Sophie Evans is preparing to star as Erin the Goddess in Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games at the Playhouse Theatre.
Following its West End runs at the London Palladium and Dominion Theatre, Michael Flatley’s show is returning to London for a third season. Sophie is sharing the role, which was previously played by Nadine Coyle, with former The Voice UK contestant Rachael O’Connor.
In 2010 Sophie entered Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Over The Rainbow competition which was broadcast to millions of viewers on BBC1. After finishing second, Sophie went on to alternate the role of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium and subsequently took over the role full time.
Sophie has since embarked on a diverse career, making concert appearances all around the UK. On screen Sophie played Becky Salt alongside Simon Pegg in The World's End and appeared in Matthew Warchus' film Pride. She recently returned to the London stage, starring in You Won't Succeed on Broadway if You Don't Have Any Jews at the St James Theatre.
I recently spoke to Sophie about why she’s excited to be joining Lord of the Dance, whether she has a talent for Irish dancing and why Over The Rainbow feels like a lifetime ago…
How much did you know about Lord of the Dance before being asked to join the show? Had you ever seen it?
No, I’m not going to lie, I didn’t really know anything about the show! I thought it was just dancing – but obviously it’s a lot more than that! There’s a lot more going on, there’s a storyline. I looked into it to see if it was something I would be interested in… and it was!
I’m the only person in the show who does anything other than dancing, except for the fiddlers, but they also do a little bit of dancing. To come in and see how talented everyone is has been quite mind-blowing! I didn’t realise how big a culture it is, this whole experience has opened my eyes to something new which is great!
Sophie in Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games / Photo Credit: Brian Doherty
How would you describe your songs in the show?
I have three really cool songs. Two are quite folky ballads with a really nice gritty belt so I get to show off that side of my voice. The third song is kind of rock/pop so that’s another different side of my voice that people will get to see. My job is easy compared to the dancers! They do so much throughout the show! I feel like I’m coming in with the easier job which is great for me – I get to sing three amazing songs and wear beautiful dresses and be part of a really fantastic show which is loved by lots of people!
I couldn’t believe the audience reaction when I first saw the show last year – people went crazy! How do you think audiences will come away feeling? It’s quite an experience!
It’s definitely an uplifting show! I think you will come out feeling like you’ve seen a spectacle. It’s something completely different to anything else in the West End which is great and it’s showing off a side of performing which you don’t always see on this scale. I’m really thrilled to be part of it… I suppose I’m an honouree dancer inside… but not externally [laughs]! Nobody is going to be seeing my lack of Irish dancing skills [laughs]!
I think you should definitely learn some Irish dancing so you can join in at the end!
Well I’ll try and learn a step or two and then I’ll just show my parents – hopefully they’ll be proud [laughs], but no one else!
|Sophie as Dorothy at the Olivier Awards|
I cannot believe it has been five years since Over The Rainbow was on our screens! Does it feel like yesterday or like a lifetime ago?
It feels like a lifetime ago. It’s really strange because it feels like it was a different person! It’s weird, it doesn’t seem like I actually did it! When I look back I think how young I was; I was 16 when I started and turned 17 as the competition progressed. I can’t believe I actually did it, looking back I was so chilled out about everything and just took it in my stride whereas now I think I would overthink things if I did the show again. I think it was the best time for me to do it because I just enjoyed it rather than dwell on how intense it was. I was just a seventeen year old loving the fact I was in London working with all these amazing people! I was quite naive but it was the best way to experience it.
You finished second but then went on to take over as Dorothy in the West End, what memories stand out when you think about your time as Dorothy?
It was just a dream come true! I remember my first and last shows; they stick out in my mind. My first show was so overwhelming because I had coachloads and coachloads of friends and family who came up from Wales. It was breathtaking and I cried at the end. The cast were the loveliest group of people, I couldn’t have asked for a nicer group of people to work with on my first job. It was just a dream!
What was your last show like?
It was the biggest emotional roller coaster ever [laughs]! The Wizard of Oz is emotional anyway so I used to get quite emotional every show, but on my final night it all got a bit much at the end saying goodbye. Singing the last line of ‘Over The Rainbow’ for the last time I was sobbing, but it was fantastic. It was the time of my life and I will always have such happy memories – it’s probably the best time of my life.
The last few years have been so varied for you – you’ve performed extensive concert work, appeared in various shows and recently played Debbie in Pride. Do you like constantly taking on new challenges and being kept on your toes?
Definitely, I don’t think I’ve ever been somebody who wants to just do one thing. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing, people can make up their own minds, but I like the variety of performing. I like being able to be myself and I love singing; singing is my main passion. To get the chance to do a film with Simon Pegg (The World's End) and then to do Pride opened more doors into a world I never thought I would ever even be involved in. To have the opportunity to add strings to my bow is something I enjoy doing! I don’t want to do one thing for the rest of my life, I like the challenge of trying new things and seeing what makes me happy. At the moment everything is bringing new challenges and I’m enjoying it all!
I have a stagey question for you! I’m sending you to a desert island and you can take three musical theatre songs with you. What are you going to take and why?
[laughs] Right… ok… that’s tough! I would probably take ‘Dancing Through Life’ from Wicked because it’s so fun and uplifting, and Wicked is one of my favourite shows. I would take… this is so hard! ‘The Circle Of Life’ from The Lion King because it would remind me of my family, it’s one of the films I watched when I was younger and then one of the first West End shows I ever saw. It would give me happy memories! Finally I would take something from Les Mis because it’s a show I love and I think everybody loves. It would probably be… ‘One Day More’ – I’m a very uplifted person and I always like the big numbers in shows. I would be singing all the different parts alone on my desert island [laughs].
Finally, what is it like to have so much dedicated support behind you and your career?
It’s lovely! People always ask what I’m up to next, and sometimes – any actor will say the same – you’re not doing anything and you kind of feel like you’re letting people down. So when you’ve got the opportunity to tell people about the exciting things you’re doing and they’re interested it’s lovely, it keeps me positive and realising that what I’m doing is actually good which is a lovely feeling. My family are probably the best at keeping me grounded and, even if I’m not doing anything, they let me know that they’re really proud of me. I’m really lucky to have such a great support system.
Interviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)
Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games runs at the Playhouse Theatre between 10th October 2015 and 3rd January 2016. Please visit www.lordofthedance.com for further information and tickets.