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Diane Pilkington and Ruthie Henshall, It's Not Always 'Razzle Dazzle' For These Leading Ladies!

For any working mum juggling a job and home life can be tricky, but how do you manage if you are a West End leading lady? If like me you assumed they had staff to assist them and that their lives were just one big glamorous adventure, you would be wrong. 

I have two older teenagers, so it's a long time since I had to rock a child to sleep, and instead I tend to get woken up by late night escapades these days (my son came home at 5am from a Halloween party wearing a black tutu!). But I do remember the needs of a small child.   

I worked part time when the children were young and if they were poorly I took the day off to take care of them. If you are the named star lead in a West End production this is not so easy. I asked two of the most prominent West End leading ladies a few questions about how they manage and here's what they told me.

Diane Pilkington is famous for playing Glinda in Wicked and now wowing audiences as Donna in the wonderfully uplifting Mamma Mia! at the Novello Theatre. I asked her what the best and worst things were about being in the West End and having young kids.

Dianne replied, "[The] best thing is that I get to spend all day with him. Worst is that evening childcare is more difficult to find (but I'm very lucky with mine)."
"The hardest thing to manage is leaving before bedtimes"

What do you do if he's ill?

"When he's poorly you just have to accept that you will be up all night! It's amazing how little sleep I need now!"
It sounds like the makeup artists on some of the shows are doing a great job in that case!

Leading lady Ruthie Henshall is famouse for her myriad West End roles, from her debut in Cats, to her unstoppable performance as Fantine in Les Miserables. I asked her the same and she replied, "Depends how ill. Very ill and needs me, I stay home. A cold, I go to work."

I guess most people have to paint on a smile and 'Man Up!' (The Book of Morman) every now and then, but to go on stage in front of 2000 people after being up all night with a sick child must be very tough.

So there it is. Not only do these women wow audiences with their ferocious talent every night, they also then return home to their palace, ready to play domestic goddess. 

By Nicky Sweetland

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