IT’S her biggest part to date, her first time on the main stage at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre – and her dream role. Things couldn’t get much better for young Alice Mills from Send.
In September she’s off to drama school but in the meantime she’s taking on the role of the downtrodden but sympathetic Nancy in the Yvonne Arnaud Youth Theatre’s summer production, Oliver!
“I’m so excited about it, I can’t wait,” says Alice. “I’m not daunted by it, I’ve known Oliver! for years and Nancy has always been a part that I’ve wanted to play.
“I’ve watched the film many times and seen the show in the West End, so to get to play Nancy is fantastic. She’s so feisty, which is different to most parts I’ve played before.
“I’ve never played a character with so much conviction and strength. It will be great to play something so different.”
Oliver! is often said to be the UK’s favourite musical and Alice says she can understand why: “I think the music is one of the reasons for its longevity,” she explains. “Everyone knows the
songs and it’s quite heart-warming but also quite tragic.
“It’s got everything. You’ve got Fagin as a villain, Bill Sykes is scary, you’ve got loads of loveable kids in it to give it an extra bit of life. As soon as you hear the opening of Food Glorious Food, you’re captured.”
Alice says her personal favourite song is Oom Pah Pah – “It’s so much fun” – but she also loves singing It’s A Fine Life and her own solo on As Long As He Needs Me.
Being a local, she is expecting a large audience. “I’ve got the whole world coming to see it,” she laughs. “I’ve got family travelling from Wales as well as local relatives and loads of friends.”
About to embark on a three-year diploma in drama, she says she hopes Nancy will be the first of many starring roles and says: “I’d definitely love to make performing my career.
My favourite job would be on stage, but if TV or film came my way, I wouldn’t be fussy! I love the stage because it’s all about being able to see the reactions of the audience immediately – you get instant feedback.”
Alice says her inspiration in recent years has been Sheridan Smith, star of ITV’s current drama Black Work, although she was attracted by her starring role in musicals.
“She’s amazing. I saw her in Legally Blonde a few years ago in the West End and I loved her. Now she’s had the most amazing career, she’s done it all. I think she could do anything.”
It’s all a far cry from Alice’s first appearance on stage with her dance school when she was three: “It was really scary and I got caught in front of a curtain and started crying,” she recalls.
“But thankfully, I’m not as nervous these days.”