Several cast members of the West End production of Mamma Mia were featured on Channel 4’s documentary series The Sound of Musicals this week (Tuesday 19th November), as cameras followed the rehearsal process ahead of the show’s cast change. Mamma Mia, which is currently housed at the Novello Theatre, has certainly had its fair share of cast changes in the fourteen years it has been running in the West End.
Judy Craymer’s creation has become one of the most successful jukebox musicals in the history of musical theatre and the music of Swedish pop group ABBA continues to be celebrated through the story of a bride-to-be who brings her mother’s past to the present as she tries to discover who her father is. The show features many of ABBA’s hit songs, such as ‘Super Trouper’, ‘The Winner Takes It All’, ‘Dancing Queen’, and of course, the title song ‘Mamma Mia’. It takes a group of highly talented performers to do justice to the legacy of such a beloved band as ABBA and the current cast is no exception, including Swing Katy Osborne who is making another appearance today as the featured ensemble member for this week’s edition of In Profile.
Katy Osborne was born and bred in Colchester, growing up in the nearby town of Wivenhoe, Essex. Currently to be found living out her West End dream with the company of Mamma Mia in London, that love of the stage which began at a very young age has certainly proven to be worth pursuing. At the age of just 3 years old, she became a student of Jenny Overton’s Colne Bank School of Dance where she learned a variety of dance disciplines such as ballet, tap, jazz and modern dance and performed in the school’s annual dance shows. She gave similar dedication to her vocal abilities, joining the Choir of a local church and developing her voice with the help of Director of Music, Graham Wadley. She went on to become a Bishop’s Chorister and joined the Southern Cathedral Singers (which has since evolved into the RSCM Voices), further honing her voice through singing lessons when she was 15.. She passed the Associated Board Grade V examination with Distinction. She was involved in many local amateur groups too, appearing in local productions of Annie, The Wizard of Oz and Annie, playing the female lead (Beauty) in the Wivenhoe Pantomime’s Beauty and the Beast and playing the principal role in Colchester Operatic Youth Group’s Rock Nativity. She also appeared at several charity events as a solo vocalist and, as part of the National Youth Music Theatre (NYMT), she was chosen during national auditions to play a role in their production of Creation, a specially-commissioned piece by Richard Taylor which was performed all across southern England.
At the age of 16, she was awarded a government grant which allowed her to attend one of the UK’s leading performing arts institutions, Laine Theatre Arts College in Epsom, Surrey. Having already produced such notable alumni as Ruthie Henshall, Aaron Renfree, Kerry Ellis, Mark Evans, Louise Dearman, Liam Tamne and Summer Strallen, Katy Osborne joined their ranks after she graduated from Laine’s with a national diploma in Musical Theatre.
Her first professional stage performance took her to Scotland where she appeared in The Gaiety Whirl for the Ayr’s Gaiety Theatre’s summer season. From there, she played the role of Wendy in a pantomime production of Peter Pan at the Richmond Theatre, which starred stage legend Bonnie Langford and TV/film actor Robert Powell.
It was in 2004 that Osborne took on her first Swing role, joining the original company of Queen musical We Will Rock You in Cologne, Germany. Then 19 years old, she spent 18 months with the show before coming back to the UK. Upon her return, she was cast in the ensemble of award-winning musical Hello Dolly, which had a short run at the Theatre Royal in Lincoln. She was invited to re-join the show two years later for the 2008 UK tour which featured Anita Dobson and Darren Day.
She has been involved in several touring productions during the course of her career, which includes an ensemble role in the UK tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which followed the closure of the successful West End production at the London Palladium in September 2005. She also performed in another tour show which hits very close to home: Mamma Mia. She first appeared in the musical as part of its international tour, as part of the ensemble team and also as 1st cover to the more prominent role of Lisa, one of the bridesmaids of bride-to-be Sophie Sheridan.
Her other theatre credits include an ensemble role in The Bet (Criterion Theatre), another panto stint in Cinderella (Grand Theatre, Swansea), and as a featured soloist in West End Laine (Aldwych Theatre) and Forbidden (Globe Theatre, Blackpool).
Now, she can be found at the Novello Theatre where she performs with the current cast of ABBA musical Mamma Mia. She joined the show in the June 2013 cast change, making her West End debut as a swing for which she covers a variety of the female roles. She is also understudying the role of Lisa again.
Katy Osborne is a talented stage actress who has been performing for most of her life. She stepped on to the path to the West End at the age of 3 and at the age of 29, after many learning curves along the way, she has finally made it to her destination. Her journey is far from over though and who knows where the path will continue to lead her in the future.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Saturday 23rd November 2013