Based on the real-life story of history’s Grace O’Malley – an Irish Chieftain and notorious pirate, The Pirate Queen is an adventure chronicling the compelling, inspiring heroine who led an extraordinary life as a rogue, lover and mother in 16th-century Ireland.
From the writers of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon, the show combines classic storytelling and a sweeping score, with the powerful, vibrant traditions of Irish dance and song, to create a modern musical event that is both historic romance and a timeless epic.
Rachel Tucker is taking on the role of Grace O’Malley in the one night only London premiere of the musical. Rachel told us all about the show, her favourite moments and what it’s like to bring real life characters to life on stage…
Tell us about The Pirate Queen, what can we expect?
The Pirate Queen is a very old, true Irish story about how the daughter of the O’Mally clan became the first woman Queen of in Ireland in 16th century. She was known for her fearlessness, not just as a woman but as a leader, and was known for her ruthlessness in political negotiations with Queen Elizabeth I and trying to get her people’s land back no matter what it took.
When I sing the powerful duets with Hannah Waddingham who plays Queen Elizabeth we are both struck at how amazing it is that these two women back in the 1500s were the leaders of each of their own lands and negotiated with each other not just as chieftain and queen but woman to woman. Their dialogue together is fascinating, the lyrics are so graceful yet explosive. It’s been a long time since I’ve listened and sang through a score like this with so much excitement.
You’re currently playing Beverley Bass and are now taking on Grace O’Malley for one night only. What’s it like bringing real life people to life on stage?
Well as a job, it’s blooming great. I love bringing my own take and as much as Rachel to each role. I am constantly looking to bring only truth to every line and character I get to play, whether it be a comedic, tragic or heroic role. What ever the room, I love to tell the truth.
Why should people come and see The Pirate Queen?
I think this is a piece of musical theatre that should be seen and heard in this day and age. It almost feels more relevant now than it was when it first was first conceived. You do not want to miss hearing the stunning choral ensemble of around 40 members and the orchestrations by Julian Kelly are going to transcend you to another level! The event of 2020 if you ask me!!!
The Pirate Queen plays at the London Coliseum on 23 February, 7pm
photo credit: Danny Kaan