Monday, 26 July 2021

COMING HOME: Lauren Byrne, currently in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cinderella at the Gillian Lynne Theatre

Pocket Size Theatre and Liza Heinrichs (Captured by Liz) have teamed up again and created our new series 'Coming Home'. In this new piece, we look at the reopening of Theatres in London and around the country and celebrate our industry coming back. We got together some performers who will be some of the first to return to theatres and created this piece to bring some positivity to the theatre industry which has been through one of the toughest years in our lifetime. Whilst it is important to acknowledge the hardships we've all gone through, it's important we pull together as a community and celebrate our beloved industry finally coming back! 

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s journey to open Cinderella at the Gillian Lynne Theatre has probably been one of the most documented and talked-about stories in relation to the reopening of theatres. This new retelling of the classic fairytale opened on the 25th June 2021 with an opening night of the 20th July, this has been changed due to performances being suspended because of a COVID related case. With music by Lloyd Webber Himself, lyrics by David Zippel and a book by Emerald Fennell, the show is one of the handful of new musicals opening theatre again after the closure of theatres because of the pandemic. 

Lauren Byrne is appearing in the shows ensemble and is also covering the title role. Making her West End debut in the musical, she was previously playing the role of Jane Seymour in the UK Touring production of Six the Musical. Her other credits include Swing and cover Cynthia and Carole in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (UK Tour), Mabel and Dance Captain in Blondel (Union Theatre) and Understudy Rasa, Peggy, Gwen and Joyce in Sunny Afternoon (UK Tour). Lauren is the co-founder of the new training system ‘In3 Arts’, providing part-time training alongside her ex-Six cast member Harriet Watson. 

Lauren is also part of the girl group Remember Monday, a trio of voices who have appeared on the Voice and also recently went viral with their cover of Fat Bottomed Girls, originally by Queen. Made up of Byrne, Charlotte Steele and Holly-Anne Hull, who we also featured in this series as she is returning to play Christine in the West End production of The Phantom of the Opera, they recently released their cover go Fat Bottomed Girls and it is available on Spotify

We spoke to Lauren about the challenges of the past 16-odd months and she highlighted how incredible and adaptable she thinks artists are, “the amazing thing about the people in this industry is that their resilience will always create new ways to channel art, and that will always evolve and change with the times.” Reflecting on this she also raised the issues of representation and how everyone deserves to be seen by our industry, “Anyone should be able to enjoy the escapism that our work provides; everyone should be able to look up on stage and see themselves in the stories being told.” 

Speaking further about this Lauren mentions how she feels she is far more grateful for what she has now but has also learnt that sitting back and letting the world go by is not the way to be, especially in an industry like ours that needs change and needs it now; "There are a lot of things that I will no longer tolerate that I may have been afraid to speak out on before. In an industry that prides itself on being as inclusive as possible, we need to continue to allow peoples’ opinions and voices to be heard, and listen and take action when people have the courage to speak up.” 

We asked Lauren what kind of advice she would give people coming out the other side of this pandemic and she made a very important point of making sure we all realise however we are feeling is valid. “Whether it’s excitement or reluctance, impatience or fear, we have to allow people to feel how they need to feel. There’s going to be a big adjustment period going back to work in our industry, our bodies and our minds are in a completely different place to where they were 18 months ago. There’s no one size fits all here, and be kind to yourself, or, as our wonderful Musical Director at Cinderella keeps reminding us “be cute to yourself”.” 

When asked what she was most looking forward to upon her return to the world of theatre, Lauren’s answer was something we didn’t even think of, the friendship and connections that are made on contracts. "It’s strange how close you get to people that you’ve known quite a short while - contracts are usually only up to a year long, so each job is relatively short! Some of course are much shorter. But the friendships you make as you come together to create something are pretty incredible. I can’t wait to be back in a room with creative, amazingly talented people, all day every day!”

Cinderella is currently playing at the Gillian Lynne Theatre in London’s West End, this new show is bound to be all that people are talking about when it officially opens and we cannot wait to get down there to support Lauren and this amazingly talented cast who have been through a lot to get this wonderful show open! 

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