Musical theatre star Lucy O’Byrne first appeared on my radar when she appeared on The Voice in 2015 and made it to the final under the mentorship of renowned coach Will.i.am. I’ve watched her as Maria in The Sound of Music and now she’s setting the stage alight as Eva Peron in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic Evita. I saw the show in Malvern and in my humble opinion, Lucy is giving Elaine Paige a run for her money. I chatted to Lucy about the show, the challenges of such an iconic role and her favourite musical numbers in the score.
Thank for chatting to Entertainment Views, Lucy – may I congratulate you on an amazing performance as Eva. First of all, how familiar were you with Evita before you took the role?
I played the role in college, so I learned it then and I grew up listening to the soundtrack with my dad singing along to a lot of the songs, it was like the soundtrack of my childhood. I remember seeing the movie, although I wasn’t allowed to see it when it first came out. I wasn’t old enough to watch it at the cinema so I remember watching it later on video when my parents bought it. It just has such fantastic music. It has four of my favourite songs in it.
What are your four favourite songs?
‘High Flying Adored’, ‘You Must Love Me’, ‘The Lament’ and ‘Rainbow High’.
My favourite song from the show is ‘Rainbow High’…
Yes, it’s a lot of fun to perform, Bill Deamer’s staging and choreography make it so much fun. It’s a bit of a power trip in a weird way, just listening to it gives you an empowered feeling because it’s Eva at her strongest. That song is her saying “I know I’m this good just watch me”.
What do you feel are the challenges of the role?
It’s relentless from the moment you walk on the stage until the very end, I pretty much sing everything in the show, I’m in every number. The show spans about 18 years and it’s the journey she goes on all the way from her as a teenager to her death at the end. Along the way you see her at the height of her power – the character has incredible energy all the way through which she holds on to even at the end. It’s quite emotionally, physically and mentally draining and there are times for example during a warm-up for a matinee where you think “I’m not going to get through this” then you get to the number ‘Buenos Aires’ and the energy surrounds you.
What other roles would you like to play in the future?
There’s so many, I’ve been incredibly lucky so far, I’ve ticked off three of my bucket list roles in quite a short space of time. I’ve got a long, long list that I’m working away at.
I first saw you when you appeared on The Voice, did you always feel that a theatrical path would be the one for you or did you have something else in mind?
No, I always had theatre in mind, my family are all involved in theatre my dad is an actor and singer, he’s now a musical director. My mum was an actor and dancer and she now has her own stage school. We grew up around it, it was never really a choice that I remember making. My dad said to me “get a real job” but I think we all knew which way it was going to go!
Finally, what would you say to encourage people to come and see the show?
I think it’s worth a watch, I’ve always enjoyed watching the show myself, I have a ball doing it and everybody I’ve spoken to so far who’s seen the show has enjoyed it. It’s a great story and what’s amazing about it is that it’s a true story. It’s the ultimate rags to riches, it’s the story of a strong woman, a woman who knew what she was about. It’s got some of the best show tunes ever written and some of the best melodies ever written as well.
Evita arrives in Coventry tomorrow at the Belgrade Theatre before continuing an extensive UK tour, book your tickets here: http://www.kenwright.com/microsite/evita/#booktickets
Check out Entertainment Views’ review of the show here: https://entertainmentviews.co.uk/2018/09/05/evita-malvern-theatres/