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Tell Us In 10: Katie Brayben

Kitty Underwood

By Kitty Underwood First Published 12 December 2019, Last Updated 22 January 2020

In our profile series, Tell Us In 10, we ask cast members and creatives of top London shows to tell us all about themselves in just 10 questions.

Today, we hear from Katie Brayben, currently starring in Conor McPherson’s Girl From The North Country – a musical set in 1930s America incorporating classics from the catalogue of musical legend Bob Dylan.

Katie made her West End debut as Sophie in Mamma Mia! and has since starred opposite Matt Smith in the American Psycho musical, as Princess Diana in King Charles III and as Carole King in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, for which she won an Olivier Award in 2015.

1. My route into theatre was…

As a kid I went to a local drama club called Marcia’s and I fell in love with performing there. It led to my first role as Annie in Annie at the Lewisham shopping centre. That was a big deal for me. I then had a great drama teacher at secondary school who encouraged me to try for drama college which at the time I didn’t even know was an option.

2. My West End idol is…

Tim Pigott-Smith who I was fortunate enough to work with on King Charles the third. He was an inspirational person and enshrined the values that I would like to carry forward in my career. An extraordinary actor but more importantly a kind supportive and playful man.

Tim Pigott-Smith at the Olivier Awards 2015 Photo by Alastair Muir.Tim Pigott-Smith at the Olivier Awards 2015. Photo by Alastair Muir.

3. My colleagues would describe me as…

I’m not sure. I think they would say I’m slightly shorter than you’d expect but louder and with tiny hands.

4. My favourite show present or past (that isn’t one I star in) is…

I really loved Marianne Elliott’s production of Angels in America. It is one of my favourite plays. This answer is a slight cheat as I watched the NT Live version in a cinema down the road and controversially had one of the best theatre experiences of my life.

 

James McArdle (Louis) and Andrew Garfield (Prior) in Angels In America. Photo by Helen Maybanks.James McArdle (Louis) and Andrew Garfield (Prior) in Angels In America. Photo by Helen Maybanks.

5. The career moment I’m most proud of is…

I have to say the whole experience of getting to play Carole King, one of my all time favourite composers, and then winning the Olivier was my proudest moment so far. It is something I could have only ever dreamed of and still don’t believe really happened.

6. The hardest part about my role is…

There are lots of tough aspects of the job. I’d say one of the hardest things is having the physical and emotional energy for eight shows a week. When you leave the theatre each night there is a residue of the characters journey and that can potentially run you down. Thats why you have to look after yourself as much as possible. Elizabeth Laine – the character I’m playing at the moment in Girl From The North Country – comes with unique challenges. I love being in her world but I carry her with me off stage at times.

(l-r) Katie Brayben, Colin Bates, Gloria Obianyo and Rachel John in rehearsals for The Girl From the North Country. Photo by Johan Persson(l-r) Katie Brayben, Colin Bates, Gloria Obianyo and Rachel John in rehearsals for The Girl From the North Country. Photo by Johan Persson

7. If I didn’t work in theatre I would be…

Off grid somewhere? Although my boyfriend says I couldn’t live outside of a city.

8. Something people don’t know about me is…

My real last name is Burke but I wasn’t allowed to have it as a professional name because of Kathy Burke, who I’m not related to but wish I was.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical star Katie Brayben performs at the Olivier Awards 2015. Photo by Alastair Muir.Beautiful: The Carole King Musical star Katie Brayben performs at the Olivier Awards 2015. Photo by Alastair Muir.

9. The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is…

Tim Pigott-Smith gave me so much good advice. One thing that he said that really stuck with me was when doing a long running show, every day do less.

10. The one thing I wish I could tell my younger self is…

Move away from the bullies. Don’t give them any of your energy and time.

You can catch Katie Brayben in Girl From The North Country at the Gielgud Theatre until 1 February 2020.

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conor mcpherson gielgud theatre girl from the north country katie brayben Olivier Awards

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