Harriette Mullen Reflects on Her Experience with Cilla the Musical

21 June, 2019

BIMM Brighton Vocal graduate Harriette Mullen has been enjoying life on the road since completing a BA (Hons) Professional Musicianship Degree. The performer recently concluded a UK tour playing Rose Willis in the hit stage production, ‘Cilla The Musical’. We caught up with her about the experience, her next venture and her upcoming charity show.

Cilla The Musical

Can you tell us what it’s been like being a part of Cilla The Musical on the road?

It’s been a wonderfully fulfilling, tiring, crazy, rewarding, challenging, grilling, incredible and memorable rollercoaster of a ride! Some of you are living together, working together and socialising together, so you become like a big family. There’s always someone there for an interval chat or cup of tea. Each venue completely varies and so every soundcheck is different, so there’s lots of learning where to go for quick changes, wig changes, what the acoustics are like in the venue, how many seats the theatre holds (and where the sweet box is!).

Visiting a different city every week is exciting too – it really gives you a chance to explore the country and its beautiful theatres. It’s an absolute privilege to perform in some of the UK’s most prestigious theatres; the Leeds Grand has to be one of my favourites.

Two female students sitting together on stage

How has being part of the show affected you as a performer?

Hugely! With each run you are constantly learning something new; you get stronger (in so many ways), you explore new accents (I had to learn Liverpudlian & Southern Irish), you face new challenges like dance routines and new characters to inhabit. My voice is always being stretched and challenged and being on tour also taught me about stamina. Eight shows a week is so demanding, so I would say it’s taught me how to look after my voice. Vocal rest on days off are crucial (although for a chatterbox like me, this can be very difficult!)

A huge highlight for me was getting to play the leading role of Cilla a number of times. It was honestly a dream come true. The 19 songs were demanding, but so incredibly rewarding. The first time I ever went on as Cilla was a Saturday in Hull. It was one of the best days of my life; there was so much support from my cast, my family, my friends, my agent and Cilla’s family. So far, it’s been the biggest highlight of my career. I gave the role everything I had and loved it all; the songs, the quick changes, the scenes, the monologues and the bows.

When I wasn’t playing Cilla, I was playing her sister-in-law Rose Willis. Another highlight for me would have to be meeting the real life Rose Willis and hearing incredibly heart-warming stories about her, her husband and their family. I couldn’t believe the woman I was playing on stage was there in the audience when we visited New Brighton. It was an absolute honour to both meet her and tell her story.

Harriette Mullen in the dressing room

You’ll soon be putting on a show of your own, ‘One Night Only’. What can we expect from the show? 

On July 6th, I’ll be returning to my favourite stage after 7 years for an evening of iconic songs and original vocal arrangements. ‘One Night Only’ at Cheltenham Playhouse promises to be an exciting night celebrating some of the stage and screen’s most well-loved songs, with guest performances from some of the West End’s biggest stars and Theatre Studio students; all accompanied by a live band made up of professional musicians. I have fellow BIMM Alumnus Jordan Bradley joining me, as a very special guest and pianist in my band.

We’ll be performing together, including a song he wrote for me for our first ever Live & Lyrical show back in 2012! I also have the incredible Kara Lily Hayworth joining me, who starred as Cilla in the UK Tour – I can’t wait to duet with her!

My band are very special too – the last time I performed with my guitarist and drummer was over 10 years ago when we were growing up and I was dreaming of doing the job I do now.

I’m beyond excited (and very nervous) for the concert! It’s for an absolutely phenomenal cause and lots of my favourite people will be there!

Proceeds from the night will be going towards the Grand Appeal at Bristol Children’s hospital. Can you tell us a little about this great cause?

As a big sister, the oldest granddaughter, a friend, an actress and a teacher, I have been surrounded by children my whole life. I absolutely adore caring for, inspiring and working with our brilliant younger generation. The idea of any child in the world being affected by an illness or a condition breaks my heart.

Young lives are so precious and everyone deserves the chance to live a long, healthy life. Bristol Children’s Hospital & The Grand Appeal work tirelessly for young children and their families – from pioneering research, innovative and life-saving equipment to crucial family accommodation and specialist support staff – to acting as a lifeline enabling families to cope with what lies ahead, whatever the outcome.

This event hopes to raise money to help the ongoing incredible work that The Grand Appeal does for brave young children and their families.

What plans do you have in place after the event?

Next month I will be starting rehearsals for ‘BOOGIE NIGHTS – THE 70s MUSICAL‘ – playing the lead role; ‘DEBS’. The show will run Upstairs at The Gate House in London throughout August. The soundtrack alone is incredible and it’s a really fantastic, yet challenging role to play.

And then straight after that, I’ll be going into a very exciting new musical (unfortunately I can’t say what yet – sorry I hate to be that person!), which I am over the moon to be a part of! I’m really looking forward to the rest of 2019.

BIMM is incredibly pleased to see Harriet’s singing and acting career going so well. We wish her the very best of luck for the next run of shows and look forward to watching her performance career develop.

If you’re interested in starting your career in music performance at BIMM Brighton, like Harriet did, you can Apply Here. Alternatively, if you’re interested in paying a visit to one of our campuses to see our facilities in person, why not book yourself onto one of our Open Days?


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