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Former Norfolk schoolgirl Harriet Bunton hits the West End

PUBLISHED: 11:29 12 February 2018 | UPDATED: 11:29 12 February 2018

Norfolk actress Harriet Bunton (photo: supplied by Mamma Mia!)

Norfolk actress Harriet Bunton (photo: supplied by Mamma Mia!)

supplied by Mamma Mia!

As she prepares for another performance of hit show Mamma Mia! in London’s West End, former Norfolk schoolgirl Harriet Bunton tells Rachel Buller how it all began in her mum’s front room

As a little girl Harriet Bunton loved nothing more than putting on song and dance performances for her family.

Now, 20 years on, she has swapped her mum’s living room in Norfolk for the West End stage and has performed in a string of hit shows – including Mamma Mia!, which she is currently starring in at London’s Novello Theatre

“It is a dream job. I have always loved Abba and had the CD for my karaoke machine when I was a little girl. Although it is cheesy pop, they are great songs with incredible lyrics which really resonate. People come to the theatre for a good time and also for a great story they can relate to – and Mamma Mia! brings together those two things. Plus you get to have a dance.”

Harriet grew up in Horstead and was a pupil at Coltishall Primary School and Thorpe House School, but it was at Norwich’s Central School of Dancing and Performing Arts that she began to hone her performance skills.

Norfolk actress Harriet Bunton (left) is currently starring in Mamma Mia! at the Novello Theatre in London (photo: Brinkhoff/Moegenburg) Norfolk actress Harriet Bunton (left) is currently starring in Mamma Mia! at the Novello Theatre in London (photo: Brinkhoff/Moegenburg)

“Mum always said performing was in my blood. When I was two years old I was always dancing to music and I never stopped. Mum enrolled me for dance classes when I was about five and I did a lot of competitions and performances around the country which always gives you a sense of where you are in terms of progress and ability.

“When I turned 16 I decided I really wanted to do this as a career and I won a place to train in musical theatre at Laine Theatre Arts in Surrey. It was a big step at 16 and looking back now I was incredibly young to move away from home. But it makes you grow up quickly and definitely makes you stronger, which is so important in this industry.”

When she was 19, Harriet won a breakthrough role in We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre in the West End.

“The day before I graduated I got offered the role in We Will Rock You. It was absolutely amazing. My first night was one of those ‘pinch me’ moments. After all those years working to be on that stage, I had finally got there and after all those years driving me to dance classes, buying leotards and costumes, it was great for my mum to see that it was all worthwhile.”

Harriet, who will be in Mamma Mia! until June, has gone on to win roles in a wide range of productions including the Rocky Horror Show and the Kinks musical Sunny Afternoon. She also starred in last year’s Norwich Theatre Royal Pantomime and was back in Norfolk at Christmas to see this year’s production.

“For me the panto in Norfolk is Christmas and I was really jealous when I went this year because I know how much fun it is.”

And what advice would she have for youngsters thinking of pursuing a career on the stage?

“You have no choice but to toughen up and believe in yourself – oh, and be very kind to your parents!”

For more details about Mamma Mia! including ticket prices and how to book, visit www.mamma-mia.com

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