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Zoe Birkett - interview

Currently starring in The Bodyguard, the sensational singer and actress alike, Zoe Birkett is leading as Rachel Marron for several venues on the UK tour. With Frank Farmer hired to protect the global celebrity, Rachel and her family are up against increasing threats from a mysterious stalker. To the soundtrack of Whitney Houston's biggest hits, enjoy some killer vocals to remember.

Find my full show review here:

Having been lucky enough to speak to Zoe about her experience, read on to find out why this production is important to her, and what her expansive career has taught her over the years.


What made you want to be in the cast of The Bodyguard, and what does the show mean to you?

It’s been such an honour to be asked to return as Rachel Marron after playing the role back in 2015, so to have this time with a brand new cast, I’m a little bit older, I’m a different actress and vocalist, and I’m a mother now as well. I’m able to bring all of my emotions into this role playing it now 8-years down the line.

How have you prepared to sing some of Whitney Houston's biggest hits, and how do you honour her while putting your own spin on the tracks?

I’ve been the biggest Whitney Houston fan since I’ve been young. I sang Whitney songs pretty much every week on Pop Idol back in 2002, so my voice has already been able to have the stamina and range to deliver these songs. But everyday we have to make sure I’m vocally healthy with singing lessons, and I’m fit as can be with fitness training, making sure my stamina is at the top of its game, and making sure I’m as healthy as possible.

After playing the leading role previously, how has this influenced the part for you, and will you approach it any differently this time?  

I’m approaching the role differently this time because I’m a mother and I play a mother within the show – Rachel has a son called Fletcher. Back when I played it previously, I was a lot younger and didn’t have a child, so now when I’m reading the script, I’m able to feel much more emotion and connect with the character.

How have you developed a chemistry with your on-stage partner, and how does this relationship appear authentic to audiences?

I get on really well with our Frank Farmer, Ayden Callaghan. I’ve only been rehearsing with him for the last two weeks, but we’ve very quickly found a fantastic chemistry. He’s a great actor as well, so we’ve spent time developing our characters together and making sure they blend correctly for the chemistry that’s needed.

Being based on the internationally renowned film, how does the show satisfy fans of this, as well as bring a fresh musical experience?

I do have some younger fans and followers who have never seen the film but are a follower of me and just love the show as a musical. But I also think if you’re a hardcore Bodyguard film fan you’ll enjoy the full experience live on stage. We bring so much of the film to the piece, but then bring it to life with the full Whitney back catalogue.

If you could ask Whitney Houston one thing, what would it be and why?

If I could ask her one thing it would definitely be, ‘how did you sustain such an incredible career over those years’. But more than anything I think I’d just want to say, ‘thank you’. As a hardcore Whitney fan, she’s been my whole life, and the main reason I wanted to sing growing up.

Having starred in such a range of shows, how has your style evolved over time, and are there any concepts that particularly draw you in?

My style of shows have changed over the years. A lot of people know me for doing many different fun big musicals like Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Thriller Live. I was part of the original cast of Moulin Rouge in the West End, and I’m about to go into Roald Dahl’s The Witches at The National Theatre, straight after The Bodyguard. I like things to be different and to personally challenge myself. I recently did The Great British Bake Off musical and I wasn’t singing at all, I was one of the main presenters so that was a challenge for me and a different avenue to tap into. Heading back into The Bodyguard is a massive challenge having not done the show in so long!

How have your Pop Idol origins influenced your stage career and what have you learned throughout your journey to now?

I wouldn’t say my Pop Idol origins have influenced by stage career as such, I always have seen it as a stepping stone. It was an audition, and goodness me I’ve done thousands of auditions over the last 20 years. I’ve learnt a lot on the path from being a pop star to a credible West End leading lady within the industry. To be able to continue to have a successful career over 20 years has been my main journey. It hasn’t always been smooth riding but each time I’ve picked myself up and learnt to change and grow.

What advice would you give your younger self, or those aspiring to be in the arts industry?

My advice is to just keep learning and keep growing. You can never stop learning. Styles are changing all of the time, especially with the online presence, which is a big moment within the industry. I think the moment you stop learning, growing, and thinking you’re the best is the moment you’re not. Always continue to keep your eyes open and continue to train.

Who inspires you and why?

I’ve got many, both male and female. But I always look up to people like Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce. The Netflix documentary that Jennifer Lopez did was fantastic just to get an insight into her life, how she’s always hustled from the very beginning. She’s not won any major awards for the films she’s done, but still she continues to strive and push herself and that’s important. People have an idea of success, thinking there’s got to be a timeline on it, but there’s not in this industry. She’s in her 50s and still grafting away and reaching her dreams as a mother of two.


Huge thank you to Zoe for giving your time to answer these questions, it means so much. Keep smashing it with your phenomenal work, and wishing you all the best for everything to come.

On a personal note, I've admired Zoe since I first saw her on stage, and now as one of my favourite performers, it is an absolute joy to have had the privilege of interviewing her.

Get your tickets to The Bodyguard here:

Additional thanks to Daniel O'Carroll for coordinating this interview.


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