The first lady of musical theatre, Rebecca Storm - who has wowed crowds with her performances in iconic roles such as Mrs Johnston in Blood Brothers, Eva Peron in Evita and Fantine in Les Miserables - is set to perform in Derry this weekend.
Now celebrating 30 years in the business, Rebecca - who has just finished a stint as Dolly in the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin will perform a mix of hits from the musicals, songs which “have touched her life” and “a few surprises”, when she brings her solo show to the Waterside Theatre on May 11.
Rebecca was just 23 when she wowed writer Willy Russell so much with her singing that he cast her in the role of the much older Mrs Johnston in Blood Brothers - and it is a role that she has played on and off over the last 40 years.
“It was my first audition for musical theatre,” Rebecca said.”Before then I had just sung in pubs and bars or with bands. But I decided to try something new.”
She didn’t think for a second that something new would lead to a role which has become one of the most loved in musical theatre - with her performance of ‘Tell Me It’s Not True’ being truly spine-tingling.
“I will never tire of it. It is such a wonderful show - such a phenomenon - that I love playing Mrs Johnston. People seem to respond so well to that show.
“There is some sort of universal appeal to it.
“I love coming back to it time and time again but it is very emotionally draining - those final scenes. It’s nice to have a break as well - to recharge before getting back up there and giving it my all again.”
Reading Rebecca’s biography is like reading a who’s who of dream musical roles.
From her first role as Mrs Johnston, which she played for three years, she went on to take on the role of Eva Peron in the landmark musical Evita.
“I loved it - loved the score. I was lucky to come to the musical theatre business at a time when it was changing. People were moving on from the more traditional musicals such as the Rogers and Hammerstein classics and onto something new.
“The music was edgy, fresh.
“It was sexy in a way - and it was brilliant to be there when those shows were being born.”
One of the highlights of Rebecca’s stellar career was her time with the musical Chess, penned by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of 70s supergroup Abba.
“I was a big fan of Abba in the 70s,” she said. “They write great songs and the boys from Abba really know how to write for a woman’s voice.
“The score from Chess is amazing.
“When I was singing along to all those Abba songs I never imagined they would be standing in my dressing room one day!”
She has also played the role of Fantine in Les Miserables - the role which earned Hollywood actress Anne Hathaway an Oscar in the Hollywood version of the hit musical earlier this year.
Rebecca will bring her show to the Waterside Theatre tomorrow evening. She is looking forward to getting back to Derry - where she has played during a reprise of her role of Mrs Johnston. For tickets call: 028 7131 4000