Interview – Sophie Evans on her role in The Night Before Christmas at Salisbury Playhouse

Sophie Evans in THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS at Salisbury Playhouse - credit Paul Blakemore 2

Sophie Evans in The Night Before Christmas at Salisbury Playhouse. Pictures: Paul Blakemore

SOPHIE EVANS, the Welsh singer who first captivated national TV audiences as a 17-year-old in the star search show Over the Rainbow, has rapidly established herself as a stage and screen rising star.

Although she just narrowly missed out on the top spot in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s BBC TV talent search in 2010, the girl from Tonypandy would eventually step on to the yellow brick road as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium.

Since then Evans has starred on stage in productions of Lord of the Dance and You Won’t Succeed On Broadway If You Don’t Have Any Jews and on the big screen in hit movies Pride and The World’s End.

The singer/actress is currently appearing in Salisbury Playhouse’s new musical adaptation of Clement C Moore’s classic Christmas Eve bedtime story, The Night Before Christmas.

Written by the show’s musical director Glyn Kerslake and the Playhouse’s artistic director Gareth Machin who also directs, the cast includes Evans and Kerslake as well as Adrian Grove and Rebecca Trehearn.

Musical Theatre Review’s Polly Sisley caught up with Evans during rehearsals for the show which runs until 31 December.

Can you tell me a bit about your background?

I was very lucky to take part in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s search for Dorothy, Over the Rainbow, six years ago. I was only 17 at the time, but it was the best experience ever. I went straight from school into that TV programme.

Rebecca Trehearn, Sophie Evans and Adrian Grove in THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS. Credit Paul Blakemore

Rebecca Trehearn, Sophie Evans and Adrian Grove in The Night Before Christmas

I came second on the show. When that finished, I went on to be the Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium for a year. They then asked me to be Dorothy full time which was brilliant.

After that, I had a role in the film The World’s End lined up, featuring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Since then, I’ve been devoting my time to concerts all year around. I’ve also released an album called The Studio Sessions. Most recently I was touring America with Lord of the Dance.

We spent 10 weeks on Broadway and then finished at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, which was out of this world. I’ve just been singing all of the time really.

How much did Over the Rainbow affect your career?

If you’re on TV nowadays, it definitely gives you a step up in the world of performing because people already recognise your face. I owe everything I’ve done to that programme because otherwise I would have been a bit lost. I would have wanted to go to drama college, but there’s no saying I would have got in, let alone be able to afford that kind of training. I’ve been so lucky to have had that opportunity; without it I don’t know how I would have been able to fulfil my dreams.

Performing over the Christmas period must be quite stressful – what is it like performing over such a busy season?

It’s stressful, but it’s great. The show gets you right in the mood for Christmas and I love Christmas! But I suppose Christmas is all about family, so it can be quite difficult when you’re not at home with your friends and family over this lovely time of year.

I think it just comes with the job, really. Everybody wants to see shows over Christmas, so it’s great for actors because there’s always lots of work going around. However, The Night Before Christmas is the first Christmas themed show I’ve been a part of. I was away in New York last year performing in Lord of the Dance and we actually had a show on Christmas Day!

That must have been quite difficult.

I didn’t really mind too much, perhaps because I was so busy and was away from home. But it’s great to now be in a Christmas themed show, it’s really getting me in the mood and spirit.

Sophie Evans in You Won’t Succeed on Broadway if You Don’t Have Any Jews at the St James Theatre, London. Picture: Pamela Raith

Sophie Evans in You Won’t Succeed On Broadway If You Don’t Have Any Jews at the St James Theatre, London. Picture: Pamela Raith

How is The Night Before Christmas going so far?

Rehearsals went really well. We had a lot to learn which is always a bit of a challenge. At times, you think you’ll never be able to do it. But we really powered through, it all started to come together. It’s a really beautiful show; there’s gorgeous new music and, even though it’s a children’s show, I think families are really enjoying it. The performance just leaves you with a warm and fuzzy feeling, which is exactly what I believe a Christmas show should do.

Is there anyone in particular who inspired you to get into performing?

I began singing from a very young age, since I was about three or four. I think my love for singing came from my mother. I can remember her singing to me when I was younger and me joining in with her. I would say she’s my main inspiration because she didn’t get the opportunities that I’ve had.

She was the one who mentioned that Andrew Lloyd Webber was looking for a Dorothy and I remember her saying: ‘You can do that; you’ve got nothing to lose.’ She’s been the person who has really kept me going. She makes me realise that you don’t get everything in life, but you just have to keep going.

What advice would you give someone who wants to get into theatre?

I would say it’s a very difficult industry, but once you get your head around the fact that sometimes things just aren’t meant to be, it’s easier. If you face rejection, it’s not always down to ‘you’re not good enough’, it just means you’re not perfect for a particular role. It’s not always a bad thing, I truly believe everything happens for a reason and whatever is meant to be will happen.

The Night Before Christmas runs in The Salberg at Salisbury Playhouse until 31 December


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