Blue Eyed Girl interviews . . . Marcus Lovett


Marcus Lovett is one of the most popular performers currently in London’s West End.
He is currently wowing crowds at Her Majesty’s Theatre as the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s legendary production of “The Phantom of the Opera.”

But this is a role that isn’t new to Marcus. Having previously donned the Mask in the Broadway production of the show, he has also had starring roles in Whistle Down the Wind, Aspects of Love, King David and was also a part of the original Broadway cast of Les Miserables.

Marcus is also he voice of Good Morning America and The Late Show with David Letterman promotions (A little fact for our American readers!!)

It was an absolute honour and privilege for me to be able to interview a performer who I have so much respect and admiration for! Take a look at what Marcus had to say . . .

Tell us a little known fact about yourself – something we wouldn’t know by looking at you.

My left foot is bigger than my right, and I use an eye cream from LUSH called “Gorgeous.”

What captivates you so much about the role of the Phantom? And what were the different challenges you faced as a performer in taking on such an epic role?

I am increasingly finding positive similarities between me and the Phantom.  We are both interested in self-improvement, in de-mystifying who we are, in connecting with another human being on a real level.  We both strive to be appealing physically.  One acting challenge is to remember that Erik strives to be normal.  He is not intentionally drawing attention, he just doesn’t understand what normal is.  He is a savant at composing, writing, and singing, but he would trade it all to carry Christine’s suitcase. 

Also, I always want to be up to the part physically.  There is an intensity to Erik.   Whether he is imploring Christine to “let your soul take you where you long to be,” warning the managers that “there are worse things than a shattered chandelier,” or taunting Raoul, “I’m here Monsieur, the angel of death!!!” Erik is often going from zero to sixty in a nanosecond, physically and emotionally. But understanding the “zero” in this equation is as important as understanding the “sixty.”  How is that for obtuse?

Having played the Phantom in both New York and London, have you noticed any differences between the audiences?

I am aware from visiting the lobby at Her Majesty’s before I get into makeup, that English is sometimes not the first language of the London audience for Phantom, at this time.  This leads me to focus even more intently on the words.

From an audience perspective, what is the best musical or play you have ever seen?
 
Nicholas Hytner’s Carousel at Lincoln Centre is the best musical I have seen. The best play I have ever seen is Terry Hands production of Cyrano De Bergerac, for which he also did the lighting design (I love this!), starring Derek Jacobi, and Sinéad Cusack.

Are there any theatre roles that you would love to play that you haven’t played yet?

I would like to play Sweeney Todd.  In the retirement home, I hope to direct the first ever all denture production of Les Miserables.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given? And if you could give one piece of advice to young, upcoming theatre performers, what would it be?

Be kind
.

After you finish playing the Phantom this summer, what’s next for you?

Are you offering me a job? (Reply from Blue Eyed Girl – anytime! Ha ha!)

HUGE thanks to Marcus for taking time out of his extremely busy schedule to answer my questions – it means the absolute world to me, and you certainly made this Blue Eyed Girl very very happy by doing so! I am eternally grateful 🙂 

Marcus will be playing the Phantom until 31st August 2013 – and I would encourage every single person who reads this interview to go down and see his breath-taking performance as soon as you can! And if you can, go and say hi at he Stage Door post show – he is one of the kindest and warm-hearted performers you will ever meet!

Signing off for now,

Blue Eyed Girl Xxx

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London Easter Extravaganza Part 1 – Phantom, Curious Incident, Bodyguard, West End Has Faith, Rock of Ages and Top Hat!

Well hello fellow Theatre lovers! I hope you are all well on what, certainly in Birmingham, is a very beautiful April afternoon!

If you have been following my tweets and recent posts, you will know that I was recently in London for a West End break which I called my 8 DAYS OF HEAVEN! That’s right, I was seeing 10 shows in 8 days – and I still, even over a week after coming home, can’t wipe the smile off my face when I think about it!

It was one of, if not the best trip I have ever had to London. Whether it was the length of time I was there, or just the experiences that I had, there was definitely something special about this trip!

It all started – and would you expect any less – with a visit to my spiritual home, Her Majesty’s Theatre, to see The Phantom of the Opera.


Since discovering the phenomenal talent and all round wonderfulness that is Marcus Lovett (more on him later!), it has been a personal mission of mine to see him perform on stage with the breathtakingly talented Anna O’Byrne (who recently sat down for an interview with me which you can read here.) Everyone I had spoken to who had seen them together had told me how utterly sensational they were as a pairing and I thought that tonight would finally be the night that I could witness this for myself!

Sadly this was not to be the case as Marcus was on holiday! Never mindjust another reason for a yet another visit! Anyway, what it meant was that I would have the privilege and honour of seeing three new performers in the lead roles for the very first time: –


I always relish the chance to see how different performers interpret the characters that I have come to love so much – and the fact that I would finally see Anna perform live after hearing her on my Love Never Dies DVD SO MANY times was just the icing on the cake!

My view from the Dress Circle


And I have to say that not only was I blown away by the whole show – no surprise there! – I was so impressed by all three leads. Simon Shorten was such a unique Phantom. He was able to mix the powerful nature of the deformed composer with the touching and emotional side of a lost soul with great ease – I am not ashamed to say that his Final Lair had me in tears! It was also astonishing to discover later on, through the wonder of Twitter, that Simon’s performances over that week had been his first in 8 months as the Phantom – WOW! This guy has got some talent!

It was also the first time I would be seeing Simon Thomas as Raoul. His performance was very good – and he was able to match Simon Shorten in vocal ability at every point of this wonderful score (something that for me is essential in a good Raoul!) He complimented his on-stage arch enemy and love interest really well, as he performed with power, precision and a command over the stage.

Then there was the majestic Anna O’Byrne – what can I say about this beautiful lady? Her performance as Christine was nothing short of absolute perfection for me! I had chills down my spine every time she sang – and in particular, her “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” made the hairs on my arms stand on end, and brought tears to my eyes! Just beautiful! One of the things that I admire about Anna, from an acting perspective too, is that even when she was not the focus of a scene, she would still be fully in the moment. Whether it was the way she stood, or the facial expression she used, you totally believed that she was in the middle of this tormented relationship between the Phantom and Raoul. If you have not seen this lady perform, you are missing out on an absolute sensation! Get down to Her Majesty’s NOW!!

Can you believe this was only Day 1? 🙂

Two very diverse shows would make up my second day in the Capital. Firstly, a new theatre and a new show for me, as I headed to the Apollo Theatre to see the National Theatre production of “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

 
The only previous NT production I have had the privilege of seeing was the beautiful “War Horse” – but this production fascinated me! I had read the book quite a while back and found it to be one of the most unique books I had ever come across. A young autistic boy tells us of his journey from finding his neighbour’s dead dog in the garden, to shocking revelations about his family that would change his life forever. I won’t lie, it was a difficult read – but I was still totally fascinated and engrossed by the story.
 
I had also heard from fabulous Twitter pal Sophie Waghorn, who had seen the production before it transferred to the Apollo, how brilliant this version of the story was. My curiosity definitely got the better of me, and so my ticket was booked. The biggest question I had was how could the producers of this show take a totally unique story such as Curious Incident and transfer it to the stage without losing the impact of the original?
 
When I took my seat, I was greeted by the first part of my answer to this question.
 


A very “straight” set but also a simple one. Little to no props, with a series of small blocks being all that was used to distinguish between different places in the story at the start. My first thought – “is that all they are going to use?”

But as the play progressed, things became a lot clearer! We also discovered that the screen at the back could also be used in a number of ways, including as a chalk-board and a set of escalators on the London Underground! A number of doors in the sides of the set also allowed additional props to be used, and we even had the front of the stagedisappear” for one of the more dramatic moments in the play.

I can honestly say this is one of the cleverest plays I have ever seen! From start to finish, as with the book, I felt totally involved in the story and the way in which such a small ensemble (who sat on the side of the stage throughout the show, while also acting as stage crew and “flying” assistants) and a couple of furry friends managed to present such a heart warming story was truly a special thing to witness!

A huge mention and special shout out must go to Luke Treadaway in the lead role. I can’t imagine the preparation he must have gone through to prepare for a role such as this, but his performance was outstanding! Never once did he even blink or breathe out of place as he commanded the stage and the attention of everyone in the theatre – watch out for this guy, he’s going to be a MAJOR star!!

After leaving the Apollo, I met up with my wonderful friend Ali – and we headed over to The Strand to visit the Adelphi Theatre for the evening performance of The Bodyguard.

 
The Adelphi seems to be a regular hang-out for me and Ali as the last time we were here, it was to see the brilliant Sweeney Todd. However The Bodyguard was definitely a million miles away from that Demon Barber! I must say a huge thank you to Ali as she was kind enough to go and get us day-seats to this show, which meant we would be sitting FRONT ROW, right in front of the central walkway!
 
 
I can’t recommend The Bodyguard enough – what a brilliant show! And you must not think that you have to be a Whitney fan to enjoy this performance! The whole cast performs with such passion and power that there is no way that you can not enjoy yourself. The amount of talent you see in front of you is second to none and you are certainly taken on an emotional rollercoaster before reaching the feel-good finale!
 
I was very lucky, and quite frankly hugely honoured, to be able to see Heather Headley at this performance. I had heard so much about her talent since the show opened at the end of 2012, as well as seeing her on a number of TV shows, but to see her LIVE was something that was truly sensational. She has some of the greatest vocals I have EVER heard and she sings with such emotion and power, that she had moved me to absolute floods of tears by the end of Act One. And when she started to sing “I Will Always Love You”? WOW, just WOW! You haven’t lived until you have heard Heather sing it – better than Whitney? Quite possibly!!!
 
Lloyd Owen was totally well suited to the part of Frank Farmer (aka The Bodyguard) and his on-stage chemistry with Heather is absolute magic. As an audience member, you really want to see them together and are willing them on through their many ups and downs. Lloyd also isn’t too bad of a “singer” either – watch out for his special tribute to the country version of the show’s signature song! 
 
An added bonus of sitting front and centre was definitely that I was able to sing with Heather Headley during the Finale – now that was definitely a moment I will remember for many years to come! I won’t say how I did it, as I don’t want to ruin the surprise!! Heather even said, when I met her at Stage Door post show that I did really well with my singing! (Although I don’t think I will give up my day job JUST yet – ha ha!)
 


With Heather Headley (top) and Lloyd Owen (bottom)
Adelphi Stage Door
 
After a very manic first two days, day 3 of my trip was set to be even more special than the first two! I had been invited by Katy Treharne to come down and write an exclusive backstage feature about my day at her charity concert West End Has Faith (which you can read here) It was a truly special day for me, as it allowed me to do something I had never done before while also experiencing such a truly heart-warming event. Look out for more of these wonderful events in future @WestEndHasFaith
 
Day 4 – and it was time to ROCK!!!
 
 
I love this show so much – if you want a fun, silly night out with some great music and a very talented cast, you can’t go wrong with Rock of Ages! I had seen the show twice before, but there many different factors for me on this visit. A new theatre – I had previously seen the show up at The Shaftesbury and this would be my first visit to the Garrick. A new cast – on my previous visits, I had been very lucky to see the original cast of the show, but since my last visit, Cast Change had bought many new faces onto the Sunset Strip, as well as keeping hold of some old faces too!
 
I was also bringing a friend with me who had never seen the show before  – so I had everything crossed that she would like it! (Bless her, before we went, she said to me “Will you take me to Stage Door after to meet the cast? Like you always do!” Don’t have to ask me twice – ha ha!)
 
As we took our seats, it was my first chance to take a look at a very familiar set in a brand new auditorium.
 
 
I had been made aware by friends of some changes to the set-up of key scenes, such as Regina’s roof-top protest and the glitter cannon during the Finale, and I assumed this had to be due to the smaller venue. But for me, the show lost none of it’s sparkle as a result!
 
Rock of Ages was as good as I remembered it – and then some! This show has a way of making me smile like a Cheshire Cat and this evening was no different. Tim Driesen (Drew) and Cordelia Farnworth (Sherrie) lead the cast – and considering they were both understudies/alternates, absolutely blew me away with their phenomenal voices. Simon Lipkin (Lonny) continues to be an absolute genius in his narrator extraordinaire role, and his interactions with new Dennis Dan Fletcher were some of the big highlights for me. I must also mention the truly marvellous Sandy Moffat, who steals the show as Franz for me. That man is just so funny and you totally feel for him in all the interactions with his strict father Hertz (played once again superbly by Rohan Tickell). I defy you NOT to be laughing your socks off by the end of “Hit Me With Your Best Shot!”
 
Me with Tim Driesen (Drew)
The Garrick Theatre Stage Door
  
In fact, the whole cast, from leads right through the Ensemble, are one of the most talented groups I have ever seen perform on a West End Stage. They sing, dance, jump around, and change costumes what seems like every 30 seconds – and they don’t miss a beat when performing a kick-ass rock song! Much love to them all!
 
And you’ll all be pleased to know that my friend – a first time ROAdie absolutely LOVED it! She couldn’t stop laughing, sang along to most of the words, and was dancing away with me during the Finale. I made sure she also had the full Stage Door experience – and I must thank all the cats members who signed her programme and took photos with her – she was a very happy girl!!!
 
Day 5 – and I was over halfway through my trip – BOO!!!!!!!!!!! But I decided to console myself with a very classy day, starting over at the Aldwych Theatre with “Top Hat.” I must praise this show for being one of a very small number to do Tuesday matinees! I had originally thought I wouldn’t be able to see this show during this trip until I found this out!




Yet again, I was seeing a new cast compared to my last visit to the show – and as I arrived in the foyer, I was VERY pleased to see that the full cast would be performing that afternoon – YAY!


And yet again (sorry to repeat myself!), I was very lucky to be sitting on the Front Row!

 
The thing I love about this show so much is how “classy” it is! My Nan – who is now well into her 80s – used to make me watch a lot of Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers musicals when I was younger, so songs such as “Puttin On the Ritz” and “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” have been a part of my life for as long as I could remember! I first saw the show last year when the cast was lead by the very talented Tom Chambers and just adored the whole show! I am so pleased to say though that this new cast made me fall in love with the show EVEN MORE!!!
 
Gavin Lee (Jerry) has all the talent needed to step into the shoes of the legend that is Fred Astaire. He oozes charisma, and performs with such finesse and style that it is hard not to fall in love with his performance. That smile could charm any woman’s heart – it certainly did mine 🙂  Kristen Beth Williams is also stunningly beautiful in the role of Dale. She is more than a match for Gavin Lee’s Jerry and the chemistry that they have together is just dynamite!
 
I must give a special shout-out though to the extremely talented and versatile Alex Gaumond. I have been a HUGE supporter of Alex ever since I first saw him on the original UK Tour of We Will Rock You here in Birmingham. I have gone on to see him in Legally Blonde and the London production of We Will Rock You, as well as performing his own material as part of Ramin Karimloo’s 2012 UK Tour. But his performance as Alberto Beddini was just genius! He was so funny in this role, one that was so different for him, and he did it with style! His interactions with Gavin and Kristen were also just brilliant!
 
Me with Alex Gaumond (top) and Gavin Lee (bottom)
Aldwych Theatre Stage Door
  
As with all the shows I have mentioned so far, “Top Hat” is also a show that I would highly recommend for a day out, or glamorous evening in London.
 
So that’s Part 1 of my amazing trip – mad, isn’t it?
 
Still to come in Part 2Singin in the Rain, A Chorus Line, my new love for Once, a brief chat with marvellous Marcus LovettJames McAvoy takes on Shakespeare, a chance meeting with the lovely Gary Albert Hughes and Les Mis brings the curtain down on my amazing trip!


Signing off for now,

Blue Eyed Girl Xxx

EXCLUSIVE! My day at West End Has Faith – Sunday 7th April

Regular readers of this blog will recall that I recently chatted with the brilliant Katy Treharne about her upcoming charity event “West End Has Faith“, to raise money for Trinity Homeless Projects, Tearfund and Thames Reach. Well, I was very fortunate and extremely honoured to be given exclusive access by Katy and fellow organiser David Birch to spend the day backstage ahead of the event as well as being able to attend the event itself.


In the build up to the event – and it doesn’t embarrass me to admit it  – I was really nervous! I have been very blessed to review some brilliant shows as well as interview some breath-takingly talented performers – but doing a backstage feature was something brand new to me! On arrival at the venue – the beautiful St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden, or the Actor’s Church, my stomach was doing so many back-flips that the Team GB Olympic Gymnastic Team would have been proud!

However once I got inside, and managed to say hello to the very lovely Katy, all my fears were eased. The atmosphere was so uplifting and so positive – and this was 3 and a half hours before the show was due to begin!

As I settled down into my seat to watch the afternoon unfold, what struck me immediately was the obvious bonds that all of the people in the room had – and I don’t mean just because quite a number of the Company are current or previous cast members of Phantom of the Opera! It may sound cliche but there was definitely something good in the air!

I had a lovely chat with the fabulous Matt Elson (a fellow Midlander!), who explained how he first met Katy at another fundraising event –

Just before we went on, Katy said would anybody like to pray? Now, I am a Christian and I’ve been quite surprised by how many people I didn’t know were Christians because when you come to London, let’s say you’re not particularly living the Christian life (not that I am saying anyone is sinning on purpose!). What I do think is you can lose yourself in London and something about working with Katy straight away we sort of clicked.”

And as the afternoon went on, the praise for Katy continued! Rebecca Lock explained how Katy had “helped her a lot personally over the past few months with personal things in her life”, Jo Loxton added “She’s an amazing person for putting on this event, I could do nothing but support her” and Nathaniel Morrison explained that “Katy Treharne is one of the most beautiful ladies I have ever met on this Earth and not only that, what makes it even more exciting is she loves God as much as I do!” 

The afternoon continued, and as soundchecks went on, including performances from Ramin Karimloo and Simon Bailey, the stunning Kirsten Joy and the phenomenal West End Gospel Choir, I was able to reflect on my conversation with Matt and began to wonder why some of the other performers had wanted to be a part of such a special event.

Phantom legend Phillip Griffiths explained that “Being a Christian, you always think about other people and when I heard Katy was doing something for the homeless, and in this difficult present climate (both weather and financial), anything I thought I could contribute, to raise money or to raise awareness, I just wanted to be part of it!”

Ellen Jackson “Singing with quite a few friends is so lovely but it is also so good to be doing something for the homeless, which is such a big, big issue in this day and age. Why did I want to get involved? To give something back – it’s not just about taking, it’s about giving too!”

Tabitha Webb also spoke about “encouraging a personal faith within a theatrical environment” which I can say from personal experience is something that can have a major impact on people’s lives in nothing but a positive way.

Anticipation continued to build throughout the evening and before I knew it, it was show-time!



Kicking off with stunning performances by John Jack, Brian McCann, and the legendary Phantom Duo of Phillip Griffiths and Ellen Jackson, it was clear to see that these performers were willing to leave all their heart and emotions before their audience to share their faith and beliefs with everyone present on this special evening.

We continued with a performance from Tabitha Webb and David Erik of “To Embrace You” – a song from new musical “Love Beyond” (check it out at www.lovebeyondmusical.com) and Tabitha also gave a breath-taking performance of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” – a song usually associated by many with football, but as Tabitha so precisely pointed out – a song also about being positive in every situation and always feeling there is someone there to support you.

Ramin Karimloo and Simon Bailey also took to the stage during Act One for their first performance of the evening. Kicking off with, in Ramin’s words, “a song about faith that he wrote out on the road” – Traveller’s Eyes, the pair went on to also sing “Closer Walk With Thee” and “Down to the River to Pray.” It was certainly a huge honour for me to see and hear songs I have come to know so well performed with a new, added meaning as part of such a special evening.

Watch Ramin perform “Traveller’s Eyes” on his recent Texas Tour http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIaHgH5Qh4I (Video courtesy of Karen MacDonald)

Act One closed out with beautiful songs courtesy of Jo Loxton, the marvellous Matt Elson, Rebecca Lock and a Spoken Word so passionately delivered by the multi-talented Tsola Abraham. The finale came from the absolutely mind-blowingly talented West End Gospel Choir, lead by one of the most vibrant personalities I have ever had the privilege to meet in Nathaniel Morrison. They truly brought some “CHURCH” to the evening’s proceedings, with 3 songs performed with such exuberance and vitality, I defy anyone to have not been uplifted by their performance!

Watch the West End Gospel Choir perform at WEST END LIVE 2012 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uiO3_h73q0 (Video courtesy of canuseeyourself)

As the interval arrived, I began to think about the experiences that I had had during the day so far. Although the event may have at least outwardly appeared to be a very religious event, for me, and for many people I spoke to, there was a lot more to it than that! Personally, I’m not very religious at all, but I do believe in “believing” (if that makes sense?) and putting your faith in something. And I think this is why an event such as this spoke to so many people.  Ramin Karimloo put it best –

For me, it’s not about religion. As human beings, I hope we all have the same common denominator of just being good and we all want joy and positivity in our lives. For that alone, I think an event like this is worth coming to

Act Two opened with Tsola, Lydia Horton and Katy Treharne performing the Bill Withers classic “Lean On Me” – another song that you may not have thought would be included on tonight’s set-list, but actually has some beautiful messages behind it (when you think about it! Ha ha!)

We were blessed with many more enchanting performances from the amazingly talented Phillip Griffiths (who my friend adamantly believed should be the next Phantom with a voice like his!), the stunning Annatt Bass and Rachel Spurrell, the majestic Kate Radmilovic and returning Nathaniel Morrison. There was also a fascinating and eye-opening talk from co-organiser David Birch focusing on the different interpretations of the meaning of “Faith” – an eye opener for everyone in attendance, I’m sure!

One of the highlights of Act Two for me had to be the performance of “The Prayer” by John Jack and Rachel Spurrell. I mean singing in one language is tricky enough – but two? WOW! They performed it with such power and emotion that it would have moved even the steeliest of souls! Just beautiful!

I must also give a special mention to Andy Robertson who came to the event to speak on behalf of Trinity Homeless Projects. All I am going to say is get this man into local Government NOW! I have heard so many people speak on behalf of different charities over the years, but never have I believed or felt as much as I did when I heard Andy speak about the work Trinity does and how it has been affected by recent Government cuts. He is an outstanding role model for people everywhere and maybe our “beloved” Government should take some time to listen to people like Andy! Trinity should be proud to have him as a spokesperson.

Another special mention must go to Kirsten Joy. The former star of “Last Choir Standing” and “The Voice” performed two stunning tracks – “His Eye is on the Sparrow” and original track “Good News” brought the house down with some of the biggest cheers of the evening – and they were well deserved for two such spectacular performances! For me “Good News” seemed to be a very appropriate anthem to describe the message of the evening – and Kirsten has massive success in her future, I can just tell!

Check out a teaser for Kirsten Joy’s Debut EP (including Good News) here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dg2NhQfmhJY

Finally, I must mention Sookie Keats – another beautiful soul and inspirational lady. Sookie was involved with the event by signing several of the tracks. When I spoke to her before the show, she explained that “I wanted to be involved with this event from the very start because I think it is an amazing cause, and one of the charities at some point, helped me out so on a very personal level, I just wanted to give back.” I spoke to Sookie on several occasions throughout the day and I can say with great honesty it was an absolute honour and privilege to meet such a good-hearted and kind hearted person – the pleasure was all mine Sookie!

As the evening built towards its’ climax, Ramin Karimloo and Simon Bailey returned to the stage, with Simon performing his heart-breaking original track “Goodbye” (which he performs better and better every time I see it, despite how much it must affect him!) and then joining forces with Ramin to perform the Avett Brothers classic “Murder in the City” and one of Ramin’s album tracks “Constant Angel” – which sounds even more stunning as a duet, I have to say! It was so brilliant to see such well known and respected performers as these two as part of such a special event – they deserve all the respect and blessings in the world!

Simon Bailey performs “Goodbye” at Broadway to Bluegrass . . . Ish http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2xWzDJeV0I (Video courtesy of Seleza79)

It then seemed only right that Katy Treharne took her moment in the spotlight to shine like the star she is! Joined by several members of the company, she sang “Upon this Rock” – well, all I can say is I have never seen a performer sing their heart out with so much love, passion and grace than Katy did here. It was just phenomenal, and she got the standing ovation that she truly deserved – not only for this, but for putting on such a unique and special event.

The entire company came on to stage for a performance of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and an encore of “Jesus, Lover of my Soul” and so came to an end what for me was a truly uplifting and also quite surreal day.

I would encourage every single one of you to keep your eye out for future West End Has Faith events and attend if you can – you don’t have to be religious, you just have to be willing to attend with an open heart and mind, listen to some brilliant music and be inspired by those around you!

And I tell you what, if you are looking to be totally inspired by a person who isn’t afraid to share their love and stand up for what they believe in in today’s society, you need look no further than the divine and kind-hearted soul of Katy Treharne. I can’t thank her, and David Birch enough for letting me spend the day with them – I only hope I have been able to do what was such a special event even a little bit of justice with this article.

If you would like more details about the event or to find out about future events, head over to Twitter @westendhasfaith

The Company
David Birch, Katy Treharne, Tabitha Webb, Rebecca Lock, Jack Wilcox, John Jack, Jo Loxton, Rachel Spurrell, Annatt Bass, Matt Elson, Tsola Abraham, Lydia Horton, Brian McCann, Nathaniel Morrison, Phillip Griffiths, Ellen Jackson, Kate Radmilovic, David Erik

With
Ramin Karimloo, Simon Bailey, Kirsten Joy, Sookie Keats and the West End Gospel Choir.

Band
Jeffrey Howard (Piano), Dave Danford (Drums), Peter Manchester (Guitar), AJ Brinkman (Bass Guitar)

Band Arrangements
Colin Zammit

Sound Engineer
Tom Pickering

Logo/Poster Design
Rachel Hunter (@_RachelSuzanne)

Signing off for now

Blue Eyed Girl Xxx

Blue Eyed Girl interviews . . . Anna O’ Byrne

 
Anna O’Byrne is one of the fastest rising stars in musical theatre today. After training at the Victoria College of the Arts, Australia, and graduating with BMus (Hons) in Classical Voice, Anna went on to become a Principal Artist at Victorian Opera, as well as performing in the Lyric Opera of Melbourne, and as a part of a number of classical concerts.
 
She first became to known a worldwide audience when she was chosen to take on the role of Christine Daae in the Australian production of “Love Never Dies“, for which she gained critical acclaim. Anna is now continuing Christine’s journey , as well as her own Phantom experience, in her West End debut at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London in the original production of “The Phantom of the Opera.”
 
It was a HUGE honour for me to speak to this very talented lady about all things Phantom, her own music tastes, what advice she would give to up and coming performers – and gingerbread houses!!!

Tell us a little known fact about yourself – something we wouldn’t know by looking at you.
 
I have a secret talent for making gingerbread houses! I make one every year at Christmas and they seem to be getting more and more elaborate… not quite sure if this is a cause for pride or concern
 
What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome in your career so far?
 

That would definitely be that I have to move around so much for work. When I entered the industry, I made a decision to always go where the work is, and to actively pursue opportunities that I find creatively worthwhile and fulfilling. However that does mean that I am sometimes away from my loved ones for extended periods of time. I wouldn’t say that I’ve “overcome” this obstacle- I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it or be totally comfortable with it – but you do find ways of problem-solving, compromising and adapting. And Skype is a wonderful thing!

Anna as Christine Daae in “The Phantom of the Opera”
Photo by Alasdair Muir (2012) www.thephantomoftheopera.com 

After gaining critical acclaim for your portrayal of Christine in “Love Never Dies”, how does it feel to now be exploring the early parts of her journey in “Phantom of the Opera”?
 
This is my second time around as Christine in The Phantom of the Opera. My very first job out of college was as Christine understudy on the Australasian tour. So I’ve been re-discovering in more ways than one! It feels great! The most amazing thing has been playing this character at Her Majesty’s Theatre, in the original production that’s been running in this building for over 26 years. It’s incredible and very humbling to see the history and legacy of this show, and to contribute to that in a very small way.
 
Are there many differences between Australian and UK audiences?
 

Not really. Storytelling is such a universal thing, isn’t it?

Anna and Ben Lewis in “Love Never Dies” (Courtesy of www.kpbs.org)

What advice would you give to young and upcoming theatre performers who are trying to break into the industry?

Well, firstly I would say that everybody’s path is different, and there are no hard and fast rules by which to govern your career. But here are a few philosophies that have helped to guide my professional life.
Work hard, and then when you think you’re done, work harder. Let integrity be your motivation. Dream big. Embrace every opportunity and lesson that comes your way. Be respectful, and nurture your professional relationships. Find a great mentor – in my opinion, there isn’t enough true mentoring in this industry. Develop your passions outside of performing – whether it’s writing, or teaching, or yoga, or cycling, or cooking, or stamp-collecting – whatever! The most interesting performers are those who have full, whole lives outside of the theatre.

Most importantly, always keep the LOVE for performing. What we do is so inherently playful and joyful. Singing, acting, dancing; these are the things we do when we cannot do anything else. Enjoy it!

If you had to choose 3 songs from any genre as the soundtrack to your life so far, what would they be and why?

Just three?! Difficult!
 
When You Wish Upon a Star
I wholeheartedly believe in the sentiment of this song, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a little Disney? For some reason it’s become one of my go-to warm up songs!
 
Spectrum by Florence and the Machine
Completely empowering. Florence’s vocals are powerhouse and it has a great hook. This song always brings a smile to my face and determination to my heart! Also it contains one of my most favourite lyrics – “We are shining, and we will never be afraid again” – I just love that concept.
 
Chanson Tristeby – Duparc

If this is the soundtrack of my life, I’ve got to have a bit of French Art Song in there! This is one of the most sublime songs of all time. There’s always space for a little more beauty in this life. If you’ve never heard it I suggest you get listening right away!

Anna plays Christine Daae at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London at certain peformances until 31st August 2013. For more details, check out http://www.thephantomoftheopera.com/london or buy your tickets to go and see this ridiculously talented lasy for yourself at http://www.lastminutetheatretickets.com/

I must say a very special thank you to Anna for taking the time to answer my questions. As I said before, it was a massive honour for me to interview someone of such breath-taking talent and such warmth and kindness. I am so excited to see Anna perform live for the first time when I visit Her Majesty’s Theatre this Friday – make sure to read all about it in my upcoming reviews!

Signing off for now,

Blue Eyed Girl Xxx