A the time of the interview, Sophie Evans was starring as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium.
“I love Emerald City because the whole cast are on stage and it’s so much fun and colourful.”
Sophie’s early singing career gained a solid foundation with the Mid-Rhondda Operatic Society where she not only enjoyed herself but also expanded her knowledge of musicals.
As her career developed, and following several television appearances with CCBC, S4C, BBC Wales and also X Factor on ITV, Sophie was a finalist on BBC’s Over The Rainbow where she achieved success in being recognised as a potential Dorothy for The Wizard of Oz.
Sophie has now achieved her ambition and is starring in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s fabulous musical. I hope you enjoy reading what Sophie has to say.
You were born in the village of Tonypandy in the Rhondda Valley in South Wales. What was it like growing up there?
It’s a beautiful place, I am very proud of where I am from, although there isn’t much opportunity for performers.
Just like many other children you appeared in plays and musicals at school. Which one was your favourite and why?
Probably The Sound of Music. I played Briggita!
You joined the Mid-Rhondda Operatic Society from a young age until your early teens. How did that help you develop as a singer and a performer?
It gave me a lot of experience and it was great fun. I did about ten shows and it also broadened my knowledge of musicals.
Before your stage success you appeared on television including The Big Performance (CBBC), The Big Talent Show (S4C) and a centenary documentary about the Tonypandy Riots (BBC Wales). How does performing on television compare to the stage?
It’s very different although I love both. I’m very comfortable in front of a camera. Television is very intimate but so is theatre.
Before Over the Rainbow you also appeared on X Factor. What life skills have you learnt from being in these reality TV programmes?
That every little thing is experience and getting knock-backs if used in the right way can make you a stronger performer.
During Over The Rainbow you lived with fellow contestants Stephanie Fearon and Tegan Edwards. What was it like living alongside people that were also competing with you?
Fine. I loved living with the girls.
What can you remember as being the highlights from the night you made your debut as Dorothy?
Seeing all my friends and family there supporting me! And getting a standing ovation at the curtain calls. I cried – a lot.
On the night you performed as Dorothy , how did it feel knowing there were so many supporters of yours in the audience from Tonypandy Community College?
It was amazing. My school are very supportive.
During rehearsals for Dorothy you have had Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber on the piano and Bill Kenwright sitting close by watching. How have they helped you along your journey?
I can’t thank them both enough. They really have taken me under their wings. Without their help I wouldn’t be where I am today. They are two extremely generous men.
While playing the part of Alternate Dorothy you have also completed your training at The Arts Educational Schools in London. How have the vocal coach Ceris Deverill, Musical Director Chris Hocking and other staff helped you in your career?
Very much so. I’d never really had professional singing lessons.
Having been confirmed as the lead role you recently made your ‘debut’ as the full-time Dorothy. Did that feel special and different to when you first played the part?
Yes, I really feel like part of the cast now. It’s demanding but amazing.
How would you describe your Dorothy?
Optimistic, caring, a dreamer and very strong.
What is it like backstage during a performance of The Wizard of Oz?
Well I don’t really get to see backstage as I’m never off. But it is pretty manic.
What is your favourite scene in the musical?
I love Emerald City because the whole cast are on stage and it’s so much fun and colourful.
With Michael Crawford being replaced by Russell Grant as The Wizard, you now have another experienced performer to learn from. How important has it been for you to have such professionals around you at the start of your career?
It’s been very important. Michael Crawford is an absolute legend and he taught me a lot. Russell is so much fun – he has also taught me a lot.
Performing with animals can sometimes be a bit tricky. Has Toto ever been a bit ‘naughty’ on stage and can you tell us about it?
One of the dogs does like to hump my arm sometimes – ha ha.
Away from the stage, in the summer of 2011 you and other Welsh celebrities lived together at a campsite for eight days and studied the Welsh language. Can you describe that experience and how important is being Welsh to you?
Being Welsh is SO important to me and I had an absolute ball doing Cariad@iaith. I would love to do it again.
I have read that you have inherited your singing voice from your mother. Your father is Welsh, surely he can sing?
He’s not so good ha ha.
How important is it for you to visit your home in Wales and keep your ‘feet on the ground’?
I visit every weekend. I love being home with my family and friends. They keep me grounded.
As well as being on stage you have also sung a duet with Welsh baritone Mark Llewelyn Evans on his debut album Let the Light In. Have you any further recordings planned?
Yes. I would love to release singles but more down the pop route.
A few quick fire questions...
What is your favourite colour?
I like lots of colours, but green, red and purple.
What is your favourite breed of dog?
What would be your ideal name for a dog?
Something really random like Henry.
If you could fly anywhere in the world for a day where would it be?
Any finally… any message to say to your supporters?
I can’t thank the people who support me enough. They are so kind to me, and I really appreciate everything they do.
You can follow Sophie on Twitter @SophieEvans1993
Many thanks Sophie for a lovely interview.
Interview questions by Neil who you can follow on Twitter @LondonTheatre1
Thursday 12th, April, 2012