Award-winning Caroline Sheen is one of the most popular stars of the stage, after performing in the titular role of Mary Poppins throughout a tour of the USA and Britain. With a whole host of other theatre credits, as well as a string of brilliant TV roles, she's now starring in the BBC's Pitching In. We spoke to Sheen all about that show, as well as taking over the role of Violet Newstead in 9 To 5 The Musical, and more!
What can you tell us about your new show Pitching In, and the character you play?
Pitching In is a new comedy drama set in a caravan park. Larry Lamb is the recently widowed owner of the park who is contemplating selling up and his plans get put on hold because his daughter Carys (Sheen's character) moves back home with her son and decides she will help him run it. You meet some of the residents and holiday makers on the park and some of the locals who help run it and are part of the community.
You star opposite Larry Lamb in the series; what has he been like to work with?
Larry is quite possibly the most calm person I’ve worked with. Which was great for me as I was quite nervous because this is my first leading role on a tv show. He was very helpful and so easy to work with. I’m really pleased with the chemistry we have on screen. It’s a very real portrayal of a father and daughter. Frank and Carys love each other and irritate each other in equal measure!
The show's set and filmed in North Wales; what was it like to have North Wales as a backdrop? It's not a place we see often on TV!
It’s about time isn’t it? North Wales has some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen and has the spectacular background of the Snowdonia National Park in places too. The people were so welcoming to us all and I have a good few opportunities to practise my welsh as I’m trying to learn!
You're also playing Violet Newstead in 9 to 5 The Musical; what's that whole experience like?
I stepped into 9 to 5 in their final week of rehearsal as Louise Redknapp was injured. Barring having a baby it was probably the most crazy two months of my life. But in the midst of the insanity I found a character that I loved playing, alongside some incredible talent and I had an absolute blast.
How different are the worlds of theatre and filming for television; do you have a favourite?
Pitching In has been my first experience of being an integral part of a tv show so that was a great learning curve for me. Working with a camera instead of an auditorium full of audience members is very different.
I think live theatre will always be my favourite as it’s such a great adrenalin rush but I’m genuinely happy doing either to be honest.
You've been a part of many shows on both the stage and on television in the past; what have been some of your favourite career highlights?
I’ve been incredibly lucky. I’ve played a lot of my dream roles onstage including Eponine in Les Miserables, Sandy in Grease and Mary Poppins. I performed Mary across the United States in tour and met Michelle Obama when we performed in DC. The whole tour was a really amazing experience. This last six months has also been a highlight with filming Pitching In and also doing 9 to 5. This acting malarkey can be so awful when you’re waiting for the next job, but also just amazing when you have a streak of luck.
Which shows would you love to be a part of in the future that you've not yet had the chance to join?
Who knows? I love the new writing that is happening in musical theatre and I know we’re all hoping to do a second series of Pitching In. In the meantime it’s back to auditioning and concert work.
What would you say have been some of the biggest challenges you've faced in your career to-date?
Since having my daughter the biggest challenge has been trying to keep a career afloat when a lot of people in this industry just assume that now I’m a Mum I’ve given up. I’ve enjoyed having a great run of work lately and I hope it continues and that I can find a good work life balance. That’s the dream right?!
Finally, what advice do you have for those who may be struggling in carving a name out for themselves in this industry?
I would say keep at it. Keep learning, keep watching, keep listening. It’s one of those jobs that you can never perfect and that’s half the fun, you are always striving to do it better. And, have something else you can do to make money while you’re waiting for the phone to ring. Or make the work for yourself, get writing or producing and creating. You’ll probably make more money that way!
Pitching In is available now on BBC iPlayer. Check it out by clicking here.