Shared Chichester debut leads to fun on stage in Shrek

Their first professional show together was Oklahoma! at Chichester Festival Theatre five years ago. They then got to work together in the musical Newsies, during which the big news was that they became a couple.
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Now Imogen Bailey and Rory Shafford are on stage together for a third time in Shrek The Musical at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre from February 20-25. Imogen is ensemble and first cover Fiona while Rory is swing and first cover Pinocchio.

As Imogen says: “We both trained together at the Urdang Academy. We started in 2016. We were children really then! But we were really close and we've actually worked quite a lot together. And we both did our first job together which was Oklahoma! at Chichester.

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“Chichester is such an important place for me. I'm originally from Hayling Island, really, really close to Chichester and I grew up watching all the shows at Chichester, especially the big summer musicals and I just felt really, really lucky to be able to make my professional debut in what was basically my hometown. It was really familiar and I even knew some of the staff there. And all my friends and family were able to come and see me. I just felt really, really fortunate.”

Imogen and Rory (contributed pic)Imogen and Rory (contributed pic)
Imogen and Rory (contributed pic)

Rory loved his time at Chichester too: “Chichester was absolutely beautiful and I felt very, very lucky and privileged to work there in that theatre. We just had such a lovely team and the facilities were incredible. And I just remember it being such a beautiful area as well. Plus it was such a fantastic show. I can remember at the time being told by people that I was really lucky to have my first job in Chichester.”

And now they are together again in Shrek. As Rory says: “We started rehearsals back in June and there was a time when we were rehearsing for Shrek during the day and going to Newsies in the evening to perform and because we had to perform on a Sunday as well, we didn't have a day off for four or five weeks. But it was fantastic.

Shrek is wonderful too: “It is just so much fun and again it's a wonderful team and it's great to to tour and to see all the country and to get the different reactions from different audiences. Some audiences are quieter and other venues are a lot more rowdy and a lot louder and join in a lot more.”

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Part of the challenge for Imogen is that she is also cover for Princess Fiona: “Joanne Clifton is amazing in the role and she is so, so perfect for the role. It's such a privilege to be able to cover but also just to watch her doing it. But I've been lucky with the past productions that I've done. As a swing and covering other shows, that was more nerve-racking but I think now you just get the gist of it and I think the key is to be so incredibly over-prepared that you're not panicking if you get to come on.

"We do have a lot of cover rehearsals so the covers have a good recap and run through the show and run through the songs so that if you do get to go on it’s never too long ago that you have actually done it.”

Tickets for Shrek available from the Mayflower.