The next interview in our stagey chat series, is with the amazing Ellie Young, who is currently playing Meg Giry in the West End production of Phantom of the Opera. During Ellie's training at The Royal Ballet School, she performed in Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Don Quixote and Romeo & Juliet. She made her professional debut in the International Tour of Cats as Victoria, the White Cat.

Get yourself comfy and join Ellie and I for a chat about all things stagey!

Hi Ellie! How are you? Thank you so much for chatting to Stage to Page today! Would you mind introducing yourself and telling us how you first got into ballet and acting?
Hi! Thank you for having me. 

I’m Ellie and I’m playing Meg in the Phantom of the Opera on the West End.

I started ballet from an early age, just for fun as most little girls do. I can’t say I remember how much I enjoyed it but I clearly did and with encouragement from teachers along the way, I became more and more serious about it.

I ended up attending a fantastic dance and drama school in Liverpool called Chiltern. From there I developed and was put forward for the Royal Ballet Lower School (White Lodge).

Chiltern have been and still are a huge part of my career as a student and a professional. 

You're currently playing Meg Giry in the West End production of Phantom of the Opera. Can you tell us about your character and what initially drew you to the role of Meg?
Meg is the best friend of the shows ingénue, Christine Daaé. Meg is the one who puts Christine forward to sing in front of the opera company, pushing her from the background of the corps de ballet to impress the managers with her ‘gift’. 

Meg is there throughout the story (usually in a place she’s not meant to be) and has a lot of concern for the unpredictability and safety of Christine’s life involving the Phantom and love interest, Raoul. 

I suppose I like playing her because she’s feisty and interesting and I get to be in range of scenes throughout the show.

Is there a certain amount of pressure performing in a show that's so well-loved and iconic in the world of theatre?
I think each performer will always put a certain amount of pressure on themselves to be as good as they can, because they care. We’re all passionate about what we do and take pride in what we produce, regardless of the status of the show. 

One thing I think about from time to time is that so many people have put so much into this production and had their part in developing the roles. We should certainly feel honoured to get to be a part of that legacy and it is important that we continue to respect their years of work. 

Without giving anything away, do you have a favourite song, moment or line of dialogue within the show?
‘Too long you’ve wondered in winter’ 

I love this line. I feel that it says so much about the Phantoms relationship and the involvement he has in Christine’s life. The Phantom is undoubtedly in love with Christine, however, he almost plays a replacement paternal role. 

‘Wishing’ is the most powerful moment in the show for me. It’s a culmination of Christine’s character, vulnerability and strength. She is remembering her father, but I believe it is in that moment, she becomes a woman. 

You attended The Royal Ballet School for your training. What was your time like there? Were there any particular high or low moments?
I have to say, I had huge highs and lows at the Royal Ballet School. I went right through the lower and the upper school, totalling 8 years training there. It’s hard to give an accurate answer without writing a novel but I am always very grateful for the opportunities I had there. It completely changed my life and it is very much a part of who I am today. My time there is responsible for lots of the ‘good and bad’ in me but with hindsight, it was worth it for the friends I made there alone! 

A friend and I were saying just a couple of days ago that it’s an incredibly niche place to say you’ve been to school and something we’re proud of. 

How do you ensure you stay strong and fit enough to perform? Phantom is quite the demanding show!
It is each performers responsibility to remain fit enough to perform to the best of their ability. This involves much more than using the show to keep us in shape.

I would say most of the industry is self sufficient. A lot of discipline goes into the making of performers of such a level and it isn’t really a question that we make sure to do external practice to keep us in the best shape we can. 

Rest is also a very important factor on an 8 show week! 

Regardless of gender and age, which stage role would you choose to play and why?
I have so many roles I would one day love to play. 

Anything showgirl is my go to, but if I’ve learned anything from my less than normal path so far, it’s that the unexpected is usually to be expected! 

I have no idea what I may or may not be capable of or what I’ll come across that I will want to make a goal of mine (as it’s usually whatever musical I go and see and love).

A question I ask every guest on Stagey Chat: my blog is called Stage to Page. But if you could turn any book, from page to stage, what would it be and why?
I’m not sure whether I feel this would translate best in film but I am reading a book at the moment called ‘Shantaram’.

It’s an incredible true story about an Australian man who escapes imprisonment, exiles to the Bombay underworld and gets wrapped up in adventures of love, crime and the holistic living of Indian culture. It’s brilliant and I would highly recommend it. I am a lover of true crime so this book is ideal for me. 

I’ve already told as many people as I can to read it!

I was actually reading it in the train station not long ago and two people (separately) approached me to tell me that they had read it and how brilliant they thought it was. 

And finally, why should anyone reading this book tickets to see Phantom?
I have said this on multiple occasions, but… 

Phantom of the Opera is a musical that has lasted a whopping 35 years on the West End. I would say the proof is in the pudding in that stat alone. 

It was created by all the greats including Andrew Lloyd Webber, Gillian Lynne, Hal Prince, Charles Hart, Maria Bjornsen, the list could go on and on. These people are the top of their game in their fields and for such a collection of specialised talent to be in one musical, it is worth the trip! 

Thank you so much for chatting to us, Ellie. You can catch Ellie in Phantom, here.


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