Broadway and West End leading lady Marisha Wallace takes in The Capitol on her debut UK tour which hits Horsham on March 13.
“It was time! I feel like I have finally solidified my name in the West End, and so it was time to do the tour. I have made so many wonderful friends and fans, and it was just time to take this out to the country, out to your town – because not everyone can get down to London.
“My show will be all about inspiring the people who come along. I want people to come along and put down their phones for two hours… and I know that is hard! But I want them to put down their phones and become just completely engrossed in the experience.
“And I want them to come out different. I want them to be inspired or maybe changed. I come from a small town and I have made it, and I want them to think that they can make it too. I want to show the people that they can do it. It is all about the experience together, getting people away from Netflix or whatever and just enjoying sharing something special.
“I am going to do the songs that people know me for and also some tributes to my influences. I want to pay tribute to my hero Aretha Franklin. She has always been somebody that I have looked up to. She came from a small town and so did I. She was singing in choirs and so was I. And I don’t want to be just a singer. I want to be a story-teller and a singer, like she was.”
On Broadway, Marisha has starred in shows including Disney’s Aladdin, The Book of Mormon and Something Rotten and then here, in the UK, as Effie White in the West End hit Dreamgirls.
Following her UK tour, Marisha, who recently returned to her role of Becky in Waitress at London’s Adelphi Theatre, will play force-of-nature Motormouth Maybelle in the West End return of Hairspray alongside Michael Ball.
The UK has now become her home: “I have been here for three years.
“I was brought here because I was doing Dreamgirls at the Savoy. Somebody got sick and they asked me to take over. I had four days to pack up my stuff and come straight here, and I had five days of rehearsals and then I was leading a West End show. I was supposed to leave after a couple of weeks, but I stayed…. I took over the role and then I started Waitress.
“I never intended to stay. Me being here was never in my plans.
“It is the most amazing unplanned blessing. You think you know what is happening, and then life throws you a curve ball. But I do consider it home now.
“I had never come to London before. I have never even come to visit, but for my career it has been incredible. You don’t have many singers like me over here, and the audience has embraced me for that. They had been wanting something different, and I bring something different to the table.
“And every opportunity I could want is here. In London you have got everything you could need. And I just feel like the London audiences are so appreciative. In America we are so spoilt. We get everything. They are not very fazed by anything. But here people are so excited, and I think that’s what makes it so special.”
Youth choirs and musical theatre groups from across Sussex have been given the chance to take to the stage with Marisha in Horsham. They will sing two songs with her including a rendition of This Is Me from the blockbuster movie The Greatest Showman.
“I have invited choirs to join. I used to sing in a choir and I also directed choirs in college. This is such a small thing for me, but it will be such a big thing for them… for them to get to perform on stage with somebody that they love. I just know that someone in the choir that is going to be on stage is going to be a big star one day. And I just think it is so cool that I was there.”