Doncaster musical theatre star Rachael Wooding, currently playing one of the lead roles in We Will Rock You in the West End, has a lot to thank her mum for.
Rachael, aged 34, is from Harlington in Doncaster and was a bit of a shy youngster, so her mum Angela packed her off to dance classes.
She said: “I was quite shy and my mum wanted me to be more outgoing. It was the best thing she ever did.
“I found that I felt comfortable at doing that sort of thing.”
Rachael is currently playing the cynical Scaramouche, the electric guitar-playing love interest of lead character Galileo, in the hit musical on her second stint in the show running for its 11th year at the Dominion Theatre.
As a youngster, Rachael joined South Yorkshire Musical Society, with her first role in The Sound of Music before becoming a regular with the group.
When she heard that the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield was auditioning for The Sound of Music, she landed the role of Louisa. “Then I definitely had the bug,” she added.
That break led on to another role as the lead in musical Made in Sheffield at the Crucible. Rachael said: “They asked me to audition and got the leading lady in that. That was it, I just loved it then!”
After school, Rachael left Harlington for Bird College in London and in her final year auditioned for a role in Cats in Germany.
She said: “That was an open call, which made me realise for the first time just how many people I’d be up against.”
She played Rumpelteaser, Demeter and Bombalurina in Hamburg, then spent another year in Germany in Starlight Express.
Her first role on her return to London was playing Serena in Fame at the Aldwych.
She returned later to Sheffield to appear in A Chorus Line at the Crucible, which she describes as “an amazing show”, but has spent most of her time on the West End stage or touring.
Rachael says: “When I was a lot younger I was very ambitious, I wanted to do new shows and keep going.”
She returned to We Will Rock You last year after a stint in Jersey Boys. She played Meat Loaf and covered Scaramouche in 2006 for a year. She said her return felt like going home, especially as Oliver Tompsett, who plays Galileo, is an old friend. It’s the first time they’ve actually worked together.
Rachael said: “The role of Meat Loaf was perfect for me back then. Scaramouche is a different thing and this part is right for me now.
“Now I want to stand still and sing and slag people off!
“Everybody brings something different to each role they do. I’m chuffed the producers saw me in that light. They just see you in that part.”
Her contract runs until October and she’s keeping her options open after that.
Rachael said: “I know that a lot of people are quite pushy, very driven and know what they want. I think a lot of my career just happened.
“I was quite lucky and things just fell into place, although there has been a lot of hard work as well.
“I’ve started to slow down now for the last two years. I’d rather go for specific parts so I’ve slowed down for the right reasons. I wanted to do different things.”
One of those different things was making her debut as Mandy in Coronation Street. She also played Ida Barlow and Rita Fairclough in the spin-off musical, Street of Dreams, in Manchester.
Her close-knit Harlington family have always been right there behind Rachael.
Dad Roy is a photographer and mum Angela co-runs Twins Salon in the town with her sister Pam.
Rachael has fond memories of her childhood, with her mum and aunt taking turns running the salon and looking after Rachael and her cousin Sarah. The girls were born only eight weeks apart.
She said: “My mum and dad love me to bits and they’re so supportive. That’s part of why I’ve done so well. They will come and watch ten times in a week. They want to come.”
n For tickets to We Will Rock You, go to www.wewillrockyou.co.uk