Dermot’s X Factor buddy Nicole Scherzinger joins him to chat about Sunset Boulevard – which opens in London’s West End. (September 30, 2023). Check the interview below or listen on soundcloud.
Dermot O’Leary: How are you? Scherzinger ding dong, you’re here.
Nicole Scherzinger: I’m fantastic. I feel like I just got off stage and it came straight to you and now I’m going back on stage for two more shows.
Dermot: Thanks for coming in. cause Saturday is a tough day in the theater.
Nicole: Yeah, that’s all right. We’re here, the sun is shining upon us.
Dermot: Yes, because you brought that little bit of a wine in Kentucky. The reason why, yeah.
Nicole: The reason why, yeah. What did you call me earlier?
Dermot: Instead of a triple threat, you’re like an eighth threat. You can do it all.
Nicole: The eighth threat is here, everyone, good morning
Dermot: We know what an eighth threat is. I think it might be a new thing. Oh, that’s that bad? An octa threat. Oh my god, that’s great. The octa threat is here. You’re like a Spiderman baddie, octa threat.
Nicole: I feel like that’s the next James Bond.
Dermot: Listen, congratulations on Sunset Boulevard. I mean, come on. Cause I saw you in Cats. Had a great night to my life watching you in Cats.
Nicole: Yeah, thank you for that.
Dermot: It was like we went, I saw you in Cats, and then we went out and recreated Cats on the streets of London. It was, it was marvelous.
Nicole: We did. We had a little bit of liquid courage.
Dermot: Exactly. But this is interesting, cause Grizabella was kind of like, ‘all right, all right, ready? Well, I need to go on stage now, find the case. Nail it.’
Nicole: I was on stage for three minutes. This is a little different. It’s a whole different world. It’s a different world. It’s amazing. I’m working with Andrew again. Yeah. He has a beautiful gorgeous 17-piece orchestra. He’s amazing. He still comes in every few days and is writing new music for the show, because it’s such a modern day, contemporary, completely different, reimagined interpretation. So he’s still writing new music. And then the brilliant Jamie Lloyd, who flips everything on his head. I absolutely love that man. And he’s the one. He’s the one who had the vision for me to do this.
Dermot: Well, I’ve seen his work so many times down the years, cause I think I’ve seen him do Director Richard III and Beth and Seagar. And every time I see him, I’m like, this is a different reworking of what I think it’s going to be, and I love the theatre. And so if he’s done this with Sunset Boulevard, what a wonderful counterintuitive kind of way to work.
Nicole: It’s going to be different because you’re kind of used to that with theatre, but with musical theatre, he’s completely stripped it back so – it’s just all about the human experience. It’s super real, super honest. And yeah, you’re forced to be so involved psychologically and to just really listen, cause you don’t have all the smoke and mirrors. We are fully exposed up there.
Dermot: It’s just not why I signed up for. How did this happen, Scherzy?
Nicole: Exactly. No, it’s great. I have a lot of growing pains, and I’ve got lots of bruises all over my body. It’s full. It’s intense.
Dermot: Excuse me, my ignorance, but I’m trying to look down to that comfort. What theatre is it on it?
Nicole: The Savoy!
Dermot: Wonderful. Going in on the right, coming out on the left.
Nicole: Gorgeous, gorgeous theatre.
Dermot: Yeah, beautiful theatre. So, how did the part come about? Because, presumably, you’re doing your thing, in Los Angeles or Hawaii, wherever you are, and then you get the call, cause I know you love the stage. And, you know, we’ve known each other a very long time, and I’ve seen you, A on the stage, and B, I’ve seen you do a couple of those kind where you get a few theatre producers in for the night and sing to them.
Nicole: Yeah, my showcases!
Dermot: This is amazing. So, they are amazing. I mean, they just, you should just do that.
Nicole: So sweet, Derm. Yeah, because, you know, I love the theatre so much, and I’m like, nothing’s gonna stop me from singing the stuff that I wanna sing and tell the stories I wanna tell through these songs, so I’ll just create my own show.
Dermot: Yeah, it’s so good. That’s what needs to happen now. The next iteration of this is, well, I’ll just promote myself and go and do it, like, take that on stage, because it’s like, what was there going, why is this a showcase? This should just be the show. This is so good.
Nicole: Wait till you see this show, because I finally feel like… Sometimes, with what I do, because I feel like I have so much to give, you know, how passionate I am about.
Dermot: Yeah, you leave it all out there.
Nicole: I do, I feel like I’m just showing a fraction of my potential. So, well, come and see the show, I’m showing all the potential. There’s so many different sides to Norma Desmond, and just people aren’t gonna expect it. It’s really cool, this interpretation. Jamie’s combined film with theatre.
Dermot: Wow. So how did the part come about? Did you get it kind of out of nowhere, or were you, were people talking to, like, different situations?
Nicole: Jamie came straight to me,
Dermot: He’d seen you do other things?
Nicole: Like, he came to me, he came straight to me, and you wanna know where we met? The first time we ever met was at the Savoy Theatre, for tea. And it’s come full circle now. He basically said “I know it sounds crazy, but I literally had this dream, and this vision, and you were Norma Desmond.” And I was like “there are many roles I’ve wanted to play musical theatre, and that is not one of them.
Dermot: “Because I’ve got a lot to give!”
Nicole: Well, she’s got, she’s got even more to give, but I thought, you know, originally, no, that role, it seems like older. It’s not about age, it’s about the human experience, what we have to deal with, with loss, and with change, and wanting affirmation from others, and feeling like nothing’s ever enough. And loneliness, and that’s something everyone can relate to.
Dermot: So timeless, those subjects, I suppose. Especially now.
Nicole: When you take a classical piece like this, but then, in the same story, and what you’re talking about, it’s completely modern and temporary today. It’s exactly what’s going on today, with the industry, and how we feel, and with people, and everything. Emotions…
Dermot: With one look, what?
Nicole: It’s brilliant. She’s brilliant.
Dermot: Your version is different to this, though.
Nicole: Yeah, it’s so weird listening to her, because I live these words and breathe these words every night for the past few months, and, you know, rehearsing and everything, and now being in previews. So it’s a completely different interpretation when I do it. Yeah. But, you know, she’s such an icon.
Dermot: Nicole Scherzy, she’s like a ding dong. She’s playing Sunset Boulevard at the Savoy Theatre till the 6th of January.
Nicole: I’m coming in, Derm, I’m a Thespian, I’m an actor. And now my name is Nicole Scherzinger Ding Dong.
Dermot: She’s like a ding dong. That’s why I always call you. But you love musical theatre from way back in the day, from the Kentucky days.
Nicole: Yeah, I went to a youth performing arts high school and fell in love. You know, I just… When I was younger, I fell in love with Whitney Houston’s voice, right? And I just wanted to be… I loved music, I wanted to sing, but I wanted to be creative. So I found my kind, my tribe, and in high school with performing arts and got to learn, you know, everything from voice to dance to singing and everything.
Dermot: Do you remember the first Whitney Houston song that…
Nicole: The Greatest Love of All. Changed my life. Six years old.
Dermot: Who else? Because it was Prince for you as well. I saw you… I’ve seen you do some Prince songs.
Nicole: Yeah, Purple Rain. Well, I discovered Prince a little bit later, but I think then was Whitney Houston, and then Mariah Carey, and then Paula Abdul. And it was nice to see those women. They were so powerful to me, and they were also women of color, you know? So as a little girl, it’s like ‘oh my gosh, I can relate to them.’
Dermot: Hey, listen, it’s great that you’re able to find time for this, because you… I’d say your year is pretty mapped out in terms of where you know you’re going to be when. So, was this… Did you have to move a fair bit around to fit this? Because I know you loved it so much. And I love you. I also know you loved new challenges so much. You’re always pushing yourself.
Nicole: I not only found time, because I thought this was really important, because as she says, I’m back where I was born to be in her lyrics, but I made time. I actually had to say goodbye and not do The Masked Singer in America for this. So I chose this.
Dermot: Did you mean forever?
Nicole: No but I think I chose this, and this was important in the right timing. Dermot: Well done you. That’s huge. Because that’s a massive show. And you’re like, it’s so fun.
Nicole: It is, and it’s… But, you know, I’ve been doing it for many years, and I love it and I love my family. They’re my Masked Singer family so much, but they understood and they were so supportive of me. And now I am…
Dermot: Who’s your replacement?
Dermot: Oh, Rita’s doing it. It’s fine.
Nicole: Yeah, she knows exactly what she’s doing. And she’s great at that.
Dermot: So what’s next? What’d you do after January?
Nicole: I don’t know. I’m trying to get through today’s… Let’s get through this run, OK? For the next 13 weeks. I think I’m going to go after… What’s next? Me eating everything and laying in the sun somewhere is what’s next. No, I’ve been working on music. I gotta play you my new stuff. I have been working on music and… I wrote all the music here in London with all London producers and writers and they were just brilliant. And I’m super proud of my music.
Dermot: So you take some time off after this, go and lay in the sun and eat lots of things.
Nicole: For a weekend and then I’ll go straight back to work.
Dermot: Win. Exactly. So my paddleboard story in the cold is… Oh, my God….judges houses and ruin… Antigua, I think it is. I’m going to get a very long flight and because I’ve been there a couple of days before and I’m like… And I walk into the room and it’s like… The company… The company bottle of rum in the room. And I look… Just look at it and have a conversation with it when I get there. I’m going to be so drunk before I open you up. You look dirty. Dirty. Anyway, I go for a swim and I’m sort of rounding this kind of jetty and I’m like, Oh, yeah. I’m just jetlagged. I’m feeling so good. I’m in the carapace. It’s so nice. And I hear this kind of… Oh, yeah! From around the jetty, I was like, where is that? What’s that? Where’s this coming from? And then basically Nicole and her buddy on paddleboard with said bottle of rum. Kind of three quarters of the way in going, Yeah, how’s it going? It’s on the paddleboard!
Nicole: I think they were looking for me. I was supposed to be filming.. They were like, she’s there out there in the water.
Dermot: And a lot of fun with Nicole down the years. Drinking lots of different things. Cooking sherry, getting drunk on cooking sherry. All old maids.
Nicole: We had! I have actually a shaker at home. It’s a Scherzy shaker. But you gave me. The Scherzy shaker. I’m so proud of my shaker. I tell everybody that story. But new music, I can’t wait for you to hear it.
Dermot: Definitely. Brilliant. Listen, thank you so much for coming in. Nicole, are you watching the World Cup by the way? Who sort of… Gave you to Thom? Is rugby a fish in order? Are you in on that?
Nicole: Yeah, actually, I am watching some of that because my one day off is Sunday, so we have watched… I think of a…
Dermot: You’re like, I’m trying to sleep.
Nicole: I think it was… I mean, I know that England’s going to hate me, but I think didn’t Fiji beat England?
Dermot: They did, but they might have to play them again, I think.
Nicole: I was just proud because, you know, the Polynesian culture.
Dermot: Right, so you’ve got foot in all camps here.
Nicole: I think Scotland played the other day, right?. Dermot: It’s very soon. Yes. But yeah, they did. I mean, there’s a World Cup, so you keep playing all the time. Yes, so… I don’t want to put you on the spot now. I’m just wondering if you’re following it.
Nicole: Tommy does… Yeah. He doesn’t miss it, so yes, I… On my day off. We were at a pub the other day watching it.
Dermot: Maybe I’ll be here just to sleep. I’ve got a show this week. I just need to go home. Scherzy, thank you so much.
Nicole: I love you, Derm.