Having fun: the fairytale couple at the heart of the West End revival | Theater
YesWe could say that they are a couple of fairy tales: the prince charming and the belle of the ball. Or just, as the line in Frozen says, they finish each other’s sandwiches. Oliver Ormson plays the devilishly handsome Hans of the Southern Islands in the West End staging of this Disney juggernaut. Her partner, Carrie Hope Fletcher, is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella star, just up the road.
Fletcher and Ormson form a formidable musical theater duo. They met on an Addams family tour, moved in together before the lockdown and, after a series of Covid curves, relish their roles on shows which both received five-star reviews in this article. If Ormson gets booed most nights, well, that just means “you did your job right,” Fletcher reminds him happily.
We meet at Ormson’s workplace, the Theater Royal Drury Lane – resplendent after a £ 60million refurbishment – in the lavish ‘retreat room’ which opens onto the Royal Box. Ormson admires the view; not to be outdone, Fletcher feigns disinterest and enlarges his own room. The Gillian Lynne Theater has been reconfigured so that some rows of Cinderella’s audience are turned during her big waltz.
The two men each had a night off to see each other’s show. As “the biggest Disney fan on the planet,” Fletcher reportedly saw Frozen a few times even without Ormson in the cast: “When I heard that Oliver was going to play Hans, I think I was maybe. to be even more excited than him. ” Ormson played a role in Cinderella’s original workshop as one of the sophisticated locals who put the pecs on in the immaculately groomed town of Belleville, created by writer Emerald Fennell. Ormson was “the big hunk” in the studio, Fletcher notes. “You look like a Disney prince,” she laughs. “Your jaw could cut glass for goodness sake.”
The two shows turn the traditions of fairy tales upside down. “People expect Hans to be the hero, to sweep Anna aside and save the day,” Ormson explains. Instead, Hans ultimately “reinforces the message of fellowship and the importance of family and friends.”
When Fletcher was invited by Lloyd Webber to a top-secret reunion on his new musical, the songwriter told him, “This isn’t the usual version of Cinderella – she’s not Disney, she’s wearing black, she’s wearing black. is a bit grungy, she wears Doc. Martens. As such, she has a sore thumb in Belleville. Fletcher laughed, remembering the outfit she wore to this meeting: a black dress and Docs.
Fletcher’s grungy rebel makes a pact with the Fairy Godmother in a makeover scene that’s colder than glow because she changes who she is. It is a turn on the usual transformation which invites us to revel in natural ashes becoming magically desirable. “You think, I really wish she hadn’t done that,” Fletcher says.
In Fennell’s version, Cinderella and her childhood pal Sebastian are surprised to fall in love with each other. The show is a hymn to friendship rather than just any Thunderbolt.
Fletcher and Ormson first looked at each other during auditions for The Addams Family which filmed in 2017; she remembers him as “beautiful but terrifying”. The chemistry went off on stage and off they moved in together and then the pandemic struck. As the theater industry plunged into crisis, their shows were repeatedly postponed. The original recording of the cast of Cinderella, released before it opened, was partially made in a DIY studio in Fletcher’s bedroom. Ormson says Frozen’s lyrics about “opening the doors” to Arendelle Castle rang with its cast and audience, wearily emerging from lockdown. Getting back on stage was a rush, so nervous. “We were all a little rusty,” he says. “We all had our demons, thinking: do I still remember how to act, sing and dance? “
So did they practice at home as a duo for breakfast? Fletcher insists she prefers to rest her voice, as Cinderella has a handful of big solos. But Ormson warms up to the idea. “It would be amazing… I’ll be Prince Sebastian for the night, we’ll have a song.” “I could be Anna,” she suggests. What if her brother, McFly’s Tom Fletcher, who currently stars in Strictly, qualifies for the musical week of the competition? Surely they could make an appearance? “We could do Love is an open door! “
The two know how lucky they are to have regular concerts in the West End during this precarious time. “So many people I know have left the industry,” says Fetcher. “They are now arborists, teachers, carpenters. Even before Covid, acting was far from a stable job. The West End has always been Ormson’s dream: “For a working-class northern boy, it was a big goal. With the support of his parents, he collected £ 50 worth of train tickets from Warrington to London for auditions, sometimes discovering on his way home that he had been called back for the next day – meaning another £ 50 ticket.
Fletcher, who is also from the working class, says her parents’ encouragement was essential to her as well. Her success extends beyond the theater: she has published a novel about containment (a sequel to Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes) and created a fashion line in partnership with Joanie Clothing. Today she wears a green velvet jumpsuit from this range. A fan recently told her that she bought the same outfit for her bridesmaids.
The musicals she’s been in – including Les Misérables and Heathers – have die-hard fans, Fletcher says. “They have tattoos [for the show], they wear the merch, they come in costume – sometimes their costumes are better than ours!
The buzz is that Cinderella is bound for Broadway; she keeps her fingers crossed that “they’ll let me go with it.” Meanwhile, she and Ormson will continue to perform in this new standard for musical theater, where fan buzzes are muffled by masks and social distancing rules have made the stage door a little dark for now. On the other side of this pandemic, “we are going to be unstoppable,” laughs Fletcher. “I’m going to start, like, licking people’s faces, I’ll be so excited.”