West End diva owes it all to Mr MacCafferty

Wendy Ferguson giving an outstanding performance as Carlotta in Phantom of the Opera.
Wendy Ferguson giving an outstanding performance as Carlotta in Phantom of the Opera.

Countless little girls dream of one day treading the boards of the West End taking on an iconic role and and delivering a breathtaking vocal performance - and for one local woman the West End has been her home for the last 11 years.

Wendy Ferguson, 36, from Tamnaherin took on her first West End role in Phantom of the Opera in 2002 as part of the ensemble and went on to play the coveted role of Carlotta - the opera diva threatened by the beauty and talent of Christine.

The local lass - even took on the role for the iconic show’s 25th anniversary performance which was broadcast live from the Albert Hall to thousands of eager fans worldwide.

“It was a dream come true,” Wendy said of the event. “Just performing at the Albert Hall was breathtaking but knowing it was going all around the world to cinemas was something else.”

Along with the role of Carlotta, Wendy - who trained at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama - also spent two years playing Widow Corney in the revival of Oliver! alongside Jodie Prenger who took on the iconic role of Nancy.

But her rise to West End fame can all be credited a little closer to home. “I started singing when I was about five,” Wendy said revealing that the Feis Dhoire Cholmcille soon became a major player in her life.

“I remember the first time I performed at the Feis. It was with the Action Song in primary school - Mullabuoy PS - and after that the Feis became a part of every Easter. I don’t think I would have got where I have without it.”

Wendy became a pupil of James MacCafferty - who she said she owes her career to - and from then on “we never went away at Easter! We went to the Feis.”

Securing a number of bursaries throughout her years of competing allowed Wendy to focus on her singing and she went on to train classically in London. “Then I decided my heart lay in musical theatre,” she said.

The role of Carlotta was one which was very vocally demanding - and with eight performances a week over six days the schedule for a West End star is pretty relentless.

“You have to keep up with your singing lessons, practice all the time. Your vocal health is exceptionally important because the role is a tough sing - but it is worth it.”

Having just sang her last note with Phantom, Wendy is now taking time out to freelance - enjoying the relative freedom of singing in concerts and being able to make the occasional visit home.

Who knows what is next for the Derry starlet - but her eyes are on the prize.

“If I could choose a dream role it would be Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd or Mdme Thernadier in Les Miserables.

“Watch this space!”