Friday, 10 March 2017

INTERVIEW: Lucy O'Byrne, currently starring as Fantine in Les Miserables

What have you learnt from being a contestant on The Voice that has helped you in the world of musical theatre?
The most practical thing I learned was coping with crazy long hours! I learned to be centred, to worry less about competition and bring my focus inward so that I would do the best job possible. Finally, and most importantly; be nice. It didn't matter what time of the day or night it was, how long we'd been waiting to shoot, how long it'd been since the last tea break, the team always had a smile and something positive to say to everyone. This made it one of the happiest experiences of my life and I try, daily, to emanate this in the theatre too... especially double show days!

Going from working with Will.I.Am to starring as Maria in the Sound of Music must have been a slight contrast, how on earth did you keep grounded throughout that?
To be honest, touring keeps you pretty grounded. The Sound of Music was a dream come true but it was hard work and travelling around the country as well as doing that 8 times a week. You've got to have your head together for that.

Some people have strong opinions about Talent TV stars coming breaking into musical theatre, what’s your opinion? Do you think it’s helped or hindered you?
Believe me, I've met some of those people and they let me know exactly what their opinions are. You just hope that when they see the show their opinion will change! I used to have opinions about it too, to be fair. But honestly, almost every person I met on The Voice had been training for years. Sometimes you just need exposure, and that is what these shows do, they give us a platform. It was certainly not a decision I took lightly, but it changed my life and I will always be grateful to have been a part of it.

You’re currently playing one of the top female roles in the history of Musical Theatre,
how have you interpreted the role?
I just try to go out every night and tell the story truthfully. The scale of the legacy attached to the role is similar to Maria in SOM, they've stood the test of time and they don't need a new interpretation just for the sake of it, the material is all there already. To me, Fantine could be any woman you walk past in central London, down on their luck. Hers is a completely everyday situation, she is alone and no one will listen or help. To me, playing this role is about telling a true story, truthfully.

And of course Maria in The Sound of Music as well, another iconic role, are there any other roles you’d like a go at?
There are lists upon lists but they wouldn't fit into Pocket sized theatre!

Before being cast in Les Miserables, had you seen the show? What was your experience of it?
Les Mis has been part of my life for as long as I can remember, and even before that! My dad was actually cast in the west end production of the show shortly after I was born! On My Own was the first solo I ever sang, at 8 years old in my local community hall, it became my party piece, although now I'm more likely to be asked for I Dreamed a Dream. It was the music I grew up listening to, I was actually quite embarrassed on my first rehearsal when I already knew the harmonies and our MD was laughing at me saying "Wow! You really were a fan!"

What do you think makes Les Miserables so successful?
The score, the likes of which the world had not seen before or since. And the story of hope and redemption.

If you could swap roles with someone else in the show, who would it be and why?
Javert. Hands down. Fantine gets kicked around a lot, I'd like to be the one with the authority for once! Also he has fantastic coats and hats!

Someone could be reading this having a very bad day, so would you be able to tell us an embarrassing on-stage story to brighten them up?
I got a chest infection at Christmas, and while I could still sing I had to go off because everytime I lay down I started to cough and we were all afraid I would ruin the confrontation by being a coughing corpse in the corner of the stage!

Do you have anything planned for after Les Miserables?
Right now, it feels like I've been working towards this for my whole life and I feel like I just got here so I'm just enjoying every moment and being grateful for each day as it comes.
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