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Interview with Annette McLaughlin

by Emily Healey-Lynham

Annette McLaughlin is a London-based actress whose musical theatre credits include Pinocchio, Billy Elliot, Matilda, She Loves Me, Chicago, Imagine This, Into the Woods, Tomorrow Morning, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, Anything Goes, High Society, Singin’ in the Rain and many more!

Currently starring in Hackney Empire’s Dick Whittington and His Cat Pantomime we got so speak to Annette McLaughlin about the show and her career……oh yes we did!

How did you get into acting, was there a particular performance you saw that resonated with you?

I loved all the MGM musicals when I was little, and saw 42nd street at Drury Lane which made me dance all the way home!

Where did you train?

London Studio Centre. It was kind of the Brits version of ‘The Kids From Fame’… although I never quite danced on a taxi in the street!

Can you tell us about your current show at Hackney Empire Dick Whittington and His Cat what can people expect from the show?

Our show is full of heart, joy and laughter. We have fantastic songs, hilarious slapstick, an amazing cast led by the cream of the West End. It certainly lives up to the reputation of Hackney Empire being the best panto in London!

What drew you to the role of Queen Rat?

I’ve been a big fan of the Hackney Empire panto for a long time and have always wanted to do it. I get to work with our Writer and Director Susie McKenna and Dame Clive Rowe, who are both utter legends, so I jumped at the chance. And playing the baddie is the best fun!

Why do you think Pantomimes are so popular in British Culture?

I think pantomime is full of our unique bonkers British humour, from the dressing up Dame to the slapstick to the audience participation. We love it. It’s a big tradition for many families, many go every year and hand that tradition down through the generations.

Where has been your favourite place to perform on stage and why?

The Globe, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Studio 54 on Broadway. The Hackney Empire is joining that list now too. It’s beautiful, the Hackney Empire was designed by Frank Matcham and all the greats have passed through its doors….Chaplin, Houdini, Laurel and Hardy, Marie Lloyd.

What has been your favourite role you have played and why?

I think it has to be Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliot. Brilliant part in a phenomenal show.

What is the most rewarding thing about your work?

Well this panto brings a huge amount of joy to young and old, and looking out to that at the end of every show is pretty special.

What’s been a funny moment for you on stage?  Any mishaps you want to share!?

We’re going into an 11 show week so there’s bound to be!!! I’ll keep you posted!

Who are your influences and inspirations?

My pal Liza Minnelli inspires me on a daily basis.

What’s your go to song for auditions or just singing in the shower?

I’ve been singing Ariana Grande’s 7 Rings, and Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy around my flat. I sing a mashup of the two songs in the show. I’m so down with da kidz!

Is there a role (regardless of gender) you would love to play in a show?

Well I can certainly tick off Royal Rat!

Where can people follow your work on social media?

I am @netsymac on both Twitter and Instagram 

Annette McLaughlin performs as Queen Rat in Dick Whittington and His Cat which runs at the Hackney Empire from Saturday 23 November to Sunday 5 January 2020.


  • Emily Healey-Lynham

    Emily has been involved in the media industry for well over 10 years from working on film sets to journalism and PR. Emily is a strategic, energetic Editor who has been with Bespoke since the start heading up the Culture department. Being a fan of all art forms from the theatre to films, literature to exhibitions Emily is usually found in the stalls of a theatre telling you where the cast have been seen before without looking in the programme or fact finding in an art gallery, failing that she will be sipping champagne at the bar regaling stories of "glory days" of the West End!

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