Charlotte Miranda -Smith is currently playing Polly Peachum in The Beggars Opera and various roles in Alice in Wonderland.
“I’m from Hadenham in Buckinghamshire. I grew up liking old films, my family’s very musical, they did lots of am-dram. My Dad’s a very good singer and actor and he’s also a Doctor. I went with them to see their shows. When I was a kid I wanted to be a pop star because I could sing, there’s videos of me singing Spice Girls. I worked hard at school and had to decide to pursue the acting or something academic. I wanted to be a vet for a bit! I started auditioning for drama school but didn’t get anywhere in my first year of trying. I took a year out and auditioned again and got into the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. I absolutely loved it, it was a really diverse course with really good acting and singing training.”
Charlotte graduated in 2015 and first came to Chester in 2016 joining Storyhouse’s theatre in the park company. “It was a lovely opportunity for me, because sometimes when you train in musical theatre people don’t take you seriously with straight acting. The fact that I was getting to do Shakespeare last year was fantastic , Alex Clifton took me under his wing.” She says that the company are a great family. “Last year we spent all our days off together, we would pop to the beach in Wales. Everyone goes to the Marlborough, not as much this year because I am doing a lot of singing so I have had to watch my alcohol intake!”
Charlotte auditioned to return for Storyhouse’s inaugural season, at first trying for the two Shakespeare plays. She says that she hopes the building will have a positive impact for Chester. “I think its fantastic that it incorporates all this, you can sit here and read a book, theres children sitting here about to eat some Mediterranean food. Already its been inclusive of so many different types of people”.
In her short career so far Charlotte has worked all over the UK and also in Africa. “I have not stopped moving since I graduated. Its great to come back here, it can be tough, sometimes hard to find nice places to stay. You put your trust in other people that you work with and you do really become a family. Its hard with people back at home but when I first graduated I wanted to go anywhere.”
Of the sell out opening night in May, Charlotte says that “an opening night of a show, you’re already a bit nervous. Everybody just wants to get it right, but there was that supportive element from the audience and they willed it to do well. We were really ready to put Beggars Opera out there. I do get ten minutes on my own in the dressing room which is my time to get into character. I have various little rituals, I bought a perfume which I thought would smell like Polly, I have a hand cream that I put on, and listen to a song that reminds me of her. I got my partner to write me a letter from MacHeath. Its got his wording in it, bit from Mac so it makes me feel all fuzzy!
“After this job, I am really going to find it difficult just doing one show. After last year I wa doing 3 shows and getting all that lovely variety. Its such a magical atmosphere in the park , its so in the moment, thing s go wrong, champagne corks popping onto the stage, kids shouting out things. In the theatre theres still that feeling you can see the audience. There’s a special feeling that we are the first people there and that we’ve laid our mark, there’s a collaboration between audience and theatre makers, they are a part of the show.”
Coming from a small village Charlotte has enjoyed the city life and Chester’s blossoming cultural scene. “Lots of my friends have been to see the ARK exhibition in the Cathedral, theres a chilli festival on Saturday and there’s some great buskers. I’ve been to lots of events here, I saw the Pokémon Go-ers! Last year I went to a lot of the music concerts in the Town Hall, and the Moonlight Flicks. Its a totally different experience from where I live.”
As well as the remaining performances up to the 27th August Charlotte and the other cast members are doing a concert in aid of the Bridge Foyer charity on Sunday 13th August (https://www.storyhouse.com/event/to-the-bridge) “Its essentially lots of members of the company coming together. We’ve picked the songs and its all off our own backs, we’re doing it for free. We have tried to pick things that people might know or that they will find entertaining.” Charlotte says she will be singing songs from West Side Story, Wicked , Showboat and Ordinary Days. The event costs £10 with all proceeds going to the charity.
On the 18th Charlotte is also hosting a musical theatre themed singing workshop for children. See https://www.storyhouse.com/event/sing-with-us for more details.
There are just 4 performances remaining of Beggar’s Opera, the historic opening show. “It’s really sad, we haven’t quite got into our stride, we want more! There’s so much more we can explore it. Its a dream part, I’m a big history geek and I loved doing all the research for the part. I loved wearing my beautiful costume , and feeling like I’m from a different time period. Its such demanding singing that I’ve had to create myself with Harry Blake (composer) . Alex Clifton makes you feel you can achieve anything. With Polly we have so much time to explore her character and her essence and how she changes as a person over the show. There are such a depth to Beggars and there are so many lengths it could go to. Polly is so wonderfully complicated and funny and hopefully there’s a lot of me in there as well. ”
Of her future ambitions she says : ” I’d like to work with Daniel Goode who plays Mr Peachum again ! Your dreams change once you get into the industry. I’d like to do some TV and film and get into the higher level taking in the Globe, the National and the RSC. I’ve ticked off various dreams. my first dream was to create a character and I did that with Crush the Musical. My second was to do Shakespeare, which I did last year… For me its to constantly doing work which makes me feel fulfilled and is challenging and a rewarding character. Something that has lots to explore. I’d love to be Sally Bowles in Cabaret! There’s things that haven’t been written yet, its just wanting to do something fulfilling as an actor …
“I love Chester and I love what this theatre has done for me. Alex Clifton has done so much to help me and my career. They are so good to you here and the experience is like no other. I love it!”