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Issac Hesketh

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

Along with Courtney, Isaac is a cast member of The Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s production of “Legally Blonde”, playing Margot. Given that Isaac is the first non-binary performer to play the role professionally, it’s fair to say that they’re a trailblazer. However, that inevitably comes with the backlash often experienced by those at the forefront of social progress. We spoke about their time on the show and the direction they hope to see the musical theatre industry take going forward.

As much as we all love a rehearsal process, I’m sure you’re glad performances for “Legally Blonde” are now fully underway. What was the biggest challenge you faced during rehearsals?

The biggest challenge during rehearsals was, honestly just trying to stay positive and stay in the mindset of the show with the brilliant cast that I have, whilst dealing with a fair bit of online hate. It was mainly just comments on twitter, there was a news article written about me which was really positive, but then it got dragged all over Facebook.

Was there anything that you specifically did to try and block that out during rehearsals?

Not me personally, but without my cast I would not have dealt with it as well as I did, they were just incredible. It’s a really small cast and I don’t know how we’re on week 9 and no-one’s fallen out, everyone still loves each other, it’s just insane. 

While there’s still a long way to go, it’s incredible to see yourself and other non-binary performers finally being cast in high profile musical theatre productions, and not only in roles which showcase your talent and craft but also in roles that allow you to stay true to your gender identity. How has it been to be a part of that?

I mean, aside from the online hate, absolutely fucking incredible. I did an am dram production of “Legally Blonde” when I was 17 and I played Warner, and whilst I was doing the show, I was always watching the other side of the show and being like, that’s the side of the show I wish I was in. Obviously, I hadn’t really discovered myself as a person yet, so I was just kind of like, okay this is the role I’m playing, it’ll either be this or Emmett or one of the other male characters and it’s so nice to finally have found myself and come out and finally be in the side of the show that I was always so in love with. It’s the part of the show that when I listen to the soundtrack I go, oh my god I love these songs, specifically Margot as well. 

Although it looks like a lot of fun, Legally Blonde must be one of the most demanding musicals for a cast to rehearse and then perform multiple times a week. How have you coped with the workload that inevitably comes with a show like that?

So…I don’t practice at home.

Love that for you.

And that’s a really bad piece of advice to give people, but I don’t work well if I work outside of work because my brain overloads and then I start to fuck things up, so I literally just have to process everything. I mean Lucy (Moss)’s direction is incredible, Ellen (Kane)’s choreography is insane, the music direction’s brilliant, but at the same time Lucy’s direction is a heightened version of the show and Ellen’s choreography is like choreography I’ve never seen before, it’s so intricate and so detailed and it's the type of choreography you should go home and practice, but it’s not the type of choreography that you can because you’re so tired from taking it in. I just dealt with the workload by chilling out after work, taking it all in, working really hard during work hours and then going home and letting it go in by the next day. 

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

I feel like we’re going down the right route in terms of changes in casting and people are taking more risks with different kinds of people that they want to cast in roles that aren’t necessarily “written for them”. I want to see change on teams, I want to see change in directors, I want to see diversity throughout the whole process, not just the faces that people see on stage. I want to see ASMs, DSMs, stage management of all different backgrounds, shapes, sizes, races, genders. I feel the change is happening to our faces but sometimes not behind closed doors. Change needs to come through all departments. Also, people don’t understand that so much of the casts’ well-being comes from the rest of the team. If the team isn’t reflecting the cast, it’s hard to have people to relate to. When that is the case, there’s no worries that there are going to be microaggressions made or that people are going to be misgendered. There’s so much ease that comes with diversity throughout the whole team that makes you go, “I feel like I can breathe''. 

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