Zoe Ann Bown is an actor who first appeared on my radar when I saw the recent tour of The Sound of Music last year. I was delighted by Zoe’s performance, she stood out for me for all the best reasons. I was so excited to discover that she had moved on to play the role of Mrs Meeker in Funny Girl. It’s another fantastic role for her and the show is sensational.
Thank you so much for talking to Break A Leg, Zoe, tell me about Funny Girl – how has your experience been so far?
It’s lovely, I hope it comes across to you all how much we’re enjoying it, it’s so much fun. Every performance is the same in that we get a standing ovation at the end whether we have Sheridan or whether we have Natasha in the cast. So that’s wonderful and we have a lovely time in between, too.
How familiar were you with the show before you took the role?
I had seen it in the West End, I saw Natasha and two of my friends were playing Mrs Meeker and Mrs Strakosh. I thought oh yes I think I could play one of those parts. Low and behold when I came out of The Sound of Music there was an audition to play one of them.
Have you got a favourite scene or a favourite musical number in the show?
I love the mirror ballet and the song that leads into it, The Music That Makes Me Dance – it’s so moving and then we get to do something that isn’t straight acting, we’re being memories and the rest of the way through we’ve been real characters. Of course, there’s also the fabulous ensemble doing their tapping en pointe, I enjoy watching that every performance.
Going back to The Sound of Music, can you describe your experience on that show for me?
It’s one of my favourite shows and I was taken to see Julie Andrews in the movie when I was a little girl. I’ve done the show a number of times now but each time I get to play a different Nun and Sister Margaretta is definitely my favourite Nun. In my interpretation, she’s totally on Maria’s side without reservations. Sister Margaretta is like everyone’s favourite granny! She just loves Maria and probably every other novice too.
What do you think has been your most challenging role to date?
I did a fringe play where I played a large role in a play called How To Build A Better Tulip, I was in nearly every scene so I didn’t have a moment because I was straight back on again. That is certainly quite challenging.
What led you into a performing career?
I always wanted to be an actress right from when I was a little girl, but I thought that everybody in the world wanted to be an actor so I didn’t really do anything about it, I barely did the school play. I was quite shy as well. I went to University and studied English and Drama but I didn’t intend at that point to become an actress. I took a year off after University and joined an am dram group and one of the directors said “you should be an actress, why don’t you just do it” and the penny dropped, I decided that was exactly what I was going to do and I went to drama school. I have never regretted my decision at all.
When I ask the advice of actors for any budding performers they always say do it if you can’t imagine yourself doing anything else, would you say the same?
I totally endorse that, I always said that if I found anything else I enjoyed doing more I would go like a shot, but I never have and to be honest I’ve never looked.
Finally, what would you say to encourage people to come along and see Funny Girl?
You will have an absolutely fabulous time, if you’ve seen the movie you’ll love it because it’s the story you know and the songs you know and if you haven’t seen the movie you’ll know the songs anyway! It’s a theatre story isn’t it, a showbiz story showing the sadness behind the scenes. It’s a beautiful production too, visually it’s stunning.
Huge thanks to Zoe for her time, wishing her and the rest of the Funny Girl team all the best with their final stops on the tour.