As Lucy O’Byrne says, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime role – and she is relishing every second.
Lucy will be our Maria when The Sound of Music comes to Southsea King’s Theatre from March 6-10 (02392 828282).
“The thing that is so lovely about Maria is that she is always such a glass half full kind of person,” says Lucy, who was the runner-up of BBC One’s The Voice in 2015, impressing the nation and Will.I.Am with her vocal range.
“Maria always finds a way to be positive and to see the good in every situation, and that’s a wonderful role to play. You find that attitude creeping into your every-day life. I am not saying that I am becoming Maria! But you find yourself really feeling that positivity.
“When I was first offered the role, I was terrified. It still does come with a lot of expectations, not just from people that have seen the film, but also from so many different productions over the years, especially with people like Connie Fisher.
“There are all these interpretations that people have seen in the past and have got in their heads, and these are big shoes to step into. But I think you have just got to try to ignore all that and concentrate on telling the story. That’s the whole point of it. But you do feel that you have a great responsibility to the role and also to the fact that she was a real person. She was a real, living, breathing person – and that is another part of the legacy.”
It is also an important story, one set against dark times: “The story is about a family overcoming that and getting through, and I think it still shocks people. People remember Do-Re-Mi and all the children running around, but when it gets to the point where the (Nazi) banners come down, it really is shocking. It affects us as well on the stage.”
For Lucy, the current dates are a return to the production: “I got the role after I finished on The Voice in 2015, and we started rehearsing at the end of 2015. We opened the show at Christmas that year and I did it until October 2016 and then I was off for a year doing other things. Then I came back to the show at Christmas 2017.
“It is one of the best and definitely biggest female roles ever written. She leads the show. It is not just a big role, it is a great role. She is the emotional core of the show and also the music is incredible. So is the journey she goes on from being this child breaking all the rules to becoming this great symbol of strength by the end.”
A huge task then, Lucy is happy to admit – and one that requires plenty of rest. Sundays and Mondays are days off, which then means eight performances in just five days – plus effectively a ninth performance as part of the get-in, re-rehearsing the show in each new venue each Tuesday.
“It is also a very, very long show. There is a lot to get through, but it is also a fantastic show… a great character to play.”