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Carly Burns

21st June 2022

Photographer & Editor-in-chief: Owen James Vincent

Stylist & Art Director: Rory Mcnerney

Stylist Assistant: Oliver Slade

Clothes Designer: Corey Dixon / Somebody Else's Guy

Make Up Artist & Nails: Rita Nieddu

Make Up Artist Assistant: Juste Vaskeviciute

Hair: Lucy Muyanga

Interview: Tadek Chmiel

Logo Design: Emily Curtis

Assistant & Videographer: Joe Reed

Jewellery: Lucy Quartermaine & We Are PR

Shoes: ATIKA London

We chatted to Carly not long after she had completed a run playing “Linda” in the UK tour of Willy Russell’s “Blood Brothers” and got her insight into life on the road, balancing her work as an actor with her talents as a singer/songwriter, and her hopes of more support and consideration for actors’ mental health.

Last time you were interviewed here at Revamp you had just started “Blood Brothers”. Now that you’re out the other side, what did you learn during the process and how did your time on the show compare to the expectations you had going into it?

It’s actually crazy how fast time has gone since that interview! I definitely think I’ve learnt so much, mainly as an actress I would say. I think I was so nervous going into it because it is such a straight acting role, but I think I’ve learned to let go of my insecurities, push boundaries, listen to the other actors and just learn from them. A lot of the people in “Blood Brothers” have done it for 15-20 years, so they really are veterans. Because it was so fast paced, I didn’t actually have a lot of expectations of what it was going to be like. I literally auditioned, found out a week later that I got it, started a week later and then opened the week after that, but it’s definitely exceeded everything that I would have imagined a job to be. It’s been so great to have learnt so much, and also to tour and see so many different cities in the UK. We’ve played to some massive theatres and we’ve also done some small, quirky ones, so we’ve had a real range. 

Many actors can find touring unsettling, and when you’re staying in locations for a week at a time there is little space for home comforts. Did you do anything specific to keep yourself grounded during the process?

Do you know what, I actually really loved it being non-stop because I get bored quite quickly. So yeah, I don’t think I ever felt like I needed something to keep me grounded but then every different location we went to, I really made the most of. I did all the little touristy things or even just found cute little coffee shops because that’s a little bit of normality with what I would do in London. Just things like, if you do want to have a lazy day on your day off, I would just stay at the hotel and chill, take the time to rest because rest is so important on tour. 

Often the narrative around being an actor that is pushed at drama school is one of “all or nothing” and that it must be all you want to do and nothing else in order to succeed. However, whilst being a musical theatre performer, you are also a singer/songwriter, having released your own music this past year. How have you found balancing this with your acting work and do you ever feel the pressure to prioritise one over the other?

I’ve actually been quite lucky with “Blood Brothers” because it is more of an acting role, it’s not a heavy sing, so it’s not a case of when I’m not at work I’m having to really rest my voice. I think I’ve definitely had time to balance it so that on my days off I can focus time for writing, singing and recording because I don’t do it a lot in the show. In terms of prioritising them, I think with musical theatre, that’s my job and livelihood, whereas with music I don’t put as much pressure on it. It’s more just for me, it feels a bit more like therapy, I’m just being myself with it, whereas with acting it’s all about characters and roles. My music is purely just for me, so I don’t think I’d ever really have to choose one.

In 10 years’ time, what changes would you like to have seen within the musical theatre industry?

I think as my broad answer, I would definitely like to see the industry miles ahead of where it is now in terms of diversity and fair casting, and there just not being discrimination on a basis of how we look. Then on a more personal view, I think there needs to be so much more focus on our mental health because there just isn’t a lot of it. Even from the audition process, sometimes we’ll get 24 hours to learn a script and that causes so much stress. There should be more time to prepare, more time in the audition room, just a lot more focus on mental health in general. Things like having counsellors within production teams for example. There just aren’t enough check-ins and I think a lot of people in the industry silently suffer because we’re expected to be a certain way and be like machines.  

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