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Interview with Kim Ismay

by Emily Healey-Lynham

Kim Ismay is an actress and singer and is currently appearing as Madame Morrible in the London production of WICKED at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, following on from the very successful UK and International Tours. She spent a record 7 years starring as Tanya in Mamma Mia!  We got some time to speak with Kim about Wicked, her inspirations and falling flat on her back in a sea of dry ice!

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

I’ve always known it was what I wanted to do… I loved going to the ballet and to pantos when I was little, but the first time I saw a musical I thought “aha yes that’s it.” 

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

I’ve been really lucky in that I’ve loved nearly every role I’ve played… Obviously, Tanya in “Mamma Mia!” was very special to me, as is Madame Morrible, but another all-time favourite was Mona Kent in “Dames at Sea” which is a hilarious pastiche of all the old screen musicals.

Can you tell us about your current show (Wicked) what drew you to the role? 

I saw Wicked on Broadway shortly after it first opened, and was absolutely blown away… I was convinced that eventually I would play Morrible. She’s such a wonderfully terrible person. 

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

Fickle again….. although all of us have a few favourite standards in our music folders! As I’ve been doing this for so long, I don’t always have to sing my own choice song at my first audition/ casting any more, as I’ll be sent the show song/material and script. I do have a few I love though and I try to ensure the style of song I choose really fits the show I’m up for. I get earworms that I completely obsess over singing round the house…. currently “Six” from (obviously) “Six” and “You Can’t Stop The Beat” from “Hairspray” as they’re on my exercise playlist. 

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

Definitely Mama Rose in “Gypsy”, Mona Kent again in “Dames at Sea”, and I quite fancy Miss Hannigan in “Annie”. Oh….and Shirley Valentine. 

Where can people follow your work on socials like Twitter/Instagram etc? 

Come and say hello via @kimismay on both Twitter and Instagram, or drop me an email via my website www.kimismay.com.

See Kim in www.wickedthemusical.co.uk playing at The Apollo Victoria Theatre.

What can you tell us about your character Madame Morrible – is it fun to play someone nasty? 

She’s a total psychopath and sociopath! She only cares that she gets what she wants and that things work out her way, and if she has to destroy and kill to get it, it doesn’t bother her in the slightest. It’s great fun playing horrible people, and maybe not letting the audience know how dreadful they are straight away…. letting her full true evil be a bit of a shock. 

How do you think Wicked inspires people and what do you want them to take away from the show?

Wicked is really all about love and friendship and has such strong tolerance/anti-bullying/anti-racism messages… I think if it makes one person more aware about how they treat others, then that’s brilliant. The show works on so many levels; politically and historically of course, and kindness and tolerance, but also it’s a wonderful and inspiring spectacle and the music is sensational. 

What is your favourite number in the show? 

I’m too fickle to choose one! I go through phases of having different favourites… “Defying Gravity” is of course amazing, but I also love “The Wizard and I”. Oh and “No Good Deed”. Told you I was fickle. 

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

Hmm that’s a tricky one as I’ve loved different places for different reasons. The Palladium, The Old Vic and the main stage at Stratford upon Avon for their history and to know whose feet trod there before you; Shakespeare’s Globe because it’s so extraordinary, and I love all the regional theatres I’ve played that bring affordable live performances to inspire new audiences. 

What is the most rewarding thing about your work? 

I love the fact that I get to earn my living doing the thing I like best. And sometimes we can make people forget their problems for an hour or two, or inspire them in some way, or just ensure they have a fab night out. 

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

I’m pretty clumsy, so there are plenty of mishaps…. My best one was falling flat on my back in a sea of dry ice so only my legs in the air were visible, but if I start listing them ALL we’ll be here all day!! 

Who are your influences and inspirations? 

Again, too many to mention… My mother was incredibly supportive and inspirational, and every day, every cast, every job, you learn something from everyone around you – the day you think you have nothing left to learn, or that you can’t improve yourself in some way, that’s the day you should stop because you’ll be wrong! 

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