After revealing why her costumes are ‘a blessing and a curse’ in part one of our interview, here London’s Carlotta Wendy Ferguson answers a selection of your questions – from vocal training to her thoughts on Carlotta’s relationship with Ubaldo Piangi…
Jordan: Have you had any close calls with the backdrop that falls close to you in the Hannibal scene?
Our Stage Managers are phenomenal – I put my life in their hands every night. I’ve never had that cloth fall anywhere near me, they will not let that cloth fall unless I am past a specific site, so while we try our best to make it look as dangerous as possible and I like to keep it on that edge to keep the danger there, I absolutely believe I’m in safe hands and I’m not going to get hurt and noone else onstage is going to get hurt.
Anéa: Copenhagen’s Carlotta was asked about the relationship with Ubaldo Piangi. Her Carlotta viewed Piangi as more of a faithful puppy than a lover or husband. How do you interpret your relationship with him?
I don’t want to give too much away about our relationship – there are many different ways to look at it. Perhaps we’re lovers; perhaps we’re just performers who get a little bit too passionate at times. If you look throughout the show, we do put in other little innuendos, so to speak, with other characters – for instance, my Carlotta has a bit of a roving eye for the Slave Master in Hannibal, if you pay very close attention, you might see that. Ubaldo has a bit of a wondering eye for some of the chorus girls. So I think it’s quite an open relationship shall we say – but I’ll say no more!
Emily: What was your first reaction when you saw Phantom for the first time as an audience member?
I remember it vividly. I think it was 1998; Phantom was on a tour and growing up in Northern Ireland we didn’t get much theatre in that part of the world, particularly in the 1980’s. So my Mum and I travelled to Dublin for a little getaway when I was at college, and she surprised me with tickets to see The Phantom of the Opera. It was at The Point depot in Dublin, which was a vast arena. And I still, to this day, remember pretty much the whole show. There’s actually one lady who’s in the Corps De Ballet who was in that production back in that touring cast. It’s one of those special memories you keep with you – it’s a beautiful show, beautiful music, beautiful acting. Everything was just perfect and it stayed with me for a very long time.
Susan: When did you decide that you wanted to pursue this as a career?
I made the decision to become a singer when I was a child. I started singing lessons at 5 years old, and I came to London to study classical music, and when I finished my course – I did a degree and my masters – I thought, “oh, I don’t know if I actually want to become an opera singer.” So I took a little break, thinking I’d just wait, and then a friend of mine saw in one of the industry newspapers that Phantom of the Opera was doing an open audition and she asked me to come along to keep her company – and I’m very glad I did, because that’s when I joined this show. Phantom has absolutely turned my life around. I’ve discovered a whole love for musical theatre, my career has grown from that one point when my friend asked me to keep her company.
Rachel: Have you ever actually lost your voice onstage or been close to it?
Never onstage! Beforehand, perhaps. Like everyone else in the Company, if my voice is at all shaky, if I’ve got a cold – we have to be so careful because we’re doing long contracts – the last thing I would want to would be to go onstage and not be able to perform, that would just be heartbreaking and not just for me, but for the audience as well, because I would feel like I was letting people down. So if I do have a bit of a problem, a sore throat or colds – which as Carlotta says, are terrible diseases – it’s best not to come into the building. We don’t like to pass germs around, so if I’m sick, or not able to perform, I won’t be here.
Erin: What’s the weirdest Phantom-related paraphernalia you’ve seen or been asked to sign?
One Christmas at Stage Door, I was left a gift of The Phantom of the Opera jigsaw. I still have The Phantom of the Opera jigsaw, but I have never tried to put it together… I think that’s possibly the strangest.
Michaela: What advice do you have for someone whose dream it is to perform in Phantom?
First of all – absolute dedication to what you’re going to be training to do. Phantom is not a show that you can do lightly. It’s tough work, you have to be professional, you have to be driven, and you have to have that real fire in your belly to become a performer. It’s fine to think that it’s the glamorous, fabulous show that you see onstage, but it’s quite a slog getting to that situation. I 100% believe that you should go and get your training and really get to as good as you can possibly be before you go out there. Lots of people do ask about advice with training, or should you just break into your career. As a singer, I believe that your voice develops the older you get, it gets stronger, so I think work and train as hard as you possibly can and then you’ll be at a position when your voice won’t give up on you and hopefully you can have a long career.