DAWN 'SMILEY' WILLIAMS
Her real name’s Dawn. Or Summer. Maybe April. Something with a hint of sunshine at the edge. Something best said in a whisper or with a quick, shy giggle...Little-voiced and wide-eyed, everyone just calls her Smiley.
- from 'Smiley' in At The Stage Door
Dawn was my 'first impression' of the Cats 2013 tour cast. I was so anxious about whether or not I would warm to a new cast after how attached I had been to the last tour, that a couple of weeks before I saw the show for the first time in Wolverhampton I went onto the Cats official site to study the headshots of the new cast. Dawn was the first person who stood out to me - I took one look at her and, don't ask me how, but I just knew she would be an amazing Jemima; it's not just that she had a pretty face, but there was just something about her smile. And, sure enough, when I got to the show, that smile was what won me over. She was so stunning as Jemima - Dawn has the most beautiful voice and she just has a knack for pulling the perfect facial expression for every moment, and as Jemima she had the BEST kittenish reactions to things. That first night, though, it was the smile, above all else, that I remembered for one, very particular reason: my seat was DIRECTLY opposite Dawn in The Ad-Dressing Of Cats, and I was smiling so crazily wide by that point because the show had been so amazing, so Dawn spotted me and she smiled back, so then I smiled wider, so then she smiled wider...and basically the two of us were engaged in a smile-off from then until the end of the show! I'm pretty sure Dawn won! After that, she was the one person I waited for that night at stage door and I soon realised she was every bit as sweet and smiley off the stage as she had been on it. She was so kind and so sweet, and she left a lasting impression on me just for how easy to talk to and how genuinely lovely she had been. Onstage she just got better and better in the role of Jemima, and offstage the more times I talked to her the greater the softspot I had for her! She was THE person who I looked out for from the start of my adventures with the 2013 tour and she was the first one of them who I really, truly took to heart as a Jellicle but also away from the Junkyard as a real person.
You smiled then, and your whole face changed with it. It kind of lit up, like there were sunbeams coming from inside you.
― Lucy Christopher
When the cast changes came around, I was so relieved and happy to know that she was staying on, and I was very happy for her that she was getting to experience playing Rumpleteazer, even if I was sad to be losing her as one of my favourite characters (because I do SO love the kittens!) I was so attached to her as Jemima, I was worried I wouldn't take to her playing Rumpleteazer, but really, I should never have doubted Dawn's ability to shine! She is made of springs and sunshine I think! She's just so bright, charismatic and energetic on stage, she's truly stunning and captivating to watch - she is just a performer through and through, she has a musicality and a fun spirit about her that is uniquely hers and it just so fabulous to watch. And that energy and warmth of hers on the stage thoroughly translates of the stage too - her smile is even brighter in person, if anything, in fact, and she is just a breath of fresh air to see at stage door. Dawn is full of smiles, giggles and kindness, she is always so good at taking the time out to talk and at taking an interest in what you have to say too. She's really just like a delightful summer's day of a person, and she's got a playful sweetness to her that is very special. One of my favourite things about Dawn was how she would go out of her way not just for me, but for her fellow Jellicles, always making sure to tell the people who were playing my favourite characters that someone was in who would be looking out for them, and taking the time to tell the new cast to listen out for cheers when I was in - by the time the new cast were all in place in Llandudno, I actually found some of them recognising me before I'd even met them! Dawn is such a bubbly, gentle soul and she is just a delight to be around - she was the heart and soul of my experience with the 2013-2015 cast and my time following their journey from the tour to the West End would not have been even half as magical without her.
Dawn is just dictionary definition lovely and I'm so glad that she was my 'first impression' of the 2013 tour because she just made me feel so appreciated and welcome so quickly and her warmth probably paved the way for me admitting defeat and acknowledging that, actually, I WAS going to get attached to the tour so I might as well go and meet some more members of the cast! Honestly, I just had a good feeling about her from the moment I saw her headshot: her light and warmth is irrepressible and she is simply beautiful inside and out. I'm so glad that that first night in Wolverhampton I ended up sitting in a seat which was on her side of the stage so that I could see that beautiful smile of hers for so much of that show - everything about her performance was glorious, but that smile of hers just puts you at ease so completely and I really needed that reassurance that night. Dawn is a truly wonderful human being, full of so much warmth and kindness. She is just the sweetest, friendliest person you could possibly come across and her whole presence just makes you want to smile, and her own smile is not only beautiful but infectious, of course! She's sunny, adorable and so easy to talk to and, honestly, everything about her is just bubbly, fun and loveable. She's one of the easiest people to talk to I've ever met and she's a total sweetheart when it comes to looking after you, making sure people know who your favourite characters are and telling people who you are at stage door. She's got so much magic packed into her and I love seeing her at stage door just as much as I love watching her onstage - she's such a stunning performer in every sense but when it comes to meeting her in person you will not find a more genuine, down-to-earth, easy-going soul. She's funny and sweet and - as I said in my story about her - she's just got that hint of sunshine at her edges that makes you want to watch her and be around her. She's just a very special human being and I'm so grateful for the way things turned out at Cats so that I got the chance to get to know her offstage too.