Actress Ricky Butt’s stage credits include Betty Blue Eyes, Oliver, Blood Brothers, Les Miserables and most recently the role of Rosie in the smash hit Mamma Mia! I was fortunate enough to talk to Ricky all about how she is adjusting to a life in lockdown and her hopes for the theatre industry looking to the future.
First of all, how are you feeling about the whole situation?
I am feeling pretty chilled out. It is an extraordinary experience when you think of it. The whole world has stopped. We are being forced to reflect on our lives, what we need and ultimately what is necessary and important in our lives. Maybe what we thought was intolerable to live without, really isn’t! I am enjoying time with my family and not feeling guilty about sitting around and twiddling my thumbs. However, I do miss the show and my Mamma Mia! family.
How have you been keeping yourself occupied during the lockdown?
I have been trying to have a very light routine. I get up and walk my dog, I try and do some mediation and yoga. As a family, we have been cooking every day, baking and great meals. We have completed jigsaw puzzles and caught up on some great films and TV series. Lots of zoom meetings and FaceTime calls with family and friends.
What are you most looking forward to doing once the lockdown is over?
I am really looking forward to the theatres opening again, but that may be some way off yet. I would like a trip to the seaside. I would like to go and have a pint at my favourite pub with good friends. Having a really nice meal at a restaurant will seem like an unbelievable treat. Maybe a trip abroad.
Is there anything we, as theatre fans, can do to help the arts industry in these trying times?
If there are any on line streaming services showing past productions, watch and retweet and support with encouragement and reviews. As soon as the embargo lifts, try, if budgets allow, to book tickets and get back to the theatres ASAP. Try to encourage just one person who has never been to take the first step and support their local theatre.
What is your favourite thing about the theatre industry as a whole?
The theatre has provided me with such a rich and varied life. It is a world full of people who are usually full of fun and laughter. It is never boring, even at times like these! I love that it can provide so many different things, whether it is frivolous fun and escape from drudgery, or shines a light on issues that are of national importance. There can bring people joy and understanding.
Mamma Mia recently celebrated its 21st anniversary, why do you think it has such a big appeal and fan base?
For a start, the music is phenomenal. ABBA has been a part of our lives for decades and people’s love their songbook started the ball rolling. But the show too has heart, real heart and soul. It’s female led too; great female leads and role models. A bit of magic was formed with the play and the music and Judy Craymer’s crazy idea and here we are with a fabulous show that we all enjoy working on. The audiences just love it because we, the company, love it and it shows!
With the theatres closed and so much being moved online, do you think we are seeing a big change in how the industry works?
I do think that there will be a change. What that will be I can’t predict, but I think that all aspects of life are going to shift after this extraordinary experience. I do think that people need to be with other people though and that the live experience can’t ever be bettered by watching on screens, so the theatre will continue in some way or another.
How have you been managing day to day life in quarantine? Do you have a routine, or do you just go with the flow?
Well, without being tested, my family all seem to have had some symptoms of the Covid-19 virus. We believe that we have had it but won’t know for sure. That kept us at home for three weeks. We are extremely grateful that we had mild symptoms. As I said earlier, a routine has certainly helped me to get through my days but I am happy with my family and my dog!
Do you have any advice for people who are perhaps finding lockdown hard to manage?
I would not dare give any advice but I can only say that this soon will pass and we will be together again. It is a major change in our lives and I, certainly am not trying to fight my feelings, whether they are good or bad. I don’t try to think far into the future. I am trying to stay in the moment and accept that this is my life today.
Do you think that it is important to talk about mental health in these challenging times?
Oh goodness, yes. I think that we should always talk. Mental health for us all is something that should be of the highest priority. It’s been neglected for too long and not given the importance that it has deserved. I am encouraged by the spotlight that has now shone on it’s importance; with celebrities and other well known people having the courage to open up and share their own difficulties.
I would like to thank Ricky for her time and her great answers to this interview, and wish her the very best for the future. Stay safe x