Norwegian Dawn for another cruise stint as Guest Entertainer/Principal Singer, entertaining passengers in such shows as Bollywood!, An Artist’s Run. Flash ahead 8 months and she’s back in London, appearing at the Broadway Theatre, Catford in 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. She played the role of Macy Park in the musical’s 2-month run there and was credited as a ‘high point in the show’ by The Public Reviews after her rendition ‘I Speak Six Languages’.
She returned to familiar ground after that as she returned to Avenue Q in 2013, with the slight twist of travelling to South Korea for the show’s 4-month run at the Charlotte Theatre in Seoul. She played Mrs Thistletwat/Bear/2nd Arm and was cover Kate and Christmas Eve.
Other theatre credits include workshops of You Are Here (Ensemble) at the Cockpit Theatre, London and The Busker’s Opera (Lucy Lockitt) at the Soho Theatre. She also directed the musical theatre concert, You’ll Never Walk Alone – The West End Unites for the Philippines, at the Queen’s Theatre.
Now Shrek fans can once again enjoy her unique talent as she rejoins the show for the highly anticipated tour, this time taking on a swing role in the touring production in which she also appears as the Golden Goose. Shrek The Musical premières at the Grand Theatre; Opera House in Leeds on 23rd July 2014 and plays there until 17th August 2014. It is set to travel around the country, visiting venues in such places as Nottingham, Dublin, Manchester, Canterbury, Aberdeen and Plymouth, and is currently booking until September 2015 (Milton Keynes Theatre).
Jacqui Sanchez has made a wonderful contribution to the industry in her career so far and has proven time and again that she is a great addition to any show. Audiences around the country can enjoy watching her in Shrek The Musical for now, and after that, it would be fantastic to see her take on a full-time principal role as this talented actress more than has what it takes to become a West End star.
You can follow Jacqui on Twitter: @jacquisanchez
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Saturday 19th July 2014