Interview with Poppy Ridell, playing Sharpay Evans in High School Musical
South Hill Park’s hugely popular Easter production is back and dancing on the tables, with Disney’s smash-hit show High School Musical showing at the Wilde Theatre (Wed 17 – Mon 22 April). We chat with Poppy Ridell (19) who plays the infamous, theatre-diva Sharpay Evans in Disney’s High School Musical.
Poppy has grown up in Bracknell and has been taking part in local theatre productions since the age of 9. She is currently training on a Level 3 Extended Diploma at Artemis College and is excited to be taking on her first leading role on South Hill Park’s Wilde Theatre Stage. Poppy’s theatre credits include, Jerusalem, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (2017), A Madagascar The Musical (2018) and Animalphabet UK Tour (2018), winner of independent best children’s show award and finalist of BroadwayWorld.com best children’s show at the Edinburgh Fringe 2018.
What made you want to audition for South Hill Park’s production of High School Musical?
I was a huge fan of the movie as a kid, it was like the ‘Grease’ of the noughties! I loved the soundtrack but particularly loved the dances, you’d find me and my friends recreating the dances on the playground at school. So to have the opportunity to audition for the musical on stage ten years later was a no-brainer for me, I’m living my childhood dream by taking part in this show! I had so much fun during Madagascar A Musical Adventure (2018) last year as a Lioness that it made me want to audition for the Easter show again no matter what it was!
I love the fact that the majority of people performing at South Hill Park are doing it because they love it so much, there is a sense of home I now feel here, as cheesy as it sounds!
What is your character Sharpay like?
Sharpay is definitely a dreamer and she’s worked so hard to get where she wants to be but she doesn’t always go about it the right way. She can be a bit of a diva and just loves to be the centre of attention but this is only due to her passion for the theatre and performing. She is a strong and self-driven young female who strives to be the best she can be, and although she is far from perfect, I think everyone should channel their inner Sharpay every once in a while.
How do you feel about taking on your first leading role?
I’m thrilled to be in my first leading role here at South Hill Park. There was of course, the initial nervousness about taking on the iconic Sharpay, but now rehearsals have started I couldn’t be happier or more excited about audiences coming to watch the production.
Do have a scene or line?
My favourite scene is definitely in Bop To The Top, as Ryan (Keir Buist) and I get to be so dramatic in the audition line which we find so much fun. I also love getting to shout “Everybody Quiet!” In Stick To The Status Quo as that has always been the line I think of when someone mentions Sharpay.
Have you had to overcome any obstacles during this production?
I have had to sing higher than I am used to as there are a lot of intricate two-part harmonies. However, the creative team and the musical director (Tim Cumper) give all the cast support, and tips and tricks to help us achieve the demanding elements of the show which is great. The choreography and movement in the production is also extremely fast-paced which takes a lot of time and effort to perfect, our choreographer (Charlotte Steele, The Voice 2019) has a great eye for large scale dance numbers and the hard work pays off in the finished result.
What kinds of roles do you want to take on in the future?
After being part of the UK Tour of Animalphabet and Madagascar A Musical Adventure, I think I’d like to play an animal again because I love the physicality when you play one and I enjoy the transformation with the makeup. I’m not sure what my plans are for the future but I enjoyed touring and would definitely like to continue to travel and for now just enjoy being young for a while.
What can audiences expect from this production?
Audiences can certainly expect a high-energy, fun and exciting production. We really are going to take what happens in the iconic movie and throw it on stage with all of the energy we can give. It’s ultimately a feel-good production in time for the Easter holidays so there’s a something for all ages to enjoy in this show. We are having the best time creating it so hope to share it with as many people as possible.