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Q&A: Sally Dexter

Published 2 October 2013

Here at Official London Theatre we adore a good love story. We cried at Kneehigh’s Brief Encounter, bawled at Love Story and positively sobbed our hearts out at the Lyric Hammersmith’s Lovesong. So when we heard a brand new romantic drama was heading to the West End, we jumped at the chance to grill its leading lady on what we could expect.

Here Hidden In The Sand star Sally Dexter talks about how it feels to originate a role, as well as taking a look back over her impressive career that boasts starring roles in musicals Viva Forever!, Billy Elliot The Musical and Olivier!, dramatic turns with the Royal Shakespeare Company and a hugely coveted Olivier Award win.

Read on to find out why Dexter believes you should follow your instincts, keep your regrets close to your chest and avoid cheesecake at all costs.

What is your fondest childhood memory?
Jumping buttercup clumps with my brother and sister on my grandad’s dairy farm.

What first sparked your interest in performing?
Mystery to me…

Describe your character in Hidden In The Sand in six words.
She’s just like me only different.

Why should people come and see it?
Because it’s rare, beautiful, tender, brutal and funny by turns, and every word has the cry of truth in it.

You’ve performed in a lot of classic works. How does it feel to have the chance to originate a role in this production?
Every role feels like you are originating it: I am always guided by my instincts!

Your career so far has mixed high-profile musicals with acclaimed dramas. Which do you prefer?
I approach all work in the same way, when I’m allowed to and secretly even when I’m not! My instincts lead, my brain follows, eventually…

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I’m actually doing it now: Hidden In The Sand at Trafalgar Studios.

What did winning an Olivier Award mean to you?
It was a joyous surprise. I felt hugely honoured!

Your last role in London was in Viva Forever!. How was that experience?
I enjoyed myself enormously. I wore the best wig seen on the London stage since the time of Thomas Betterton.

What is the finest performance you have ever seen?

Kneehigh Theatre’s Tristan & Yseult; a perfect mix of humour, humanity and inspiring skill.

If you could create a fantasy production to star in, who would you cast, who would direct and what would it be?

I think a brand new Shakespeare play, directed by Stanislavski, maybe some last minute script doctoring by David Mamet. In fact maybe I won’t do the stage version; I’ll skip straight to the movie adaptation and collect the great big salary.

Who or what has inspired you?
Inspiration’s sort of cumulative. I’ve got lots of it as I’ve gone on and learnt from all the people I’ve worked with.

Do you have any regrets?

Yes, two! But regrets, like any missteps on stage, should always stay secret from your audience.

Have you made any sacrifices for the sake of your career?

Curbing my continual cheesecake craving.

What would you choose as a last meal?

Bread, cheese, apple, celery, a really good pickled onion and a kind wine. And cheesecake to follow.

What will always, without fail, brings a smile to your face?
My mum. She’s hilarious.

Do you have a pre­show routine or any rituals?

I like to be alone and quiet. And put on lots of make-up!

What ambitions would you like to fulfil?
To be better at 20 questions. And I’d secretly like to be the female Mick Jagger.

If you weren’t an actor, what would you be?

Quite simply deceased.

"I wore the best wig seen on the London stage since the time of Thomas Betterton"

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